Update: Pakistani officials say the military has begun a ground offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan. The
army said about twenty-eight thousand soldiers were in place Saturday to root out an
estimated ten thousand Taliban fighters. An earlier story follows:
This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
Two weeks of suicide bombings and other
attacks have shaken Pakistan. The interior minister says, "The enemy has
started a guerrilla war."
Taliban leaders in Pakistan say the campaign is in
reaction to an expected army offensive against militants in South Waziristan. Militants
are launching attacks against government and security targets from bases in
tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan.
On Thursday, President Obama signed into law a civilian
aid bill for Pakistan. It offers seven and a half billion dollars over five years
to improve health, education and security.
in Pakistan, opposition parties and the powerful military have strongly
criticized the legislation. Last week the military objected to language suggesting
that it supported militant groups.
Now, the civilian government in
Islamabad says the United States has taken steps to ease Pakistani concerns.
lawmakers said the language of the aid package could not be changed. But on
Wednesday, they told Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Washington that it
does not place any conditions on Pakistan.
The United States considers
Pakistan an important ally in the global fight against terrorism. One issue
related to that fight is how to deal with the growing threat of terrorism from
within the United States.
Mueller, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spoke last month at a
Senate hearing. He said officials have discovered a number of plots in recent
months involving "homegrown extremists." He also expressed concern about
Americans and other Westerners traveling to Pakistan and Somalia for terrorist
government says a suspect arrested last month, Najibullah Zazi, traveled to
Pakistan last year to train in weapons and explosives. Officials say he bought
materials to build explosive devices and traveled to New York City on September
tenth as part of planning for an attack.
Zazi denies any link to terrorism. He came to the United States ten years ago
and is a legal permanent resident from Afghanistan. He was arrested in Colorado,
where he drove an airport bus.
This week, there were
reports that he had contact with al-Qaida leadership. Intelligence officials
said the head of al-Qaida's operations in Afghanistan used a middleman to
communicate with him.
General Eric Holder has called the case one of the most serious threats since
the attacks of September eleventh, two thousand one.
another case, federal officials are investigating the disappearances of more
than twenty young Somali men. They were living in the state of Minnesota. They may
have joined al-Shabab, an anti-government militia in Somalia tied to al-Qaida.
Shirwa Ahmed was a naturalized American
citizen living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He became the first known American
suicide bomber last October when he blew himself up in Somalia.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special
English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Bob Doughty.