Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA 7), a confirmed American militarist who aspires to become chair of the House Armed Services Committee, told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Jun. 12 that Osama bin Laden "'has been in and out of Iran, and now we have military generals telling us that." -- Perhaps this is part of the U.S. propaganda campaign that is now being ginned up against Iran, since on Wednesday the Christian Science Monitor reviewed recent speculation about bin Laden's whereabouts and concluded that all signs point to Pakistan as bin Laden's location. -- Not that Al Qaeda is really an "organization" of which it is possible to be a "member." -- Al Qaeda as an organization with "members" did not exist until the FBI dreamed it up. Jason Burke has written: "It is less an organization than an ideology. The Arabic word qaeda can be translated as a 'base of operation' or 'foundation,' or alternatively as a 'precept' or 'method.' Islamic militants always understood the term in the latter sense. In 1987, Abdullah Azzam, the leading ideologue for modern Sunni Muslim radical activists, called for al-qaeda al-sulbah ('a vanguard of the strong'). He envisaged men who, acting independently, would set an example for the rest of the Islamic world and thus galvanize the umma ('global community of believers') against its oppressors. It was the FBI -- during its investigation of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa -- which dubbed the loosely linked group of activists that Osama bin Laden and his aides had formed as 'al Qaeda.' This decision was partly due to institutional conservatism and partly because the FBI had to apply conventional antiterrorism laws to an adversary that was in no sense a traditional terrorist or criminal organization." -- These points, by the way, are demonstrated in some detail in the 3-hour BBC documentary by Adam Curtis, The Power of Nightmares, the first hour of which will be shown by UFPPC at 6:30 p.m. on Jul. 7 at First United Methodist Church in Tacoma, 423 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma....
OSAMA BIN LADEN 'IN AND OUT' OF IRAN IN RECENT YEARS -- U.S. LAWMAKER
AFX News Limited
June 12, 2005
WASHINGTON -- Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who has been the subject of a worldwide manhunt since the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, has been in and out of Iran several times over the past few years, said U.S. Representative Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican.
Weldon is the author of a book on terrorism using an Iranian source dubbed 'Ali,' whose credibility was questioned by a Central Intelligence Agency agent.
Bin Laden 'has been in and out of Iran, and now we have military generals telling us that,' Weldon told NBC's 'Meet the Press.'
'Interestingly enough, the CIA totally refuted that when I first went to them. And by the way, the person who gave me this entire lead was a former Democrat member of Congress,' he said.
The lawmaker said he did not know whether bin Laden was in Iran today.
'I gave the CIA hits over the past five months that he was there twice, and I also told them two years ago he was in a small town in a southern part of Iran called Ladiz, 10 kilometers inside the border with Pakistan in Baluchistan,' he said.
'I'd say he's been in and out repeatedly.'
Weldon defended the Iranian source he used in his book Countdown to Terror: The Top-Secret Information That Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America and How the CIA Has Ignored It.
But Bill Murray, the former CIA station chief in Paris, told U.S. newspapers he met four times with 'Ali' in Paris and that the source's information was not credible.
Weldon countered that he received a letter from the CIA last year which ended with: 'We welcome further information from Ali.'
Terrorism & Security
GOSS'S 'EXCELLENT' IDEA
By Matthew Clark
** CIA director comments lead some in the US to ask: "If we know where bin Laden is, why don't we get him?" **
Christian Science Monitor
June 21, 2005
In an interview published on Time magazine's website Sunday, CIA Director Porter Goss recently said he has an "excellent" idea where Osama bin Laden is hiding, sparking fresh speculation in the media and among analysts as to why the U.S. hasn't yet captured or killed the Al Qaeda leader.
Asked when the U.S. will get Mr. bin Laden, Mr. Goss had this to say:
"In the chain that you need to successfully wrap up the war on terror, we have some weak links. And I find that until we strengthen all the links, we're probably not going to be able to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice. . . . when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play."
"Mr. Goss's carefully worded comments again avoid naming any countries, but could . . . be interpreted as a suggestion that dealing with Pakistan over [bin Laden] has become a sensitive issue for the U.S.," reports BBC.
In an opinion piece pubished in Asia Times, the director of the Institute for Topical Studies in Chennai, India, B. Raman goes a bit further. He writes that "the exasperation of [Goss] with Pakistan's role in the hunt for [bin Laden] and other Al Qaeda members is evident from his remarks."
[Goss] did not mention Pakistan by name, but it was apparent that he was talking of that country. On the Afghan side of the border, 16,000 US troops have the responsibility to hunt for bin Laden. If he was in Afghan territory, there would be no reason for Goss to talk of sanctuaries in sovereign states, weak links, etc. If bin Laden was in Iranian territory, there would be no reason not to name Iran, since U.S. relations with Tehran are already at rock-bottom.
Mr. Raman ends the piece this way: "If [Goss] has such an excellent idea of where bin Laden is, why is the CIA not using Predator aircraft to kill him?"
Writing for the editorial board of the Huntsville Times, John Ehinger did not mince words: "If we know where Osama bin Laden is hiding, let's go get him."
White House Press Secretary McClellan sought to clear up this question Monday by saying that Goss "was referring to the general area [bin Laden's] believed to be in."
"If we knew exactly where he was, we would go get him," said Mr. McClellan. "[Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf] recognizes the importance of going after those terrorists and bringing them to justice before they can do harm. . . . We are receiving good cooperation from the government of Pakistan. They are a partner in the global war on terrorism, and they have been working with U.S. to go after al Qaeda and Taliban remnants."
Depite the fact that Pakistan has consistently denied any implication that it is not doing its level best to capture or kill Al Qaeda and Taliban members within its borders, some U.S. diplomatic and military officials working in Afghanistan have long thought bin Laden is across the border in Pakistan.
Last September, Lt. Gen. David Barno, commander of U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, said that top Al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, were more likely to be in Pakistan than Afghanistan. "We see relatively little evidence of senior Al Qaeda personality figures being here (in Afghanistan) because they can feel more protected by their foreign fighters in remote areas inside Pakistan," he said. Lt. Gen. Barno pointed out then that no major al Qaeda figures had been caught or killed in Afghanistan since 2002, but Pakistan had arrested or killed dozens in the months preceding his comments.
The outgoing U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmad Khalilzad, has repeatedly made controversial comments suggesting that top level Al Qaeda and Taliban members are not being pursued as actively in Pakistan as in Afghanistan. Last year Pakistan denounced his comments about Islamabad not doing enough to combat Al Qaeda as "worrisome, foolish, and highly irresponsible," reports BBC.
Mr. Khalilzad's language was decidedly more circumspect last week when he refuted the claim that Taliban leader Mullah Omar and bin Laden are in Afghanistan. "Although he was careful not to say explicitly that he thought they were in Pakistan, he came as close to saying it as is possible without offending diplomatic sensibilities," writes BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera.
Khalilzad, who, if the Senate approves, soon will be leaving his post to become U.S. ambassador to Iraq, may have escaped an assassination attempt in Afghanistan Monday. The Associated Press reports that Afghan intelligence agents thwarted a plot to kill Khalilzad, arresting three Pakistanis armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.
According to AP, "two senior officials said the men had admitted their guilt to intelligence agents and told authorities they were in Afghanistan 'to fight jihad,' or holy war." The arrests came days after U.S. and Afghan officials "warned that foreign fighters were slipping into Afghanistan to cause mayhem ahead of parliamentary elections," reports AP.
Afghan Defense Minister Rahim Wardak said Friday that Al Qaeda is regrouping in Afghanistan. Mr. Wardak told AP that Al Qaeda slipped about half a dozen Arab agents into Afghanistan over the past few weeks.
Wardak would not say where the Al Qaeda fighters entered from, but other Afghan intelligence sources told AP that the men are believed to have crossed the border from Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, and that more were on the way. ...
The defense minister said Al Qaeda and the Taliban were receiving support from "regional powers" who were rattled by Afghanistan's request for a long-term U.S. and NATO presence, but he declined to single out any country in particular. "There is no doubt that there are countries in this region that have their own designs, and have had from long ago, and they are always trying to exploit the vacuums that have been created here," he said.
In the BBC analysis piece cited above, Mr. Corera writes:
"So far, there are only hints that the U.S. may be beginning to lose patience with its ally's contribution but if those hints become anything stronger, there could be stormy times ahead in the most critical of relationships in America's war on terror."