Fiend, er, Friend and Ally Update. By Tabassum Zakaria for Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders are directing insurgency operations in Afghanistan from the Pakistani city of Quetta, while al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is operating from Pakistan’s tribal areas, a senior U.S. administration official said on Friday.
Bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri and others are operating out of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan, the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
“Just as Mullah Omar is giving strategic direction for the Taliban from Quetta, al Qaeda senior leadership is in the FATA doing its planning,” the official said, without giving the source of the intelligence.
“The iconic leaders of al Qaeda — Zawahri, bin Laden and people like (Abu Laith) al-Libi are in the tribal areas of Pakistan,” the official added.
Libi was killed in January in a suspected U.S. missile strike in Pakistan’s North Waziristan border area.
Bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks, and Mullah Omar are believed to have fled Afghanistan soon after the U.S.-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban government in late 2001.
Despite the presence of al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, the official said the administration still saw Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf as a worthy ally.