The helicopter-born U.S. Special Operations raid in Pakistan last week was not an isolated incident “but part of a three-phase plan, approved by President Bush, to strike at Osama bin Laden and top al-Qaeda leadership” at the end of Bush’s term, National Public Radio is reporting, citing well-placed sources.
“The plan calls for a much more aggressive military campaign, said one source, familiar with the presidential order, which gives the green light for the military to take part in the operations,” NPR reports. “The plan represents an 11th-hour effort by the Bush administration to hammer al-Qaeda before leaving office.”
“Definitely, the gloves have come off,” said one of two sources cited in the report, who has been briefed on the plan. “This was only Phase 1 of three phases.”
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Pentagon and White House officials have declined to discuss the new plan.
“The intelligence community already had approval from the president to carry out operations inside Pakistan, which included attacks by Predator drones, which can carry 100-pound Hellfire missiles,” NPR reports of a dispatch on All Things Considered this evening from correspondents Tom Gjelten and Tom Bowman.
Additional authority came from the president just recently that allowed incursions by U.S. Special Operations forces, a source told them.
:Among lawmakers briefed, NPR reports, there is concern about the political ramifications in Pakistan. The Pakistan government is offering some cooperation in halting cross-border attacks by Islamist fighters from the tribal areas into Afghanistan.