Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Zawahiri in Quetta?

There are news reports today that Pakistani intelligence claims that al Qaeda #2 Ayman al-Zawahiri is hiding near Quetta, Pakistan. This is somewhat newsworthy because most leaked intelligence puts the Z-man in North Waziristan. The official party line has held that Zawahiri and his boss Osama have been holed up in caves or huts in remote and tribal Waziristan. While I believe he has been there, I've never been very impressed with the theory that either he or Osama are hunkered down in some remote area, unable to travel or move around. They are surrounded by fanatical devotees, who are surrounded by a very, very friendly population. I think they can travel pretty much at will, not just around Pakistan, but around South Asia and the Middle East.

I've long suspected that Quetta would be a popular location for a fugitive arch-terrorist. It is a cosmopolitan, well developed city in wild and largely-independent Baluchistan, offering better access to Iran and the Arabian Sea than many other locations in Pakistan. It offers lots of good places to hide - more so than remote Waziristan - as well as a lot of creature comforts that I expect city boys like Osama and Z-man probably appreciate. All in all, Quetta probably makes better sense as an uber-terrorist hideout than some hut in the boonies.

So will we find him there? I doubt it because I doubt we are looking there, although really I have no idea.

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