- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 1, 2002

U.S. military forces in Afghanistan captured a cache of 30 anti-aircraft missiles, Pentagon officials said yesterday as a new American general took control of the U.S.-led campaign there.
The missiles were described as a Chinese-made version of the SA-7 surface-to-air missile, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Disclosure of the missile cache comes as the U.S. intelligence community obtained information that Islamic terrorists have smuggled shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles into the United States, including SA-7s and U.S.-made Stinger missiles.
The FBI issued an intelligence alert May 22 warning airlines and law enforcement agencies about the missile threat, but said it has no evidence that al Qaeda is planning attacks against U.S. aircraft using portable missiles.
Meanwhile yesterday, the campaign's new leader, Lt. Gen. Dan K. McNeill, acknowledged in an interview with the Associated Press that the hunt for elusive al Qaeda and Taliban fighters has gotten tougher.
Gen. McNeill said he might have to adapt his tactics if Pakistan pulls out of the search. The threat of war with India has prompted Pakistan to say it will withdraw troops patrolling its side of the Afghan border a move that would effectively give al Qaeda and the Taliban a refuge in Pakistan's western tribal region.
Many, if not all, of the top remaining al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are thought to be in Pakistan. Those left in Afghanistan are avoiding battles, blending into the population, hiding in the rugged mountains, and moving back and forth across the porous border.
Outside the eastern Afghan city of Gardez yesterday, U.S. troops killed three of their Afghan allies in a firefight that broke out when both sides separately moved in on a compound mistakenly thought to be a hide-out of Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, a U.S. army spokesman said.
Two Afghan anti-Taliban fighters were also wounded in the exchange at the walled compound, Col. Roger King said.
"We had no way of knowing they were there," Col. King said of the allied fighters. "These other forces were injected into the area without coordination."
There were neither al Qaeda or Taliban in the compound, and no Americans were injured.
U.S. Army Special Forces troops discovered the missiles in southeastern Afghanistan. They were identified as HN-5s, the designation for Chinese-made SA-7s.
U.S. intelligence officials said there are fears that portable missiles could be used against commercial aircraft.
"Given al Qaeda's demonstrated objective to target the U.S. air industry, its access to U.S. and Russian-made [man-portable air-defense] systems and recent apparent targeting of U.S.-led military forces in Saudi Arabia, law enforcement agencies in the U.S. should remain alert to the potential use of man-pads against U.S. aircraft," a U.S. official said.
The intelligence reports on the portable missiles were based in part on statements by Abu Zubaydah, the captured al Qaeda organization operations chief who has been providing intelligence on the group.

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