Archive for the 'Baitullah Mehsud' Category



Interview with Taliban Spokesman Maulvi Omar

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 3 months ago

The NEFA Foundation has recently released another video, this one an important interview of chief Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar.

The entire interview is slightly over nine minutes, and is worth the time.  Some excerpts are given below, with commentary by The Captain’s Journal.

Q: What is the difference between al Qaeda and the Taliban?  Have they any relation?

A: There is no difference.  The formation of the Taliban and al Qaeda was based on an ideology.  Today, Taliban and al Qaeda have become an ideology.  Whoever works in these organizations, they fight against kafir (infidel) cruelty.  Both are fighting for the supremacy of Allah and his Kalma.  However, those fighting in foreign countries are called al Qaeda, while those fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan are called Taliban.  In fact, both are the name of one ideology.  The aim and objectives of both the organizations are the same.

The Captain’s Journal has discussed before what Nicholas Schmidle calls the Next-Gen Taliban.  They have adopted suicide tactics, are more brutal in their dealings with the population, and have taken on a global perspective in lieu of the nationalistic ideological approach of ten or twenty years ago.  In Khyber, they shout to passersby “We are Taliban! We are mujahedin! “We are al-Qaida!”  There is no distinction.

Also as we have discussed before, the plot hatched within the Pakistan ISI to undercut Baitullah Mehsud failed within a week of being implemented.  The Taliban are under the operational control of Mehsud, and his authority is unchallenged.  Note the following words from Omar.

Thank God, among the tribal mujahideen there is unity for which they have rendered great sacrifices.  Among them, there are important personalities like Maulana Fazlullah, Faqir Mohammad and Baitullah Mehsud.  Currently, the entire mujahideen are united under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud.  This is a blessing of God.  Though Baitullah is a young person, it is because of his sincerity, simplicity and piousness that all the tribals are under his command.

The interview continues with a very important question and a much more important answer.

Q: What is your view regarding jihad on the international level?

A: Jihad, as you know, is an important responsibility.  Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) stated 1400 years ago that jihad would continue until doomsday.  Jihad, which the Muslims of the subcontinent and Pashtuns have launched against the injustices and cruelty of anti-Islamic forces.  If they had not committed cruelties, if they had not destroyed Iraq, there would be no fedayeen (suicide attackers).  If they had not occupied Afghanistan, there would be no fedayeen.  Similarly, if they had not attacked the tribal areas, particularly, Bajaur and Waziristan, there would have been no mujahideen and Taliban in such large numbers.  This is also God’s will, who keeps jihad alive in different times.

The ongoing jihad against America and its allies is on one side.  This has benefited Muslims as it has inculcated the importance of jihad in every Muslim heart.  The anti-Muslim forces are on one side.  They are under the name of allies.  The Muslims are on the other side, under the name of jihadis.  This decision has been taken by the Quran 1400 years ago (verses from the Holy Quran), which quoted God as saying when the anti-Muslim forces fight you collectively, you should also fight against them jointly.

In this war, Bush and Musharraf are standing in one row along with there allies, and in the other row Mullah Omar, the Mujahideen and their companions are standing.  This will be the last war between Islam and Kafirs (infidels).  This is a tough war because they (Mujahideen) do not have the support of any Muslim country in the world, nor any other Mujahideen.  This ongoing jihad is harder than any other jihads, but there is still good news, as this will be and is the last war.  And once the Muslims win this war, they can establish an Islamic government throughout the world.

In case one has any doubts about the evolution of the Taliban into a globally focused organization bent on the takeover of not only Pakistan and Afghanistan, but the balance of the world, Omar tells us once again what their ultimate aim is: the establishment of an Islamic government throughout the world.

These are sobering words, underscoring the need to avoid “negotiations” with them, and the corollary need to remove the threat, absolutely and completely.

Military Operations in Bajaur, Pakistan

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 4 months ago

As of August 16th, it was said that more than 100,000 noncombatants had fled the most northerly province in the tribal regions of Pakistan.

About 100,000 Pakistani villagers have fled clashes between security forces and militants in a northwestern region raising the danger of a big humanitarian problem, a government official said on Friday.

Security forces and militants have been fighting in the Bajaur region on the Afghan border, a known sanctuary for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters, since the militants attacked a security post last week.

About 170 people have been killed, including some civilians, officials have said. The fighting has included strikes on militants by fighter jets and helicopter gunships.

The violence has triggered an exodus, with people streaming out of the region on packed pick-up trucks and on foot, many heading for the safety of the main northwestern city of Peshawar.

As of August 18, this number had swelled to approximately 300,000. This number is almost certainly exaggerated, but it’s obvious that Peshawar, which is the last bastion of normalcy in the tribal region and increasingly Talibanized every day, is receiving an influx of people for which it has no place or resources.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban have made their position on these operations well known.

Arif Yousafzai

PESHAWAR: The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has threatened to launch attacks on security forces and government installations in Mohmand Agency if the ongoing military operation in Bajaur is not halted immediately.

Talking to The Post on phone from an undisclosed location, TTP Mohmand Agency Amir Umer Khalid said Tehrik Chief Baitullah Mehsood had instructed him to make preparations for attacks on security forces in case the operation in Bajaur Agency was prolonged.

Umer said: “We have completed our preparations and are anxiously waiting for the orders of our chief. We can not sit quiet if our innocent brothers, sisters and kids are bombed in Bajaur Agency. Taliban have also decided to expand their intelligence system to identify people playing spies’ role and giving reports about the activities of Islamic insurgents to the government. We will publicly hang those who are acting as spies for the government.” They needed to take a lesson from two youths who we recently slaughtered in front of people after being proved guilty of spying for the government, he added.

The government seemed to be living in a fool’s paradise. It was underestimating the strength of Taliban, he said, adding that the militants had the courage to fight till last man. “If we are being bombed to appease America, we have the right to fight back to defend our ideology.”

The commander said thousands of people were fleeing Bajaur due to the bombing by government jets. It is unfortunate that the jets, which the government should have used against the enemies of Islam, are being used against the Islamists just because they are not ready to accept the American hegemony. Asked if Baitullah Mehsood could expand battle to other agencies and parts of the country, he said in the struggle for survival, nothing could not be ruled out.

Separately, talking to The Post on phone from an unspecified location, Taliban spokesman in Swat Haji Muslim Khan said their Amir in Swat valley, Maulana Fazalullah, had ordered to line up suicide bombers for escalating attacks on security forces and government installations across the country.

He said Taliban were fighting guerrilla warfare against the security forces in Swat and targeted killing of government functionaries would be started soon. The NWFP chief minister, cabinet ministers, Rehman Malik, MNAs and MPAs belonging to Swat and some police officials are on their hit list.

Haji Muslim said they appreciated the statement of Prime Minister’s Advisor Rehman Malik to prolong the military operation in Swat, adding that it would be better if Rehman Malik himself took the command of security forces there. “I suggest to Rehman Malik to come to Swat and lead the operation,” he said and added Taliban were fighting a sacred war for the enforcement of Shariah and hoped they would be successful.

On the other hand, Taliban Kurram Agency spokesman Fazal Saeed Haqqani said NATO, Irani and Afghan troops were busy operating against the Sunnis to help Shias. He said the Sunni-Shia strife started in Kurram Agency in 1961 and it had claimed hundreds of lives till today. He said Taliban had rocked Shias, but now the NATO, India, Afghanistan and Iran had reached there to rescue the Shia community. The Taliban self-described spokesman said the government never made sincere efforts to restore peace in Kurram Agency.

Time will tell the effectiveness of the current operations against the TTP. However, if the operations cease without total destruction of the TTP – a highly unlikely scenario – the operations will have been mostly a loss and failure, and the Tehrik-i-Taliban will come back empowered from the stand down in hostilities. We’ve seen it before many times. Meanwhile, the province of Ghazni has been ceded to the Afghan Taliban.

As The Captain’s Journal predicted more than half a year ago, the Taliban prepared dual fronts and are engaged in full bore summer operations.

Baitullah Mehsud: The Making of a Terror State

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 4 months ago

We have already covered the evolution of the Taliban from locally-, or perhaps nationally-oriented fighters, interested only in Afghanistan and the tribal and frontier regions to one of more global focus, a danger to Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond (Nicholas Schmidle calls this new breed of Taliban the Next-Gen Taliban. Schmidle hit his target so hard and directly with his work that the Pakistani government kicked him out of the country after publishing on the Next-Gen Taliban).

Six month ago we were discussing Baitullah Mehsud being the most powerful man in Waziristan, and two months ago we saw Mehsud so bold as to go on screen discussing his plans for jihad not only in Pakistan, but in Afghanistan and beyond.

Also concerning Pakistan’s anemic response to Mehsud, we discussed the plans to turn other Taliban “commanders” against him, and how this plot failed within a week of being hatched (as we predicted). The move to hijack the Taliban vanished into smoke, said one well-connected militant. Moreover, as if Mehsud needed any more endorsement, as a follow up to this pitiful Pakistani effort to undermine Baitullah, Mullah Omar’s delegates, including Ustad Yasir and Qari Ziaur Rahman, issued a strict warning that such intra-Taliban bloodletting was not acceptable and that in the future all fighters would work under one umbrella with no stand-alone activities tolerated. This is a clear message to the rivals of Baitullah.

As an al Qaeda – Taliban franchise, Baitullah Mehsud came out of this exchange clearly more than the most powerful man in Waziristan. He is now unparalleled in his power and authority over the region and its inhabitants. The Asia Times gives us a clearer picture of the dizzying pace of events and Pakistan’s reaction (extensive citation necessary).

He is reclusive like Taliban leader Mullah Omar and popular like al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden, and he pledges his allegiance to both.

This is Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, whom the Pakistani security agencies have tried their best to engage, but he remains defiant, so much so that he is even suspected of being an agent for India’s Research and Analysis intelligence agency.

Baitullah, who operates in the South Waziristan tribal area on the border with Afghanistan, has frequently fallen out with the Afghan Taliban for directing his jihadis against the Pakistani security forces rather than sending them to Afghanistan.

We have already discussed the the notion that Mullah Mohammed Omar disavowed Baitullah because of his fighting within Pakistan against the regime (showing that this view was wrongheaded), with a spokesman of Omar reporting that “We have no concern with anybody joining or leaving the Taliban movement in Pakistan. Ours is an Afghan movement and we as a matter of policy do not support militant activity in Pakistan,” the Taliban spokesman said. “Had he been an Afghan we would have expelled him the same way we expelled Mansoor Dadullah for disobeying the orders of Mullah Omar. But Baitullah is a Pakistani Talib and whatever he does is his decision. We have nothing to do with it,” Mr Mujahid maintained.

Omar doesn’t have the power to “expel” Baitullah Mehsud from the Taliban movement, and the idea that Mehsud works for India is preposterous. Continuing:

Initially, this pleased American and European intelligence agencies as he turned the tide from the Afghan battlefield to Pakistan. But now Baitullah is viewed with extreme suspicion as he has proved to be a man who always achieves what he sets out to do, and jihadis from around the world are flooding into his camps to be trained for global jihad. This in turn has allayed the fears of the Afghan Taliban, who realize they will be ensured a smooth supply of fighters to Afghanistan.

For these reasons, Baitullah is now a marked man.

Over the past few months, Pakistani security agencies and coalition leaders from Afghanistan have shared intelligence in an attempt to track down Baitullah and pinpoint where he gets his resources, but he remains elusive.

All the same, this has not diminished his effectiveness.

Last week, for instance, security forces were sent to the Hangu district of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) after the government announced it was reneging on peace deals and launching an all-out offensive against militants in NWFP.

Mehsud called a meeting in South Waziristan of all powerful commanders from the Pakistani tribal agencies and announced that the minute any attack was mounted anywhere against militants, offensives would be launched against the Pakistani security forces in the tribal areas as well as on the federal capital, Islamabad, and on the leadership and allies of the leading party in the ruling coalition, the Pakistan People’s Party.

Further, President Pervez Musharraf and his associates and anyone connected with the storming in Islamabad last year of the radical Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), which was pro-Taliban, would also be targeted.

Subsequently, the Pakistani security agencies advised the government to immediately withdraw the forces. The reasoning was that Pakistan could withstand pressure from the United States to act against militants, but it could not win a showdown with Baitullah. A high-level meeting presided over by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani agreed.

The problem now is to hunt down Baitullah, who is also wanted in connection with the assassination last year of former premier Benazir Bhutto and other attacks.

Using Baitullah’s differences with some regional commanders – Baitullah comes from the Mehsud, one of the four sub-tribes of the Waziri – Pakistan tried to erect a web of opposition around him, but none survived. The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) also tried to sow seeds of enmity against Baitullah, without success.

Haji Omar, once a powerful chief of the Taliban in South Waziristan and also a Wazir, tried to challenge Baitullah’s command, but he now lives in exile in North Waziristan, without forces or resources.

Haji Nazeer, another Wazir, who runs the biggest Pakistani Taliban fighting network in Afghanistan, also tried to confront Baitullah, at the behest of the security forces, but he failed. Last month, Baitullah drove out all tribes related to Haji Nazeer from South Waziristan.

Now that Baitullah is unchallenged in South Waziristan, he aims to broaden his network. He has raised his presence in neighboring North Waziristan and the biggest network of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Haqqani faction, has no choice but to side with Baitullah.

The Swat Valley’s Mullah Fazlullah has also announced Baitullah as his chief mentor, and after wiping out the ISI-backed Shah group from Mohmand Agency, Baitullah’s men are calling the shots in Orakzai Agency, Mohamand Agency and Darra Adam Khail in NWFP.

With each consolidation of Baitullah’s power, Islamabad, along with its Western allies, becomes all the more convinced that he has to be eliminated, otherwise there can never be any sustained military operations against militants in the tribal areas. His demise would also lead to the disintegration of the Taliban’s and al-Qaeda’s networks in the tribal areas, leaving only weakened stand-alone outfits.

Baitullah is well aware that he is now public enemy number one. A senior Pakistani affiliate of al-Qaeda, now close to Baitullah, told Asia Times Online, “It is not Baitullah Mehsud’s style to hide when people sniff around him. He will open the floodgates of offensives and if there is a conspiracy between Islamabad and the political and military leadership, they will taste Baitullah’s response.”

In February of 2008 the Jamestown Foundation was reporting on the Taliban being a factious organization. This is no longer the case. The consolidation of Taliban power is essentially complete, and Baitullah Mehsud is at the head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, friend of Mullah Omar, franchise of al-Qaeda, and protecting both while he is also their protectorate.

Baitullah is much smarter than his rivals (and also much more brutal), as well as being smarter than his colleague Mullah Omar. He has cleverly crafted a situation in which his power is now unchallenged, fighters are flooding in from all over the world to join his movement, and he is so powerful that he can strike fear directly into the Pakistani government with his hit list. The frontier region is now a breakaway state, with Baitullah Mehsud at the helm.

Sons of the Soil or Deal with the Devil?

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 5 months ago

The important and always interesting MEMRI has an article on current Pakistani military operations in the North West Frontier Province.

On June 28, 2008, the Pakistani government ordered a military operation against Islamist fighters in the tribal district of Khyber Agency, which borders on the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The next day, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said at a hurriedly-called press conference in Lahore that this military operation was aimed at the Taliban and was launched as a last resort. He explained that his government’s policy vis-à-vis the Islamist militants was based on three components: launching a dialogue with the Taliban; offering a development package to the regions in which it is active; and ordering military action as a last resort.

Prime Minister Gilani criticized the Taliban’s actions in the areas under their control, such as burning down girls’ schools, beheading alleged criminals, closing down barbershops that do shaving of beards, disregarding the peace agreements with the NWFP government, and undermining the government’s authority in the federally administered tribal areas (FATAs) and in the NWFP.

It should be noted that the Islamist groups targeted by the military operation in Khyber Agency – namely Lashkar-e-Islam and its rival, Ansarul Islam – are not formally part of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (the Pakistani Taliban Movement). However, their objectives and actions are identical to those of the Taliban. These groups also constitute a good example of how small groups of criminals develop muscle over the years and acquire a set of ideological objectives, depending on the social context in which they evolve.

But this was not the main reason that prompted the Pakistani government to launch a military operation in the tribal district of Khyber. This district, which borders Afghanistan on one side and the NWFP on the other, is important not only because the main supply route of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan passes through it, but also because of its proximity to Peshawar, the NWFP capital. In fact, the operation focused on the town of Bara, just five km from Peshawar, where Lashkar-e-Islam headquarters are located. The immediate reason for the military operation is the Taliban’s gradual encroachment on this city.

Military operations are not targeting Baitullah Mehsud’s organization.  They are targeting some very specific non-aligned groups that immediately threaten Peshawar.  But if the disposition and ideology of these groups is identical to those of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, what is the expected disposition of the balance of the threats?  After all, one might surmise that if the radicals in the Khyber Agency have the same goals as the Tehrik-i-Taliban, and Peshawar is under current threat, then the Tehrik-i-Taliban would be the next logical target.

We have long ago noted that the Pashtun rejected the global war on terror, and that the Pakistani Army believes that the war against the Taliban is American-made, and one in which Pakistan should not be engaged.  So who, then, is the enemy?  The Asia Times (“Sons of the Soil”) gives us a glimpse into the make-believe world of the Pakistani military leadership at the present.

The resilient Taliban have proved unshakeable across Afghanistan over the past few months, making the chances of a coalition military victory against the popular tide of the insurgency in the majority Pashtun belt increasingly slim.

The alternative, though, of negotiating with radical Taliban leaders is not acceptable to the Western political leadership.

This stalemate suits Pakistan perfectly as it gives Islamabad the opportunity to once again step in to take a leading role in shaping the course of events in its neighboring country.

Pakistan’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi are thrilled with the Taliban’s sweeping military successes which have reduced President Hamid Karzai’s American-backed government to a figurehead decorating the presidential palace of Kabul; he and his functionaries dare not even cross the street to take evening tea at the Serena Hotel.

June (28 US combat deaths) was the deadliest month for coalition troops since they invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and fatalities have increased steadily since 2004, when 58 soldiers were killed that year. The total more than doubled to 130 killed in 2005, 191 in 2006 and 232 in 2007. One hundred and twenty-seven have died so far this year.

Pakistan’s planners now see their objective as isolating radicals within the Taliban and cultivating tribal, rustic, even simplistic, “Taliban boys” – just as they did in the mid-1990s in the leadup to the Taliban taking control of the country in 1996. It is envisaged that this new “acceptable” tribal-inspired Taliban leadership will displace Taliban and al-Qaeda radicalism.

This process has already begun in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

A leading Pakistani Taliban leader, Haji Nazeer from South Waziristan, who runs the largest Pakistani Taliban network against coalition troops in Afghanistan, recently convened a large meeting at which it was resolved to once again drive out radical Uzbeks from South Waziristan. This happened once before, early last year.

In particular, Nazeer will take action against the Uzbeks’ main backer, Pakistani Taliban hardliner Baitullah Mehsud, if he tries to intervene. Nazeer openly shows his loyalty towards the Pakistani security forces and has reached out to other powerful Pakistani Taliban leaders, including Moulvi Faqir from Bajaur Agency, Shah Khalid from Mohmand Agency and Haji Namdar in Khyber Agency. Nazeer also announced the appointment of the powerful commander of North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, as the head of the Pakistani Taliban for all Pakistan.

The bulk of the Pakistani Taliban has always been pro-Pakistan and opposed to radical forces like Baitullah Mehsud and his foreign allies, but this is the first time they have set up a formal organization and appointed an amir (chief) as a direct challenge to the radicals.

There it is in a nutshell – the Pakistan strategy for the war on terror.  The Pakistani military isn’t concerned about Nazeer’s military actions against the coalition in Afghanistan.  They are siding with one Taliban faction against another in the hopes of the stability of the Pakistani government.  Afghanistan is the sacrificial lamb in this deal.

As for the brave Nazeer’s first actions in this deal?  Yes, it’s driving out those powerful Uzbeks from Pakistan!  Without them the landscape takes a turn for the idyllic according the Pakistani military strategy.  As for Baitullah Mehsud who has around 20,000 fighters, he will likely have none of this.  Nazeer’s life will be in serious danger very soon if he pursues this plan.  It’s more likely that it isn’t the plan at all.   It’s more likely that Nazeer is playing the Pakistani military for fools.

As for the military actions near Peshawar, exactly what have they accomplished?  MEMRI fills in the blanks.

The operation yielded the arrest of several civilians and low-ranking fighters. Pakistan’s mass-circulation Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Jang wondered who wrote the script for the Operation Sirat-e-Mustaqeem, stating that it targeted nothing more than “empty buildings [used by] the banned organizations Lashkar-e-Islam, Ansarul Islam and Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi al-Munkar,” and that “not one of the leaders or fighters [of these organizations] was captured.”

The heart for the struggle is gone.  Military operations are conducted against pretend targets, deals are struck with local warlords who haven’t the power to really challenge the Tehrik-i-Taliban (and probably would’nt if they could), and the Uzbeks are bullied as if they constitute the real problem in Pakistan.  When the Pakistani military and current political leadership awakens from this dangerous slumber and realizes that it has made a deal with the devil, it may be too late for at least large parts of Pakistan.  Afghanistan will then be directly in the sights.

The Right Prescription for the Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 5 months ago

Admonitions to spin off factions of the Taliban or Taliban-sympathizers against the so-called “hard core” Taliban are becoming commonplace.  But who are the Taliban?  We have already discussed the disaggregation of the Taliban into drug runners, war lords, petty former anti-Soviet commanders, criminals, Afghan Taliban, Pakistan Taliban, al Qaeda, and other rogue elements in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Drug runners, local war lords and other criminals can be dealt with differently than the Taliban.  Drug runners will likely not have strong inclinations to Islamic fundamentalism and certainly not the global expansion of the same.  On the other hand, the religiously motivated fighters within Afghanistan likely number as many as ten thousand fighters, including 3000 or so full time insurgents.

Then there is the Afghan Taliban who are not located within Afghanistan but who are indigenous to Afghanistan, under the leadership of Mohammed Omar who is probably in or around Quetta, Pakistan.  They continually resupply Taliban fighters and give them rest and sanctuary within Pakistan.  Quetta is a revolving door of support for Afghan fighters.

This group is organizationally disconnected with the Tehrik-i-Taliban, or Pakistan Taliban.  These are groups of Taliban who are led by various commanders, the most powerful of whom are Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, and Mullah Fazlullah in the SWAT valley.  The Tehrik-i-Taliban number tens of thousands more fighters.  It is estimated that Mehsud alone owns 20,000 fighters.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban are different than the Afghan Taliban in that they have brought a hard core global expansionist focus to their radical religious views.  It is what Nicholas Schmidle calls the Next-Gen Taliban.

Some Afghan Taliban have laid down their weapons and taken up the Taliban cause in politics.  They have not changed their belief system – the same one that allied itself with the Taliban fighters and al Qaeda prior to 9/11.  The Afghan fighters who remain active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan have not laid down their weapons and still harbor hopes of regaining the leadership of Afghanistan.  The Tehrik-i-Taliban are hard core radicals, and shout to passersby in Khyber “We are Taliban! We are mujahedin! “We are al-Qaida!”  There is no distinction.

Not a single group or subgroup listed above can be violently turned against the active Taliban fighters, mostly because their are ideologically aligned.  In Anbar, Iraq, the more secular Sunni tribes had the religiously motivated al Qaeda thrust on them from the outside with all of the oppressive violence, and it didn’t take long for them to rebel.  The same is not true of either Afghanistan or Pakistan.  The proof is pre-9/11 history in Afghanistan where the hard core fighters – including al Qaeda – had safe haven.

There are repeated instances of misdiagnosis of the problem.

Given this state of affairs, Karzai and his foreign allies will not be in a position to do much against the Taliban and its supporters unless they work on three main objectives simultaneously. One is to address their political and strategic vulnerabilities; another is to widen and speed up reconstruction. A third is to re-establish a stable Afghan-Pakistan border by pressuring Pakistan  to halt all support for the Taliban.

True enough for potential future Taliban fighters whom we wish to keep in the fold, this prescription is wrong for the existing Taliban because the ailment has been misdiagnosed (and besides, pressure has already been put on Pakistan, to no avail).  For the Taliban, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum has the right suggestion: “NATO forces must be united in their commitment to wage war against the Taliban.”  No single group can be spun off to fight the Taliban in lieu of Western military operations against them.

Des Browne Continues the British Surrender

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 6 months ago

We covered the surrender plea from David Miliband, and while pusillanimous and pitiful, at least Miliband was either duplicitous or didn’t know what he was talking about.  Specifically, he advocated “negotiations between Pakistan’s new civilian government and Pashtun leaders in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).”

If he was referring to tribal elders in FATA, then he was merely confused, as there are no negotiations with “Pashtun leaders.”  Further, they would be irrelevant if these talks existed, as the tribal elders do not control FATA.  They have no security from the Taliban, and thus hard core Taliban fighters control FATA and NWFP.  If he is referring to the Taliban as “Pashtun leaders,” then he is intentionally avoiding naming the enemy and stating that we should negotiate with them.  He is either stupid or a liar.

As for Des Browne, no such charge can be made.  He is a coward and specifically advocates surrender to the enemy.

Defence Secretary Des Browne endorsed peace talks between Pakistan and Taliban militants on Wednesday despite concerns from Afghanistan that the talks will allow the Taliban to regroup and launch more attacks.

Browne said Britain supported any moves that would encourage militants to put down their weapons and stop violence, and said Pakistan and Afghanistan needed to work together on problems with their border, much of which is controlled by Taliban insurgents.

He said reconciliation should be a part of any strategy, although it was clear some militants had no intention of putting down their weapons.

“But you can’t kill your way out of these sorts of campaigns,” Browne told journalists at Australia’s National Press Club on Wednesday.

Faced with a wave of suicide attacks, Pakistan has begun talks with Taliban militants who control much of the country’s 2,700 km (1,670 miles) mountain border with Afghanistan.

The Taliban, however, said it would fight in Afghanistan until all foreign troops were driven out of the country, and Afghanistan has expressed concerns about any peace deals.

Browne, in Australia for talks with Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, said sovereign countries had the right to welcome insurgents back into society if they agreed to obey the rule of law and recognise democratic governments.

“If people are prepared to give up violence, put down their weapons, accept and recognise legitimate and democratic government … then the sovereign governments from both countries are entitled to say we will welcome you to become part of our society,” he said.

But the British sensibilities are offended and shout out “How is it that Browne is advocating surrender when all he is really doing is offering the chance to put down their weapons?  Have we not been too hard on our man in London?”

The Taliban in South Afghanistan (and coming from Quetta) are hard core fighters who didn’t relent when fighting the Soviet Union, and will not suddenly decide that the fight should be over.  They fight for religious reasons, and thus laying down weapons would be seen as irreligious.  As for the Pakistani Taliban, Tehrik-i-Taliban, they are in many ways just as brutal as the original Taliban, but without the strictures against suicide bombings and other such tactics.  They are a new breed of enemy whom Nicholas Schmidle calls Next-Gen Taliban.

This brand of fighter is in large measure controlled by the Tehrik-i-Taliban, and ultimately by Baitullah Mehsud.  As for what Mehsud thinks about this idea of a cease and desist order on his operations, let’s hear him in his own words.

The ceasefire, it seems, is already starting to take effect.

But will it last, or go the way other deals have gone before?

In our garden meeting, “Amir Sahib” (honoured leader) – as Baitullah Mehsud is affectionately called by his men – smiles and shakes his head when this query is raised.

Around us, dozens of militants armed to the teeth listen intently to their leader.

“The Taleban are committed to their word,” he says.

“The onus is now on the government – whether they hold to their word, or remain in the alliance with the US.”

If that persists, Commander Mehsud says, the militants will have no choice but return to their path of resistance.

“We do not want to fight Pakistan or the army. But if they continue to be slaves to US demands, then we our hands will be forced.

“There can be no deal with the US.”

The idea is that NATO and the U.S. leave Afghanistan or violence will continue against the Pakistani government.  As for Afghanistan, Baitullah intends to send in more fighters to help in the insurgency effort, regardless of and unrelated to the negotiations.  In other words, the most powerful man in Waziristan has said that the insurgency in Afghanistan will continue unabated no matter what, while it will resume in Pakistan unless the U.S. leaves.

Browne is smart enough to know that the Taliban will not surrender their weapons or aspirations.  He is advocating negotiations in spite of the fact that he knows that NATO and the U.S. cannot win concessions.  Given this level of bravery and commitment by the British, it’s a wonder that the Taliban don’t march up Whitehall and into the MOD Headquarters.  It may not be very tough.

Initial Phases of Taliban Operations Complete

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 7 months ago

Pakistan’s top Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, left with cap, tells reporters on Saturday he is sending fighters to battle U.S. troops in Afghanistan as he seeks a peace deal with the Pakistani government (NPR).

In featured article Taliban and al Qaeda Strategy in Pakistan and Afghanistan we discussed the dual pronged approach of the Taliban, one aimed directly at Pakistan and led by Baitullah Mehsud, the other aimed at Afghanistan led by Mullah Omar.  The Taliban in Afghanistan are more disaggregated than they were even a year or two ago, but there is still at least loosely coupled leadership, even if not immediate communication for fear of cell phone tracking.  The Pakistani Taliban are not loosely coupled.  They are well led and tightly controlled.

This loosely coupled leadership has charted the exact course that The Captain’s Journal predicted.   Not all of the kinetic encounters in Afghanistan have been with Taliban,  but the presence of rogue elements other than the Taliban make the security situation even more difficult.  As for the Taliban, they have used guerrilla tactics (fire and melt away), suicide bombings, intimidation tactics directed at the population, and standoff weapons such as VBIEDs and roadside bombs.

Baitullah Mehsud has also directed the Taliban campaign inside Pakistan.  Baitullah Mehsud has recently reached an agreement with the Pakistani government (the text of which can be found at Pakistan’s Daily Times).  It is doubtful that any of the stipulations of the agreement can be verified, since the Pakistani Army will be withdrawing.  The Pakistani people and Army are tired of the violence, but Baitullah Mehsud is talking as if a man who has won his sought-after prize.

The leader of the Pakistani Taliban vowed on Saturday to carry on fighting NATO and U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan regardless of negotiations for a peace deal with the government of Pakistan.

Baitullah Mehsud told a group of journalists, invited to his stronghold in the tribal lands of South Waziristan, that he wanted to stop fighting the Pakistan army.

“Fighting between the Taliban and Pakistan is harming Islam and Pakistan. This fighting should come to an end immediately,” Mehsud said.

But he made no commitment about halting attacks in Afghanistan, and said the jihad, or holy war, would carry on.

“Islam does not recognize frontiers and boundaries. Jihad in Afghanistan will continue,” Mehsud said, as guards carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles looked on.

Mark Laity, NATO spokesman in Kabul, said: Such comments come as no surprise to us. Mehsud is a very dangerous man and everybody knows that.”

Just as we discussed in Why is there Jihad?, Mehsud reiterates that they do not recognize boundary lines (or even they thing they represent, nation-states) as legitimate.  If the Pakistan Taliban, or Tehrik-i-Taliban, can accomplish their mission by capitulation of Pakistan rather than costly military operations, then they will take advantage of that.

The “agreements” are already having their intended affect.

In Afghanistan, NATO-led troops say recent peace agreements between the Taliban and the government of neighboring Pakistan are already having a negative impact on security on the Afghan side of the border.

NATO officials say over the past three to four weeks, Taliban attacks along Afghanistan’s eastern border have jumped from 60 to 100 incidents a week.

A spokesman for the NATO-led coalition in Kabul says the spike in insurgent attacks is the result of decreased activity by the Pakistani army on the Pakistan side of the border.

Whenever force projection is implemented and the small footprint model for counterinsurgency is rejected, U.S. forces have had success.  The Marines have recently had such success in and around Garmser.  The initial phases of Taliban operations are complete.  Pakistan has succombed to Taliban pressure.  Tehrik-i-Taliban will soon be turning their attention more fully to Afghanistan.  Will we reciprocate?

Why is there Jihad?

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 7 months ago

A common misunderstanding among some on the far right or of the libertarian stripe (e.g., Patrick Buchanan, Ron Paul) is that the sole reason for the existence of the global jihad is the presence of U.S. troops on holy soil, i.e., Saudi Arabia.  It is, after all, the stated raison d’etre for 9/11 hijackers.  But this myth becomes muddled when it is pointed out that the Hamburg cell initially intended to wage jihad elsewhere.

Bin Ladin canceled the East Asia part of the planes operation in the spring of 2000. He evidently decided it would be too difficult to coordinate this attack with the operation in the United States. As for Hazmi and Mihdhar, they had left Bangkok a few days before Khallad and arrived in Los Angeles on January 15, 2000.

Meanwhile, the next group of al Qaeda operatives destined for the planes operation had just surfaced in Afghanistan. As Hazmi and Mihdhar were deploying from Asia to the United States, al Qaeda’s leadership was recruiting and training four Western-educated men who had recently arrived in Kanda-har. Though they hailed from four different countries-Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and Yemen-they had formed a close-knit group as students in Hamburg, Germany. The new recruits had come to Afghanistan aspiring to wage jihad in Chechnya. But al Qaeda quickly recognized their potential and enlisted them in its anti-U.S. jihad.

Even further research proves that rather than U.S. presence in the Middle East being the raison d’etre for 9/11, it was merely the raison du jour that Bin Laden found convenient for his purposes.  A far different vision is being offered at the moment.

Osama bin Laden vowed in an audio tape to mark Israel’s 60th anniversary to continue to fight the Jewish state and its allies in the West.

The al Qaedaleader, who has placed growing emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said it was at the heart of the Muslim battle with the West and an inspiration to the 19 bombers who carried out the attacks on U.S. cities on September 11, 2001.

“We will continue, God permitting, the fight against the Israelis and their allies … and will not give up a single inch of Palestine as long as there is one true Muslim on Earth,” he said in the message, posted on an Islamist website on Friday.

Bin Laden said Israel’s anniversary celebrations were a reminder that it did not exist 60 years ago, and had been established on land seized from Palestinians by force.

“This is evidence that Palestine is our land, and the Israelis are invaders and occupiers who should be fought,” he said in the tape, which was addressed to the Western public.

The Saudi-born militant also said that decades of peace initiatives had failed to establish a Palestinian state, and the West had proved time and again that it sided with Israel.

“The participation of Western leaders with the Jews in this celebration confirms that the West backs this Jewish occupation of our land, and that they stand in the Israeli corner against us,” he said. “They proved this in practice by sending their forces to southern Lebanon.”

An important (but mostly ignored) event occurred recently in which Ayman al-Zawahiri took questions from global jihadists concerning the future of the movement.

Zawahiri highlights several specific injustices that he feels effectively demonstrate the stark contrast between Qaradawi’s decision to postpone fighting and the Jihadist movement, which advocates violence immediately. They include Arab peace accords and trade with Israel, Israel’s blockade of Palestinians in Gaza, Arab military courts for trying Muslims, Arab hosting of U.S. military forces, particularly in Egypt, the prevalence of Western “vulgar media” and the secular constitution and laws of Arab countries.

Later, he gives us yet another justification for the jihad.

Zawahiri last discussed Lebanon in his public rhetoric in January and February 2007, when he twice condemned the presence of United Nations Peacekeeping forces in Southern Lebanon.

Zawahiri has given us a list of at least nine reasons for violent jihad, only one of which has anything to do with Arab hosting of U.S. military forces.  One significant issue Zawahiri addresses pertains to the strong differences between al Qaeda and HAMAS.  One reason they will never see eye to eye is the lack of global vision within HAMAS.

Over the past year, Zawahiri and other senior al-Qa’ida figures have been waging a vigorous propaganda campaign against the Palestinian organization HAMAS. Although Jihadists unanimously denounce Israel they continue to disagree over whether HAMAS should be considered a legitimate Islamic movement. For Zawahiri, HAMAS’ embrace of nationalism, democracy, and its legacy in the Muslim Brotherhood—arguably the three things al-Qa’ida hates most—delegitimizes the group.

Nationalism is evil and out of accord with the global aspirations of al Qaeda.  Nation-states are not just not helpful, or even a necessary evil.  They are quite literally an obstacle to jihad, not because they share the loyalties of jihadists, but rather, because they fundamentally don’t acquiesce to the vision of world conquest in the name of Islam and the forcible implementation of Sharia law.  What we see as a transnational insurgency is to the jihadists simply a world wide struggle.  They don’t recognize nation-states as legitimate.

It doesn’t stop with al Qaeda.  The most powerful man in Waziristan, Baitullah Mehsud, head of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, has global aspirations as well.

“We want to eradicate Britain and America, and to shatter the arrogance and tyranny of the infidels. We pray that Allah will enable us to destroy the White House, New York, and London.”

There are other significant revelations in this question and answer session by Zawahiri, including much discussion over the jihadist fear that Iraq is a lost cause for them; they have been defeated.  The entire source document at the Combatting Terrorism Center, West Point, is worth the time to study and analyze in detail.

There is a not so fine line between trying to understand the motivations of the enemy and naively regurgitating their propaganda.  Repeating the myth that U.S. presence on foreign soil caused the 9/11 hijackers ignores the other very real objection that, according to other jihadists, the U.S. was far too slow to react to protect Muslim people from the Serbs.  Whether the U.S. is deployed across the globe or the U.S. didn’t deploy quickly enough, it’s all propaganda – convenient excuses used to brainwash young jihadists.  It is yet another step into the danger zone to mold foreign policy based on enemy propaganda and talking points.

The Taliban Spring Offensive: Pointless Bickering

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 7 months ago

Enemy activity appears to be increasing in Afghanistan according to ISAF medical personnel.

U.S. commanders have been braced for a “spring offensive”, a pick-up in violence tied to the season, when warmer weather allows the Taliban to work their way over the mountains from hideouts in north-western Pakistan and into Afghanistan.

In the first few weeks of this spring, there was little change in the level of violence compared with last year, officers say. But in recent days, at least in one key region along the border, that picture has shifted, even if it may be still too early to say that a renewed Taliban offensive has started.

“A lot of things are starting to happen in the area,” Lieutenant-Colonel Kathy Ponder, the chief nurse at the combat support hospital, which put out the call for more blood to treat the wounded from a roadside bomb, told Reuters on Thursday.

“The Taliban seem to be picking up on the IED (improvised explosive device) blasts and we’re getting a lot of gunshot wounds. The intel we’re getting is that they are targeting our area, so we’re ready. We’re making sure we’re overstocked on what we need.”

Wednesday afternoon’s attack, just north of the city of Khost, near the Pakistan border, targeted a U.S. military patrol. Two U.S. soldiers and one U.S. civilian were killed, and two U.S. soldiers were wounded. The wounded pair lost both of their legs, hence the call for large amounts of blood.

But according to U.S. personnel, its all just a myth.

“There is no such thing as a spring offensive,” Colonel Pete Johnson, the commander of a taskforce from the 101st Airborne Division that is responsible for security in six Afghan provinces along the border with Pakistan, told Reuters.

“I think this year this myth is finally going to be debunked. Last year was the same thing — it never materialised. This year it has not materialised and it won’t materialise.”

“Will there be increases in fighting and insurgent activity. Absolutely. But it’s a weather-based construct, a seasonal construct, not a deliberate execution of an offensive. Increased activity is not a coordinated offensive.”

But what difference does this make?  This argument has become rather passé.  The Taliban know that any “fire and maneuver” engagement of U.S. forces brings a disadvantageous kill ratio.  They tried it again in Garmser with the Marines, and lost.  This is why The Captain’s Journal had previously clarified the issue of a “spring offensive” in the context of distributed operations and what it does or doesn’t mean.  “When NATO speaks of a spring offensive, they are talking tactical maneuvers and larger scale kinetic fights.  When we speak of a spring offensive, we are talking about guerrilla tactics – small teams, fire and melt away, etc.”

There has been a disaggreagation of the Taliban into smaller groups of tribal and commander affiliation, fighting for different causes (with the only common goal being the overthrow of the Karzai government), sometimes competing with each other.  This makes the notion of a Taliban command and control quaint, but fairly useless (During questioning of the Presidential candidates Bill O’Reilly flatly stated that Taliban command and control was Quetta, and while this might have been true a year ago, it is doubtful that a literal command and control exists for Taliban).

So the supposed spring offensive to which U.S. commanders have so sardonically referred is not applicable to the current scene.  We have suggested that the tactics will rely on fire and melt away rather than fire and maneuver, IEDs, suicide tactics, guerrilla tactics and intimidation of the population.  In this way, the disaggregation of the enemy along with his focus on terror tactics make Afghanistan look somewhat more like the Anbar Province than it did a year ago.

In Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud is playing the Pakistani officials for fools as he repeatedly enjoins negotiations, then withdraws from the same, and then hints at them again.  Mehsud’s forces, rather than fight the Pakistan Army in fire and maneuver, simply set up a series of checkpoints and road blocks in South Waziristan.  The Pakistani Army responded with one of their own.  The population tires of this, the Pakistani Army tires of this and agrees to withdraw troops from South Waziristan, and Tehrik-e-Taliban gains their objective.

While Quetta cannot be said to be a literal command and control, as we observed earlier, there are dual Taliban campaigns, one in Pakistan (focused in Waziristan against the Pakistani government, led by Baitullah Mehsud) and the other focused on Afghanistan (focused on Southern Afghanistan where Quetta serves as a rallying point for fighters crossing the border).

Mapping the route the cross-border militants take, Mr Walsh said the insurgents crossed from Balochistan, whose capital Quetta was considered to be the Taliban headquarters by Nato commanders.

“They muster in remote refugee camps west of Quetta — Girdi Jungle is most frequently mentioned — before slipping across the border in four-wheel drive convoys that split up to avoid detection. Sometimes sympathetic border guards help them on their way.

“Inside Afghanistan the fighters thunder across the Dasht-i-Margo — a harsh expanse of ancient smuggling trails which means “desert of death” — before reaching the River Helmand. Here, the sand turns to lush fields of poppy and wheat, and they reach Garmser, home to the most southerly British base in Helmand.”

British officers told Mr Walsh that they had ample evidence that many of the enemy were Pakistani. While remaining coy about their sources of intelligence, they spoke of hearing Punjabi accents and of finding Pakistani papers and telephone contacts on dead fighters.

Four months ago, Den-McKay said, British Gurkhas shot dead a Taliban militant near a small outpost known as Hamburger Hill. Searching the fighter’s body, they discovered a Pakistani identity card and handwritten notes in Punjabi.

There are dual fronts in the campaign, one in Afghanistan and the other in Pakistan.  These two fronts are part of the same insurgency / counterinsurgency campaign.  The expensive UAVs that fly overhead are merely further testimony to the necessity for force projection on the gound when reports arrive of more young sons of America who have had their legs blown off from IEDs.

Since Afghanistan may more closely resemble Anbar in terms of its reliance on terror tactics, the pretext for success in Anbar becomes all the more important.  Al Qaeda terror would have won the day without extreme force projection by the U.S.  The Taliban will not engage in fire and maneuver, and arguments about whether a “spring offensive” will materialize are childish, wasteful and irrelevant.  The Taliban will engage in fire and melt away, and the chase must ensue to hunt them down and kill them with the utmost violence.

The Global Defeat of al Qaeda

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 7 months ago

In The Disaggregation of the Taliban we noted that the analysis by David Ignatius concerning the diminution of al Qaeda and the Taliban was likely overly optimistic.  The Taliban insurgency has strengthened.  But if The Captain’s Journal is quick to point out overly optimistic assessments, we are equally quick to claim the successes when they exist.  Take careful note of the assessment offered by Ignatius concerning al Qaeda.

The most interesting discovery during a visit to this city where Osama bin Laden planted his flag in 1996 is that al-Qaeda seems to have all but disappeared. The group is on the run, too, in Iraq, and that raises some interesting questions about how to pursue this terrorist enemy.

“Al-Qaeda is not a topic of conversation here,” says Col. Mark Johnstone, the deputy commander of Task Force Bayonet, which oversees four provinces surrounding Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. Lt. Col. Pete Benchoff agrees: “We’re not seeing a lot of al-Qaeda fighters. They’ve shifted here to facilitation and support.”

You hear the same story farther north from the officers who oversee the provinces along the Pakistan border. A survey conducted last November and December in Nuristan, once an al-Qaeda stronghold, found that the group barely registered as a security concern among the population.

Al Qaeda is defeated in Anbar, and is taking a beating in Tarmiyah, Mosul, and throughout the balance of Northern Iraq.  But if the assessment Ignatius gives us is correct, the power of al Qaeda is waning in the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan as well.

The Asia Times must be read with caution due to the exaggeration in which this source sometimes engages, and so we sat on this report for several days while waiting for confirmatory analysis.  The assessment by David Ignatius serves as this confirmation.  Some (Asia Times) reports attempt to give excuses for al Qaeda and Taliban failures while they accidentally divulge important truths about the same.  There was recently such a report, humorously entitled Al Qaeda adds muscle to the Taliban fight.

From many hundreds, al-Qaeda now has fewer than 75 Arabs involved in the Afghan “war on terror” theater, but the group is more lethal in that it has successfully established a local franchise of warriors who have fully embraced al-Qaeda’s ideology and who are capable of conducting a war of attrition against the coalition in Afghanistan.

In the years following the United States-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, al-Qaeda lost hundreds of members, either killed or arrested or departed to other regions. These included diehard Arab ideologues such as Mustapha Seth Marium (arrested) and commanders Abu Laith al-Libbi (killed) and Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi (arrested) .

And this month, news of the death in January of Abdul Hameed, alias Abu Obaida al-Misri, from Hepatitis B, was released to Western intelligence. He was a most-trusted aide of al-Qaeda deputy Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri and had been appointed by Osama bin Laden as the head of the khuruj (revolt) in Pakistan. He was in his mid-50s.

While al-Qaedawas suffering losses, Pakistan’s tribal areas became increasingly radicalized, which al-Qaedawas able to tap into to reinvigorate the Afghan insurgency. When military operations chopped off its vertical growth, it grew horizontally.

This defied intelligence estimates, polls, analysis and strategic opinions. Former US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld was of the opinion that by 2003, as a result of US military operations in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda had been destroyed as an organization and it was unable to strike against US interests.

However, the US National Intelligence Estimate report in July 2007 said al-Qaeda had regrouped and posed a threat to the US homeland. Recently, US President George W Bush also said al-Qaeda was a serious threat.

The year 2007 was important for al-Qaeda’s development as severalstand-alone Arab groups operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas, including Libyans and Egyptians, either merged into al-Qaeda or made an alliance in which they would be subservient to al-Qaeda’s command.

With al-Qaeda losing key members, a vacuum should have been created, but that did not happen, and another figure has emerged – Maulana Ilyas Kashmiri. He is a veteran fighter of the Kashmir struggle, groomed by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence’s India cell.

Islamabad’s clampdown on activities in Kashmir and being arrested a few times disheartened Kashmiri, and he moved to the North Waziristan tribal area. He was soon followed by his diehard Punjabi colleagues and they made Afghanistan their new battlefield.

This year, a “crossbreed” of fighters – a combination of Arab command and that of Kashmiri, as well as an alliance with tribal warlord Baitullah Mehsud – is expected to spring some surprises in Afghanistan.

There is no reason to discuss the fact that Arab fighters have almost disappeared from the scene unless intelligence has already seen signs of this.  The public relations arm of al Qaeda jumped into action with the Asia Times, as they have many times before, since it is customary for them to regurgitate what they’re told without much critical analysis.

To  be sure, Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud is a very real threat, and has in fact actually made very real threats.  “Allah willing, Musharraf will suffer great pain, along with all his aides. The Muslims will never forgive Musharraf for the sin he committed.  We want to eradicate Britain and America, and to shatter the arrogance and tyranny of the infidels. We pray that Allah will enable us to destroy the White House, New York, and London.”  Note that Mehsud doesn’t make our destruction contingent upon our presence in Afghanistan or Pakistan.  He threatens to destroy the U.S. because we are “infidels.”  This is not a local insurgency.  It is a transnational insurgency.

The global jihad is not finished, and will be carried forward by the new breed of Taliban that has aspirations beyond the borders of Pakistan.  The Afghanistan campaign will proceed forward against primarily the Taliban (with perhaps also some Kashmiris), indigenous both to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  But despite the attempt by the Asia Times to put a good face on al Qaeda, they are diminishing in both numbers and effectiveness.  Despite their recruitment efforts, they are losing their global jihad to U.S. forces, and their very propaganda efforts tell us so.


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