Al Qaeda Safe Haven in the Hindu Kush

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 5 months ago

Rich Lowry with National Review is encouraged at the signs of tribal uprising against the Pakistan Taliban.  The Captain’s Journal is far less encouraged.  We have pointed out that Baitullah Mehsud specifically targeted tribal elders in his rise to power, killing some 600 elders after they spoke out against him.  Mehsud has globalist intentions, and now the distinction between al Qaeda and the Tehrik-i-Taliban has been all but erased.  The Taliban fighters shout to passersby in Khyber “We are Taliban! We are mujahedin! “We are al-Qaida!”

Philip Smucker recently observed that al Qaeda has essentially chosen Baitullah as their front man in Pakistan, and further observed that:

Most Afghanistan-Pakistan insurgent groups, led by Mahsud and Mullah Omar’s Afghan Taliban, have not officially adopted the “al-Qaeda” brand name, but they have essentially sworn their allegiance to bin Laden, say leading experts on the terror network.  They claim that al-Qaeda has learned from the mistake of going into business under its own name in Iraq and it prefers, instead, to remain behind the scenes, protected by local gunmen on the one hand, but capable of influencing the fight against US and foreign “infidels” in South Asia on the other hand.

This alliance knows no borders, and hence it’s pointless to refer to the campaign as Afghan, Pakistan or otherwise as pertaining to nation-states.  Syed Saleem Shahzad has recently described the safe haven that al Qaeda has created for itself throughout the Hindu Kush.

The Eastern Hindu Kush range, also known as the High Hindu Kush range, is mostly located in northern Pakistan and the Nuristan and Badakhshan provinces of Afghanistan.

This chain of mountains connects with several smaller ranges, such as Spin Ghar, the Tora Bora, the Suleman Range, Toba Kakar, and creates a natural corridor that passes through the entire Pakistani tribal areas and the Afghan border provinces all the way to the Pakistani coastal area in Balochistan province.

By 2008, al-Qaeda had taken control of the 1,500-square-kilometer corridor – something it had planned to do since fleeing Afghanistan when the Taliban were defeated by US-led forces in December 2001.

Al-Qaeda decided then to build a regional ideologically motivated franchise in South Asia to thwart the strategic designs of Western powers in the area.

While US forces were vainly trying to hunt down al-Qaeda in the Tora Bora mountains, the group was focused on establishing links with organizations such as the Jaishul al-Qiba al-Jihadi al-Siri al-Alami and Jundallah in the Pakistani tribal areas and organizing the recruitment of Pakistanis and Afghans to those organizations. The underlying reason for doing this was to destroy the local political and social structures and in their place establish an al-Qaeda franchise.

The plan worked. Today, in many parts of the Hindu Kush corridor, centuries-old tribal systems and their connections with the Pakistani establishment through an appointed political agent have been replaced by a system of Islamic warlordism.

The old breed of tribal elders, religious clerics and tribal chiefs, loyal to Pakistan and its systems, has been wiped out, to be replaced by warlords such as Haji Omar, Baitullah Mehsud, (slain) Nek Mohammad and (slain) Abdullah Mehsud. They are all al-Qaeda allies, and allow al-Qaeda freedom of movement in their areas within the corridor.

Al-Qaeda members from abroad also use the corridor to enter the Pakistani tribal areas.

This sounds very much like our observation in Games of Duplicity and the End of Tribe in Pakistan, and serves as an even more recent warning that the desired tribal military action against the Taliban probably won’t materialize.  Dead elders, a separate political system, a separate legal system, and terror plus patronage have almost ensured that if the Taliban are to be defeated, it won’t be at the hands of indigenous fighters.


You are currently reading "Al Qaeda Safe Haven in the Hindu Kush", entry #3113 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,al Qaeda,Baitullah Mehsud,Pakistan,Tehrik-i-Taliban and was published June 14th, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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