Counter-Terrorism: August 28, 2004


Al Qaeda has been active in Afghanistan for the last two years, but not very successful. The main reason for the lack of success is the hostility of most Afghans to al Qaeda, and the counter-terrorism forces the United States and NATO forces have established. A major target for al Qaeda is the Bagram air base, north of the capital, Kabul. The sprawling base is surrounded by hills, brush land, farms and villages. Plenty of places from which to fire rockets at the base. But in the last three months, 13 weapons caches have been found in the area. The caches contained over 12,000 weapons, including heavy machine guns, anti-personnel mines and 107 mm rockets. The mines and rockets are favorite terrorist weapons. But good relations with the local Afghans has led to the discovery of the weapons caches, as well as firing positions set up for 107mm rockets, and some of the terrorists themselves. A few Afghans, mostly followers of hard line Taliban leaders, support the terrorists. But, in general, Kabul is a hostile area for al Qaeda. U.S. troops establish rapid reaction forces for attacks that do occur, and send out investigation teams to collect evidence. By quickly getting to the arms caches and sites from which rockets were launched, evidence is collected which often leads to identifying and capturing terrorists and supporters. The 107mm rockets are not very accurate, and few casualties have been caused by several hundred fired, throughout the country, over the last three years. But because a rocket aimed at the air base can easily miss and hit a civilian area, the local Afghans appreciate the American and NATO efforts to catch the attackers.




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