Intelligence: Self-Preservation In The Tribal Territories

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December 17, 2008: After a spurt of success in finding and hitting (with UAV launched Hellfire missiles) Islamic terrorist leaders in Pakistan, there has been a sharp drop-off in such activity. The recent spurt of successful attacks (at least five senior al Qaeda leaders, and many more mid-level guys were killed) was apparently the result of a sudden boost in good intelligence. Now, nothing. Something interesting is going on.

In 2006 and 2007, there were only ten such attacks. Then there were about three dozen such attacks this year along the Afghan border. About 75 percent of these attacks took place in September, October and November. So far this month, not much. Most of the attacks took place in Waziristan, an area that has long been a Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold.

The U.S. has been developing an informer network in this area for the last six years. Pakistani intelligence also has its own networks there. The most popular theory is that the new civilian government forced Pakistani intelligence to share, and that, combined with the U.S. informant information, led to a large number of reliable target locations for a short period of time. But the terrorists appear to have taken down some key informants, as well as becoming much more stealthy in their movements and communications. The Pakistani government continues to pressure their intelligence services (the ISI) to get rid of Islamic radical (and often pro-terrorist) members and to cooperate with the Americans. Meanwhile, the U.S. has increased its efforts to recruit informants in the Pakistani tribal areas along the border. The U.S. is putting more electronic monitoring aircraft over the area, and continuing its Internet monitoring work. The recent burst of success is a big incentive, because once you have good location information, dead terrorists tend to follow.

 


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