What does the new al-Qaida leadership look like?

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
April 2 2007 6:25 AM

Al Hydra

The New York Times leads with reports that al-Qaida has rebuilt its leadership in tribal areas of Pakistan. The Washington Post and the Los Angles Times each go with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign raising a record $26 million in 10 weeks. USA Today opts to just tease the Clinton story and instead leads with three airport groups opposing Transportation Security Administration regulations on locking down terminals in an emergency. The Wall Street Journal opts to lead its world-wide newsbox with Sen. John McCain claiming improved conditions in Iraq, with the NYT picking up the story inside.

U.S. intelligence officials now have a better understanding of what the leadership of a revamped, decentralized al-Qaida looks like, says the NYT. It is younger, better trained, less likely to have ties to the struggle against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and more likely to include members from a variety of nations. Authorities say camps in remote tribal areas of Pakistan were key to the network's resurgence. USAT fronts a similar story, focusing on NATO leaders pressuring Pakistani officials to end tribal autonomy in the Waziristan region, citing concerns that tribal authorities are training militants.

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On top of her $26 million haul this quarter, Sen. Clinton has $10 million left over from her 2006 Senate campaign. Meanwhile former Sen. John Edwards raised $14 million, nearly double his pack-leading total in 2003. Both Edwards and Clinton broke Al Gore's $8.9 million 1999 record for most money raised by this point in the election cycle. Meanwhile, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson came in third with $6 million.

Sen. Barack Obama declined to release a preliminary estimate, though like all candidates he will have to file an official report by April 15. According to the LAT, however, Obama's campaign claims to have received 83,500 donations, compared to 50,000 for Clinton and 37,000 for Edwards. The WP predicts his total will be in the $20 million range. Inside, the NYT speculates Obama may have held off making an announcement to avoid sharing a headline with Clinton. Curiously enough, no Republicans have made preliminary announcements, an oddity no paper really addresses.

Leaders of three groups of airports and affiliated organizations lobbied TSA for a second time to reverse a proposal that would bar airport police from closing a terminal in an emergency. Under the proposal, only the TSA would have that power. The groups argue the regulation would impair flexibility and hamper security. Both sides claim their proposal would strengthen security: The paper depicts the disagreement as a bureaucratic turf war. A final decision on the rule is expected in May.

The WP off-leads with congressional Democrats gearing up to push the Bush administration on everything from the war in Iraq to the treatment of suspected terrorists. The piece loses a bit of its luster, though, when paired with an AP wire story on Sen. Obama saying the Democrats are opting not to take a hard line on Iraq withdrawal. Inside, the WSJ is more cautious and says the Democrats are at a "tipping point."

Under the fold, USAT buries the lead in its report on terminally ill patients who want non-FDA approved drugs. The news: A case currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia could rewrite the books on what access terminally ill patients are given to new, potentially life-saving (and potentially risky) treatments.

The NYT reports on doctor-run hospitals whose lack of basic emergency care may have caused patients' deaths.

The WSJ says Israeli PM Olmert is inviting leaders of Arab states for a regional peace conference, even as tensions with Hamas remain high. The NYT follows up inside.

Government raids on illegal immigrants can have unintended consequences for their American-born children, reports the WP.

The LAT says that EMI Group, one of the big four record labels, announced they will be removing copy protections from songs sold via iTunes. The label did not make an announcement regarding selling Beatles songs online, as many speculated (again) that they would.

A tsunami hit the Solomon Islands, killing 13, reports the LAT (via AP) inside.

The NYT runs an eerily positive feature on people who stalk suspected relatives in order to obtain tissue samples for genetic testing.

The WP takes a moment to explain why President Bush opting not to throw out the first pitch at a ballgame isn't news. TP is just as confused as you are.

Jesse Stanchak is a writer living in Washington, D.C.

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