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Officials tell Times 'mounting evidence' indicates Osama bin Laden and his Qaeda deputy are building an operations hub in Pakistan
RAW STORY
Published: Sunday February 18, 2007
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US officials tell the New York Times that "mounting evidence" indicates Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda deputy are building an operations hub in Pakistan.

"Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials," Mark Mazzetti and David Rohde report for the Times.

The article continues, "American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda."

"Officials said that both American and foreign intelligence services had collected evidence leading them to conclude that at least one of the camps in Pakistan might be training operatives capable of striking Western targets," the paper reports.

Excerpts from article:

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The United States has also identified several new Qaeda compounds in North Waziristan, including one that officials said might be training operatives for strikes against targets beyond Afghanistan. American analysts said recent intelligence showed that the compounds functioned under a loose command structure and were operated by groups of Arab, Pakistani and Afghan militants allied with Al Qaeda. They receive guidance from their commanders and Mr. Zawahri, the analysts said. Mr. bin Laden, who has long played less of an operational role, appears to have little direct involvement.

Officials said the training camps had yet to reach the size and level of sophistication of the Qaeda camps established in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. But groups of 10 to 20 men are being trained at the camps, the officials said, and the Qaeda infrastructure in the region is gradually becoming more mature.

The new warnings are different from those made in recent months by intelligence officials and terrorism experts, who have spoken about the growing abilities of Taliban forces and Pakistani militants to launch attacks into Afghanistan. American officials say that the new intelligence is focused on Al Qaeda and point to the prospect that the terrorist network is gaining in strength despite more than five years of a sustained American-led campaign to weaken it.

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FULL TIMES ARTICLE CAN BE READ AT THIS LINK