Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 14, 2006
WAR: Dead or Alive?

1. The U.S. apparently located Al Qaeda's #2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Pakistan and hit the location with a Predator drone-fired missile strike, killing a number of people. It's unclear if Zawahiri was there at the time, or whether he survived, and these things being what they are we may not know for sure for some time. I'm not betting we got him until we hear something definitive, but there's always hope.

2. Michael Ledeen claims that

[A]ccording to Iranians I trust, Osama bin Laden finally departed this world in mid-December. The al Qaeda leader died of kidney failure and was buried in Iran, where he had spent most of his time since the destruction of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Iranians who reported this note that this year's message in conjunction with the Muslim Haj came from his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, for the first time.

Ledeen's been reporting things for years that come from unnamed, unverifiable sources; that makes him consistently interesting (because he's reporting things nobody else does) but hard to rely on; while I have no doubt that Ledeen, with his intelligence background, does indeed stay in contact with people inside Iran, there's just no way to tell who his sources really are, whether they know anything or whether they're honest. For example, he's been confidently predicting the imminent collapse of the Iranian regime by popular revolt since about October 2001.

3. A military source thinks Al Qaeda's having problems in its Zarqawi-led Iraqi branch as well:

"Al Qaeda is increasingly in disarray and we have pursued, captured and killed a large number of them," Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, commanding general of Multinational Corps Iraq and the 18th Airborne Corps, said.

One more time: wait and see.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:29 AM | War 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

I don't think Ledeen has quite reached "crank" stage, but it's very very close. I would not believe much he says, especially involving Iran.

Posted by: JeremyR at January 14, 2006 3:08 AM

re point #3, the NYT's article earlier this week about Iraqi on al Qaeda violence, call it insurgent fratricide if you like, was heartening. 3 years on the foreigners in uniform look a lot better than the foreigners blowing up bus stations. No surprise there, really, but is good to see it reported.

Posted by: seamus at January 14, 2006 12:11 PM
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