Panetta: America beating al Qaeda but hasn't won yet
November 20th, 2012
09:48 PM ET

Panetta: America beating al Qaeda but hasn't won yet

By Larry Shaughnessy

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spelled out the future battle against al Qaeda, praising what has been done so far but warning much more work remains.

Speaking about the September 11 attacks in a speech at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank, Panetta said, "We will do everything possible to ensure that such an attack never happens again. That means counterterrorism will continue as a key mission for our military and intelligence professionals as long as violent extremists pose a direct threat to the United States."

He said efforts against the core al Qaeda group have been largely successful. "Al Qaeda's leadership ranks have been decimated. This includes the loss of four of al Qaeda's five top leaders in the last 2½ years alone - Osama bin Laden, Shaikh Saeed al-Masri, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman and Abu Yahya al-Libi."


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Filed under: 10 years of war • Abu Yahya al-Libi • Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Benghazi • Diplomacy • drones • Libya • Mali • Nigeria • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Panetta • Secretary of Defense • Somalia • Special Operations Forces • Yemen
Pakistani drone critic questioned by U.S. authorities
October 29th, 2012
06:22 AM ET

Pakistani drone critic questioned by U.S. authorities

A Pakistani politician critical of U.S. drone strikes said Saturday that American authorities detained and questioned him at a Canadian airport.

Imran Khan, a former cricket star, this month led a march to the border of Pakistan's tribal region to protest drone strikes, which he says end up killing more civilians than militants.

Khan said he boarded a New York-bound plane in Toronto on Friday when two U.S. immigration officials asked him to step outside. The officials made him wait for about 40 minutes before interviewing him for another 20 minutes, he said.

"I kept asking them what was this all about, and then one guy interviewed me and he was so confused, he had no idea what he was saying," Khan told CNN by phone from Seattle, another stop on his trip.

"He was talking about some fund-raising, so I asked him to come to the point, and he said, 'We're worried you might use violence against drones.' I mean, it was so ridiculous, I didn't even know how to answer it."


Filed under: drones • Pakistan
Taking tea with a terrorist
Moez Garsallaoui in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region in 2008. Photo/CNN
October 17th, 2012
04:44 PM ET

Taking tea with a terrorist

By Paul Cruickshank

He didn't look like a hardened terrorist. A short, meek man with a neatly cropped beard and glasses, Moez Garsallaoui was shy and courteous. He served me and a CNN crew sweet Moroccan tea and north African cakes in the living room of the pinewood Swiss chalet he shared with his Belgian-Moroccan wife.

That was in 2006. Fast forward to the present: A posting on the Shumukh al-Islam Jihadist forum Monday said Garsallaoui had been killed in "a cowardly, treacherous raid" somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. He was 44.

In the intervening six years, he had become a jihadist of some standing, and may have influenced the young Frenchman who carried out a string of shootings in southwest France earlier this year.

"We received the painful news about the killing of another hero of the heroes of this Ummah, and one of its best," the posting by a militant calling himself Abu al-Laith al-Waziri stated, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Treasury sanctions terror facilitators in Pakistan
The Treasury Department announced the sanctions in a statement on Wednesday.
October 17th, 2012
03:15 PM ET

Treasury sanctions terror facilitators in Pakistan

By Jamie Crawford

The United States imposed sanctions on three men who allegedly facilitated Taliban operations and helped another group deemed a terrorist organization, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.

One of the men was linked to the failed car bomb attack on New York's Times Square in 2010, Treasury said.

The three, all based in Pakistan, were each were targeted for allegedly providing material, logistical, or financial support to a separate group: the Taliban in Afghanistan, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

"Today's actions are intended to disrupt the activities of three individuals working to carry out violent attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan that threaten the lives of civilians and military forces," Davis Cohen, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

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Filed under: Pakistan • Taliban • Terrorism • Treasury
October 17th, 2012
05:12 AM ET

Who are the Pakistani Taliban?

By Ben Brumfield

The Pakistani Taliban is a banned Islamist group with intimate links with the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda.

While the attempted killing of 14-year-old teen activist Malala Yousafzai has brought renewed focus on the group, the brazen act is part of a long list of attacks on civilians and the military that the Islamist militant group has carried out in Pakistan's mostly ungoverned tribal area along the Afghan border.

Most recently, the group, formally known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), took the global spotlight when Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American, attempted to detonate a car bomb in New York's Times Square in May 2010. The TTP took responsibility, and Shahzad testified that he had received training from them.

The following September, the U.S. State Department designated the TTP a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

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Filed under: Pakistan • Terrorism
SEAL's Osama bin Laden book sheds light on Ambien use in military
September 9th, 2012
11:22 PM ET

SEAL's Osama bin Laden book sheds light on Ambien use in military

By Larry Shaughnessy

The new book "No Easy Day" by former U.S. Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette has attracted a great deal of attention for his first hand account of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Bissonnette chronicles the drama of the daring operation and the al Qaeda leader's final moments at his compound in Pakistan. But it also details quieter revelations, including one in which Bissonnette talks about the use by SEALS of the powerful sleep drug Ambien.

Available by prescription, Ambien is known to cause some potentially troubling side effects including sleep walking, hallucinations and amnesia, according to Dr. Thomas LoRusso, the medical director of the Northern Virginia Sleep Diagnostic Center.

According to Bissonnette's account, between the time the SEALs left the United States for the bin Laden raid in Pakistan and their return flight less than a week later, he took at least six Ambien pills, always two at a time.

Officials: Clinton to label Pakistan-based group terrorists
Weapons seized from a Haqqani network camp in Afghanistan
September 7th, 2012
11:42 AM ET

Officials: Clinton to label Pakistan-based group terrorists

By Elise Labott, Chelsea J. Carter and Jamie Crawford

An al-Qaeda linked network that for decades has been responsible for kidnappings and suicide bombings against the United States and its allies will be formally designated a terrorist organization by the Obama administration.

The group, the Haqqani network, also has extensive real estate and commercial interests. Its broad ties to the Taliban and its base in Pakistan had held out the possibility that the Haqqani network could be the key to a peace deal in Afghanistan.

The designations of the network as a foreign terrorist organization and a specially designated global terrorist entity shows that the Obama administration has decided the fight against militants outweighs the possibility of political reconciliation.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton notified Congress on Friday of her intent to make the designations, the State Department said.


Pentagon: SEAL's book has classified info, didn't follow protocol
"No Easy Day" written by a former US Navy SEAL details the raid on the Osama bin Laden compound
September 4th, 2012
04:15 PM ET

Pentagon: SEAL's book has classified info, didn't follow protocol

By Barbara Starr

A Pentagon official said Tuesday that a former Navy SEAL who helped kill Osama bin Laden included classified material in his new book and did not follow protocol for pre-publication review.

On the same day the much-anticipated memoir hit book shelves, CNN obtained a copy of message written by the SEALs' commander to members of his unit.

In it, Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, head of the Naval Special Warfare Command, said he was "disappointed, embarrassed and concerned" that troops are now openly speaking and writing about their secret work.

Pre-orders put the book at No. 1 on Amazon's bestseller list for two weeks.

But the Pentagon was not as as eager to see the release of "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden."


September 3rd, 2012
03:44 PM ET

Attack on U.S. vehicle in Pakistan leaves confusion over injuries

A suicide bomber driving a car filled with more than 200 pounds of explosives rammed a vehicle owned by the U.S. Consulate in the Pakistani city of Peshawar on Monday, injuring two Americans and two Pakistani's working for the Consulate, according to U.S. State Department officials.

There was confusion about the extent and severity of injuries as a result of the blast.

Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said "two U.S. personnel and two Pakistani staff of the Consulate were injured and are receiving medical treatment." No U.S. consular employees were killed, she said.

She said U.S. authorities were "seeking further information about other victims of this heinous act."

Nuland's statement followed an assertion by local Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain that two Americans had died in the blast.

Pakistani police and health officials said two Pakistanis were killed and 25 people were wounded.

August 7th, 2012
06:18 PM ET

First look at the Osama bin Laden movie

By Larry Shaughnessy

Hollywood loves a scandal, and it has one in a movie that drew criticism before filming began.

"Zero Dark Thirty" is about the hunt for and the eventual killing of Osama Bin Laden, made by Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, the team who made the Oscar-winning film "The Hurt Locker."

The movie was originally said to be be releasing just before the election, but after Republican complaints that it was a Pro-Obama ad, it was pushed back until December.  Although there is some dispute if  it was ever meant to release before December.

But the trailer has been released. It's highly stylized assortment of clips from the movie, most of them made to look like satellite images you might see if you were in the CIA war room.

There are two mentions of bin Laden, but none of President Obama. And the film's screenwriter told Entertainment Weekly magazine that Obama's not mentioned in the film either. EW is owned by CNN parent company Time Warner.

"A lot of people are going to be surprised when they see the film. For example, the president is not depicted in the movie. He's just not in the movie," Boal said.

The movie's been the focus of a Washington partisan fight since last summer. The Department of Defense said it would investigate whether there was any impropriety in aiding the making of the movie. The CIA is also accused of giving the filmmakers too much access.

The probe by the Pentagon's inspector general came after questions were raised by Rep. Peter King, R-New York.

He demanded investigations by the Department of Defense and CIA inspectors general into what, if any, classified information about special operations tactics, techniques, and procedures were leaked to the filmmakers, calling the film a "potentially dangerous collaboration" between liberal filmmakers and the administration.

Some of what those investigations found did show collaboration between the administration and the filmmakers, but DoD and White House officials have said it's no different than what they give many filmmakers and news reporters on a regular basis.

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