Friday, December 11, 2009

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY December 12, 2009 ~ Top al-Qaeda Planner Apparently Killed In Pakistan

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY December 12, 2009 ~ Top al-Qaeda Planner Apparently Killed In Pakistan Obama's War Combating Extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan
*Local authorities say missiles were fired by U.S. drone
*Source: DTN News / The Washington Post Joby Warrick and Karen DeYoung
Special correspondent Haq Nawaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan, contributed to this report. (NSI News Source Info) PESHAWAR, Pakistan - December 12, 2009: An apparent U.S. missile strike along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan is believed to have killed a top al-Qaeda operations planner this week, U.S. counterterrorism officials said Friday. If confirmed, this would be the second deadly attack against a senior terrorist leader this fall. Saleh al-Somali was one of two Arab men thought to have been killed when a pair of missiles tore into their car Tuesday near the town of Miran Shah in North Waziristan province, according to U.S. sources and Pakistani officials in the region. Local authorities said the missiles were fired by an unmanned aircraft of the type operated by the CIA inside Pakistan's lawless tribal belt. "They were driving in a white car, heading toward the Afghan border, when the car was hit," said an official with Pakistan's civilian intelligence agency, speaking by phone from Miran Shah. The official said suspected local militants rushed to the spot and quickly confiscated what remained of the "totally demolished bodies." Local authorities were unable to verify the victims' identities, but two U.S. counterterrorism officials cited unspecified evidence that Somali was among the dead. Somali was described as a senior al-Qaeda military planner who ran the terrorist group's operations outside the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. "He was engaged in plotting throughout the world," said one senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitive nature of U.S. airstrikes inside Pakistani territory. "Given his central role, this probably included plotting attacks against the United States and Europe. He took strategic guidance from al-Qaeda's top leadership and translated it into operational blueprints for prospective terrorist attacks." The second U.S. official said Somali had risen quickly through al-Qaeda's ranks and was well-connected with other extremist groups in the region. "He may not be a household name to some Americans, but that in no way diminishes the threat he posed to us and our allies," the second official said. If his death is confirmed, Somali would be the second senior al-Qaeda or Taliban leader killed since September, when a similar strike killed Najmuddin Jalolov, the leader of a militant faction in the tribal belt, and three other top operatives. The tempo of strikes by CIA-run drones has declined since the summer, from an average of about six operations per month to two, according to a tally by the Long War Journal, a Web site managed by a nonprofit group. The decline may be due to improved tactics by terrorist groups, which have taken steps to limit their vulnerability while also ruthlessly killing suspected informants, the site said.

DTN News: Hercules Crews Begin Supplying Troops In Afghanistan With Air Drops

DTN News: Hercules Crews Begin Supplying Troops In Afghanistan With Air Drops *Source: DTN News / British Ministry of Defence (MoD) (NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - December 12, 2009: Crews from RAF Lyneham are reverting to Second World War methods of resupplying troops on the front line in Afghanistan by air drops, helping to reduce the danger posed by roadside bombs. Air dispatchers load a Hercules with supplies for an air drop to a forward operating base in Helmand province [Picture: Corporal Steve Bain (RAF) ABIPP, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009] Traditionally, the forward operating bases (FOBs), where front line British troops are located throughout Helmand province, have been restocked by road as air drops have been notoriously inaccurate. But now stores, which include essential ration packs, are able to be thrown accurately out of the the back of a moving Hercules, helping to limit the danger to soldiers who resupply by land. It's only now a viable option because of the introduction of a new computerised system that works out a precise time and location for the drop to begin. Group Captain Terry Jones, Commanding Officer of Air Assets at Kandahar, explained the importance of the air drops: "If you drop by road, you put a convoy out for a long period where it's vulnerable to attack and where the vehicles can run over IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and that puts the people at risk. Supplies dropped by a C-130 Hercules aircraft near Forward Operating Base Edinburgh on the outskirts of Musa Qaleh [Picture: Sergeant Keith Cotton RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009] "We can lower the burden on those patrols and reduce them to the minimum by making more use of air drops, where we can drop large numbers of supplies very close to the patrol bases and forward operating bases, precisely where the troops need them." Air drops to resupply the front line were used as far back as the Second World War, but historically the vast majority of loads never landed where they should. For that reason the FOBs in Afghanistan have been restocked by road. Flight Lieutenant Gareth Burdett, Captain of a Hercules C-130 aircraft dropping the supplies, said: "The challenges with an air drop in Afghanistan have always been knowing what the wind is doing. Dropping stores in the way that we do is a bit like dropping a feather in a corner of a room with a fan blowing. A soldier from the Household Cavalry Regiment Battle Group retrieves supplies dropped by a C-130 Hercules aircraft near Forward Operating Base Edinburgh on the outskirts of Musa Qaleh [Picture: Sergeant Keith Cotton RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009] "But the kit that we have now enables us to find out accurately what the wind is doing, and therefore we can make sure that from where we release these stores the parachutes will all land in the correct position on the ground." Because of the accuracy of the new system, the size of the area the soldiers have to clear of improvised explosive devices is greatly reduced. The accuracy with which the pallets fall into a drop zone also makes it easier for the troops to unpack them quickly and take the consignment back to the relative safety of the FOB. See Related Links >>> to watch a special BFBS report on the air drops. Lieutenant Daniel Hurt, Second-in-Command of Forward Operating Base Edinburgh near Musa Qaleh, said: "We can secure the drop zone before, so we can make sure there are no IEDs or mines or anything there, and there's no insurgent activity. That way we are happy that it is safe and we're controlling the situation." Speaking about a recent drop he said: Parachutes float supplies down from the sky onto the desert plain near Forward Operating Base Edinburgh [Picture: Sergeant Keith Cotton RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009] "In total I think we moved about sixty tonnes worth of kit and that was all man-handled. "A group of twenty guys did that last night. Picking up a huge volume of stores in the freezing cold of the Afghanistan desert at night in December is not as easy as it sounds, but the troops lifting the boxes on the receiving end were pleased to get their fresh rations." Watching the stores arrive, Captain James Horspool said: "It was eerily quiet apart from the brief flutter of parachutes far overhead, followed by gentle 'thuds' as they hit the ground. "They looked something like jellyfish floating down from the starry skies onto the desert plain."

DTN News: Boeing 787 Dreamliner Program Completes Static Test Analysis, Gauntlet Tests

DTN News: Boeing 787 Dreamliner Program Completes Static Test Analysis, Gauntlet Tests *Source: DTN News / Boeing (NSI News Source Info) EVERETT, Wash., - December 12, 2009: Boeing (NYSE: BA) Dec.11 completed the review and analysis of the static test that was conducted Nov. 30 to validate the side-of-body modification made to the 787 Dreamliner. "I am happy to report that the program has validated the airplane structure for the 787 Dreamliner," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. Fancher also reported that the 787 team has completed final gauntlet testing on the first airplane. Testing lasted for just two days because only improvements made earlier this year during previous testing had to be examined. "We are very pleased with the results of this final functional testing. With the successful completion of static testing and this functional testing, our focus now moves to first flight." During the test on the 787 Dreamliner static test airframe, the wing and trailing edges of the airframe were subjected to their limit load -- the highest loads expected to be seen in service. The limit-load test was required to clear the airplane for first flight. Boeing's test strategy is to conduct all limit-load tests and analyze data before conducting the ultimate load series, which is required for certification and will be conducted next year. Boeing announced June 23 that it was necessary to reinforce an area of structure at the side-of-body section of the 787. The modification entails installing new fittings at 34 stringer locations within the joint where the wing attaches to the fuselage. The 787 team has completed modifications on the first three flight-test airplanes and the full-scale static test airplane. First flight of the 787 Dreamliner is expected to occur after final flight readiness reviews, receipt of documentation from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and taxi testing. Both taxi testing and first flight are subject to weather conditions. "We are pleased with the pace of progress in preparing to enter our flight test program," said Fancher.

DTN News: USAF To Develop New Bomber

DTN News: USAF To Develop New Bomber *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media By JOHN T. BENNETT (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - December 12, 2009: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Dec. 11 the 2011 Pentagon spending request is likely to include funding for development of a new Air Force bomber, Reuters reported.According to DTI quote "DTI reports this month that Northrop Grumman has won a classified Air Force contract to develop a secret bomber prototype. Naturally, nobody’s confirming this on the record, but we present strong evidence that such a project is under way." The long-talked-about program has been in limbo since Gates froze it in April amid several dozen major weapons program cuts. Gates wanted the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review to look at the need for a new long-range bomber fleet. "We are probably going to proceed with a long-range strike initiative coming out of the Quadrennial Defense Review and various other reviews going on," Gates told troops in Kirkuk, Iraq. "We're looking at a family of capabilities, both manned and unmanned." He said funding likely would start at $1 billion, and then ramp up in subsequent years.

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY December 11, 2009 ~ Pakistani And U.S. Agents Interrogate Five Americans

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY December 11, 2009 ~ Pakistani And U.S. Agents Interrogate Five Americans *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) SARGODHA, Pakistan - December 11, 2009: U.S. FBI agents and their Pakistani colleagues interrogated on Friday five young American Muslims who wanted to go to Afghanistan to fight U.S.-led forces, Pakistani officials said. Pakistani children play in front of a house where police reportedly arrested five American Muslims in Sargodha, Pakistan, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. Five young American Muslims arrested in Pakistan met with representatives of an al-Qaida linked group and asked for training but were turned down because they lacked references from trusted militants, a Pakistani law enforcement official said Thursday. The case is bound to fan fears in Western countries that the sons of immigrants from Muslim countries are being drawn to violent Islamist militancy, a process made easier by the Internet. The five men, students in their 20s from northern Virginia, were detained this week in the city of Sargodha in Punjab province, 190 km (120 miles) southeast of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. The case has again focused attention on nuclear-armed Pakistan's performance in fighting militants as Washington presses Islamabad to root out Islamist fighters crossing the border to attack U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan. The five tried to contact militants and stayed in touch with each other through the Internet, Pakistani security officials said, highlighting the difficulty authorities face in trying to track and disrupt plots organized on the Web. Police in Sargodha had taken the first step toward filing charges with complaints based on laws pertaining to foreigners and use of computers to organize crime. "A case has been registered against the five for violating Pakistan's foreigners and cyber acts," Sargodha police chief Usman Anwar told Reuters. Pakistani agents and colleagues from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were interrogating the five, said a Pakistani security official. "They are still in Sargodha and they are being investigated by us as well as the FBI," said the official, who declined to be identified. "BRAINWASHED" Another Pakistani security official said the five had visited a madrasa, or Islamic religious school, in the southern city of Hyderabad saying they wanted to join jihad, or Muslim holy war. The school turned them away, he said. The hapless five had then tried to contact an Islamist charity, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, linked to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, in the city of Lahore. They failed there too as they had no guarantor, the official said. "These are five raw men who had been brainwashed," said the security official. The five were found with maps and had intended to travel through northwest Pakistan to the al Qaeda and Taliban militant stronghold of Miranshah, in the lawless North Waziristan region on the Afghan border. "Their ultimate destination was Afghanistan. They wanted to go to Afghanistan for jihad," the official said. It is not clear if the five will be prosecuted in Pakistan or sent back to the United States. In Washington, the FBI said discussions were underway on their possible return. The suspects were wary about being detected through sending emails so instead they shared a password so different members of their group could access the same email site and read messages saved there as drafts, the first Pakistani official said. "It's a very difficult job to dismantle such networks which operate through the Internet," he said. The suspects were being investigated for links with the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad group, but it was not clear to what extent they had developed contacts. The Jaish-e-Mohammad, or Army of the Prophet Mohammad, has links with al Qaeda and the Taliban and is one of several factions with roots in Punjab province which have been battling Indian forces in disputed Kashmir.