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Old 05-02-2011   #21
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Default A really bad day for bin Laden Ė and for Pakistan

A really bad day for bin Laden Ė and for Pakistan

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The killing of Osama bin Laden is a satisfying triumph for Americans and the U.S. government. It would have been even more satisfying had it occurred in the weeks and months after the September 2001 attacks. But the fact that it took a decade to finally kill bin Laden should be warning to any who doubt the long memories and persistence of the U.S. governmentís counterterrorism forces. They didnít forget and they never stopped working on the problem.

The Joint Special Operations Command, presumably the command responsible for the mission, should get credit for demonstrating its ability to successfully raid targets virtually anywhere in the world. The CIA also gets credit for patiently developing the required intelligence and for reminding everyone of the value of battlefield captures, interrogations, and human intelligence.

Finally, President Barack Obama deserves great credit for taking the risk of ordering this raid. He likely knew that the past record of such high-visibility raids was not good and that much more can go wrong with these operations than go right. He must also have known that another Desert One fiasco could have been disastrous on several levels.

Most notable was Obamaís willingness to shatter Americaís relationship with Pakistan in order to take a gamble on getting bin Laden. For this raid is a black day for Pakistan and its relationship with the United States. As the White House background briefing on the raid makes clear, the United States kept the raid completely concealed from the Pakistani government. Combine this with the fact that bin Laden was found in a highly protected compound in a wealthy town near Pakistanís capital, and a stoneís throw from a Pakistani military academy. Americans will be right to conclude that Pakistan was bin Ladenís long-time friend and not Americaís. What little support Pakistan still enjoys in Washington will now likely melt away. Pakistan will have to look to China, its last friend, for the support it will need to survive.

Although the struggle against terrorism will go on, the death of bin Laden will bring a sense of finality for most in the American electorate. Combine that with more evidence of Pakistanís duplicity, the evident breakdown in relations between the United States and Pakistan, and what will likely be the most bloody year for U.S. soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. The result could be a final collapse of public support for the war in Afghanistan. That probably wonít bother President Obama too much and will bolster his argument to accelerate the U.S. withdrawal from that war later this year.

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Old 05-02-2011   #22
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Originally Posted by Kiwigrunt View Post
They catch the number one dude on the most wanted list for ten years and then proceed to dump the cadaver in the ocean? Iím not one for conspiracy theories but this is IMO a bit odd.
Not really.... I suspect there was some worry about having him buried on land, thus creating a pilgrimage site of sorts for some people.
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Old 05-02-2011   #23
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Thank God we avoided the strategic disaster of running last night's op as a capture operation.

I recall an old Son Tay raider sharing his experience with my Q-Course class, on coming face to face with an NVA soldier:

"He held up both hands in front of him, and I thought he was asking for Ammo, so I gave him 20 rounds."

Again, thankfully the occupants of this compound needed ammo as well.
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Old 05-02-2011   #24
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Default SWJ commentary

Robert Haddick has a commentary 'A really bad day for bin Laden Ė and for Pakistan' on:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/201...for-bin-laden/

SWJ Blog has a press collection on:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/201...oundup-update/
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Old 05-02-2011   #25
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Default Outstanding...

They got OBL
No collateral damage of civilians in surrounding areas
No casualties

Mission accomplished.

Superb special forces work Americans can justifiably be proud of.
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Old 05-02-2011   #26
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Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
We don't know that OBL was given up by the Pak Army/ISI, and I'm not prepared to assume that he was. It's entirely possible that the US did it on their own.
The place where he was killed is over 100 miles from the Pak/Afghan border if I read my National Geographic computer map correctly. The Pakistan Air Force noticed what was going on and did nothing. In my opinion, completely inexpert, it is not possible we did it on our own.

I also think this is the prelude to bugging out on Afghanistan and the Afghans. I know people don't like the phrase "bug out" for its' emotional and moral connotation and I hope it doesn't happen. Time will tell. But I use the phrase intentionally and expect very strong reaction to it; regardless, that is what it would be if it happens. Things may, probably, will be worse for the poor Afghans than anytime in modern history. I hope not but fear so.
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Old 05-02-2011   #27
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Thank God we avoided the strategic disaster of running last night's op as a capture operation.
Quite. One of my concerns with the law enforcement spin that has been put on so many military operations is that someone would want to "arrest" OBL and bring him back in cuffs (stuff him in the back seat of a squad car for good measure, perhaps) and kick off the whole OJ trial syndrome. We're already seeing enough of this in other areas.
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Old 05-02-2011   #28
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Default Wary of the cascade of news?

Scrolling through a variety of news reports I am not convinced much of the reporting and commentary is well-based.

In support I cite Rob Baer on the BBC's Live column stated:
Quote:
Former CIA field officer Bob Baer tells the BBC World Service the intelligence sources that led to the operation are unlikely to be revealed. 'Intelligence agencies and the military will simply put out disinformation to protect the real sources, which could have been anything from intercepts to the Pakistani government itself'.
For good, political reasons the USA will congratulate itself and I do not diminish the respect due to those who undertook the mission.

As regards OBL's death I expect Muslim opinion will focus upon until satisfactory proof is provided - notably a photo - and the DNA statement (just) helps. I am happy to await any such footage.

The manner of his burial is potentially controversial, again until fully explained soon IMHO.

I would speculate that OBL's body was removed and buried at sea following a plan when KSA reportedly refused permission for it's return.

All that aside Ahmed Rashid is worth reading:
Quote:
The killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden is a huge blow to the organisation but as guest columnist Ahmed Rashid reports, its decentralised nature means it has the potential to carry out attacks on any number of targets.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13257441
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Old 05-02-2011   #29
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cross-posting from the SWJ blog.
I think its a good day for Pakistan too, but in a "long-term" kind of way.
comments on our blog are at http://www.brownpundits.com/2011/05/.../#comment-7642 (this link completes the circle, since i linked SWJ there).
One of our bloggers has a post saying the Pakistani commandos were much more heavily involved than advertised (http://www.brownpundits.com/2011/05/...yed/#more-2139). I find that plausible. But it seems that in their public pronouncements they have chosen the humiliation of this being a US operation over the dangers of being seen as loyal partners of the infidels? Or is that just more smoke and mirrors?
Whatever the details (and amateurs like me will probably never know), the bottom line is that the Pakistani establishnment will have to gradually get rid of all their old jihadi friends...not just the "bad" ones. The infidel world won't let them keep the "good jihadis" either.
One possibility is that GHQ knows this, but feels insecure and needs time to work things out with the rank and file. The other is that they don't fully know this yet and will only learn over time and with great reluctance. Either way, the end state will be the same. The Pakistani establishment will have to give up its jihadi proxies...even the "good jihadis"; even the ones who only target Hindoos and are not thought to be a major issue for the big infidels with the big bombs. The reason? the jihadis have the bad habit of not keeping the milk and meat apart very strictly. The good ones keep hobnobbing with the bad ones and even the most sympathetic infidels (the Chinese, Anatol Lieven) are uncomfortable with that aspect of jihadi behavior.....one way or the other (one way being more painful than the other) the deep state will have to pull away from all of them. Though they may or may not know it yet..and may go through years of very gradual backpedaling before they get to the promised land.
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Old 05-02-2011   #30
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Default Good points, David

We won't really have a good picture of what happened for some time (if ever), but that has never stopped the talking heads....

OBL is a good public face, and killing him does do some damage, but as we should remember from our experience with other terrorist groups such operations rarely stop them in their tracks. All one needs to do is look at the longevity of some of the European terror groups (Red Brigades, RAF, various Greek organizations, and so on), along with the various branches and incarnations of the IRA. Or, to draw a more unusual parallel, the U.S. domestic experience. We've had a handful of presidents assassinated, and at least two of them were very charismatic leaders (Lincoln and Kennedy), but that didn't bring the system crashing down (and in the case of Lincoln the potential was certainly there).

No, this is a victory to be sure, but it's not necessarily the end of anything. A change, certainly, and possibly a major blow to at least some parts of AQ.

And the KSA probably made a wise move in rejecting OBL's body (at least from their perspective). Any physical grave would almost immediately become a draw for extremists and those on the fringes of extremism.
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Old 05-02-2011   #31
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Two things:

1. My Wag-The-Dog sense is going off.

2. The fact that so many (perhaps hyperbole, some at least) here seem to be so excited to have an excuse to declare mission accomplished and get out may give motive to the possible fabrication of the story.

Not saying that I believe that the story is fabricated, but there are far too many facile elements to the story to swallow right now. Unfortunately, the administration decided to do the one thing that would best keep the conspiracies from spiraling by dumping the body in the sea.
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Old 05-02-2011   #32
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Personally, I'm interested in the compound.

Who owns the land? Who funded the construction? The answers to those questions could be very problematic for Pakistan.
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Old 05-02-2011   #33
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Default Jihadist Forums React to OBL's death

Punditry, sorry an ICSR Insight:http://icsr.info/blog/ICSR-Insight--...-Ladens-Death-

Alas the Insight is distracted by other issues, but I am sure a SWC reader will soon decide what has value.
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Old 05-02-2011   #34
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Originally Posted by Marcellinus View Post
2. The fact that so many (perhaps hyperbole, some at least) here seem to be so excited to have an excuse to declare mission accomplished and get out may give motive to the possible fabrication of the story.

Not saying that I believe that the story is fabricated, but there are far too many facile elements to the story to swallow right now. Unfortunately, the administration decided to do the one thing that would best keep the conspiracies from spiraling by dumping the body in the sea.
We won't know the truth until the government releases his long-form death certificate.

Sorry, couldn't resist.
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Old 05-02-2011   #35
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Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
Personally, I'm interested in the compound.

Who owns the land? Who funded the construction? The answers to those questions could be very problematic for Pakistan.
BBC has some initial comments on this here. It's all pretty basic, of course, but one source in the BBC piece claims that locals called it the "Waziristan Mansion".
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Old 05-02-2011   #36
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Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
We won't know the truth until the government releases his long-form death certificate.

Sorry, couldn't resist.
That's ok. I already dropped the same joke three times this morning.
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Old 05-02-2011   #37
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Default The 'Compound' factor

Entropy asked
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Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
Personally, I'm interested in the compound. Who owns the land? Who funded the construction? The answers to those questions could be very problematic for Pakistan.
There is a possible answer, today, from the BBC's enquiries:
Quote:
One local resident told the BBC Urdu service that the house had been built by a Pashtun man about 10 or 12 years ago and he said that none of the locals were aware of who was really living there. According to one local journalist, the house was known in the area as Waziristani Haveli - or Waziristan Mansion.
Secondly the compound was within the cantonment area, my understanding is that does not mean owned or controlled, rather it is a descriptive term and implies it is part of the wider military residential area. An area that may have limited access and military monitored exit/entry points.

The same BBC report refers to:
Quote:
..it lies well within Abbottabad's military cantonment - it is likely the area would have had a constant and significant military presence and checkpoints....This house was in a residential district of Abbottabad's suburbs called Bilal Town and known to be home to a number of retired military officers from the area.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13257330
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Old 05-02-2011   #38
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Default The 'Compound' factor Part 2

I searched in vain for a long ago post on fugitives and my view for sometime that OBL was not in a cave, nor a mountain valley in NWFP, but a walled compound in a Pakistani city. A compound that reduces external oversight to the minimum, high walls is one way, but in Pakistan a common design feature when affordable. With covering, vines and awnings to reduce overhead / oblique observation. Yes, never look up. Following the advice of an Australian colleague with no electronic signature too; I notice the one BBC photo shows a satellite dish.

'Hiding in plain sight' is a saying from fugitive hunting and I suppose being near a military garrison supports that.

There are tens of thousands of compounds fitting those criteria across Pakistan's urban areas.

Addition: BBC Live feed has this:
Quote:
2057: Ebrar from London, writes: "Most of the rich people in Abottabad have high walls and barbed wires around their house. I had land in Abottabad with walls and barbed wire, so no one can jump in and play cricket or use it. Abottabad is a military garrison town, everyone lives near it. Military are everywhere.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698
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Old 05-02-2011   #39
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That's interesting stuff David, thanks. Hard to believe OBL could exist there for so long without inside assistance of some kind from the Pakistan military or ISI.
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Old 05-02-2011   #40
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That's interesting stuff David, thanks. Hard to believe OBL could exist there for so long without inside assistance of some kind from the Pakistan military or ISI.
While I think it is certainly possible that Pakistani Army and/or ISI elements knew where he was, I think it is equally likely that they didn't. UBL seems to have gone to great lengths to limit the possibility of leaks (no landline or internet, controlled access, purpose-built villa with few windows, high walls, use of only a few trusted couriers, etc.) Why compromise all that with the risk that someone in the Army or ISI might get tempted by that $25m reward and provide a tip-off?

I'm not sure that 800m from a military academy is necessarily a more difficult place to hide out than any other urban area.
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