The Times/UK launches a brilliant piece of investigative journalism that confirms what we’ve already known – that US forces have been pursuing the Global War on Terror from inside Pakistani territory as early as October 2001. What they judiciously add to the global knowledgebase is an exact location within Pakistan and composition of those forces -
The CIA is secretly using an airbase in southern Pakistan to launch the Predator drones that observe and attack al-Qaeda and Taleban militants on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, a Times investigation has found.
The Pakistani and US governments have repeatedly denied that Washington is running military operations, covert or otherwise, on Pakistani territory — a hugely sensitive issue in the predominantly Muslim country.
…Shamsi lies in a sparsely populated area about 190 miles southwest of the city of Quetta, which US intelligence officials believe is used as a staging post by senior Taleban leaders, including Mullah Omar. It is also 100 miles south of the border with Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand and about 100 miles east of the border with Iran.
p>Aiding theTimes/UK’s hunt was the array of investigative tools more generally available to an ambitious first world reporter than a trapped-in-a-cave Jihadi –
Key to the Times investigation is the unexplained delivery of 730,000 gallons of F34 aviation fuel to Shamsi. Details were found on the website of the Pentagon’s fuel procurement agency.
The Defence Energy Support Centre site shows that a civilian company, Nordic Camp Supply (NCS), was contracted to deliver the fuel, worth $3.2 million, from Pakistan Refineries near Karachi.
p>In addition to naming contractors & supply routes, the piece goes on to assert that the site is manned exclusively by CIA personnel with more formal military assistance likely provided by Pakistani rather than US forces. If the CIA + supporting force composition is still there at the time of this writing, perhaps they’d provide a softer target for the enemy than the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan. Perhaps a well placed female suicide bomber at an NCS office in Pakistan might be able to disrupt Predator fuel supplies and thereby ground them in a way Jihadis on the battlefield have never been able to?
p>At the minimum, even if brave Taliban/AQ or their brothers in arms aren’t up for a military attack, the piece does identify a couple new places for a photo-op protest or 2.
I for one eagerly await similar investigative effort put into helping Allied forces track Jihadis. Of course, that might be more dangerous for our ambitious journalists – ultimately, the CIA is far less likely to behead nosy reporters.