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March 5, 2005
Pakistan Gathers More AQ Assets

Operating from new intelligence, the Pakistani Army attacked a suspected al-Qaeda hideout in North Waziristan, capturing eleven foreigners and killing two other suspected terrorists:

Pakistani troops raided a hideout of suspected al-Qaida militants Saturday in a remote tribal area near Afghanistan, triggering a shootout that left two foreigners dead, an army spokesman said. Eleven people were arrested.

The troops also seized a large number of weapons in the raid near Miran Shah, the main town in northwest Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region, said Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan.

Miran Shah is near the Afghan border, in a region known for its sympathies to the Islamists. The Pakistanis had recently come to terms with the tribal chiefs in the area and had quit attacking on a broad front in both North and South Waziristan. While they weren't satisfied that the al-Qaeda operatives in the area had all been rounded up, they promised that the tribes would no longer act to protect them. The Pakistanis then turned more of their effort to the cities, where AQ appeared to have moved in an effort to blend into larger populations for better security.

It appears that the deal with the chiefs may have borne some fruit. The AP reports that a tip initiated this latest raid, and it would seem unlikely that a pizza boy would have just stumbled across a hideout on a delivery. If Pervez Musharraf has managed to convince the tribes to act on Pakistan's behalf instead of providing cover for the terrorists -- or even if AQ suspects that may now be the prevailing wind -- it makes it much more difficult for their leadership to use the border lands to transit in and out of Pakistand and Afghanistan. They would have to use the regular roads, airports, and seaports, which hold a much greater risk of discovery.

We'll keep watching to see if more such raids turn out as successful as this one.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 5, 2005 8:02 AM

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