Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Death in Damadola

Damage caused by US airstrike on Damadola

LIE-A-THON Update: This was the news on 19 January:
Islamabad. Pakistani authorities attempt to identify the remains of three alleged al-Qaeda militants killed in last Friday's US raid in the northwest of the country. One militant was identified as Midhat Mursi, aka Abu Khabab al-Masri, 52, an explosive experts with a bounty of $5 million on his head. The others are thought to be Abu Obaidah al-Masri, chief of al-Qaeda operations for Kunar Province and Abdul Rahman al-Maghribi, a Moroccan thought to be the al-Qaeda No. 2. [We'll understand next week if there is any truth to this--Nur].
This is the news on 22 January:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Sunday ridiculed as "bizarre" a U.S. report that senior al Qaeda leaders were killed in a CIA attack on a home along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

"There is no evidence, as of half an hour ago, that there were any other people there," Aziz said on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

"The area does see movement of people from across the border. But we have not found one body or one shred of evidence that these people were there."

U.S. counterterrorism officials have said they believe the January 13 attack killed four to eight al Qaeda-affiliated "foreigners" attending a dinner meeting. Knowledgeable sources have said that their bodies were removed from the scene by comrades and buried elsewhere.

Pakistani intelligence seems to have arranged this "hit" in collaboration with the CIA. When the new-age Scarlet Pimpernel al-Zawahiri was not present for the appointment, it blamed the United States. Otherwise, it would have been a brilliant joint security operation.

From La Repubblica

The Pakistani authorities have summoned the US Ambassador to Islamabad to protest the death of at least 18 villagers in an air strike on Damadola in the north of the country. The CIA-ordered air strike was termed “a highly reprehensible" action. According to local sources, the attack, which was planned by the CIA and conducted by missile-carrying drone aircraft, killed a number of villagers, including women and children. CNN broadcast images of the village showing destroyed homes and slaughtered livestock.

Local sources also say that at least three homes were targeted. After the air strike, villagers demonstrated against the USA and demanded that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf open an investigation. The Arab TV network al-Jazeera reported that witnesses saw members of the Islamabad’s clandestine services inspect the bombed homes and question neighbors following the air raid.

Following the US raid, contradictory information emerged concerning the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri. News of his death was then officially denied by Pakistani authorities: The number 2 of al-Qaeda had not been killed in the attack. US official sources remained cautious throughout the morning. The Pakistani Minister of Information was careful not to be thrown off guard. If we had eliminated him, said a memo produced in Washington, it would have been a big victory in the War on Terror. The first official denial was issued through a reporter for al-Jazeera in Islamabad; Pakistani security had assured him that the Egyptian physician had not killed in the raid...


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