The Washington Post last Sunday, September 10, 2006, reported in an article Bin Laden Trail 'Stone Cold' that the hunt for Laden had reached a complete standstill.
The clandestine U.S. commandos whose job is to capture or kill Osama bin Laden have not received a credible lead in more than two years. Nothing from the vast U.S. intelligence world -- no tips from informants, no snippets from electronic intercepts, no points on any satellite image -- has led them anywhere near the al-Qaeda leader, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.At the request of President Bush, the CIA has "flooded the zone" in the last three months, significantly increasing ground assets dedicated to capturing or killing Laden. However, no one seems to know exactly where "the zone" is. This obviously makes the job to "kill or capture" Laden, and presumably any of his henchmen like Doc Zawahiri, all the more difficult.
"The handful of assets we have have given us nothing close to real-time intelligence" that could have led to his capture, said one counterterrorism official, who said the trail, despite the most extensive manhunt in U.S. history, has gone "stone cold."
Using Zawahiri to get to Laden may be the key. The general location of Zawahiri has been known for several months, and though his exact whereabouts are unknown at any particular time, his general location is fairly well established, and sources say his area of movement is being severely circumscribed.
Ironically, the Pakistani truce with al-Qaida that gives the terror outfit free reign in the tribal areas along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border about 45 kilometers long. Laden stays within 15 kilometers of the border either way, said Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, XVIII Airborne Corps commander, "so that if the Pakistanis, for whatever reason, chose to do something to him, he could cross into Afghanistan and vice versa." This may actually be the reason for the truce - to give al-Qaida a sense of security so they will make a mistake and Laden will show himself on a nice clear day just right for a Hellfire missile launched from a Predator drone. Apparently the drone threat is why Laden hasn't been seen in recent years. In a recent message to Muslims to leave the US in advance of a major 9/11 type attack, Adnan el Shukrijumah said, "Because the CIA can feed his fresh picture to the computers fitted on their Predator planes, and these planes can get him."
Because the hunt for Laden is carried out secretly and without fanfare, publicly no single individual is in charge of finding Laden nor directing CIA, NSA, and intelligence services where to place and how to utilize their assets. "There's nobody in the United States government whose job it is to find Osama bin Laden!" one frustrated counterterrorism official shouted. "Nobody!"
However, intelligence officers will be teaming with the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a secretive military organ, National Security Agency (NSA), and other intelligence agencies possibly from other countries. Combining the abilities of several specialized units and intelligence agencies led to the killing of Zarqawi as Indigo Red reported last June 9.
The JSOC commander since 2003, Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, is the accepted leader in the hunt for Laden. He has a good working relationship with the CIA and has made the CIA Station Chief in Kabul his assistant. Now when McChrystal asks for targets from the CIA, the agency tries to comply. "We serve the military," one intelligence officer said.
The intelligence gathering by JSOC under McChrystal has improved to the point that they can turn newly developed data into real-time action items without having to wait for more analysis from Langley CIA or SOCOM. Military and industrial experts in the feild are performing faster due to computer forensic field kits enabling operators to retrieve and analyze information from surviving hard-drives, cellphones, and other types of electronics in order to make analysis, judgments, and decisions on the run.
The JSOC has the authority to go after Laden into Pakistan or anywhere else he chooses to go without having to await permission. "The authority follows the target," one intel officer said, (which was almost the same instruction Pres. Lincoln gave Gen. Grant, "Follow Lee and destroy him.') If Laden is the target, then the stakes are high enough for McChrystal to call the shots on his own, following Laden in hot-pursuit into Pakistan. It is understood that Pakistan will not interfere and also will disavow any knowledge of the action.
Mr. bin Laden, please continue listening to that damn fool John Kerry. No one is looking for you, no one cares where you are, or will be because you aren't that important. Just go on with your life sipping tea on the veranda of your cave and everything will be OK.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.