Anyone surprised by this?
Sympathy for al-Qaida Surges in PakistanIncidentally, we should keep in mind that claims about Al Qaeda operatives being killed in the attack are coming from the Pakistani government, which obviously has a vested interest in making the attack seem as legitimate as possible.
Sympathy for al-Qaida has surged after a U.S. airstrike devastated this remote mountain hamlet in a region sometimes as hostile toward the Pakistani government as it is to the United States.
A week after the attack, villagers insist no members of the terror network were anywhere near the border village when it was hit. But thousands of protesters flooded a nearby town chanting, "Long live Osama bin Laden!"
The rally was the latest in a series of demonstrations across Pakistan against the Jan. 13 attack, which apparently targeted but missed al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri.
The military still mans numerous checkpoints in the area, but it appears to be keeping a low profile so it will not inflame villagers still seething over the deaths of 13 civilians, including women and children, in the attack.
"This attack has increased our hatred for Americans because they are killing innocent women and children," said Zakir Ullah, one of 5,000 demonstrators in Inayat Qala, a market town about three miles from Damadola.
"We support jihad (holy war). Jihad is the duty of every Muslim," he said.
The assault has caused friction between Islamabad and Washington and widespread outrage in this Islamic nation of 150 million, but few are as angry as the people who live in the virtually lawless tribal region that borders Afghanistan. The area is a hotbed of Taliban and al-Qaida sympathizers — and a possible sanctuary for bin Laden himself.
Damadola residents deny any links to the militants.
"We don't have anything to do with al-Qaida, and it was a cruel act of the Americans to attack my house without reason," said Bacha Khan, a flour mill worker whose house was among the three destroyed.
...Many of Sunday's protesters called for Musharraf's resignation.
"As a president he has failed to protect the people and as chief of the army staff he has failed to protect the frontiers," said Maulana Mohammed Sadiq, a lawmaker in the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, which helped organize the rallies.
In a show of solidarity, the opposition Jamaat Islami, or Islamic Party, marshaled 50 volunteers Sunday to help the village rebuild.