U.S. special forces already in Afghanistan (USA Today confirming net rumors of a week ago!)

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Headline: Special forces hunt bin Laden

Source: By Jack Kelley, USA TODAY, 28 September 2001

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Elite troops from U.S. special operations forces have been inside Afghanistan the past 2 weeks looking for Osama bin Laden, but they're having difficulty locating him and are asking other nations for additional intelligence help, senior U.S. and Pakistani officials have confirmed privately.

The presence of three-to-five member teams of U.S. commandos inside Afghanistan has not been officially acknowledged by either Pakistan or the United States. But their arrival here 2 weeks ago and subsequent movement into Afghanistan have been reported by English- and Urdu-language newspapers here, and would not come as a surprise to bin Laden or Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.

The teams have been told to capture or kill bin Laden or, if that is not possible, pin him down in an area until U.S. air strikes can be launched, the officials said.

Officially, the Pentagon declined comment. "I will not be able to provide any information on operational matters," spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said Thursday when asked about the special ops forces.

Pakistan has offered to share intelligence and allow U.S. jets to fly in its airspace but hasn't said it would permit U.S. troops within its borders. Foreign Ministry spokesman Riaz Muhammad Khan said there are no U.S. forces "on the ground" in Pakistan, but he would not comment on whether troops landed here and then moved into Afghanistan.

The lack of "real time" intelligence on bin Laden's whereabouts has precluded the possibility of an imminent U.S. attack on the man suspected to have masterminded the terrorists attacks Sept. 11 on New York and Washington. The United States has been moving dozens of aircraft, including B-52 bombers, into the region in preparation for a retaliatory strike on bin Laden and the ruling Taliban militia that has been harboring him.

U.S. officials said they have asked the governments of Pakistan, Russia and the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan to share additional intelligence information.

"Unfortunately, we have told the United States that we do not have any 'real time' information on Osama bin Laden or (his group) al-Qa'eda," Khan said. "We are trying to locate him but right now, are unable to."

U.S. special operations forces from the Army and Air Force, and units of the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions, landed here and in the city of Quetta on Sept. 13, said Pentagon officials in Washington and Pakistani military officials with direct knowledge of the operations. A command center has been set up in the region to coordinate activities, Pakistani officials said.

Teams of three to five soldiers, backed by Blackhawk MH-60K helicopters kept at airbases outside Afghanistan, then began deploying into that nation's mountainous regions in an attempt to locate the elusive bin Laden, senior U.S. and Pakistani officials said. They have been concentrating their searches in caves and underground bunkers in southwest Afghanistan near the city of Kandahar, the officials added. Bin Laden has long been known to operate in that region.

Several elite U.S. and British military units are involved in the effort to find bin Laden, including the Army's Green Berets, Navy SEALs and the British army's Special Air Services, U.S. officials said.

-- Andre Weltman (aweltman@state.pa.us), September 28, 2001

Answers

http://www.usatoday.com/hlead.htm

-- Andre Weltman (aweltman@state.pa.us), September 28, 2001.

And of course, see

http://hv.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=006VzZ

several links down on GICC.

-- Andre Weltman (aweltman@state.pa.us), September 28, 2001.


It's hard to see how English-speaking Brits and Americans can find bin Laden without the help of the Afaghanis themselves.

-- RogerT (rogerT@c-zone.net), September 28, 2001.

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