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inside the tribal areas

On Aug. 30, 2002, the FRONTLINE team -- producers Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria and cameraman Scott Anger -- headed out for the tribal areas north of Peshawar. Many Al Qaeda fighters -- perhaps, some speculate, bin Laden himself -- found refuge in these lawless border areas when they fled the American air assault on Tora Bora region of Afghanistan in December 2001.

Smith and his team got as far as Chitral in the Northwest Frontier Province before they were turned away by armed guards at the border to one of the tribal areas. The 10,000 square mile region known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is off-limits to foreigners; the Pakistani government is afraid that wandering Western journalists might meet the fate of reporter Daniel Pearl, who was abducted and brutally murdered by Islamic extremists in February 2002.

Since it seemed like their chances of getting into the tribal areas were slim, the FRONTLINE team enlisted the help of Hayat Ullah Khan, a local Pashtun reporter who was willing to venture into the dangerous territories as their proxy. They gave Khan a small digital video camera, and lists of places to go and questions to ask.

As a resident of the region, Khan was afforded unprecedented access that allowed him to spend the next eight weeks documenting daily life in this lawless, isolated borderland. He returned with 16 hours of footage, some from areas that have never been photographed before. Some of his footage is incorporated into the "In Search of Al Qaeda" documentary; here we offer nine minutes of additional video from his journey, as well as an excerpt from the documentary.

Update - A Courageous Journalist On June 16, 2006, Hayat Ullah Khan's body was found in North Waziristan tribal region. He had disappeared in December 2005 after reporting that an alleged Al Qaeda member had been killed by a U.S. missile, not in a bomb-making accident as was claimed by Pakistan. Pakistan's journalist community and members of the opposition protested at the National Assembly and have demanded an investigation. Many believe Pakistan's intelligence agencies are involved in the murder. Read more about Khan's career and work for FRONTLINE here.

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