10 years ago
In a recent telephone interview with a Pakistani reporter, senior Taliban leader Dadullah Akhund said he had told local Taliban members to cease attacks in Pakistan but to continue their fight “abroad” against the U.S. military. He said that he had 500 suicide bombers and 12,000 fighters at his disposal and that by next spring the Taliban would have enough force to launch major attacks on Kabul, the Afghan capital.
This might be bluster, but it also might be a revelation of the long range plan for the Taliban. Either way, it appears as if the interim period will see smaller, lighter and more dedicated incursions into Afghan territory:
In North Waziristan, a ruggedly mountainous region where foreigners are banned, the Taliban are in control and the mood following the peace deal was buoyantly militant. Residents said there was a general expectation that the peace deal with Pakistan’s ruling army will let the militants step up fighting in Afghanistan.
In one village a few miles from the Afghan border, men said Taliban officials have declared that the jihad now will be more organized and disciplined. Men who volunteer to fight must now cross in smaller groups and stay for longer periods – at least 40 days, according to one source. Fighters will be required to hand their identity documents to the Taliban commander in their village to ensure that they will not be identifiable as Pakistani citizens.
This is the tactic of special operations: small units, silent operation, no identification, with sustenance being derived from the land or the people. It is certainly not the case that these fighters will be the equivalent of SEALs, Delta Force, or Marine Recon, but the point is that this might signal a temporary change in tactics.
If it is deemed too risky to directly attack Waziristan due to instability in the Musharraf regime and the nuclear weapons in Pakistan, then plans must be made for operations of increased intensity along the Afghan-Pakistan border.