Jun 17, 2004

New Al qaeda Training Tape from Pakistan-Afghanistan Border

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company The New York Times June 17, 2004 Thursday Late Edition - Final SECTION: Section A; Column 1; Foreign Desk; Pg. 19 LENGTH: 589 words HEADLINE: New Video Purports to Show Qaeda Training in Afghanistan BYLINE: By DAVID ROHDE DATELINE: ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 16 BODY: Al Jazeera, the Arabic-language television network based in Qatar, broadcast Wednesday what it said was a new videotape showing members of Al Qaeda receiving military training at a camp in Afghanistan. A leading terrorism expert said the scenes appeared to be authentic, but it was more likely that training was occurring inside Pakistan's remote tribal areas. The video, if genuine, would be the first evidence that Al Qaeda had regrouped sufficiently to carry out training operations inside Afghanistan or Pakistan since the United States toppled the Taliban in 2001. It was broadcast a day after President Bush, welcoming the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in Washington, declared that the United States had won a major victory in the war against terrorism by denying Al Qaeda a safe refuge in Afghanistan. Peter Bergen, a terrorism analyst who teaches at Johns Hopkins University, said the video was the first he had seen emerge from Afghanistan or Pakistan since the fall of the Taliban. He said it suggested renewed confidence by the group. ''It's one thing to be cowering in a mud hut, it's another thing when you're filming training,'' Mr. Bergen said. ''This is more like the stuff we've seen out of Iraq, where we've seen insurgents filming their operations.'' Men firing weapons and performing various physical exercises were shown in one part of the video. Another part showed what was described as a nighttime attack on a government post inside Afghanistan. A third scene displayed a man in uniform who appeared to be wounded or dead. The commander of the Qaeda fighters was identified as a Libyan. Mr. Bergen said that the nighttime attack scenes might have been faked but that he believed the training was real and probably occurring in Pakistan's remote tribal areas, near the Afghan border. ''It's hard to tell which side of the border, but I think it is more likely to be on the Pakistan side,'' he said. ''I think the U.S. Army has a better grip on Afghanistan than the Pakistani Army has on Pakistan.'' A week ago, thousands of Pakistani troops began carrying out an operation in the remote tribal areas to kill or capture foreign militants believed to be conducting terrorist attacks in Pakistan and cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistani officials said Monday that they had taken control of the Shakai Valley area where Qaeda-linked terrorists had been receiving training. Hundreds of foreign militants are believed to be hiding in the Pakistani tribal areas; there are suspicions that Osama bin Laden may be among them. Some Pakistani political analysts and Afghan officials accuse Pakistan's ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, of moving too slowly to eradicate militancy. They say the general tries to protect some militants in order to use them to put pressure on Pakistan's archrival, India. Pakistani officials point out that militants have vowed to kill General Musharraf, who narrowly survived two assassination attempts in December, and say he is doing all he can to eradicate militancy. They say the government has taken extraordinary steps, including deploying army units in the fiercely independent tribal areas for the first time in Pakistan's history. In an escalation of fighting on Wednesday, an estimated 70 local and foreign militants carried out a coordinated attack on a Pakistani military base in the tribal areas, killing one soldier and wounding 10 others, 6 seriously. Soldiers said the militants fired dozens of rockets and mortars during a five-hour attack on the camp in Luddah. URL: http://www.nytimes.com LOAD-DATE: June 17, 2004 Document 5 of 21