US Military Operating Under Secret Orders

Well the news itself is no surprise, but what the fact that the mass media is reporting it is. As usual, journalistic ethics are out the door. The media loves to report anything classified, top secret etc… As long as they can get it out to the people who should know… Bullshit.

Operations are on going, as in the recent Syrian raid, which is mentioned in the article, and the publication of news like this only puts our troops in danger. It also escalates tensions between countries because now things are public knowledge, instead of being handled by the respective powers and counter parts in the countries involved.

I guess that is why the UK is looking to censor media outlets from reporting on items that compromise national security. Maybe we should consider doing the same thing, and make it a criminal act… And when items involve national security and put soldiers lives in danger, I think the anonymous sources excuse used by the media must be abolished. If there is no national security issue or potential to put soldiers lives in danger, then fine, let them use all the anonymous sources they want.

The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.

These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President George W. Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.

In 2006, for example, a Navy Seal team raided a suspected militants’ compound in the Bajaur region of Pakistan, according to a former top official of the Central Intelligence Agency. Officials watched the entire mission — captured by the video camera of a remotely piloted Predator aircraft — in real time in the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center at the agency’s headquarters in Virginia 7,000 miles away.

Some of the military missions have been conducted in close coordination with the CIA, according to senior American officials, who said that in others, like the Special Operations raid in Syria on Oct. 26 of this year, the military commandos acted in support of CIA-directed operations.

But as many as a dozen additional operations have been canceled in the past four years, often to the dismay of military commanders, senior military officials said. They said senior administration officials had decided in these cases that the missions were too risky, were too diplomatically explosive or relied on insufficient evidence.

More than a half-dozen officials, including current and former military and intelligence officials as well as senior Bush administration policy makers, described details of the 2004 military order on the condition of anonymity because of its politically delicate nature. Spokesmen for the White House, the Defense Department and the military declined to comment.

Apart from the 2006 raid into Pakistan, the American officials refused to describe in detail what they said had been nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks, except to say they had been carried out in Syria, Pakistan and other countries. They made clear that there had been no raids into Iran using that authority, but they suggested that American forces had carried out reconnaissance missions in Iran using other classified directives.

According to a senior administration official, the new authority was spelled out in a classified document called “Al Qaeda Network Exord,” or execute order, that streamlined the approval process for the military to act outside officially declared war zones. Where in the past the Pentagon needed to get approval for missions on a case-by-case basis, which could take days when there were only hours to act, the new order specified a way for Pentagon planners to get the green light for a mission far more quickly, the official said.

It also allowed senior officials to think through how the United States would respond if a mission went badly. “If that helicopter goes down in Syria en route to a target,” the official said, “the American response would not have to be worked out on the fly.”

The 2004 order was a step marking the evolution of how the American government sought to kill or capture Qaeda terrorists around the world. It was issued after the Bush administration had already granted America’s intelligence agencies sweeping power to secretly detain and interrogate terrorism suspects in overseas prisons and to conduct warrantless eavesdropping on telephone and electronic communications.

Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush issued a classified order authorizing the CIA to kill or capture Qaeda militants around the globe. By 2003, American intelligence agencies and the military had developed a much deeper understanding of Al Qaeda’s extensive global network, and Rumsfeld pressed hard to unleash the military’s vast firepower against militants outside the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 2004 order identifies 15 to 20 countries, including Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf states, where Qaeda militants were believed to be operating or to have sought sanctuary, a senior administration official said.

Even with the order, each specific mission requires high-level government approval. Targets in Somalia, for instance, need at least the approval of the defense secretary, the administration official said, while targets in a handful of countries, including Pakistan and Syria, require presidential approval.

The Pentagon has exercised its authority frequently, dispatching commandos to countries including Pakistan and Somalia. Details of a few of these strikes have previously been reported.

For example, shortly after Ethiopian troops crossed into Somalia in late 2006 to dislodge an Islamist regime in Mogadishu, the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command quietly sent operatives and AC-130 gunships to an airstrip near the Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa. From there, members of a classified unit called Task Force 88 crossed repeatedly into Somalia to hunt senior members of a Qaeda cell believed to be responsible for the 1998 American Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

At the time, American officials said Special Operations troops were operating under a classified directive authorizing the military to kill or capture Qaeda operatives if failure to act quickly would mean the United States had lost a “fleeting opportunity” to neutralize the enemy.

Occasionally, the officials said, Special Operations troops would land in Somalia to assess the strikes’ results. On Jan. 7, 2007, an AC-130 struck an isolated fishing village near the Kenyan border, and within hours, American commandos and Ethiopian troops were examining the rubble to determine whether any Qaeda operatives had been killed.

But even with the new authority, proposed Pentagon missions were sometimes scrubbed because of bad intelligence or bureaucratic entanglements, senior administration officials said.

The details of one of those aborted operations, in early 2005, were reported by The New York Times last June. In that case, an operation to send a team of Navy Seals and Army Rangers into Pakistan to capture Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, was aborted at the last minute.

Zawahri was believed by intelligence officials to be attending a meeting in Bajaur, in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command hastily put together a plan to capture him. There were strong disagreements inside the Pentagon and the CIA about the quality of the intelligence, however, and some in the military expressed concern that the mission was unnecessarily risky.

Porter Goss, the CIA director at the time, urged the military to carry out the mission, and some in the CIA even wanted to execute it without informing Ryan Crocker, then the American ambassador to Pakistan. Rumsfeld ultimately refused to authorize the mission.

Former military and intelligence officials said that Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, who recently completed his tour as head of the Joint Special Operations Command, had pressed for years to win approval for commando missions into Pakistan. But the missions were frequently rejected because officials in Washington determined that the risks to American troops and the alliance with Pakistan were too great.

Captain John Kirby, a spokesman for General McChrystal, who is now director of the military’s Joint Staff, declined to comment.

The recent raid into Syria was not the first time that Special Operations forces had operated in that country, according to a senior military official and an outside adviser to the Pentagon.

Since the Iraq war began, the official and the outside adviser said, Special Operations forces have several times made cross-border raids aimed at militants and infrastructure aiding the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq.

The raid in late October, however, was much more noticeable than the previous raids, military officials said, which helps explain why it drew a sharp protest from the Syrian government.

Negotiations to hammer out the 2004 order took place over nearly a year and involved wrangling between the Pentagon and the CIA and the State Department about the military’s proper role around the world, several administration officials said.

American officials said there had been debate over whether to include Iran in the 2004 order, but ultimately Iran was set aside, possibly to be dealt with under a separate authorization.

Senior officials of the State Department and the CIA voiced fears that military commandos would encroach on their turf, conducting operations that historically the CIA had carried out, and running missions without an ambassador’s knowledge or approval.

Rumsfeld had pushed in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks to expand the mission of Special Operations troops to include intelligence gathering and counterterrorism operations in countries where American commandos had not operated before.

Bush administration officials have shown a determination to operate under an expansive definition of self-defense that provided a legal rationale for strikes on militant targets in sovereign nations without those countries’ consent.

Several officials said the negotiations over the 2004 order resulted in closer coordination among the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA, and set a very high standard for the quality of intelligence necessary to gain approval for an attack.

The 2004 order also provided a foundation for the orders that Bush approved in July allowing the military to conduct raids into the Pakistani tribal areas, including the Sept. 3 operation by Special Operations forces that killed about 20 militants, American officials said.

Administration officials said that Bush’s approval had paved the way for Defense Secretary Robert Gates to sign an order — separate from the 2004 order — that specifically directed the military to plan a series of operations, in cooperation with the CIA, on the Qaeda network and other militant groups linked to it in Pakistan.

Unlike the 2004 order, in which Special Operations commanders nominated targets for approval by senior government officials, the order in July was more of a top-down approach, directing the military to work with the CIA to find targets in the tribal areas, administration officials said. They said each target still needed to be approved by the group of Bush’s top national security and foreign policy advisers, called the Principals Committee.

Pakistan’s President Zardari Gets Fatwa Over Gorgeous Sarah

Ha… Muslims issue Fatwa over Asif Ali Zardari remarks about Palin at his meeting with her…

After the flirtation came the fatwa.

With some overly friendly comments to Gov. Sarah Palin at the United Nations, Asif Ali Zardari has succeeded in uniting one of Pakistan’s hard-line mosques and its feminists after a few weeks in office.

A radical Muslim prayer leader said the president shamed the nation for “indecent gestures, filthy remarks, and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt.”

Feminists charged that once again a male Pakistani leader has embarrassed the country with sexist remarks. And across the board, the Pakistani press has shown disapproval.

What did President Zardari do to draw such scorn? It might have been the “gorgeous” compliment he gave Ms. Palin when the two met at the UN last week during her meet-and-greet with foreign leaders ahead of Thursday’s vice presidential debate with opponent Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

But the comments from Zardari didn’t end there. He went on to tell Palin: “Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you.”

“You are so nice,” replied the Republican vice presidential hopeful, smiling. “Thank you.”

But what may have really caused Pakistan’s radical religious leaders to stew was his comment that he might “hug” Palin if his handler insisted.

Though the fatwa, issued days after the Sept. 24 exchange, carries little weight among most Pakistanis, it’s indicative of the anger felt by Pakistan’s increasingly assertive conservatives who consider physical contact and flattery between a man and woman who aren’t married to each other distasteful. Though fatwas, or religious edicts, can range from advice on daily life to death sentences, this one does not call for any action or violence.

Last year, the mosque that issued the fatwa, Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, condemned the former tourism minister, Nilofar Bahktiar, after she was photographed being hugged by a male parachuting coach in France.

Clerics declared the act a “great sin” and, though less vocal about it, similar sentiments were shared by many among Pakistani’s middle classes. The Red Mosque gained international infamy in July 2007 after becoming the focal point of a Pakistan Army operation.

For the feminists it’s less about cozying up to a non-Muslim woman and more about the sexist remarks by Zardari.

“As a Pakistani and as a woman, it was shameful and unacceptable. He was looking upon her merely as a woman and not as a politician in her own right,” says Tahira Abdullah, a member of the Women’s Action Forum.

Dismissing the mosque’s concerns as “ranting,” she, however, adds: “He should show some decorum – if he loved his wife so much as to press for a United Nations investigation into her death, he should behave like a mourning widower,” in reference to former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto, a feminist icon for millions of Pakistani women.

The theme of decorum was picked up by English daily Dawn, whose editorial asked: “Why do our presidents always end up embarrassing us internationally by making sexist remarks?”

The incident bears some resemblance to yet another charm offensive by a senior Pakistani politician. Marcus Mabry’s biography of Condoleezza Rice includes a passage in which he relates a meeting between former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Ms. Rice, in which Mr. Aziz was said to have stared deeply into the secretary of State’s eyes and to have told her he could “conquer any woman in two minutes.”

There are some, however, who see things as having been blown out of proportion.

“It was a sweet and innocuous exchange played as an international incident on Pakistani and rascally Indian front-pages with one English daily [writing] it in a scarlet box, half-implying Mrs. Palin would ditch Alaska’s First Dude and become Pakistan’s First Babe. As if,” wrote columnist Fasih Ahmed in the Daily Times.

For most, it will soon be forgotten in a country dealing with terrorism, rising food prices, and a struggling economy. “We don’t care that much how they [politicians] behave – what really matters is keeping prices down,” says Nazeera Bibi, a maid in Lahore.

Islamification of YouTube

The media has been blasted publishing cartoons of Mohammad, A teacher was arrested and almost faced death for her class naming a teddy bear Mohammad, Wikipedia has been lambasted for displaying art which depicts Mohammad and now the latest causualty of the Islamic war on Free Speech, YouTube…

Pakistan’s government has banned access to the video-sharing Web site YouTube because of anti-Islamic movies that users have posted on the site, an official said Sunday.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority told the country’s 70 Internet service providers Friday that the popular Web site would be blocked until further notice.

The authority did not specify what the offensive material was, but a PTA official said the ban concerned a movie trailer for an upcoming film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who has said he plans to release an anti-Koran movie portraying the religion as fascist and prone to inciting violence against women and homosexuals.

The PTA official, who asked not to be identified because he was not an official spokesman, said the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority also blocks Web sites that show controversial drawings of the Prophet Muhammad. The drawings were originally printed in European newspapers in 2006 and were reprinted by some papers last week.

The PTA urged Web users to write to YouTube and request the removal of the objectionable movies, saying authorities would stop blocking the site once that happened. /**/

Pakistan is not the only country to have blocked access to YouTube.

In January, a court in Turkey blocked the site because some video clips allegedly insulted the country’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It is illegal to insult Ataturk in Turkey.

Last spring the Thai government banned the site for about four months because of clips seen as offensive to Thailand’s revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Moroccans last year were unable to access YouTube after users posted videos critical of Morocco’s treatment of the people of Western Sahara, a territory Morocco took control of in 1975.

Al Qaeda Trying To Recruiting Insiders

Al Qaeda even though weakened, is still reaching out and gaining followers. These followers are not desparate and stuck in a war zone nor have they been invaded… It is because of people like this that we must keep our resolve and continue to maintain high levels of security even though it incovenieces travelers. It is another reason we need to put into place stricter immigration policies and it is most definitely a reason to bring the war to them in their home countries. I know, the liberals reading this are already huffing and puffing, well to bad if you do not like it, maybe when they are at your doorstep you will finally wake up to the danger that we face.

WASHINGTON —  The Al Qaeda terror network continues to succeed in recruiting terrorists from the West — possibly the United States.

U.S. intelligence officials on Wednesday told FOX News Al Qaeda has succeeded in strengthening its position in Pakistani tribal regions and is recruiting Western operatives who are better able to help carry out attacks on the United States.

The information comes a day after Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell expressed concerns to the Senate Intelligence Committee about Al Qaeda’s continued efforts in Iraq and Pakistan, and the resurgence of Afghanistan’s Taliban — the ousted regime that gave refuge to Usama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terror network.

“Al Qaeda remains the pre-eminent threat against the United States,” he said.

McConnell said Al Qaeda — while being suppressed to a large extent in Iraq — is moving to other regions, including Pakistan, where it continues to try to launch attacks against the United States.

The tribal regions of Pakistan, while within the country’s borders, are lawless and beyond the control of the Pakistani government.

And the next attack on the United states likely would be launched by Al Qaeda from those regions, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said in prepared testimony.

Tuesday, The New York Times reported that a senior intelligence official said there is new evidence Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan are training Westerners — most likely including U.S. citizens.

That official said there is no evidence the terror group has succeeded in placing operatives inside U.S. borders.

Barcelona Jihadists Only One Of Several Al Qaeda Cells Poised To Attack Europe

The Jihadists in Spain seem to be the tip of the iceberg… It appears from information provided by possible French Intel informant that attacks were planned in Spain, Germany, France, Britain and Portugal.

The Barcelona cell include six suicide bombers, other cells are publicly unknown at this time. I am sure each consisted of about the same number of operatives.

This would have enabled Al Qaeda to show a sign of strength at a time when they are appearing weak and loosing ground in Iraq.

Europe seems to be the prime target for Al Qaeda at this point and they have a strong base to hide in Muslim communities and many European countries. I hope Europeans start to recognize the seriousness of the threat they face and start to do something about it before these scumbags do successfully attack again…

The time for complacency is over.

MADRID, Spain (CNN)— Suspected Islamic extremists arrested last week in Barcelona were planning al Qaeda-style attacks in Spain, Germany, France, Britain and Portugal, according to an informant who “infiltrated” the group, Spain’s El Pais newspaper reports.

art.arrests.ap.jpg

Interior Ministry photo of bomb-making material found after suspected Islamic militants were arrested.

var CNN_ArticleChanger = new CNN_imageChanger(‘cnnImgChngr’,’/2008/WORLD/europe/01/27/spain.europe.terror.plot/imgChng/p1-0.init.exclude.html’,1,1); //CNN.imageChanger.load(‘cnnImgChngr’,’imgChng/p1-0.exclude.html’);

“If we attack the metro [subway system in Barcelona], the emergency services can’t get there,” one of the suspected suicide bombers told the informant, El Pais reported on Saturday. “Our preference is public transport, especially the metro.”

El Pais reported that it had access to the informant’s testimony to Spanish officials.

CNN has confirmed that authorities have given high importance to an informant’s testimony.

The judge who ordered 10 suspects held for allegedly plotting a suicide attack in Barcelona, cited in his rulings the testimony of an informant. CNN has viewed the rulings.

Spain’s Interior Minister last Friday said an informant warned of a planned suicide attack against Barcelona’s metro on the weekend of January 18 to 20. But he added that, for now, “there is only the testimony of an informant” regarding the timing.

The informant told authorities the cell comprised six suicide bombers, including himself, El Pais reported on Saturday.

Spain’s attorney general, Candido Conde-Pumpido, said last week that the cell could have contained six suicide bombers, two explosives experts and two ideologues.

Judge Ismael Moreno, in rulings last Wednesday, wrote that the informant had named three suspected suicide bombers and an explosives expert, all of whom had traveled from Pakistan to Barcelona since last summer. The judge ordered these four men held, out the total of 10 jailed suspects who are from South Asia.

They include nine Pakistani nationals and a man from India, who is Muslim.

A court-appointed translator told CNN that all 10 suspects testified during their arraignments that they were innocent.

The cell planned three attacks in Spain, one in Germany and others in France, Britain and Portugal, according to the informant, El Pais reported.

On Sunday, another El Pais story added that the “wave of attacks” was to have been carried out by the Barcelona group and other extremist Pakistani cells were to attack elsewhere in Europe.

The informant told authorities about potential links between the Barcelona group and suspected extremists in other countries, the interior minister said Friday.

The informant had traveled by train from France to Barcelona on January 16, a few days before police made arrests in Barcelona, El Pais reported Saturday. A day earlier, the newspaper reported that the informant worked for French intelligence.

Al Qaeda was planning to take responsibility for the first attack in Barcelona through Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander whom the Pakistani government blames for last month’s assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, El Pais reported.

“Only the leadership of the organization knows what requests the emir (Baitullah) will make after the first attack, but if they are not carried out, there will be a second attack in Spain, and a third,” a cell leader told the informant, El Pais reported. “And then in Germany, France, Portugal and the United Kingdom. There are many people prepared there.”

In Barcelona, two pairs of suicide bombers were to attack in separate metro stations, the paper said, citing the informant’s testimony. One of the cell leaders said the bombs were supposed to be hidden in backpacks or bags and that other cell members were to detonate them by remote control, the paper added.

Two other pairs of suicide bombers were to strike elsewhere in Spain, while another suicide bomber was to attack in Germany, although the informant said he did not know where or when those attacks were to occur, El Pais reported.

Three other terrorists were assigned to attack in France and two in Portugal, El Pais reported, although it did not mention locations or times for those attacks either.

Civil Guards initially detained 14 people in Barcelona, but released two before arraignments last Wednesday. The judge then released two more, leaving 10 in jail for further investigation. It was not immediately known if the alleged informant may have been among those arrested and released.

“This cell was preparing to attack,” Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Friday in an interview with Spanish radio network SER. “It’s clear they were going to try, whether last weekend (January 18 to 20) or within 15 days.”

But he said police have not found explosives “in sufficient quantity” to have carried out the assault.

“We have found a modest quantity of explosives,” Rubalcaba said, adding that they may have been intended for use in training the suspects.

The judge in his rulings wrote that the group “had achieved human operational capacity and were very close to achieving full technical capacity with explosives, with the aim of using those explosives for a jihadi terrorist attack.”

Rubalcaba said that, for any such suspected terrorist cell, “the time from getting explosives to carrying out the attack can be very short.”

The judge wrote that police had found nitrocellulose and mechanical and electrical elements that could have been used to make one or more bombs.

More than 300 suspected Islamic extremists have been arrested in Spain since the Madrid train bombings killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800 on March 11, 2004, Rubalcaba said.

Last October, more than a dozen Islamic extremists were convicted in Madrid for their roles in the train bombings.

The 2004 bombings came just three days before general elections, in which Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero won an upset victory.

The latest arrests in Barcelona come less than two months before the next general elections, to be held March 9, when Zapatero seeks re-election.

Spain remains on “permanent alert” against Islamic terrorism. Al Qaeda communiques regularly make specific references to Spain

Pakistan’s Fool Proof Nuclear Weapons Security

Pakistan is quite delusional if they think that their nukes are secured and the rest of the world in insane if they are going to believe them.

Yes, Al Qaeda is not likely to break into a nuclear installation and steal weapons, however that is not the real threat. If Al Qaeda and the Taliban can overthrow the Pakistani Government, they will have control of the nuclear arsenal. That is were the real threat is.

To make Pakistan’s nuclear weapons security program fool proof, the have to either remove the fool who thinks it is and replace them them someone willing to dismantle the program for everyone elses protection or the current regime must do so.

Pakistan Calls Nuke Program Security ‘Foolproof’

But Some Question Whether More Needs to Be Done to Keep Arms From Terrorists

pakistan
Pakistan’s medium-range Shaheen-1 (Haft-IV) ballistic missile takes off during a test flight from undisclosed location in Pakistan January 25, 2008. Pakistan’s army chief dismissed on Friday fears that the country’s nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of Islamic militants as the military test fired a nuclear-capable missile. (Reuters/Stringer)
Pakistan’s nuclear program has “foolproof” and “second to none” security, the head of the program insisted today, calling doubts about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal “inaccurate” and “based on a lack of understanding.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai, the director-general of Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division, did acknowledge that as militants have increased their attacks in the last six months “the state of alert has gone up,” but insisted there were no specific threats to the nuclear program.

His assertions come as politicians in the United States and the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog have questioned the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Mohammed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat that he feared “nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of extremist groups in Pakistan or Afghanistan.”

Today Kidwai said that ElBaradei had “no business to talk like that. If you open and shoot your mouth without any information — that is very bad.”

“The security mechanism in place is functioning efficiently and we are capable of thwarting all types of threats — whether these be insider, outsider, or a combination,” he told a group of mostly foreign journalists.

In the last year militants based along the volatile border with Afghanistan have launched a string of assaults aimed mostly at the military and the police, but also politicians and civilians. That has fueled fears that the militants may have their eyes on a larger goal: nuclear sabotage.

But the man who Pakistan blames for masterminding the attacks, most notably the one that killed former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, said on Friday that he had no intention of attacking the nation’s nuclear institutions.

“We are afraid on the American bomb, not the Pakistani bomb. At least the Paksitani bombs are in the hands of Muslims,” Baitullah Mehsud, the head of a coalition of militant groups known as the united Taliban of Paksitan group, told Al-Jazeera in his first television interview.

In response, Kidwai warned that “words mean nothing. [Mehsud] could change his mind tomorrow. He has a capability. We are ready for him.”

But the government has some doubters. Pervez Hoodbhoy, the chairman of the physics department at Islamabad’s Quaid-e-Azam University, says the program’s safeguards are not foolproof.

“They may well have taken good care of certain things like electronic locks and safety devices, and they probably do keep the weapons disassembled. But they cannot know for sure that, in the times ahead, the custodians of the weapons will always be responsible to the government,” he told ABC News.

“Following U.S. practices, they now do psychological screening of personnel,” he said. “But I would find it hard to believe that such tests can spot the difference between those men who are merely strong in faith versus those who believe, in addition, that nuclear weapons are needed for defending the faith.”

Before ElBaradei made his comments, which he later backed away from, Sen. Hillary Clinton suggested that Pakistan should be willing to give up control over its own nuclear program.

“I would try to get [President Pervez] Musharraf to share the security responsibility of the nuclear weapons with a delegation from the United States and, perhaps, Great Britain, so that there is some fail-safe,” she said during a debate last month.

The Pakistani government has responded angrily to such proposals, and Kidwai said that Pakistan would “never” give up control over its nuclear facilities, saying there was “no conceivable scenario, political or violent, in which Pakistan will fall to the extremist.”

Pakistan’s weapons, he said, are “not on hair trigger alert,” and are safer because of that than they would otherwise be, though he did mention that they could be ready in “no time.”

For nearly two hours inside a barracks in Rawalpindi, the headquarters of Pakistan’s military, Kidwai used a PowerPoint presentation to describe exactly how the nuclear program is run and safeguarded.

He said that ultimate control of the program is held by a group known as the National Command Authority, whose chairman is the Pakistani president and whose vice-chairman is the prime minister. The Strategic Plans Division, which he heads, then handles “anything and everything that has to do with the nation’s nuclear capability,” including storage, safety, security, training, even running its own counter intelligence service.

A third tier, known as the Strategic Forces Commands, is the chain of command within the air force, army and navy that is responsible for actually launching the weapons.

After receiving a similar briefing earlier this month, Sen. Joseph Lieberman said he was “impressed by the specific explanation I had about the system that is in place here… Overall I felt reassured.”

Kidwai said 10,000 soldiers were deployed to defend nuclear facilities, and the 2,000 scientists working in particularly sensitive areas were subject to intense inspection, including their political beliefs, their financial situation and their moral backgrounds.

He acknowledged that two Pakistani scientists had met with Osama bin Laden before the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but he said they had ultimately been cleared of any wrongdoing. And he said one scientist had been fired after giving an anti-Musharraf speech in a mosque.

But the program is perhaps best known for the world’s most famous scientist-turned-proliferator.

Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities exploded into the public in May 1998, when the country announced it had conducted as many as six successful nuclear tests in response to Indian tests carried out just weeks before.

It took almost six years after that for the government to publicly acknowledge the actions of A.Q. Khan, known as the father of the Paksitani bomb. Khan sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea, and Syria, and was only caught, Kidwai said, when Pakistan created its nuclear controls in 1999.

Today, when asked about Khan, Kidwai was adamant that Pakistan had long since eliminated the loopholes Khan exploited to sell technology.

“A.Q. Khan happened in an era when there were no tight controls,” he said. When Khan headed the nuclear program, Kidwai said, “he was given the trust. He betrayed it. It’s as simple as that.”

Manhunt For 3 Jihadists

Al Qaeda has set it’s sites on Spain yet again. I guess with their inability to strike within the US they are going after Europe still. Germany, Britan and Spain seem to the their prime targets… Why? I guess they have integrated themselves into the Muslim neighborhoods so well, they are hard to weed out… A key note is where these guys are from, Pakistan… I think it is time the world brings pressure on the Pakistanian Government to step up their efforts or allow other forces to intervene and hunt down the leaders of the terror organizations that are using Pakistan as a base camp.

Law enforcement officials throughout Europe say they are are urgently hunting for members of an al Qaeda terror cell that was allegedly planning to attack the transit system in Barcelona.

Sources tell ABC News those being sought are believed to be bomb makers and suicide killers who were working with a 14-member operation.

While it is unclear whether the Barcelona attacks were imminent, Spanish authorities say they have no doubt that the threat was serious.

The plot was allegedly developed by senior al Qaeda leaders hiding in Pakistan, with members of the cell making their way into Spain in recent days.

“Here we are looking at something different: a well-organized group who were going beyond ideological radicalism to acquiring materials to make explosives and therefore eventually to carry out violent attacks,” Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said at a press conference last week.

U.S. officials tell ABC News that in the wake of the thwarted attacks on Barcelona’s transit system they are deeply troubled by this latest example of a reconstituted al Qaeda.

The National Intelligence Estimate released last year warned that al Qaeda was training scores of recruits in the tribal regions of Pakistan.

“If this story is true, it means that al Qaeda is alive. It has money. It has people that are trained. It has a network to send people — large numbers of people — out as a team and that it has the capability of striking thousands of miles from its base in Pakistan,” former government counter-intelligence official and ABC News consultant Richard Clarke said of this latest incident.

The pace of plots directed or inspired by al Qaeda has been intensifying in recent months, with Europe as the focus.

Last September in Germany, three Islamic radicals were accused of targeting U.S. military installations there.

Also in September in Denmark, suspected terrorists were charged with planning a bombing campaign.

Then in December, Belgian authorities arrested 14 men who were allegedly plotting to free an al Qaeda prisoner using guns and explosives.

Now U.S. officials say they are desperately searching to see if the Barcelona cell has ties to any operatives in the United States.

U.S. intelligence has been warning for months that Europe is at risk and could be the gateway to an attack here at home.

Three more Jihadist from Spain’s investigation are at large and their target is unknown at this time, I would imagine it is somewhere else in Spain as these groups tend to plan their attacks to be coordinated to maximize the terror factor… Although they may strike elsewhere as their original targets are surely being watched closer at this point…

ABC News has learned that the manhunt that began in Spain for suspected terror cell members has now extended to France and other European Union countries.

The attorney general in Spain said today that there are three cell members they are urgently searching for and that the missing members could be suicidal terrorists with a mission to attack somewhere outside of Spain.

Investigative sources tell ABC News the cell members are Spanish residents, including both nationals and foreigners. They are believed to have recently traveled to Spain from Waziristan, Pakistan, an area known as a hotbed for al Qaeda training and Taliban resurgence.

The 14 suspected terrorists arrested last weekend in Spain were in the final stages of preparing a suicide attack using multiple bombs, according to sources close to the investigation being conducted by Spanish Central Intelligence (CNI) and the Guardia Civil Islamic Counterterrorist Unit.

The men were of Pakistani, Indian and other ethnic backgrounds. Many appear to be legal residents of Spain, but some of the suspects’ legal statuses are still unknown. One of the men arrested, Maroof Ahmaed Mirza, is described as an Imam, a legal resident of Spain and a Pakistani national.

The raids capped what was known as Operation Cantata and took place in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona after authorities established the readiness of the group based on intercepts and informant information, sources told ABCNews.com.

Seven searches were conducted, including searches of two mosques, according to police reports. Investigators seized four timers, described as “mechanical clocks without numbered spheres,” various empty pyrotechnic cartridges, multi-colored wires, latex gloves, kitchen gloves, severe batteries of varying voltages, cables used for detonators and other various materials, according to an inventory of the searches.

Spanish authorities believe the intended target was the Barcelona subway system and that the plot would have used two to four suicide bombers wearing explosive vests that were to be detonated simultaneously while another plotter detonated three to four more devices placed in the subway, investigative sources told ABC News. The Barcelona rapid transit system has 150 stations along nine lines and runs over 71 miles. It serves 1.6 million residents in Spain’s second largest city.

“For this reason, the Barcelona rail system makes a great target for the Islamic radicals coming to Spain,” said a source close to the case. “The (Raval) area of Barcelona has become a great location for the al Qaeda cells for recruitment, financial support and possible targets.”