From the Scottsman, “Laptop yields al-Qaeda secrets”
COALITION forces in Iraq have seized a laptop computer thought to belong to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda’s area leader, providing them with vital intelligence on the insurgency which is continuing to wreak havoc across the country.
Air Force General Richard Myers, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has masterminded the “global war on terror”, trumpeted the intelligence coup in a Pentagon briefing as proof that US troops were “winning” in Iraq, despite the recent upsurge in attacks that have killed more than a dozen westerners and scores of Iraqis in the past two weeks.
US intelligence chiefs were able to download several leads from the computer’s hard drives, which also contained digital photos of the Jordanian-born al-Qaeda operative.
The intelligence led to raids being mounted on a number of “safe houses” and several lieutenants of Zarqawi being captured, along with bomb-making equipment.
But General Myers admitted the rate of insurgent attacks – currently at 50 to 60 each day – is now back up to 2004 levels after a drop following January”s election, which had led some Pentagon chiefs to suggest that the US could begin withdrawing its troops…
And seeking to offer some positive information on the battle against the insurgency, General Myers said his troops were “close” to capturing Zarqawi when they seized his laptop.
Pentagon officials said Zarqawi appeared to have eluded a team of covert US special-forces troops dispatched to arrest him. When the al-Qaeda operative and his party approached a checkpoint near Ramadi he became nervous and sent a car carrying associates ahead of his own pickup. When US troops stopped the first car, the trailing lorry turned around and fled.
The capture of Zarqawi’s laptop is not the first time US intelligence has gained access to the digital secrets of al-Qaeda. In 2003, US and Pakistani forces captured a laptop computer used by al-Qaeda’s operational planner, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
It was claimed at the time that the intelligence coup yielded a list of at least half a dozen hiding places along the Pakistan-Afghan border used by Osama bin Laden and his supporters…
The deepening security crisis in Baghdad was highlighted this week when it emerged that the British government has dispatched two RAF Puma helicopters to fly diplomats around the Iraqi capital, because it is considered too dangerous to use the roads for fear of insurgent bombs…
Insurgents regularly fire on the British helicopters, but to date none has been hit.