Motorbike suicide bombing hits Pakistan as al Qaeda raises profile in tribal belt.
Intelligence reports find that al Qaeda may be using the region to launch more sophisticated terror attacks.
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Those fears come as The Washington Post reports that Al Qaeda operative Abu Laith al-Libi operated freely in Pakistan despite a heavy ransom on his head. Al Libi was reportedly killed last week in Pakistan by a US Predator drone.Skip to next paragraph
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"A Libyan al-Qaeda commander who was killed last week in northwestern Pakistan had lived there for years and, despite a $200,000 U.S. bounty on his head, felt secure enough to meet officials and visit hospitals, according to officials and residents of this city.
As he organized suicide bombings and other attacks in neighboring Afghanistan, Abu Laith al-Libi found a comfortable refuge in Pakistan's border region, the sources said in interviews. He met openly with a Pakistani politician and a Libyan diplomat and called on foreign fighters recovering from their wounds."
The possibility that Pakistan has created havens for Al Qaeda, coupled with growing militancy in Pakistan, has raised increased fears in Washington that Pakistan's nuclear weapons may not be safe, reports the BBC. But the BBC explains that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is better protected than is often feared:
After 9/11, the US became fixated on the idea of terrorists getting their hands on nuclear weapons…
But others are less sure that this scenario is realistic, partly because of the safeguards Pakistan has put in place.
As with most countries, these are kept secret but, because of the growing concern, Pakistan has begun to reveal some of the measures it takes:
The weapons are kept in parts, with the fissile material and the delivery system (the missile) separate from the rest of the weapon
The exact location of those facilities is kept secret and they are well guarded by a Strategic Forces Command consisting of thousands of soldiers
The weapons themselves can only be launched by someone who has access to electronic codes
These codes are a Pakistani version of Permissive Action Links (PALs), used by the US and other countries.
"Pakistan has developed its own PAL systems which obviously ensures that even if an unauthorised person gets hold of a weapon he cannot activate it unless he also has access to electronic codes," explains retired Brig Gen Naeem Salid.
Intelligence reports would seem to indicate that more attacks will be launched. The Daily Times, a leading English language newspaper in Pakistan, reports that 600 potential suicide bombers may be stationed in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city.
Six hundred suicide bombers are present in Karachi and they are planning a major attack, revealed Qasim Toori and Danish alias Talha during interrogations by law-enforcement agencies...
...a source privy to the interrogation told Daily Times that the militants had confessed, "Around 600 Jundullah militants are present in Karachi. They are mentally prepared and trained to commit suicide attacks." They confessed that they had robbed foreign banks and dispatched the money to their headquarters in Wana [South Waziristan], from where their needs for weapons, explosives and other necessities were being met.