U.S.: ‘No Options off the Table’ to Target AQ in Pakistan

Jul 18, 2007 6:32pm

U.S. officials are mapping out new options of how to deal with what appears to be the gravest threat facing the United States: the resurgence of al Qaeda in Pakistan. President Bush’s top counterterrorism advisor told Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America" today that the U.S. does not rule out sending in American soldiers if Pakistan allows the safe haven to continue. "The answer…is what we want to do is work with our Pakistani partners," Frances Townsend said in response to Diane Sawyer’s question about sending U.S. troops into the tribal areas. "But the president’s been very clear. There are no options off the table because job No. 1 is protecting the American people, and nothing will get in our way." But Pakistani officials reiterated today that U.S. troops are not and would not be welcome there. And U.S. officials say they have little confidence that the Pakistani army will do the job. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. "It’s gone in half-hearted, and it’s been ineffective," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who now works at The Brookings Institution. "I think part of the problem is that a good part of the army and the intelligence services are actually sympathetic to the Islamic extremists." The options for U.S. military action are limited in Pakistan, which boasts the same vast, rugged areas that have bogged down U.S. troops in Afghanistan. But U.S. analysts do not rule out a pinpoint strike if there was hard intelligence on the location of Osama bin Laden or his top deputies. "There are obviously certain risks you take if you undertake that kind of operation," Bob Grenier, a former CIA official who now works with the global security firm Kroll, said, "but that is something which is quite feasible. If we’re talking about denying a safe haven, that’s a very different thing." Officials say hundreds of terrorists have been trained and dispatched for attacks against the U.S. and Europe from that safe haven. As the Blotter on ABCNews.com reported last week, senior law enforcement and intelligence officials had "multiple and credible" reports that an al Qaeda terror cell may be on its way to the United States or could already be in the country. Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team?

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