Afghanistan: January 5, 2002


Afghan forces closed in on a al Qaeda complex in south central Afghanistan. The Taliban troops there surrendered, but Taliban leader Mohammed Omar and a few of his key aides managed to get away. 

U.S. troops and CIA agents have examined 40 of 48 known al Qaeda bases. Significant amounts of documents, equipment and weapons have been found. Although looters have gotten things like computers and radio gear, the computers can sometimes be hunted down and bought back in bazaars. Evidence has also been found that al Qaeda members have been using some of the camps recently, indicating that organized groups of al Qaeda fighters are still around. But these groups will have a hard time surviving the Winter. If they take shelter in an Afghan village, the word eventually gets out. Bodies of al Qaeda members, died from exposure, have been found and the ones that are not dead are probably in poor shape. U.S. intelligence operations are getting more accurate the longer they operate in Afghanistan. This is particularly the case with the airborne (aircraft, satellites and UAVs) systems. On the ground, special forces and CIA continue to work with the locals to develop information sources. The massive humanitarian shipments also build good will, putting the locals in the mood to share information on what local Taliban or al Qaeda forces may be doing. 

U.S. bombers continue to hit bases, or areas, occupied by groups of Taliban or al Qaeda troops. Since the Taliban and al Qaeda often move into residential areas, these strikes usually cause civilian casualties. The Afghan government continues to back the air strikes, but it caught between the ill will from the civilian losses, and the risks of allowing groups of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters to remain on the loose. 


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