'The Political Implications Are Enormous'

J$P Instant Transcript! Repercussions from the air strike in Pakistan: analysis by Mansoor Ijaz.

From Fox & Friends, January 14 2006:

KIRAN CHETRY [FOX NEWS]: Let's check in right now with our terrorism analyst Mansoor Ijaz. He joins us on the phone this morning. Hi Mansoor; Mansoor can you hear us? Hi, what are you hearing about exactly what intelligence they may have had and who it looks like was hit?

MANSOOR IJAZ [FOX NEWS ANALYST]: Well let's keep in mind that there are more than just Zawahiri as high value targets in that area. Mullah Omar is a high value target. There are other high value targets that may have been in the area as well. It's not clear at all whether or not Zawahiri was there, although he does bop back and forth across that border quite a bit. And, but we just don't know yet just what happened. And I think the Pakistanis are being very circumspect about this. Because it would be a real disaster for them politically if it turned out that Zawahiri was in fact on their soil when all of this took place.

JULIAN PHILLIPS [FOX NEWS]: Can you tell us something about our intelligence these days, Mansoor? A lot of concerns about that and how close we are to gathering more intelligence and getting closer to these Al-Qaeda operatives, these higher up people.

IJAZ: Yeah, that's a good question. There are two components to the answer. One is that we should be very careful to assume that our drones can see inside the houses, if you will, where an attack of this type would've taken place. If that house was targeted by the CIA drone, it would've had to have been on the basis of human intelligence gathered from the ground, not cameras operating on the actual missiles themselves or on the drones themselves. So I think that's one part. The second part is that we are dramatically increasing the capacity we've got from a human intelligence standpoint. And I know this because when I was in Pakistan in mid-November, it was very clear to me that we had infiltrated, shall we say, many of the jihadi organizations and essentially bought people off to give us a lot of good information.

GRETCHEN CARLSON [FOX NEWS]: Mansoor, I think so many people in America have asked the question, why is it so difficult to find these people? We see them appearing on videotape. Where the heck is Usama Bin Laden? And we certainly don't want to give away any secrets of how the US goes about doing these operations. But why is it so difficult to find these people?

IJAZ: Two very important reasons. One is that the tribal structure there is set up in such a way that it's extremely difficult to crack. You meet with one of these tribal warlords and you can just see that they get more pleasure out of not letting us have the access to the data that we want, than they would out of us paying a 25 million dollar reward to them.

CARLSON: I was going to say, the money doesn't talk to them?

IJAZ: It just doesn't talk to them, because they have a different way of doing things, and they trade real material resources rather than cash. The second reason is that states are willing to look the other way while other things are going on, whether it's Iran or even the lawless areas of Afghanistan, there's a lot of stuff going on there that the states are sanctioning, and that's something that we can't get close to.

CHETRY: So I'm confused a little bit. Because how can Pakistan jump out immediately, when there are several unidentified people, and say it's not Zawahiri. He wasn't in it. And secondly, at least according to the Associated Press, it says villagers buried at least 15 people, including women and children. If they're burying the people who were killed in this air strike, how will we ever find out?

IJAZ: Yeah, that's a problem only because the Islamic edicts require that the bodies be buried within 24 hours of their death. And it's a very serious question that you ask. I mean, it may be that we have to exhume a lot of those bodies and find out exactly who they buried. But the reason that the Pakistanis came out so quickly and said it's not us, is because the political implications for Zawahiri being on their soil when he dies are just enormous for President Pervez Musharraf, both internally in Pakistan and outside.

PHILLIPS: Well Mansoor that's exactly my point. My point here, this is an attack near the Afghan border but inside Pakistan. It's done by the CIA by a Predator drone or drones, and we have a lot at stake when it comes to our alliance outside of the people there with the government of Pakistan. How concerned should we be about a possible backlash against the US Government by Pakistan or the Pakistanis if this doesn't turn out to be what we think it should be?

IJAZ: It will be a serious problem if it turned out that a lot of innocent people got killed. But if we find out that it was either Zawahiri or Mullah Omar or somebody else of extraordinarily high value, then this will, this will then justify what we did, although it will cause a great internal problem for President Musharraf and one that he'll swallow. I mean he'll do it, because it's the right thing to do, and it's the right thing to have gotten these guys. But if we didn't get the right person then I tell you, it really complicates our operations in that part of the world.

CHETRY: So it's just interesting why they're coming out right now saying that it's not the case, when as you're saying, we may not know yet.

IJAZ: I don't think they--what they're doing is they're trying to put the first case up there so that we can, they can be safe in the event that it wasn't him. If it turns out to be him, then they can say we were just doing the DNA testing. They have it both ways then.

CHETRY: Interesting.

PHILLIPS: Right, well we'll have to keep our eyes on this one. Hopefully it will net something positive for us in our fight against terror. Mansoor Ijaz, thank you for your insights, sir.

IJAZ: Good to be with you.

posted: Sat - January 14, 2006 at 11:00 AM       j$p  send