Waziristan in the News as Al Qaeda Chiefs Regain Power

| Tue Feb. 20, 2007 10:56 AM EST

The lede from one of yesterday's big NYT stories:

Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

Anytime news outlets talk about Al Qaeda regaining power on the Pakistan-Afghan border, they are almost talking about the near-lawless tribal territory of Waziristan. They are in this case, anyway. In 2004, Mother Jones published a stunning photo essay from Waziristan, documenting the perverse (and tenuous) relationship between the war on terror and truth: Essentially, America promised Pakistan billions in aid if it could produce Al Qaeda operatives, which meant the Pakistan army marched into Waziristan and demanded that the tribes there start handing over terrorists, no matter what. Under pressure, the tribes started turning on each other, and pretty soon places like Guantanamo and other American prisons were filled with tribal Pakistanis with little connection to anything.

Text is here, photos are here.