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Mysterious 'chip' is CIA's latest weapon against al-Qaida targets hiding in Pakistan


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This is very cool

Mysterious 'chip'

is CIA's latest weapon against al-Qaida targets hiding in Pakistan's tribal belt

• Tribesmen plant devices to guide drone attacks

• Locals shun fighters for fear of becoming targets

The CIA is equipping Pakistani tribesmen with secret electronic transmitters to help target and kill al-Qaida leaders in the north-western tribal belt, in a tactic that could aid Pakistan's army as it takes the battle against extremism to the Taliban heartland.

As the army mops up Taliban resistance in the Swat valley, where a defence official predicted fighting would be over within days, the focus is shifting to Waziristan and the Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud.

But a deadly war of wits is already under way in the region, where tribesmen say the US is using advanced technology and old-fashioned cash to target the enemy.

Over the last 18 months the US has launched more than 50 drone attacks, mostly in south and north Waziristan. US officials claim nine of the top 20 al-Qaida figures have been killed.

That success is reportedly in part thanks to the mysterious electronic devices, dubbed "chips" or "pathrai" (the Pashto word for a metal device), which have become a source of fear, intrigue and fascination.

...

snip

According to residents and Taliban propaganda, the CIA pays tribesmen to plant the electronic devices near farmhouses sheltering al-Qaida and Taliban commanders.Hours or days later, a drone, guided by the signal from the chip, destroys the building with a salvo of missiles. "There are body parts everywhere," said Wazir, who witnessed the aftermath of a strike.

Until now the drone strikes were the only threat to militants in Waziristan, where the Pakistani army had, in effect, abandoned the fight.

snip

On 1 January a drone-fired missile killed Usama al-Kimi, a Kenyan militant who orchestrated last year's Marriott hotel bombing in Islamabad, a senior official with Pakistan's ISI spy agency said.

snip

For the tribesmen who plant the microchips and get it wrong, the consequences can be terrible. Last month the Taliban issued a video confession by Habib ur Rehman, 19. "They money was good," he said in a quavering voice, describing how he was paid 20,000 rupees (£166) to drop microchips hidden in a cigarette wrapper at the home of a target. Rehman said his handler promised thousands of pounds if the strike was successful, and protection if he was caught. The end of the video showed Rehman being shot dead with three other alleged spies. Residents say such executions – there have been at least 100 – indicate how much the drone strikes have worried the Taliban.

snip

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/31/cia-drones-...

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