Fighting for Bin Laden

Introduction

May 3, 2011

Two days after Osama bin Laden's death, FRONTLINE presents this special report with inside access to the two biggest fronts in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

First, correspondents Stephen Grey and Martin Smith go inside The Secret War and uncover new details of CIA-funded Afghan militias tasked with guarding the border, gathering intelligence and launching kill raids against the insurgents and their Al Qaeda allies. Based in Afghanistan, their work is focused on Pakistan.

A former commander of one of these teams, the Khost Protection Force (KPF), tells FRONTLINE about how the team crosses the Afghan border into Pakistan's tribal areas. Under the protection of drone aircraft, they fire mortars against Taliban and Al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan.

Grey and Smith also find new evidence of covert support for elements of the Taliban by the Pakistani military and its intelligence service, the ISI. At a safe house not far from where bin Laden was killed, they make contact with one midlevel Taliban commander who tells FRONTLINE, "If they really wanted to, [the Pakistanis] could arrest us all in an hour."

FRONTLINE also takes a fresh look at the Obama administration's escalated campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas, which is said to have killed more than 13,000 militants in the last four years. In an exclusive interview, Robert Grenier, a former head of the CIA's counterterrorism center, questions the effectiveness of the airstrikes "By launching those attacks, are we creating more militants than, in fact, we are killing?" he asks.

Following The Secret War, FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith sits down with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Bin Laden biographer Steve Coll to discuss how the death of Osama bin Laden will play out in the fight against Al Qaeda, and where Pakistan stands in the fight.

Then, Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi -- who reported last year's award-winning Behind Taliban Lines -- once again journeys deep inside enemy territory. This time, he gains extraordinary access to a band of militants and foreign fighters in Afghanistan who say they're loyal to bin Laden and that they're readying a spring offensive against the U.S. and coalition forces.

Their leader is man who only wanted to be known as Khan, an Afghan of Arab descent whose connections to Al Qaeda go far back; Khan had fought against the Russians with Osama bin Laden. Are these local bands of militants Al Qaeda's future?

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Posted May 3, 2011

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