October 19th, 2010
10:55 AM ET

When it comes to Afghanistan, what, exactly, is the point?

More than nine years into the war in Afghanistan, there doesn't seem to be a lot that's good to report.

From every conceivable angle, things are a mess – starting with the country's attempts at democracy. Officials have now postponed announcing the results of last month's parliamentary elections because of widespread suspected fraud. An election panel spokesman said Monday that about 10 percent of votes have been disqualified because of the suspected fraud.

The New York Times reported that the fraud included everything from stuffing the ballot box to citizens being forced to cast their votes at gunpoint to election officials and security forces working in cahoots with corrupt candidates. Lovely.

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October 7th, 2010
02:23 PM ET

Jihadist website: One of Hamburg terror group killed in drone strike

A jihadist from Hamburg suspected of being part of an al Qaeda plot against Europe was killed by a drone strike in northwest Pakistan this week, according to a statement Thursday on a Turkish-language jihadist website.

The website said a fighter named Abu Askar al-Almani and three other Jihadists had been "martyred" by the missile strike against a base in Waziristan, where German and Tajik fighters were living. German officials say al-Almani is the nom de guerre of Shahab Dashti, an Iranian-German who left Hamburg, Germany, with 10 other suspected militants in the spring of 2009. FULL POST

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Filed under: al Qaeda • Drone strikes
October 6th, 2010
02:20 PM ET

White House report critical of Pakistan's activity against militants

Despite repeated Obama administration claims in public that
Pakistan is working hard to crack down on militants, a private White House
review uses unusually tough language to suggest the ally is not doing nearly
enough to confront the Taliban and al Qaeda, according to a copy of the report
to Congress obtained by CNN.

The report notes that from March to June, the Pakistani military
"continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict
with Afghan Taliban or [al Qaeda] forces in North Waziristan. This is as much a
political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military
prioritizing its targets."

Sources: Senior al Qaeda leader directed Europe plot
October 6th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

Sources: Senior al Qaeda leader directed Europe plot

The man at the center of an alleged al Qaeda plot to bomb cities in Europe has told investigators the conspiracy was directed by one of the organization's most senior figures, according to European intelligence officials.

Ahmed Sidiqi, an Afghan German, was detained in Kabul in July and has since been questioned at the United States' Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, the officials say. They say he has told interrogators that while in the tribal areas of Pakistan he met with a senior Al Qaeda leader, Younis al Mauretani, who was planning multiple attacks on European countries that would be similar to the attack on Mumbai, India, in 2008.

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Envoy insists Pakistan will tackle terrorists as attack kills 3
October 4th, 2010
11:11 AM ET

Envoy insists Pakistan will tackle terrorists as attack kills 3

Gunmen in Pakistan opened fire on oil trucks bound for NATO forces in Afghanistan, setting some 20 vehicles on fire and killing three, police said Monday.

The attack came shortly after Pakistan's ambassador to the United States vowed his country would go after terrorists on its soil.

Naeem Iqbal, a police spokesman, said five people were wounded in the attack on tankers parked on a main road outside a housing complex near the capital city of Islamabad. Efforts to put out the blaze are ongoing, he said.

Bin Yamin, a deputy police chief, said eight gunmen entered the area on Monday around 12:15 a.m. local time. He said they told people near the trucks to run away and that most did. Then they opened fire.

The tankers were parked in the vicinity of an oil refinery where they were going to go to pick up fuel for NATO forces in Afghanistan, Yamin said.

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Filed under: al Qaeda • Drone strikes • NATO • Pakistan • Troops
September 23rd, 2010
04:20 PM ET

Pakistani scientist gets 86 years for Afghan attack

A federal judge Thursday sentenced a Pakistani scientist convicted of attempting to kill Americans in Afghanistan to 86 years in prison.

A jury in Manhattan convicted Aafia Siddiqui on seven charges, including attempted murder and armed assault on U.S. officers, in February. She will serve her sentence at a facility in Texas where she was previously held while awaiting trial.

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Filed under: al Qaeda • Casualties
September 22nd, 2010
01:55 PM ET

Official: CIA-trained force targeting militants in Pakistan

The CIA created and controls a paramilitary force of 3,000 Afghans that conducts clandestine missions targeting al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Pakistan, a U.S. official told CNN on Wednesday.

The official described the force as "well-trained" and "effective."

"You're talking about one of the finest Afghan fighting forces, which has made major contributions to security and stability," the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic.

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Filed under: al Qaeda • Daily Developments • Pakistan • Taliban
August 16th, 2010
10:07 AM ET

Taliban, al Qaeda member killed

A Taliban "sub-commander" and al Qaeda group leader was killed Sunday after a coalition force air weapons team targeted his truck, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said Monday. FULL POST

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Filed under: al Qaeda • Taliban
Afghanistan documents by the numbers
July 27th, 2010
07:20 PM ET

Afghanistan documents by the numbers

We’re working to get the big and small stories contained in the tens of thousands of Afghan war documents leaked this week. It's obviously taking time to work through all the field reports and verify what we can, so we thought we'd also try a different, quicker, tack to get an insight into these documents – the search button.

Here's the number of times various words appear in the papers released publicly by WikiLeaks.org. Make of them what you will. They are not all the documents that were leaked to the media in the past few days. Al-Qaeda (or in military spelling al-Qaida) appears more than 30 times, the current and former presidents just 8 times between them. There are more reports about opium than Iran. Perhaps one insight into the daily life of troops there is that the word "ambush" appears 3,914 times and IED (military-speak for a crude bomb, or Improvised Explosive Device) is mentioned 37,599 times.

  • [President] Obama – 2
  • [President] Bush – 6
  • [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar – 7
  • [Insurgent leader Gulbuddin] Hekmatyar – 11
  • [Afghan President] Karzai – 260
  • VBIED [Vehicle-borne improvised explosive device] – 476
  • Pakistan – 2,197
  • Taliban – 3,567
  • Ambush – 3,914
  • IED – 37,599
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Filed under: al Qaeda • Iran • Karzai • Pakistan • Taliban • WikiLeaks
July 27th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Leaked documents offer few glimpses of bin Laden

The recently released cache of U.S. reports from Afghanistan provides fleeting glimpses into the possible whereabouts of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the years since his escape from American forces at Tora Bora.

Documents released by the whistle-blower website Wikileaks and published in the British newspaper The Guardian quoted intelligence sources as saying bin Laden wanted al Qaeda operatives disguised as journalists to attack Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a news conference in 2004. In 2005, his financial adviser and an Afghan insurgent leader reportedly were dispatched to obtain rockets from North Korea to use against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.