Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Osama's on the move again

By Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times

"Osama bin Laden is on the move, and Tuesday's terror attack on the US Embassy in the Syrian capital, Damascus, could be a tangible result of this.

Exclusive information obtained by Asia Times Online shows that the al-Qaeda leader recently traveled from the South Waziristan tribal area in Pakistan to somewhere in the eastern Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nooristan, or possibly Bajour, a s mall tribal agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Pakistan in North-West Frontier Province.

In addition to bin Laden's improved health, al-Qaeda has in the past few months gained some breathing room to regroup and solidify its logistics as a result of the situation in the semi-autonomous North and South Waziristan tribal areas.

A new dynamic among militant groups has emerged in Egypt to complement al-Qaeda's designs in the Middle East. Tuesday's Damascus attack could also be an illustration of this.

Many youths previously associated with the militant Gamaa Islamiya of Egypt have formed independent cells, while some Egyptian youths of Palestinian origin have created underground organizations to target the pro-Israeli Egyptian government and US interests.

The Israel-Hezbollah war proved the ideal starting point for this plan. The successful defense of Lebanon by Hezbollah was largely taken in the Arab world as the first Arab victory against Israel. Sentiment on the streets of the Middle East turned noticeably against the US, Israel and pro-West Muslim rulers. Al-Qaeda wants to keep this mood, and inflame it even further. Attacks like the one in Damascus could be such pot-boilers. More, and bigger, ones are most likely being plotted by the masterminds sitting in the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan."

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