The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: Report - bin Laden wanted 9/11/11 attack

Future planning

Siobhan Gorman reports that information recovered from Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound indicates that the slain terrorist leader was in the initial stages of planning an attack for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with his "operations chief" Attiyah Abd al-Rahman (WSJ). Bin Laden and Rahman were discussing names of operatives to be involved, according to the seized documents; Gorman also notes that most analysts have finished their review of the documents, but have found little actionable intelligence.

The organization Médecins Sans Frontières lashed out at the CIA's use of a vaccination program as cover in the hunt for bin Laden, as U.S. officials defended the operation as necessary to track down the al-Qaeda leader (Guardian, CNN). And Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) has reportedly offered custody of top al-Qaeda-linked terrorist Umar Patek, who was arrested in January in Abbottabad, to the Philippines (AP).

Seeking to patch up a relationship strained by the raid that killed bin Laden, top NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus and his successor Lt. Gen. John Allen met Thursday with Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Rawalpindi, while Pakistani intelligence head Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha met with acting CIA director Michael Morell at CIA headquarters (AP, AFP, Dawn, ET, ET, Reuters). Pakistan is reportedly moving away from demands that U.S. military personnel vacate the Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan, which is believed to have been used to launch drone strikes into Pakistan's tribal areas (AP).

The United States has also reportedly told Pakistani finance minister Hafiz Shaikh that the cutoff of nearly $800 million in planned military aid to Pakistan will not impact civilian aid to the country (Dawn, ET). Shaikh has been attempting to convince the governor of Pakistan's Central Bank, Shahid Kardar, to reverse his decision to resign his post (Dawn).

Internal security

Karachi is once again calm after the leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Altaf Hussain called for an end to protests, and Zulfikar Mirza, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) minister whose anti-MQM statements prompted renewed violence in the city, issued a video apology (Dawn, ET, DT, ET, DT, AFP, ET, Dawn, DT). Pakistan's National Assembly will convene next week to discuss the situation in Karachi, which has taken a serious toll on the economy in the city, Pakistan's commercial hub (Dawn, ET, DT).

Two Pakistani soldiers were killed Friday when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in South Waziristan, while Pakistani military spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas asserted in an interview that militants conducting attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas have safe havens in Afghanistan (Dawn, Dawn). And on Thursday a court in Lahore granted bail after 14 years in prison to Malik Ishaq, a leader of the banned group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and suspected planner of a deadly 2009 attack against Sri Lanka's cricket team while it was on tour in Pakistan (NYT, Tel, AP).

Two stories round out the news: Pakistan's remittances have surged to an all-time high, as expatriate Pakistani workers reportedly sent $11.2 billion home in the last fiscal year (ET). And Reuters files a story from a desert town built by Pakistan's minority Ahmadi sect, who are not considered Muslims under the country's laws, and have faced growing threats in recent years (Reuters).

Searching for clues

The Post reports that Sardar Muhammad, the close Karzai family associate who shot and killed Afghan president Hamid Karzai's half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai on Tuesday, had worked with the United States in the past against the Taliban (Post). However, an Afghan official and a Karzai family member told the paper that Muhammad may have been recruited by the Taliban for the attack.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced Thursday that he was convening a special emergency meeting to strengthen security measures for French troops in Afghanistan, who suffered their worst losses this week since 2008 (FT, Reuters). He also sent his army chief to Afghanistan to begin planning the new security guidelines (AFP). Bonus read: Stéphane Taillat, "Retreat, discontent, and misunderstanding: France in Afghanistan (FP).

Finally, the U.S. government requested Thursday that a judge order the return of a classified document detailing criteria for holding prisoners at Bagram Air Base that the U.S. military mistakenly gave the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (AP). And nine civilians have been killed in insurgent violence in the past two days in southern Afghanistan (AP). Bonus read: Erica Gaston, "Afghanistan's civilians in the crosshairs" (FP). 

Flashpoint

Indian foreign minister SM Krishna said Thursday that this week's deadly bombings in Mumbai would not delay talks with Pakistan tentatively planned for the end of this month (ET, DT, Bloomberg). Indian authorities continue to investigate the bombings, which killed 21 people (FT, AJE, Tel, Dawn, NYT, WSJ).

And Indian security forces have killed three suspected rebels in Indian-administered Kashmir (AP).

Rare find

Camera traps have documented the existence of a "healthy population" of nearly endangered snow leopards in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor (AP). There are believed to be only 4,500-7,500 snow leopards remaining in the world.

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Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

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