Included in the reported deaths were Abu Khabab al-Masri, a training camp leader and an explosives and poisons expert, Abdul Rahman Maghribi - the son-in-law of al Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman Zawahiri and the head of propaganda in that region - and Abu Ubayida Misri, a chief operative in the Konar province. Once confirmed, those deaths alone validate the military nature of the target.
The issue underscores the duplicity of Pakistan's tenuous relationship with the United States. While President Pervez Musharraf is an open supporter of the US lead war on terror, his views are the overwhelming minority on that topic. The general population openly supported the Taliban in Afghanistan and are strong idealistic supporters of al Qaeda and especially bin Laden. Musharraf's government is often at odds with its people with regards to support for the war-on-terror.
This lack of popular support in Pakistan has severely hindered US efforts to destroy al Qaeda camps on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border. Musharraf continues to deny access to US troops, and Friday's raid was conducted by the CIA using a Predator aircraft. The strike allegedly occurred without the approval of Pakistan's government, although they are not pressing that issue.
What seems to be overlooked in this particular case is the fact that top al Qaeda leaders, including Ayman Zawahiri, had been invited to that gathering in Pakistan. All of the participants were fully expecting that leadership to be there. There were no "innocent" civilians involved in this strike given their open support for the al Qaeda leadership they were hoping to entertain. Given the disappearance of bin Laden for over a year, Zawahiri is now the de facto head of al Qaeda. It should come as no surprise to anyone, least of all the Pakistanis, that the US will launch strikes against any location where Zawahiri is expected to be.
Technorati: politics news Pakistan Zawahiri al Qaeda al Qaida Musharraf
IceRocket: politics news Pakistan Zawahiri al Qaeda al Qaida Musharraf