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Intelligence narrowing binladens whereabouts

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NEWSWEEK: U.S. Military, Intelligence Officials Are Confident They Are Narrowing bin Laden's Whereabouts; Human Intel Is Key to Search

Recent Reports of Sightings Show Clearer Picture of Qaeda Leader as He
Shuttles Between Pakistan and Afghanistan; Intel is So Focused Predators are
Being Sent in to Search for Him

NEW YORK, March 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Using powerful software called
Analyst's Notebook that helps to piece together data on criminal and terror
networks, U.S. military and intelligence officials are increasingly confident
they are narrowing Osama bin Laden's whereabouts, Newsweek reports in the
March 15 issue (on newsstands Monday, March 8). Key to the search is
"accumulated humint," or human intelligence, says one insider. Other
officials tell Newsweek that an increasing number of "data points" -- reports
of sightings -- have created an ever-clearer picture of bin Laden's area of
operation as he appears to shuttle between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Now
they've focused that picture to the point where they have been able to send in
Predator unmanned aerial vehicles to search for him.
(Photo: )
The man charged with finding bin Laden is former Navy SEAL and current
rear admiral William H. McRaven, Newsweek has learned. He's heading up Task
Force 121, a covert, miniature strike force with a command structure so
secretive that McRaven's role hasn't even been reported until now. Because
bin Laden apparently no longer dares to use electronic means of communication,
for fear that the U.S. would be listening, McRaven and his hunters are now
trying to snare his couriers in transit. They scored a major victory two
months ago with the capture of Hassan Ghul, a Qaeda operative who was carrying
what U.S. officials say was a strategic memo from Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, the
mysterious terror leader allegedly behind the bombings of Shiites in Iraq.
Ghul also yielded intel on bin Laden's position.
Task Force 121, which also helped to capture Saddam Hussein under
McRaven's command, represents something brand-new in warfare, a pure hybrid of
civilian intelligence and military striking power, report Senior Editor
Michael Hirsh and National Security Correspondent John Barry. It is the most
ambitious melding yet of CIA assets, Special Forces (mainly the Army's Delta
Force) and the Air Force. Formed late last year as part of Joint Special
Operations Command-the secret "black ops" under Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal,
who until recently was deputy operations director of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff-it is designed to produce a lightning-fast reaction should intel locate
bin Laden or any other "high-value targets" anywhere for a few hours. It's a
work in progress: CIA Director George Tenet meets frequently with Gen. John
Abizaid, the head of Central Command, to nurture the marriage.
Within the past few weeks, some intelligence sources say, a U.S. Predator
also spotted a suspect believed to be Al-Zawahiri somewhere in the border
area. Some Afghan and Pakistani sources, however, insist that bin Laden is
several steps ahead-and that he will continue to outsmart his pursuers. A
Taliban official in Pakistan, contacted by Newsweek, says he's heard that both
top Qaeda leaders moved to more secure and separate locations in January,
weeks before the spate of publicity about an American "spring offensive." The
Taliban official learned that, he said, from a ranking Qaeda operative, a
Yemeni who told him that other Qaeda and Taliban fighters had moved into
Afghan provinces more than 100 miles from the Pakistani border. "We decided
to leave the dangerous zone for safer areas," the Arab told the Taliban
official, Zabihullah. "The sheik is now in the most secure area he has ever
been in," the Arab said, referring to bin Laden. "We were all laughing at all
these recent reports that the Americans had our sheik cornered."
Zabihullah also said he received an encrypted e-mail last Thursday from a
senior Qaeda source in Saudi Arabia. The Qaeda operative told him not to be
taken in by the American "psychological warfare" campaign about bin Laden's
imminent capture. He assured Zabihullah in the e-mail that "the sheik is in a
safer place than ever and is more healthy than he's ever been."

(Read Newsweek's news releases at
Click "Pressroom" at the bottom of the page.)

SOURCE Newsweek
Web Site:

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