Pakistan’s Federal Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao in Exclusive interview to debkafile’s Special Correspondent in Pakistan:
Neither Al-Qaeda`s number two, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, nor Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar was in Damadola village at the time of Friday’s US air attack which killed 18 villagers.
The minister also denied the removal of five dead bodies of al Qaeda leaders.
“The US planes apparently acted on wrong information while trying to target some top al-Qaeda leaders, thereby killing Pakistani civilians”, said the interior minister who made his report after Pakistani security and intelligence agencies had inspected the site of the air strike by two CIA-controlled Predator surveillance aircraft firing Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. This method has been used in the past to kill high-value terrorists.
According to debkafile‘s sources, Minister Sherpao’s remark indicates that al Qaeda or Taliban had managed to plant a false lead with US intelligence by means of informers. This decoy operation had two objectives:
1. To confuse the commanders of the American forces hunting for bin Laden and Mullah Omar and expose their failure to penetrate al Qaeda’s top ranks.
2. To expose US pursuit tactics and uncover any American collaborators in their midst. The speed with which the news of the air raid appeared on US TV channels Friday night was a mark of the CIA’s certainty that this time it had hit one of its primary marks in the war on terror, Zawahiri.
debkafile‘s Special Correspondent in Pakistan reported earlier:
The target was a cluster of three houses owned by a jeweler named Abdul Ghafoor, whose relatives were among the victims.
The Pakistani authorities pointed out that in December, the Americans claimed to have killed Abu Hamza Rabia, a leading al-Qaeda operative, in an air strike in the Pakistani tribal area. However, the body was not produced, leaving the American claim in doubt.
debkafile adds: Bajaur is one of the seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA running down the border with Afghanistan. These mountain areas, home to six million inhabitants, have long been used as sanctuaries and rear bases by Al Qaeda and Taliban.
Zawahiri in his latest videotape Friday, Jan. 6, called on the United States to admit its defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan and threatened the Americans with the same defeat in Palestine.