U.S. officials say Pakistan has apparently tipped off militants at two more bomb-building factories in its tribal areas, giving the terror suspects time to flee, after U.S. intelligence shared the locations with the Pakistani government.
Those officials believe Pakistan’s insistence on seeking local tribal elders’ permission before raiding the areas may have most directly contributed to the militants’ flight, though they also suspect low-level security officials may have tipped the militants off.
U.S. officials have pushed for Pakistan to keep the location of such targets secret prior to the operations, but the Pakistanis say their troops cannot enter the lawless regions without giving the locals notice.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence.
The latest incidents bring to a total of four bomb-making sites that the U.S. has shared with Pakistan only to have the terrorist suspects flee before the Pakistani military arrived much later. The report does not bode well for attempts by both sides to mend relations and rebuild trust after the U.S. raid on May 2 that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, a Pakistani army town only 35 miles from the capital Islamabad.
I have no problem agreeing with all of the people who tell us that the shared interests between the United States and Pakistan are more important than any of the differences that might exist between the two countries. But selling that particular debate point is getting harder and harder by the day.