Hunting for Bin Laden In

by Nathan Hamm on 9/5/2003

Hunting for Bin Laden
In an Asia Times story, news of a renewed hunt for Osama along the Afghan-Pakistan border. Here’s why it might be a bit more successful:

In recent days tribal sources in Miran Shah, in the tribal
belt along the southern end of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province,
a semi-autonomous region along the Afghan border, have confirmed the
presence of scores of US and supporting Pakistani troops in the
district. The sources said that unlike in the past, the tribal leaders
were not informed in advance about the operation. And contacts in
Pakistani strategic quarters have confirmed that the operation is being
conducted to catch bin Laden. “It has been planned on the push of the
US authorities,” a senior official confided to this correspondent.
Replying to a query as to why the United States thinks it will be
successful this time when it has failed for two years to locate bin
Laden, the source maintained that contrary to past practices, in the
current operation the Pakistani army’s role has been reduced to that of
guarding the US forces. “The Pakistani armed forces are simply
subordinate in the operation, whose command is in the hands of the US
operations commander.”

The report also mentions that the FBI has cultivated contacts among ISI
and Pakistani police officers without Islamist sympathies. These
officers worked directly with the US and this led to arrests in
Karachi. For their cooperation, they were fired, but strong US pressure
led to their reinstatement.
The story also details the change in Taliban tactics and the rise of
attacks in Afghanistan. Major Taliban commanders, including mujahideen
legends from the war against the Soviets are now taking direct roles in
attacks. Probably not much of a concern though:

But despite recent Taliban successes in defeating local
administrations, some Pakistani experts still have reservations about
the resistance movement. According to them, it is too scattered. “The
Afghan resistance against the former USSR was organized by the US
Central Intelligence Agency and the ISI. Each and every resistance
activity was very well coordinated by these officials. A present, it is
not always well coordinated. As a result, US casualties in Afghanistan
have remained far less than expectations. To date, the resistance
movement only creates chaos and anarchy, nothing more, nothing less.”

Of course, with typical journalistic flair, the author muddies the water at the end:

Maybe, though, with the latest Taliban initiatives, out of
this chaos will come some form of order, albeit an order that will
significantly raise the stakes in the country, regardless of whether or
not Osama bin Laden is tracked down.

Why is this meme so damned common in writing? I find myself doing it
all the time at work, and I hate it. It’s so damned weak. If the writer
needs to say the above, why not take a step to back it up? I know it
adds more drama to the story, but really, what’s the point? A magical
dragon could awake in the Pamirs too, so why not throw that in there as

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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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