December 30th, 2011
08:26 PM ET

NGO's concerned about Egypt raids

By Jill Dougherty and Jamie Crawford

In his downtown office in Washington, D.C., Leslie Campbell is emailing staff in the Cairo office of the National Democratic Institute. They're locked out, their office stripped of computers, personal laptops, documents and even cash after an armed raid by Egyptian security forces.

A fax hits his mailbox, a scan of a handwritten report by institute's country director.

"It's a short summary of what happened," Campbell said. "The security forces entering, refusing to allow people to make phone calls, including to the embassy, and then taking all the computers, carrying out safes ... 10 boxes of records, personal computers of staff, and no inventory being made or provided to us."
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2011: A wild ride for the CIA
Compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was killed
December 30th, 2011
02:31 PM ET

2011: A wild ride for the CIA

By CNN's Pam Benson

The year has been a rollercoaster ride for the CIA–incredible highs coupled with significant lows. But those dramatic ups and downs also underscored how intelligence is evolving and the agency is changing to keep pace. Keeping secrets is becoming more difficult and what the agency now does is sometimes more visible. And– the enemy is getting better.

On the critical counterterrorism front, 2011 was a momentous year. The crowning moment–maybe of even the last decade–was the CIA finally pinning down the location of enemy number one, Osama bin Laden, and then overseeing the raid by Navy special forces on a safehouse in Pakistan which led to his death, bringing an end to the nearly ten year pursuit of America's most wanted terrorist.

The raid is a prime example of the new warfare the CIA is engaged in. The counterterrorism battle is frequently being waged by CIA officers and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) forces working side by side. Former CIA Director Mike Hayden said "it's clear the Agency and JSOC are now in a privileged position in terms of how we want to fight this war." The retired Air Force general referred to the CIA today as looking more like the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the World War two-era intelligence service that had a more operational, paramilitary role.

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Filed under: 9/11 • Al Qaeda • Analysis • Anwar al-Awlaki • Arab Spring • Central Intelligence Agency • CIA • drones • Intelligence • Kim Jong Il • Middle East • Military • Navy SEALs • North Korea • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Panetta • Panetta • Pentagon • Spying • Terrorism • Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab
Raining drones?
An Air Force MQ-9 Reaper prepares to land
December 30th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Raining drones?

By CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

When the highly classified RQ-170 Sentinel drone crashed in Iran recently, there were many questions about how this could happen. Then, a few days later, a Predator drone crashed on the island nation of Seychelles. Are drones falling out of the sky?

These recent high-profile crashes of U.S. drones raise questions about the reliability of the crucial unmanned aircraft.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have about the same mishap rate as the F-16 manned fighter jet did at a comparable stage of development, according to retired Lt. Gen David Deptula, who ran the Air Force drone program until he left the service in 2010.

An Air Force chart obtained by CNN confirms Deptula's assessment, showing as flight time increases, mishap rates for drones drop, just like they do for the piloted F-16 and F-22 fighter jets.
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Filed under: drones
Al Qaeda sends fighters to Libya
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri personally dispatched a veteran Al Qaeda fighter to Libya earlier this year.
December 30th, 2011
04:17 AM ET

Al Qaeda sends fighters to Libya

By Nic Robertson and Paul Cruickshank

Al Qaeda's leadership has sent experienced jihadists to Libya in an effort to build a fighting force there, according to a Libyan source briefed by Western counter-terrorism officials.

The jihadists include one veteran fighter who had been detained in Britain on suspicion of terrorism. The source describes him as committed to al Qaeda's global cause and to attacking U.S. interests.

The source told CNN that the al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, personally dispatched the former British detainee to Libya earlier this year as the Gadhafi regime lost control of large swathes of the country.

The man arrived in Libya in May and has since begun recruiting fighters in the eastern region of the country, near the Egyptian border. He now has some 200 fighters mobilized, the source added. Western intelligence agencies are aware of his activities, according to the source.
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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Libya • Terrorism