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Intelligence indicates activity at al Qaeda camps

Satellite imagery tracks training sites along Pakistan-Afghan border

An al Qaeda training camp as seen in this file photograph.
Al Qaeda
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Intelligence indicates some al Qaeda training camps have been reactivated along Pakistan's border with southeastern Afghanistan, defense and intelligence sources told CNN.

Overhead surveillance imagery gathered in the past month seems to show vehicles and people recently moving into areas known to be training sites for al Qaeda, they said.

One official said the camps "are of interest to the U.S. and Pakistan" but nothing indicated the recent activity at the camps was tied to the raising of the terrorist alert level in financial districts in New York City, Newark, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.

The official said the United States prefers that Pakistani military forces move against the camps, situated west and southwest of Quetta.

Activity ebbs and flows at known al Qaeda training sites in the region, and the U.S. official said local Pakistani forces would be best able to stage a military operation, with the help of timely U.S. intelligence.

Pakistan has stepped up military activity along the rugged border, where the government in Islamabad has exerted little authority since independence from Britain in 1947.

The moves have triggered periodic resistance from tribal forces in the region, but Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said his country has "mostly" sealed the border with Afghanistan.

"If there is any information that there is any terrorist activity and someone is there, any hideout, we destroy them," he said. "This shows the commitment of President [Pervez] Musharraf."

The U.S.-led war against Afghanistan's Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime in October 2001 sought to destroy such camps, many of which were along the border with Pakistan.

Six Yemeni-Americans from upstate New York attended an al Qaeda training camp in 2001 and were later convicted of providing material support to a terrorist organization.

A U.S. attorney said the six men likely attended the camps at about the same time as American John Walker Lindh, who was convicted of fighting against the United States for the Taliban.

News of the reactivated camps came as indications of other Pakistan-al Qaeda links have surfaced.

On Wednesday, two U.S. government sources said that intelligence found in Pakistan indicates that suspected al Qaeda operatives in that country recently contacted an individual or individuals in the United States.

Two senior Pakistani intelligence sources said evidence exists that at least six individuals in the United States were contacted by Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, an alleged al Qaeda operative and computer expert recently taken into custody in Pakistan. U.S. officials have not confirmed that information. (Full story)

Khan's arrest was just one in a Pakistani sweep against suspected al Qaeda operatives that also included the July 30 capture of Tanzanian Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. (Full story).

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