Little surprise here: South Waziristan is used by al Qaeda operatives who have conducted attacks in the West. Pakistani security forces found the passport of a 9/11 plotter as well as the passport of the wife of a senior al Qaeda leader linked to the Madrid 3/11 bombings. From the Telegraph:
A passport belonging to Said Bahaji, a suspected member of the Hamburg cell which plotted and carried out the September 11 attacks, has been found in South Waziristan.
The document appeared to prove that Bahaji, who left Hamburg and flew to Pakistan a week before the 2001 attacks on America, has been at large in the lawless region bordering Afghanistan.
The army said the passport was recovered along with weapons, equipment and supplies in the town of Sherwangi, one of the militants’ strongholds in a region where there are strong links between Taliban leaders and the “core” al-Qa’eda leadership.
“Sherwangi is an important centre for the foreign terrorists,” said General Khalid Rabbani, commander of the 9th infantry division.
Bahaji, who is a German citizen of Moroccan backgorund, was an electrical engineering student when he befriended Mohammed Atta, the leader of the group that carried out the September 11 attacks. Bahaji is alleged by the FBI to have shared an apartment in Hamburg with Atta, and disappeared shortly before the attacks were carried out.
He was also an associate of Ramzi Binalshibh, who fled to Afghanistan and went on to become an al-Qa’eda propagandist and chief spokesman for Osama bin Laden before being captured. He is now being held at Guantanamo Bay along with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed mastermind of the September 11 attacks who deployed the Hamburg cell on its mission.
A passport belonging to Raquel Gacia Burgos, the Spanish wife of a senior Al-Qaeda operative, was also found, the army said. Burgos, who Spanish media report has not been seen by her family in Madrid since 2001, is the wife of Amer Azizi, a Moroccan sought for his suspected role in the March 2004 attacks on commuter trains in Madrid.
Azizi has been linked by Spanish investigators to members of the group that carried out the Madrid attacks and is considered to be one of Al-Qaeda’s leaders in Europe.
This is merely the tip of the spear. Last year, al Qaeda and the Taliban operated 157 known training camps in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. The good news is the Pakistani Army is dismantling some of these in the South Waziristan operation.
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