Al Qaeda Sets up Own Special Force
debkafile Reports Exclusively, 13 May, 2002
Taking a leaf out of its adversaries’ book, the al Qaeda Islamic network has created an elite force for defending the religious seminaries of west Pakistan, their traditional hideouts, against joint US-Pakistani raids. These Muslim seminaries have long been breeding grounds for the militant Islamic fundamentalists nourishing al Qaeda.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources report that US special forces combined with Pakistani elite units embarked last month on the Battle of the Medressas in remote and rugged Pakistani Wazirstan, after the CIA received intelligence that roughly 3000 al-Qaeda fighters were hiding up in these seminaries, recuperating, training and returning to Afghanistan for fresh assaults on the interim government in Kabul and the foreign troops stationed in Afghanistan.
However, helicopter-borne forces dropped over these seminaries invariably find them deserted or occupied by innocent locals with no links to al-Qaeda or the Taliban. The fugitives are clearly forewarned of approaching danger in time to clear out. Thus far the CIA and US military intelligence have not found the source of the intelligence leaks. According to our sources in the region, the al-Qaeda are paying Afghan smugglers handsomely to guide them through mountain routes back and forth across the Afghan-Pakistan frontier. The smugglers carry the terrorists’ weapons across separately.
Osama bin Laden and his commanders have detached some 300 Islamic fighters and set up a special elite force to pre-empt US-Pakistan attacks on the medressas. Some of them are also trained as suicide killers for terror operations at a later stage.
In addition to the Afghan smugglers, al Qaeda is the recipient of local aid from diverse quarters. Some of the officers or men of the Pakistani special units engaged in hunt them are secretly loyal to the erstwhile Pakistani intelligence Afghanistan desk that was dismantled for its pro-Taliban allegiances. They may be tipping off the al Qaeda before raids.
Furthermore, local Pashtun tribesmen maintain a round-the-clock mountaintop lookout and communication system to alert their villages on the approach of strangers – not necessarily Americans. This system has been around for centuries. Today’s Pashtun lookouts use simple walkie-talkies and stones piled in particular patterns that convey certain messages. At night, they light bonfire signals.