By CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and Tim Lister
The mountains of Kunar province are as beautiful as they are deadly. High alpine valleys, sweeping views in every direction. And al Qaeda units hiding beyond the ridges that U.S. military power is unable to control.
On patrol with U.S. forces in this remote eastern corner of Afghanistan, you get a sense of the enormous challenge of pacifying this wild, uncharted territory. The only way to take the high ground is by air – a perilous operation at 9,000 feet.
The ground is vitally important though. Kunar and neighboring Nurestan province are places so rugged and untameable that NATO has entirely pulled out of the latter, and has withdrawn from the Pech valley – a key patch of terrain where Americans fought for years, unsure whether they were just facing locals angry at being invaded, or hardcore militants.
Yet this partial withdrawal – criticized by some as relinquishing ground that America must hold to secure Afghanistan's porous but vital eastern border – has enabled some of the main militants that U.S. forces came to Afghanistan to defeat, to re-emerge. FULL POST
By Charley Keyes
CNN Senior National Security Producer
A U.S. Army General Wednesday approved a possible death penalty in the future military trial of Major Nidal Hasan, the American Muslim accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas.
Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, the Fort Hood commander, formally announced that the charges against Hasan will be tried as capital offenses. His decision means that if a jury of military officers finds Hasan guilty, then the death penalty is a possible sentence. And this moves the case forward and also eliminates the possibility that Hasan, a psychiatrist, could enter a guilty plea and prevent a costly and lengthy trial.
And this latest green light for the Hasan court martial comes just days after the Obama Administration point man on terrorism cited the Fort Hood massacre as a example of how overseas extremists were inciting terrorist acts inside the U.S.
A court martial could be months away, and despite comments from the White House and elsewhere, Hasan is considered innocent until proven guilty under the Code of Military Justice. FULL POST
Terrorists intent on striking commercial aircraft have shown renewed interest in surgically implanting explosives or explosive components in humans to conduct attacks, a U.S. security official tells CNN.
The idea of implanting bombs has been discussed in the past, but the United States has obtained fresh intelligence about the desire of terrorists, and there is new intelligence about a possible technique that could be used, according to the official, who declined to elaborate.
Last week, U.S. officials briefed airlines and U.S. allies overseas about new intelligence, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman said.
The Department of Homeland Security and the TSA recently notified them that "recent intelligence" indicates "the continued interest of terrorists to target aviation," said the spokesman, Nicholas Kimball.
"Terrorist groups have repeatedly and publicly indicated interest in pursuing ways to further conceal explosives" because of advances in aviation security, he said. FULL POST
By Nic Robertson, CNN senior international correspondent
Outside al Naqib hospital empty gurneys sit where cars normally park. Al Qaeda’s foot soldiers are less than an hour's drive away. Soon the wounded will arrive.
They are likely to be children, women and old men, caught in the crossfire between government forces and Islamist militants closing in on the city of Aden, the second largest in Yemen.
Like dozens before them, the new casualties will be lifted gingerly from shabby cars, laid flat on the waiting trolleys, rushed to surgery.
With medical students helping them, doctors new to injuries caused by explosives, tank shells, bombs and bullets will struggle to staunch the flow of blood, reconstruct fragmented bones, console the inconsolable.
It’s the waiting in this war that hurts the most. FULL POST