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Perhaps the single most important truth learned in seven weeks is the existence of a creepy camaraderie, an international bond among terrorists. Those ties are forged in Afghanistan. "The one thing that absolutely everyone involved in terrorist groups has in common," says a European official, "is passage through the al-Qaeda camps. When leaders are sent from Afghanistan to start organizing people, there are no questions asked: the camp experience allows everyone to recognize the bona fides of jihad." The B-52s pounding away from 40,000 ft. may not look like sleuths and cops. But if al-Qaeda's sinister appeal and global reach are ever to be broken, the bombers too must play their part.
--Reported by Bruce Crumley/Paris, Helen Gibson and James L. Graff/London, Scott MacLeod/Cairo and Viveca Novak/Washington, with other bureaus