The Washington Times
July 27, 2007
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, provided new details of the battle against terrorists in Pakistan’s remote Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the border with Afghanistan.
In prepared testimony before the House Armed Services Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Gen. Clapper said the terrorists are using the area to regroup.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has lost some 500 troops fighting terrorists in the region and also tried to use a political agreement with tribal leaders in the region but it “has not been successful,” Gen. Clapper said.
Recent events in Pakistan are likely to spur Gen. Musharraf to take much more aggressive action in addressing the problem, he said.
The new steps include increasing funding of counterterrorist operations in the region, providing 25 U.S. helicopters and air-assault training to Pakistani troops, supplying night-vision equipment and giving $110 million in economic aid to the tribal region.
On the recent confrontation at Pakistan’s Red Mosque, Gen. Clapper said, “The behavior of the extremists who had been holed up in the mosque highlighted the threat, and extremists based in the border areas have taken both the stepped up Pakistani army presence in the FATA and along the border as well as the storming of the mosque as a pretext for resuming terrorist attacks on the Pakistani security forces.”
Also, Pakistani religious leaders are stepping up opposition to extremists, and in one recent meeting declared that suicide bombing violated Islamic law, he said.
Recent internal disputes among tribal leaders recently erupted into conflict between pro-Taliban tribesmen and pro-al Qaeda fighters, he said.