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"Secret Order" to Target al Qaeda Not So Secret

4:27 PM, Nov 10, 2008 • By BILL ROGGIO
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The New York Times tells us today that the Bush administration granted approval for the U.S. military "to use 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." The U.S. military used this "broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere," the Times reports.

But anyone who has been remotely following operations against al Qaeda and its allied terror groups has long been able to deduce the U.S. government has granted approval for the military and CIA to attack high value targets outside of the hot zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. This was one of the worst-kept "secrets" because the high-profile nature of the operations can't remain hidden.

With very little time and effort, I tracked down seven of these so-called secret attacks. One of the most brazen attacks occurred in the country of Madagascar in January 2007. That's right, Madagascar. U.S. special operations forces from the hunter killer teams of Task Force 88 (back then it was called Task Force 145, the name has likely changed yet again) killed Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, one of Osama bin Laden's brothers-in-law who has deep roots in al Qaeda as a financier and facilitator.

U.S. intelligence tracked Khalifa for a long time (he lived in Saudi Arabia) and waited for the right moment to pounce. The Task Force made it look like Khalifa was killed in a robbery, but it was clear this was a hit. The Saudis went ballistic over Khalifa's death and lodged a protest with the United States.

Back in January 2007, I stated the U.S. was clearly hunting al Qaeda operatives:

Task Force 145 has a mandate to hunt down senior al Qaeda operatives world wide, and is known to have operated in Pakistan to destroy Osama bin Laden's Black Guard. Also, the U.S. recently deployed naval assets to the (East Africa) region, as well as Task Force 145, in the hunt for al Qaeda and Islamic Courts leaders fleeing Somalia.

In addition to the strikes against Khalifa in Madagascar and the Black Guard in Pakistan, the U.S. military have been active in Somalia. We knew back in early January 2007 that the CIA and the U.S. military were operating on the ground in Somalia, directing attacks against al Qaeda and the Islamic Courts. Task Force 88 killed Aden Hashi Ayro, a senior leader in Shabaab, al Qaeda's front in Somalia. In March 2008, an airstrike targeted Hassan Turki, a military commander in Shabaab who ran a terror camp on the Somali-Kenyan border.

The United States also targeted three senior al Qaeda operatives behind the attacks in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Fazul Abdullah Mohammad, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, and Abu Tala al Sudani have been marked for death starting in late 2006. Sudani was killed during the strikes in early 2007.

In another incident, the Task Force captured Abd al Hadi al Iraqi in late 2006. Hadi was one of Osama bin Laden's senior deputies, and was personally chosen by bin Laden to monitor al Qaeda operations in Iraq. Hadi was captured outside of Iraq, but it was never stated where. Good money is on Syria or Iran. Hadi was known to meet with senior al Qaeda leaders inside Iran.

Some secret.