11.9.01

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McChrystal: bin Laden, Taliban Key to Winning Afghanistan

In al Qaeda, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Taliban on December 9, 2009 at 11:53 am

Eight years after 9/11, Osama bin Laden still at large, still a threat, still being talked about as a key to winning Afghanistan:

Finding al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and rolling back a resurgent Taliban are necessary steps toward winning the war in Afghanistan, the top U.S. commander there told a Senate committee Tuesday.Bin Laden remains at large more than eight years after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington that triggered the Afghan war, and is widely believed to be hiding along the rugged border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said the world’s most wanted terrorist is “an iconic figure” whose survival “emboldens al Qaeda as a franchising organization across the world.”

“It would not defeat al Qaeda to have him captured or killed, but I don’t think we can finally defeat al Qaeda until he is finally captured or killed,” McChrystal told the Senate Armed Services Committee. But he said if bin Laden is hiding across the border, “It is outside of my mandate.”

In addition, he said, pushing back the Taliban — which allowed al Qaeda to operate from Afghanistan before 9/11 — is a “prerequisite” for destroying the terrorist network.

“To pursue our core goal of defeating al Qaeda and preventing their return to Afghanistan, we must disrupt and degrade the Taliban’s capacity, deny their access to the Afghan population, and strengthen the Afghan security forces,” he said.

Obama Expands Program for Drone Attacks in Pakistan

In al Qaeda, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Taliban on December 4, 2009 at 9:16 am

Obama has made drone attacks an integral part of the Afghanistan War, by bombing Pakistan more:

Two weeks ago in Pakistan, Central Intelligence Agency sharpshooters killed eight people suspected of being militants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and wounded two others in a compound that was said to be used for terrorist training. Then, the job in North Waziristan done, the C.I.A. officers could head home from the agency’s Langley, Va., headquarters, facing only the hazards of the area’s famously snarled suburban traffic. It was only the latest strike by the agency’s covert program to kill operatives of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their allies using Hellfire missiles fired from Predator aircraft controlled from half a world away.

The White House has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.’s drone program in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, officials said this week, to parallel the president’s decision, announced Tuesday, to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. American officials are talking with Pakistan about the possibility of striking in Baluchistan for the first time — a controversial move since it is outside the tribal areas — because that is where Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to hide.

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