20 January 1999. Thanks to Anonymous.
Global Intelligence Update, Red Alert, 21 January 1999 Moves and Countermoves in the U.S. Struggle with Osama Bin Laden Summary: * Allegations of U.S. Navy electronic intelligence (ELINT) aircraft operating over Pakistan and the reported arrest in India of individuals linked to Osama Bin Laden signal further developments in the ongoing global chess match between the United States and the Saudi terrorist. Analysis: New Delhi police announced on January 20, 1999 that they had arrested Sayed Abu Nasir, a Bangladeshi citizen reportedly linked to Osama Bin Laden. According to a police spokesman, Nasir was part of a seven-man team that planned to attack the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, as well as consulates in Calcutta and Madras. The other members of Nasir's team, believed to be from Myanmar, Egypt, and Sudan, have yet to be apprehended. However, New Delhi police did reveal that three other individuals linked to Nasir were arrested recently in the eastern Indian town of Siliguri. Officials did not provide any other specifics on those arrests, other than to link them to Nasir. The presence of Bin Laden's network in India is not a new development; we first reported the possibility of an attack against U.S. facilities in India last October. The report of Nasir's arrest comes on the heels of a reported violation of Pakistani airspace by U.S. aircraft. On January 18 the Pakistani newspaper "Jang" published an account of U.S. Navy P-3 Orion aircraft flying over Pakistani territory. According to Jang, the aircraft were detected over Pakistan on January 14 and 15 by Pakistani civil aviation authorities. The newspaper noted that the airspace violations, which previously occurred in conjunction with the U.S. attack on sites in Afghanistan, are now commonplace and pose a threat to the safety of Pakistani civil aviation. Jang went on to report that, when the Pakistani air traffic controller (ATC) asked the U.S. pilot what he was doing, the P-3 pilot told the ATC to "mind you own business." We view Jang's clearly biased account of U.S. ELINT aircraft over Pakistan with a high degree of skepticism. To begin with, this article seems to have been aimed at castigating the Pakistani government. The article went on to question the government's involvement, or lack thereof, in the incident, arguing, "The public has a right to ask why the government and institutions responsible for our national defense have not taken notice of these violations and if they have taken notice, what reply did they get? The reply of the American pilot to out air traffic controller is a severe mockery against our independence, security, and defense." Jang also incorrectly identified the P-3's as "jet" aircraft, which they are not. Furthermore, given the mission capabilities of the P-3 and the fact that the nearest base of operations for Orion aircraft would be Qatar or Diego Garcia, Pakistan is a long way to fly. Even flying out of Qatar would most likely require at least two in-flight refuelings off the coast of Pakistan. Finally, sending an unarmed, unescorted, turbo-prop, ELINT aircraft over a minimum of 900 miles (round trip to Kandahar) of questionably friendly to downright hostile territory, would pose substantial diplomatic and military risks. Despite all the reasons for not believing an obviously biased publication, when the report is viewed in the context of the Bin Laden network's recent operations in south and southeast Asia, there may be something to Jang's report. The arrests in India follow reports of increased Bin Laden activity in the Philippines and Malaysia, including the support of fundamentalist Moslem terrorist and separatist groups and the possible attempt to dispatch terrorists to the United Kingdom. Thus, allegations of P-3s over Pakistan, or more to the point, bound for Afghanistan, may not be entirely fictional. While the main function of the P-3 Orion is as a land-based maritime patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft, its EP-3 variant is an Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) aircraft, and is used to collect various electronic signals emitted by devices such as radar. However, the EP-3 can be configured to intercept voice communications, including perhaps those originating from Bin Laden's network. This would allow the U.S. to develop intelligence on Bin Laden's network in general and possibly his location. If the report of Orions over Pakistan is minimally accurate, it would indicate that the U.S. is still actively pursuing Bin Laden, who is currently believed to be holed up in neighboring Afghanistan. Of course this remains an open case, with or without the Orions, but committing ELINT aircraft to the search raises it to another level. The decision-makers in Langley and Fort Meade must realize that intelligence on Bin Laden's location or movements collected from an Orion mission will be obsolete a few hours later. The first thing Bin Laden would do after being overflown by an ELINT platform would be to move, thereby rendering any intelligence collected useless in a tactical sense. What then could be the U.S. reason for tipping its hand if it was indeed looking for Bin Laden? It could be as simple as an effort to gather any intelligence the U.S. can get on Bin Laden and his network and operations. The U.S. could just be trying to flush Bin Laden out, hoping he will get careless or just keeping him off balance. It is also possible that the U.S. was attempting to get a fix on Bin Laden's location with the intent to target him for extraction or eradication. With the end of Ramadan, Bin Laden has renewed his call for a holy war against Americans, giving U.S. officials ample reason to believe he may be ready to strike again. The arrest of Nasir in India only adds weight to this belief. With moves underway by both sides, the conflict between Bin Laden and the U.S. may be nearing "end game." STRATFOR, Inc. 504 Lavaca, Suite 1100 Austin, TX 78701 Phone: 512-583-5000 Fax: 512-583-5025 Internet: http://www.stratfor.com/ Email: email@example.com