Archive for the 'Fazlullah' Category



Swat Taliban Commander Fazlullah Escapes to Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 1 month ago

From Dawn:

PESHAWAR: Maulana Fazlullah, one of the most wanted Taliban leaders, has told the BBC that he has escaped to Afghanistan and is planning new attacks on Pakistani forces.

Fazlullah was said by officials to have been wounded or killed in July, during the operation in Swat.

‘I have reached Afghanistan safely,’ he told BBC Urdu. ‘We are soon going to launch full-fledged punitive raids against the army in Swat.’

The BBC reporter in Peshawar who spoke to the Taliban leader said the voice was recognisably Fazlullah’s — he has a very distinct way of pronouncing words. ‘I have spoken to him on several occasions and met him twice.’

Fazlullah was calling from an Afghan number and sounded in good spirits when he called on Monday.

He issued a warning to the North-West Frontier Province’s Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain and said his fate would be like that of Najibullah, the Afghan president who was captured and hanged by Taliban in 1996.

Recall that when examining the issue of focus on Afghanistan versus Pakistan I observed:

The conversation on Pakistan versus Afghanistan presupposes that the Durand Line means anything, and that the Taliban and al Qaeda respect an imaginary boundary cut through the middle of the Hindu Kush.  It doesn’t and they don’t.  If our engagement of Pakistan is to mean anything, we must understand that they are taking their cue from us, and that our campaign is pressing the radicals from the Afghanistan side while their campaign is pressing them from the Pakistani side.

Advocating disengagement from Afghanistan is tantamount to suggesting that one front against the enemy would be better than two, and that one nation involved in the struggle would be better than two (assuming that Pakistan would keep up the fight in our total absence, an assumption for which I see no basis).  It’s tantamount to suggesting that it’s better to give the Taliban and al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan as Pakistan presses them from their side, or that it’s better to give them safe haven in Pakistan while we press them from our side.  Both suggestions are preposterous.

This isn’t about nation-states and imaginary boundaries.  When we think this way we do err in that we superimpose a Western model on a region of the world where it doesn’t apply.  This is about a transnational insurgency, and it’s never better to give the enemy more land, more latitude, more space, more people, more money, and more safety.  Any arguments to this effect are mistaken at a very fundamental level.

It’s an inconvenient truth, that the demarcation of countries doesn’t mean anything to the extremists.  The objection (to the campaign for Afghanistan) that we should focus on Pakistan where the hard line Taliban and AQ are located is a canard, and the escape of Fazlullah demonstrates it all over again.  The best way to pressure  the extremists is to do it from the Afghan side, avoiding the messy interference in a sovereign nation (Pakistan) while also ensuring them that we are serious about our commitment.

Taliban Win in Swat

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 10 months ago

Syed Saleem Shahzad writing for the Asia Times gives us an important perspective on the Taliban victory in Swat where Sharia law was instituted and a truce called.

In Malakand, which includes the Swat area, the militants are a part of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Taliban and the vanguard of the Taliban’s cause in the region against Western occupation forces in Afghanistan and their ally – Pakistan. They have established their own writ with a parallel system that includes courts, police and even a electric power-distribution network and road construction, and all this is now official in the eyes of Islamabad.

All intelligence indicated that further concentration on military operations in Swat could lead to an expansion of the war theater into Pakistan’s non-Pashtun cities, such as Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. The security forces were already stretched and even faced rebellions.

These combined factors culminated in Monday’s peace agreement, which is a major defeat for Washington as well as Pakistan, and it could also lead to a major setback for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Afghanistan come spring when hordes of better-trained fighters from Swat pour into Afghanistan …

The developments in Malakand division coincide with the arrival in Afghanistan of close to 3,000 American soldiers as part of an extra 30,000 to boost the already 30,000 US troops in the country. The new contingent will be deployed in Logar province to secure violent provinces near the capital Kabul. Petraeus must now be thinking of how many more troops he will need to confront the additional Taliban fighters that will come from Malakand.

There is much more at the link to the Asia Times commentary, but basically, Shahzad is correct.  Implementation of Sharia law is only part of the deal.  The Pakistani Army will leave.  The institutions set up by the Taliban are now formalized and official, recognized by the Pakistani government.  Given the proximity of Swat to Afghanistan, safe haven for the Taliban doesn’t even begin to explain the depths of the problem.  The problem goes not only to territory and terrain, but preoccupation of the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP).

Although not exclusively, the TTP has primarily been disposed with fights inside of the North West Frontier Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas.  They are now no longer occupied with fights with the Pakistani Army.

These fighters are now free to engage U.S. troops, and thus has Pakistan traded off its “security” for that of Afghanistan.  And the campaign in Afghanistan has just gotten a little harder.  Now.  How about all of those dignitaries summoned to Sharia court by the Taliban in Swat?  Had the Pakistani negotiators forgotten about that?

One final thing.  Sufi Mohammad … will soon travel to Matta, a sub-district of Swat, to visit his son-in-law Mullah Fazlullah (the Tehrik-i-Taliban commander in Swat) to try to persuade him to end the insurgency.  Of course he’ll be happy to oblige.

Has Swat Fallen to the Taliban?

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 10 months ago

The Captain’s Journal has kept close watch over the Talibanization of the FATA.  Amir Mir gives us reason to believe that Taliban control over the FATA and NWFP is almost complete.

Fifteen months after the launching of a military operation in the lush-green picturesque valley of Swat by the Pakistan army to dismantle the militant network of Maulana Fazalullah, a major part of the mountainous region seems to have fallen to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Swat apparently lives under the Sharia of Fazalullah.

Not too long ago, the idyll Swat valley, with its rolling hills, gushing streams and scenic vistas, was described as Pakistan’s Switzerland. However, ever since the beginning of the military operation in 2007 the law and order situation in Swat has gone from bad to worse, converting this paradise on earth into a valley of death and destruction. Around 10,000 militants of the Tehrik-e-Taliban have been pitted against 15,000 Pakistan army troops since October 22, 2007 when the operation was officially launched. Leading the charge against the Pakistan army is Maulana Fazalullah, who is also known as Mullah Radio for the illegal FM radio channel he operates. Through his FM broadcast that is still operational despite being banned by the NWFP government, Fazalullah keeps inspiring his followers to implement Islamic Shariat, fight the Pakistan army, and establish his authority in the area …

While following in the footsteps of the former Taliban regime of Afghanistan, the militants of Fazalullah are also pursuing a rigid agenda of religious beliefs which is based on a violent jehadi doctrine. Barbers in Swat and its adjoining districts under have been ordered not to shave beards and shops selling CDs and music cassettes ordered to close down. In some places, just a handful of the militants control a village since they rule by fear – beheading government sympathizers, blowing up bridges and asking women to wear all-encompassing burqas. Similarly, the army is manning several police stations in Swat because the police force there had been decimated by desertions and militant killings. The gravity of the law and order situation can be gauged from the fact that one of the busiest squares in Mingora has been renamed by the shopkeepers as ’Khooni Chowk’ because every morning, as they come to their shops, they would find four or five dead bodies hung over the poles or the trees.

Mir also points to the larger organization to which Fazlullah belongs – the Tehrik-i-Taliban, which he decided to join in 2007.

Soon after the Lal Masjid operation, Fazalullah decided to join hands with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan led by Commander Baitullah Mehsud, in a bid to provide an umbrella to all insurgent movements operating in several tribal agencies and settled areas of the NWFP. Since then, Fazalullah and his followers are toeing Baitullah’s line, whether they are issuing a decree, signing a peace deal with the government or scrapping the same. Therefore, it appears by all accounts that the small coterie of Fazalullah-led militants is working in the same mould as the fanatic clerics of the Lal Masjid did, to make the Swat district hostage to its rigid vision of militant Islam. And remember, the valley is hardly 160 kilometers from Islamabad.

Mir inexplicably calls Fazlulah’s followers a “small coterie” of militants.  If this was true, the Pakistan Army would have been successful in its operations in the FATA and NWFP.  In fact, there is reason to believe that the Tehrik-i-Taliban has as many as a division of fighters in Swat.

The governor of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province has been quoted as saying that there are 15,000 militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The fighters, who would very nearly constitute a small army division, “have no dearth of rations, ammunition, equipment, even anti-tank mines,”  Owais Ahmad Ghani told a team from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan led by Asma Jahangir, according to newspaper reports. A militant or a foot soldier earned between  6,000 ($75) to 8000 rupees a month while commanders took home 20,000 rupees to 30,000 rupees, the governor said.

The TTP is apparently so confident in its power and de facto authority in Swat that they have summoned Swat valley political leaders and dignitaries before Sharia courts.

A radical Pakistani Taliban cleric is demanding that a group of more than 50 Swat Valley dignitaries appear in his Islamic “court,” local media says.

Maulana Fazullah (sic), commander of the local Taliban militia in the northwestern Pakistan region, wants its provincial and federal lawmakers, dignitaries, elders and their families to present themselves in his sharia court within a week or be hunted down, the Press Trust of India, quoting local media, reported Sunday.

There are too many media reports to mention that indicate that the organization of al Qaeda is staggering under the heavy load of targeted UAV strikes against its leadership in the tribal areas of Pakistan.  True or not, it should be remembered about the TTP that while they were spawned by the Taliban of Afghanistan and aid them in the struggle against U.S. forces there, 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.  As for their global vision, Baitullah Mehsud has said “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.”

The celebration of the demise of al Qaeda should be a short one, with full knowledge that something just as bad, bigger and more powerful is replacing it in the FATA and NWFP region of Pakistan.  Our attention should return to the global counterinsurgency in which we are engaged, with full commitment to the defeat of militant jihad wherever it becomes manifest.


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