December 12th, 2009
01:53 PM ET

A trip to Helmand, Day 1

December 12, 2009, 9 a.m. in Kabul, Afghanistan
It’s day three of waiting and we are crossing our fingers for a flight to pan out so we can finally make it down to Helmand province and get a glimpse of how the Marines are doing six months after Operation Khanjar (Strike of the Sword). Khanjar was a major U.S. Marine-led operation to secure, hold and eventually build in areas of Helmand province that had been under the hands of the Taliban for many years. (Related: July 17, 2009: Afghans skeptical of U.S. offensive)

We're heading back to Khan Neshin district, a place CNN camerawoman Mary Rogers and I went to in July as they raised the Afghan flag over an ancient castle representing a new beginning for the Afghan government and people in the area. Now I'm with CNN cameraman Scott Clotworthy and producer Russ Finn to see what has been going on since then -  has progress been made and have the have the locals started to trust them? FULL POST

December 12th, 2009
01:11 PM ET

Al Qaeda offers 'condolences' for innocent victims

On the heels of a U.S. announcement of a massive troop surge for Afghanistan, an al Qaeda spokesman Saturday appeared to be trying to improve the group's image in the region with a new audio message in English. Adam Gadahn, also known as Azzam the American, appeared in a 17-minute video released on Islamist online forums late Friday, offering condolences to the families of innocent people killed in al Qaeda attacks. Gadahn said al Qaeda "have condemned and continue to condemn" all attacks by Western powers or "secular political forces." FULL POST

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Filed under: al Qaeda
December 12th, 2009
12:51 PM ET
December 12th, 2009
12:35 PM ET

U.S.: Senior al Qaeda planner likely killed

Washington - A U.S. counterterrorism official says there are "strong indications" a senior al Qaeda operation planner, Saleh al-Somali, was killed in a missile strike earlier this week. Al-Somali was responsible for al Qaeda's operations outside the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and maintained relationships with the terrorist group's allies in east Africa, including al-Shabaab, the official said Friday.

"He was engaged in plotting throughout the world. Given his central role, this probably included plotting attacks against the United States and Europe," the official said. FULL POST

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Filed under: al Qaeda • Daily Developments