Inside a terrorist safe haven in Pakistan

(CBS News) There was a lot at stake for our troops Thursday when the director of the CIA David Petraeus met with his counterpart from Pakistan.

The U.S. wants Pakistan to crack down on Islamic terrorists who attack Americans in Afghanistan from safe havens in Pakistan.

If you ever wondered what goes on in those safe havens in Pakistan, here's a glimpse: Terrorists built a scale model of an American base just across the border in Afghanistan and used it, along with a satellite photo taken off the internet, to plan a spectacular attack.

They may look like Rambo wannabes, but this was a well-planned operation, down to the American and Afghan army uniforms they wore. The attack was led the driver of a truck loaded with an estimated 2,000 pounds of homemade explosives. His bomb was covered only by a tarp, yet he apparently had no difficulty driving across the border and right up to forward operation base Salerno.

The driver detonated the bomb, setting off a monstrous fireball, followed by a blast wave which rippled across the base -- all recorded from three different camera angles for maximum propaganda value.

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Next a van carrying a 10-man suicide squad pulled up. Their plan was to charge through a hole blown out by the truck bomb. But the attack stalled because the bomb failed to breach a second barrier, according to a U.S. official. The video doesn't show it, but all 10 men were gunned down. Photos of the aftermath show the base mess hall collapsed by the blast wave. Two Americans were killed and 25 wounded seriously enough to require evacuation.

It was far from the deadliest attack on American forces, but the size of the fireball and the resulting blast wave are dramatic proof of the threat posed by the safe havens in Pakistan.

The attack was the work of a group called the Haqqani network which, according to U.S. officials, not only enjoys a safe haven in Pakistan but is actually supported by Pakistani intelligence.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.

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