Drones over Pakistan attempt to thwart terror plots in Europe


In an effort to foil a suspected terrorist plot against European targets, the Central Intelligence Agency has ramped up missile strikes against militants in Pakistan's tribal regions, current and former officials say.

The strikes, launched from unmanned drone aircraft, represent a rare use of the CIA's drone campaign to preempt a possible attack on the West.

The terror plot, which officials have been tracking for weeks, is believed to target multiple countries, including the U.K., France, and Germany, these officials said.

The exact nature of the plot or plots couldn't be learned immediately, and counterterrorism officials in the U.S., Pakistan and Europe are continuing to investigate. There have, however, been multiple terror warnings in recent days in France, Germany and the U.K.

"There are some pretty notable threat streams," said one U.S. military official, who added that the significance of these threats is still being discussed among counterterrorism officials but that threats of this height are unusual.


Not all of the drone strikes in the latest wave are connected to the suspected European plot. But many have targeted militants who are part of the Haqqani network, a militant group connected to al Qaeda. The group controls a key region abutting Afghanistan, where U.S. defense and intelligence officials believe Osama bin Laden could be hiding.

Since al Qaeda has been under pressure from the drone campaign and other counterterrorism operations, it has come to rely increasingly on affiliates in the region as well as in countries like Yemen and Somalia. The failed Christmas Day attack on a Detroit-bound Northwest flight, for example, was hatched in Yemen, authorities believe.

There is much more.

This does add some context to the high number of strikes although it is not clear how they are picking their targets who are supposed to be involved in the plot. They would need good on ground intelligence.


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