By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly
Just days after the deaths of two top propagandists for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) by a CIA drone strike, a new study by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point looks at the central, strategic leadership of the group and its ability to continue as a serious threat to the U.S. homeland.
The author of the study, who remains anonymous because of his further studies in the region, spent a year looking at whether tribal connections helped AQAP achieve success, and while the study didn't find strong connections among tribes, it did find that the group's key to success has been its ability to remain strategically focused on its core objectives.
In a report titled "A False Foundation? AQAP, Tribes and Ungoverned Spaces in Yemen,"the author writes, "The most direct way to reduce the group's viability in Yemen, while simultaneously limiting its capacity to attack the United States at home, lies in removing those Yemeni leaders responsible for the group's operational coherence."
By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes
The Pentagon was walking carefully Monday around the latest apparent rift with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai about talking peace with the Taliban.
"We still believe reconciliation is a critical part of this process," Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby said. "I don't want to get in President Karzai's head here and try to decipher what he meant or exactly what he said."
Karzai seemed to suggest in recent news reports that he wants to pull the plug on peace initiatives with the Taliban and turn attention instead toward Pakistan, especially since the man he put in charge of establishing links with the Taliban was assassinated last month. High Peace Council Chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani was killed in a suicide bombing attack by people he believed might be willing to talk peace.
This is the first of a five-part series examining key events in the ten-year history of America's war in Afghanistan
By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy
If you read the military's official history of the start of the war in Afghanistan, it says it all began on October 7, 2001, less than four weeks after the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks.
That day, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced details of a massive air bombardment of Taliban strongholds: 50 cruise missiles fired, bombs dropped by B-52s, B-1s and B-2 stealth bombers. The goal, Rumsfeld said, was "to make clear to the Taliban leaders and their supporters that harboring terrorists is unacceptable and carries a price."
But the high-tech air campaign was preceded by a very low-tech start to America's involvement in Afghanistan: the so-called horse soldiers.