Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The split in al-Qaida

"Bin Laden is now in an acute state of kidney failure. He is fearful Musharraf will now move into the northern provinces to try and capture him and gain full support from Washington to prop up his own regime."
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MI6 sees schism over Pakistan strategy
Publishing Date: 01.08.07 17:42
By Gordon Thomas
LONDON -- MI6 agents in Pakistan have discovered a deep split within al-Qaida over whether to continue to try to overthrow and kill Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
Some of the terror group's leaders fear Musharraf would launch a full-scale pre-emptive strike against al-Qaida's strongholds in the North West Frontier. The moves against Musharraf are led by Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
He has ordered a series of retaliatory attacks on Pakistani targets following the storming of the Red Mosque, an extremist stronghold in Islamabad, by Musharraf's soldiers this month.
In the first reprisal suicide bombing last week, 13 people were killed and 50 injured.
But other senior members of al-Qaida, led by Libyan-born Abu Yahya al-Libi, who escaped from the U.S. Bagram base near Kabul in 2005, say deposing Musharraf could produce a backlash.
Al-Libi has openly accused al-Zawahiri of trying to overthrow Musharraf as his own first move in trying to position himself to take over the entire organization following the latest reports that bin Laden's health has worsened again. According to one radical Islamist allied to the terror network: "Bin Laden is now in an acute state of kidney failure.
He is fearful Musharraf will now move into the northern provinces to try and capture him and gain full support from Washington to prop up his own regime."
MI6 agents working with U.S. intelligence operatives in Pakistan said their latest information from the remote northern province "strongly indicates" bin Laden is hiding there - and that al-Zawahiri is running a campaign to remove Musharraf without any direct consultation with bin Laden.
"Our prime concern is that al-Zawahiri's ultimate aim is to trigger a full-scale Islamic revolt in the country and seize Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
To do that would require substantial support from the Pakistan army. But there is evidence it has become more radicalised."
Al-Zawahiri in the past month has delivered several speeches urging Pakistanis to "join the revolt before Musharraf kills you." He has also exploited the statement made last month by Fran Townsend, the White House Homeland Security adviser.
She said the U.S. would consider using military force inside Pakistan if it identified al-Qaida targets within the country. John Arquilla, an intelligence analyst in Washington, confirmed: "There is a debate within al-Qaida about whether to accelerate the conflict in an effort to destabilize Pakistan or continue the attritional battle. Pakistan is the big prize if al-Qaida can install a regime friendly to it and take possession of nuclear weapons."
Gordon Thomas, a regular G2B contributor, is the author of "Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad," the new edition of which was published in January 2007. He specializes in international intelligence matters.

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