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05/05/2005 Terrorism ASIA, Global
America Strikes Back – The War on Terrorism - 05 May 2005

Executive Summary

1. Assessment: The capture of al Qaida’s No. 3 leader Abu Farraj al-Libbi, a mastermind in planning international operations, signifies a major victory in U.S.-Pakistani efforts in the war on terrorism and may facilitate the dismantling of network links between local and foreign militants. The interrogation of al-Libbi may possibly lead to clues about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, reveal ties with sleeper cells in Pakistan or abroad, or provide intelligence on the adaptability of the terror organization to hierarchy replacements and expanded global operations. While the formation of the newly elected Iraqi government escalated violence by Sunni insurgents, expect U.S. pressure on Baghdad to appoint a permanent defense minister in order to assist in stabilizing the hostile security environment. The failure of Shiite and Kurdish leaders to include the Sunni minority placed emphasis on sectarian divides, fueling fears that ethnic polarization may potentially be cemented in the constitutional process.

2. Summary: Following the arrest of a man President Bush called “a top general” of Osama bin Laden, Pakistani security forces rounded up about two dozen suspected al Qaida members using information from the No. 3 al Qaida leader, Abu Farraj al-Libbi. Authorities are hoping al-Libbi can provide leads to the whereabouts of top leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy al-Zawahiri. Captured by Pakistani security forces near the town of Mardan, the Libyan militant was allegedly a close confidant of bin Laden since the 1990s and has been accused of orchestrating two unsuccessful attempts to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in December 2003. Following intense debate by the transitional Iraq government, the newly elected democratic government was sworn into office on 3 May despite its failure to name seven positions in the 37-member cabinet – including key oil, electricity and defense ministries. The Cabinet, under Shiite Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, includes sixteen Shiites, nine Iraqi Kurds, four Sunnis and one Christian. The government is now tasked with drafting a permanent constitution for Iraq and organizing fresh elections before the end of the year. As Japan and Bulgaria announced plans to withdraw troops (550 and 450 respectively) from Iraq by the end of the year, U.S. Air Force General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have constrained the military’s ability to tackle other potential conflicts and made any future war more likely to be longer and bloodier. With violence escalating in Iraq, Ansar al-Islam claimed responsibility for a suicide attack at the police recruitment center in Irbil that killed 60 Iraqis and wounded 150. Ansar al-Islam stated the attack was in retaliation for Kurdish militias working with the U.S.-led coalition. U.S. forces recovered a letter they believe was addressed to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in which the author complained about low morale among his followers and the incompetence of leaders in his terror network. The authenticity of the letter could not be independently verified. The U.S. military is also investigating reports that al-Zarqawi visited a hospital in Ramadi last week and the possibility he may be injured or ill. Iraq security forces announced the capture of a nephew of Saddam Hussein who allegedly financed insurgents. Ayman Sabawi, son of one of Saddam’s three half brothers, was arrested in a raid earlier this month near Tikrit. An Australian task force arrived in Baghdad to work for the release of Douglas Wood, a kidnapped Australian citizen that was shown on Al Jazeera (1 May) pleading for the U.S.-led coalition to leave Iraq. In the deadliest fighting in Afghanistan in nine months, U.S. and Afghan forces clashed with Taliban-led militants in the Zabul province, killing 64 rebels, nine Afghan soldiers, seven American troops, and a policeman.

3. Prepared by: Virtual Information Center; (808) 477-3661 ext. ­2400, on 5 May 2005

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Edited by the VIC Staff from the following resources. Views expressed are the opinions of various authors gathered from open sources, and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Headquarters United States Pacific Command.
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