Deep Background

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Intelligence sources citing surveillance satellite imagery indicate that al-Qaeda has largely been successful in establishing a protected sanctuary along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and is now carrying out major terrorist training activities. A new generation of al-Qaeda terrorists is being prepared in these sanctuaries and is learning the tactical lessons gained from the fight against the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the use of suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices. Al-Qaeda's ability to operate in the border region was facilitated by the withdrawal of Pakistani forces from Waziristan following agreements with Pashtun tribal chiefs in September 2006. After the Pakistani army withdrew its checkpoints, hundreds of Arab and otherforeign volunteers flooded into the area. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad has been pressuring President Pervez Musharraf to revoke the treaties he signed with the tribes that basically leaves policing up to them, but Musharraf is preoccupied with his domestic political problems and has only been able to pay lip service to cracking down on the terrorist revival. What this all means is subject to various interpretations, but some counterterrorist analysts are worried that Osama bin Laden has almost certainly seized the opportunity to train special new cells for operations in the United States and in Western Europe. American-initiated predator drone attacks directed against the identified al-Qaeda camps have failed to kill any high-level leaders and have been unable to significantly disrupt the terrorist training.

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