The Connection Between the Taliban and al Qaeda

BY Herschel Smith
5 years ago

David Rohde with The New York Times was kidnapped months ago by the Afghan Taliban while attempting to gain an interview with a Taliban commander.  He is writing about his first hand experiences in The New York Times in what may be the most compelling reading I have done in months.  I highly recommend that you set aside some time and study his account.

There is much to be learned from David, but one thing in particular has stuck out in his articles thus far.

Over those months, I came to a simple realization. After seven years of reporting in the region, I did not fully understand how extreme many of the Taliban had become. Before the kidnapping, I viewed the organization as a form of “Al Qaeda lite,” a religiously motivated movement primarily focused on controlling Afghanistan.

Living side by side with the Haqqanis’ followers, I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious. Contact with foreign militants in the tribal areas appeared to have deeply affected many young Taliban fighters. They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world.

[ ... ]

The trip confirmed suspicions I had harbored for years as a reporter. The Haqqanis oversaw a sprawling Taliban mini-state in the tribal areas with the de facto acquiescence of the Pakistani military. The Haqqanis were so confident of their control of the area that they took me — a person they considered to be an extraordinarily valuable hostage — on a three-hour drive in broad daylight to shoot a scene for a video outdoors.

Throughout North Waziristan, Taliban policemen patrolled the streets, and Taliban road crews carried out construction projects. The Haqqani network’s commanders and foreign militants freely strolled the bazaars of Miram Shah and other towns. Young Afghan and Pakistani Taliban members revered the foreign fighters, who taught them how to make bombs.

[ ...]

After about 15 minutes, the guards returned to the car and led me back to the house. The missiles had struck two cars, killing a total of seven Arab militants and local Taliban fighters. I felt a small measure of relief that no civilians had been killed. But I knew we were still in grave danger.

Baitullah Mehsud’s threats against Washington and London may or may not have been bluster, but there is no doubt that they would have eventually attempted to pull off an attack directly in the homeland.  As I have previously noted:

… they have evolved into a much more radical organization than the original Taliban bent on global engagement, what Nicholas Schmidle calls the Next-Gen Taliban. The TTP shout to passersby in Khyber “We are Taliban! We are mujahedin! “We are al-Qaida!”  There is no distinction.  A Pakistan interior ministry official has even said that the TTP and al Qaeda are one and the same.

We have known about the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) for some time, but what we learn from David Rohde’s report is that the TTP swims freely among the Afghan Taliban, and vice versa.  And so does al Qaeda.  They swim freely among both groups of Taliban, and are even revered by them.

If anyone has been harboring secret hopes that the Taliban (Pakistan or Afghan) would reject the presence of al Qaeda if they returned to power, those hopes should be forthwith abandoned.  David Rohde has given us a clear enough picture to reach this conclusion with certainty.



  • Warbucks

    The Final Weapon.

    The final weapon used on the Taliban and Al Qaeda will not be a gamma ray burst or even a .223 caliber projectile mercifully placed, but rather it is more apt to take the form of a world wide peace prayer implemented and orchestrated on the internet and fearlessly radiating love, light, and truth.

    — Stalin can murder tens of millions and not extinguish the truth.
    — Hitler can run his death camps and kill millions of us and not extinguish the truth.
    — Mao in China can set his legions to kill millions of Chinese and not extinguish the truth.
    — Pol Pot can sweep across the killing fields of Southeast Asia and not extinguish the truth.
    — US Forces can, if they choose, track down and kill every pathetic, ignorant Islamic Fundamentalist Taliban and Al Qaeda and not extinguish the truth.

    And what is the truth?

    • It is that which can not be extinguished.
    • It is that which is being hand-carried in the hearts of each of us, often hidden from ourselves through our ignorance, fear, and hatreds.
    • It is that which is even hidden from the Mullahs directing the politics of ignorant men in closed societies.
    • It is that which we may begin to see when we realize all that is, is related to everything else.
    • It is that which the politically weak Sufi Muslim sees and experiences.
    • It is that which can not be forced upon another, but only shown to him.
    • It is that which you must choose to see even as it may cause great pain.
    • It is that which even our greatest scientists do not understand even as they play with it for their own great purposes and help us evolve.
    • And It is that which enables two opposing warriors to set down their swords in peace ………….. Anonymous

    The warrior’s duty is to serve within limits set by humanity. Just as a policeman is tasked to use the least lethal force to achieve his purpose, so is our President. The greater the number of well trained and well lead troops in our effort, the more humane should be our ability to reach an acceptable accord that reflects truth with which we can all abide.

    Just a random thought.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    I believe that you have a more man-centered faith than do I. My views are classically conservative, yours liberal or perhaps neo-orthodox. Sometimes war is the most humane and charitable course of action.

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/good-wars-22#

    The point of the article is that there is a nexus between AQ and the Taliban, whether Pak or Afghan.

    So returning to the point of the article (PLEASE), I was communicating with others today who indicated to me that the talking points of those who wish to withdraw from Afghanistan is that Rohde merely stated these things without proof.

    An incredible position, this is. Take note of how absurd one has to make himself look to continue to assert the position contrary to Rohde. There aren’t many true to life, bona fide subject matter experts who have first hand experience. Rohde is now one – perhaps the premier expert witness on the planet at the moment. He was there in the middle of it. We aren’t.

    Another objection sent to me this morning is that this doesn’t address the reported rift between the Quetta Shura (Mullah Omar) and AQ. I have previously addressed my disbelief in such a rift here:

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2009/10/18/lt-col-daniel-l-davis-on-going-deep-rather-than-long-in-afghanistan/

  • Pingback: The Captain's Journal » Taliban and al Qaeda Ideological Alignments

  • Pingback: The Captain's Journal » Analyzing Martha Coakley’s Afghanistan Remarks (and reactions on the right)


You are currently reading "The Connection Between the Taliban and al Qaeda", entry #4078 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,al Qaeda,Taliban,Tehrik-i-Taliban and was published October 21st, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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