Pakistan`s tribal belt: A militant hotbed

Pakistan`s tribal belt has named the area the most dangerous place on Earth.

Last Updated: Sep 29, 2010, 18:16 PM IST

Miranshah (Pakistan): Pakistan`s tribal belt, where al Qaeda reportedly hatched a plot to launch coordinated attacks in Britain, France and Germany, has been branded the terror group`s global headquarters.

Washington considers the remote mountains, plunging valleys and thick forest on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan the most likely hiding place of Osama bin Laden, and has named the area the most dangerous place on Earth.

The BBC described the plot to carry out Mumbai-style attacks in three countries as "one of the most serious al Qaeda attack plans in recent years" and inspired by the group`s fugitive leadership in Pakistan`s tribal areas.

Planning had been at an advanced state but a recent series of drone strikes in Pakistan had killed several plot leaders and severely disrupted the plans, Sky News reported.

A covert American drone war has been conducted for years in Pakistan`s northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and stepped up under President Barack Obama as a premier line of defence against al Qaeda.

At least 21 US drone strikes have targeted al Qaeda and its affiliates in the Haqqani network, one of the most potent US adversaries in Afghanistan, in the tribal zone in September -- the highest number in any single month.

In the latest high-profile killing, Pakistani intelligence officials said Sheikh Fateh, al Qaeda`s operational chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was killed in a US drone attack in North Waziristan on Saturday.

Britain says 50 percent of plots aimed at Britain were linked to al Qaeda in Pakistan, while bomb-making factories and training camps in FATA have been associated with a host of terror plots across the West in recent years.

The region is the headquarters of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), whose leader Hakimullah Mehsud has been charged in the United States over the killing last year of seven Americans at a CIA base in Afghanistan.

The December 2009 attack in Khost, near the Pakistani border, was the deadliest attack on the CIA since 1983 and plotted in Pakistan`s tribal belt.

The United States has blacklisted the group as a terror organisation and holds TTP responsible for a plot to bomb Times Square in New York on May 1.

Bureau Report