First a story pops up about UBL's son Saad bin Laden "escaping" house arrest in Iran and fleeing to Pakistan. Then today a story surfaced claiming the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, has died. Or has he?
It's tempting to write this off as propaganda. Mullah Omar just offered safe passage out of Afghanistan for NATO forces if they leave, which seems tied to Karzai's plea to get the Saudis involved in peace talks. The same "safe passage" vows occasionally crop up in AQ messages and are usually followed by empty threats.
But the fact is tensions along the Paki border have been rising for awhile as Bush tries hard to get the AQ leadership before the presidential transition occurs. Secretary Gates claims this is now the front lines in the GWoT, and others have said we're running out of time there if we don't fix the problem soon. Just last week a US drone UAV was evidently shot down, this shortly after a cross-border foray by US ground troops. The Marriott hotel blast was clearly a message, as was the murder of Afghanistan's top female police officer (after the Bhutto assassination Mehsud said they don't target women).
We also saw the US delay an AQ tape calling for more spectacular attacks in the US. It was supposed to have been delivered on 9/11 and included the will of hijacker Saeed al Ghamdi. Add the recent conviction of Taliban sympathizer Bashir Noorsai for drug trafficking and there are dots. Lots of dots.