Archive for the 'Baitullah Mehsud' Category

Safe Haven for the Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 9 months ago

One of the good aspects about blogging with really smart readers is that I get to let some of them do the writing.  Consider TSAlfabet’s comment concerning McChrystal Releases Counterinsurgency Guidance and Requests More Troops.

OK, let’s just cut right to it.

The heart of the problem is that the U.S. has been and continues to be unwilling to do what it says it is going to do to protect itself and that is why we are having problems in A-stan.

To elaborate: the U.S. got hit on 9-11 and we declared, as a sort of Corollary #1, that we would retaliate against and pursue those responsible wherever they could be found.

The U.S. did, in fact, go after AQ and the Taliban in Afghanistan and pretty much took care of the initial problem. The INITIAL problem. Predictably, however, AQ scattered like roaches. Some to Pakistan, some to Iran, some to Yemen, etc.. Rather quickly they found a more-or-less willing host in Pakistan where they could re-group, re-fit, re-form and re-commence their war against the U.S.

Did the U.S. then employ Corollary #1 against Pakistan? No, we did not. And we still refuse to do so. Same for Iran who hosts AQ leadership and has been actively at war against the U.S. since 1979.

I am sure that there are many cogent arguments as to why the U.S. cannot employ Corollary #1 against P-stan and Iran, but once the U.S. has surrendered the principle or otherwise limited its application, say, to only those countries that are too weak to defend themselves such as A-stan and Iraq, then we are in an untenable position.

To close the circle, the reason that we are struggling in A-stan is because we refuse to eliminate the havens in P-stan where the enemy takes refuge. Same as the Soviets. Without that vital sanctuary, AQ and the Taliban collapse and become a primitive curiosity, dwelling in remote caves, a threat to no one except perhaps the local goat population.

COIN is nice and good and McCrystal’s document is all nice talk, but it is not serious. We are willing to allow our military to die and suffer in A-stan because we will not go after the P-stan sanctuaries. (Sorry, little decapitation strikes with Predators do not count). In so doing, we violate a primary rule of counter-insurgency: cut off the insurgent’s base of supplies and support. If the Paks don’t like it, then they can pull some divisions off the Indian border and exercise the proper control over their own territory that a sovereign nation is obligated to do. Otherwise, the U.S. is coming in and wiping out every camp and stronghold. We are not staying to occupy, but we will ensure that AQ is going to spend all of their time re-building and re-constituting rather than attacking into A-stan (or New York, for that matter). As soon as our intel says there is a whiff of AQ in an area, we go back in and wipe them out again. It will become clear to the local population (and potential recruits) that enrolling in or supporting AQ and the Taliban is a death warrant and is the losing side. (If a villager knew that he would be paid well for reliable information on AQ whereabouts AND that the bad guys would promptly get whacked as a result, we might have more good intel than we could handle).

Until such time as the U.S. goes after the enemy in its base of operations, we are just swimming in quicksand.

Consider his comment within the context of the recent targeting of Baitullah Mehsud.  Of course, I had issued a clarion call to assassinate the bastard, since I (correctly) saw him as the strong man who held the Tehrik-i-Taliban together in their protection of al Qaeda.  Baitullah (if he is indeed dead) is in hell now, and that’s just fine with me.  But make no mistake about it.  Drink a glass of wine to his demise, but this is neither the end of the Taliban nor the Tehrik-i-Taliban.

TSAlfabet has recommended some serious action against states that harbor enemies.  But it appears that we cannot even take the minimalist approach with some of them.  Talk about talk with the reconcilable Taliban has been noisome, while the head of the snake, Mullah Omar, sits with his shura in Quetta, Pakistan.  Where are the CIA drones?  Where are the black operations to target him?  Why hasn’t serious pressure been brought to bear on Pakistan?

Consider the situation.  Mullah Omar is the head of the Afghan Taliban who are fighting and killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  Pakistan is willingly giving him sanctuary.  Pakistan has even dropped their supposed war against the Tehrik-i-Taliban which was begun with such fanfare and artillery fire.  Do you doubt it?

Al Qaeda Safe Haven in the Hindu Kush

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 11 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.

Baitullah Mehsud Targets Punjab

BY Herschel Smith
15 years ago

More than one month ago we observed that Punjabi militants under the authority of Tehrik-i-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud had begun to target the Punjab province, the most populous province in Pakistan.  Today, Tehrik-i-Taliban spokesmen claimed credit for the most recent terrorist attack in Lahore as well as others throughout the North West Frontier Province.

Four bombs exploded at separate locations in Pakistan’s north-west on Thursday shortly after the Taliban warned that they were beginning a broader bombing campaign in retaliation for the army’s offensive in Swat.

Two of the bombs went off in a market in the old quarter of Peshawar, the northern frontier city, killing at least seven people and injuring 40.

Shortly after the Peshawar blasts, a suicide bomber attacked a paramilitary checkpost in another part of Peshawar, in which at least five people were killed. Police later said that two gunmen had been killed and two suspects detained after gunmen opened fire from a rooftop following the attack.

Later, a bomb blast in the city of Dera Ismail Khan killed at least two people while five more were hurt. A senior security official in Islamabad said: “These attacks strongly indicate a new terrorist campaign.”

The violence came after the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s suicide car-bomb and gun attack in the eastern city of Lahore that killed up to 35 people, saying it was in revenge for an offensive in the Swat region.

Speaking before the Peshawar blasts, Hakimullah Mehsud, a militant commander loyal to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, warned of more violence.

“We plan major attacks against government facilities in coming days and weeks,” he told Reuters by telephone. The government has ordered cities to be on alert.

Baitullah Mehsud was the prime suspect for the bomb blasts in the Peshawar, a senior government official said on Thursday.

“We had already concluded that Baitullah Mehsud was behind this attack (in Lahore) but now he is claiming responsibility,” said another Pakistani senior intelligence official. “I believe the attack in Peshawar also bears the hand prints of Mehsud.”

This isn’t some disjointed campaign, but one which is correlated to the ongoing Taliban and al Qaeda operations throughout the region.  Said one al Qaeda spokesman:

“The Pakistan army could then have launched an all-out war in the tribal areas, and we could have retaliated with equal strength. In that process, Pakistan would have become a battleground and enemies like India and the US would have received the chance to intervene. Although in our files Pakistan does not exist, we of course don’t want enemies of Islam to take advantage of any situation.”

The battle against Pakistani forces isn’t one in which either the Taliban or al Qaeda want to engage.  But there is a strategic reason for doing so.

Al-Qaeda’s main priority is to use natural landmarks as boundaries against the security forces. The first success has been in securing an area all along the Hindu Kush mountains from Terah Valley in Khyber Agency up to the Turban district of Pakistan’s Balochistan province bordering Iran.

The second target is to push Pakistani forces back beyond the Indus River. The source of the Indus is in Tibet; it begins at the confluence of the Sengge and Gar rivers that drain the Nganglong Kangri and Gangdise Shan mountain ranges. The Indus then flows northwest through Ladakh and Baltistan into Gilgit, just south of the Karakoram range. The Shyok River, Shigar and Gilgit streams carry glacial waters into the main river. It gradually bends to the south, coming out of the hills between Peshawar and Rawalpindi in Pakistan.

It essentially means that militants would allow the writ of the state up to Punjab and Sindh provinces, but they want complete control in parts of NWFP and parts of Balochistan …

Al-Qaeda repeated that its goal was to make the Pakistani security forces neutral in the “war on terror”. The overall object is to win the war in Afghanistan. To this end, al-Qaeda will continue to engage the security forces in the Swat area.

The simple reason is that al-Qaeda fears that the military, under US pressure, has plans in place to move into North and South Waziristan, where al-Qaeda and the Taliban have key resources vital to their struggle in Afghanistan. So it is better to keep the military pinned down in Swat.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban is an arm of al Qaeda, or actually, the two are so joined in ideology now that both are global in their import, and Mehsud, the man whom The Captain’s Journal loves to hate, may be the most powerful of all Taliban with more fighters at his disposal than any other leader, whether Taliban or al Qaeda.

The goal is first to retake Afghanistan, and insofar as Pakistan is in the way, it is seen as coupled with the “enemy” and is to be at least kept at bay.  Later, their globalist ideology would manifest itself in larger geographical campaign against the West, the sanctuaries not being limited to Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan.  After recent threats by Baitullah Mehsud to attack Washington, various analysts went on record saying that he was basically a regional threat but that he lacked the capabilities or resources to attack outside his area of influence.

That assessment is profoundly shortsighted.  We have seen from the Hamburg cell that a successful attack against the West requires money, ideology, weapons and tactics training and language training.  Mehsud’s organization currently has three out of the four prerequisites (and may have all four), and language training doesn’t take long.  Do not underestimate Baitullah Mehsud.

Taliban Controls Buner

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 1 month ago

In Taliban Control Expanding Towards Pakistan Capital we discussed the aggressive patrolling and checkpoints in Buner, just an hour from Islamabad.  Within just a day we learn how effective this aggressiveness has been, or how timid the Pakistani police and paramilitary have been.

Sher Akbar, a retired lawmaker who represented Buner in parliament, tells VOA that Taliban fighters are now patrolling parts of the district and local police have not been seen in public.

Speaking by phone from Buner he says the Taliban are totally in control of the district and the local government has lost authority over the region.

Pakistani news media have reported government officials and aid groups have abandoned local offices. Sher Akbar says many in Buner are worried that fighting could break out soon between security forces and militants, and some people are preparing to leave.

The most troubling of the revelations is not what the Taliban are doing in Swat and adjacent areas.  The Tehrik-i-Taliban have made it clear that they will not stop until Pakistan is governed as they see fit.  We know their intentions.  But the most troubling revelation is that even after seeing the continual encroachment of the Taliban into the centers of power in Pakistan (Peshawar, Islamabad, etc.), the government still equivocates concerning the need to tackle the problem head on.

… Pakistan’s prime minister defended the government’s strategy, saying officials continue to favor pursuing talks with mediator Sufi Muhammad in dealing with the situation.

Time is short for the authorities to wake to the dire situation in which they are placing Pakistan with the continual appeasement of the Tehrik-i-Taliban.

In another report, we learn that Baitullah Mehsud has trained child suicide bombers.  “According to intelligence estimates, more than 5,000 child suicide bombers between the ages of 10 and 17 have been trained by the Taliban so far.”

As to the center of gravity of the whole effort?

Interior Advisor Rehman Malik said Taliban, Pakistani outlawed outfits and Al Qaeda have established a triangle.

In an interview to an Arabic channel, Malik stated that Taliban is a face of Al Qaeda in Pakistan. Taliban chief Fazalullah and other leaders are operating under one leadership. All the clues of investigations ended up in Waziristan.

It apparently isn’t as disaggregated and factious as we have been led to believe.

Nicholas Schmidle on the Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 1 month ago

TNR has a good interview of Nicholas Schmidle concerning the Tehrik-i-Taliban (h/t AM) and its expansion across the Indus River.  I have to disagree with Nicholas on one thing, namely that this really isn’t the first time that Baitullah Mehsud has threatened the U.S. (as we discussed in Baitullah Mehsud Threatens Washington).  But Nicholas is a must read whenever and whatever he writes, and his work on the Next-Gen Taliban is seminal and may never be repeated, unfortunately.  The human terrain may be too inhospitable to get this sort of information and perspective.  Anyway, Nicholas was kicked out of Pakistan after his expose, and I expect that the same thing would happen to any other journalist as good as he is.

Drop by his website and spend some time reading his prose.

Baitullah Mehsud Threatens Washington

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 1 month ago

The Captain’s Journal received numerous visits today from searches concerning Baitullah Mehsud.  It seems that he has threatened Washington.

The commander of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility Tuesday for a deadly assault on a Pakistani police academy and said the group was planning a terrorist attack on the White House that would “amaze” the world.

Baitullah Mehsud, who has a $5 million bounty on his head from the U.S., said Monday’s attack on the outskirts of the eastern city of Lahore was retaliation for U.S. missile strikes against militants along the Afghan border.

“Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world,” Mehsud told The Associated Press by phone. He provided no details.

Mehsud has never been directly linked to any attacks outside Pakistan, but attacks blamed on his network of fighters have widened in scope and ambition in recent years. The threat comes days after President Barack Obama warned that al-Qaida is actively planning attacks on the United States from secret havens in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s former government and the CIA named Mehsud as the prime suspect behind the December 2007 killing of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Pakistani officials accuse him of harboring foreign fighters, including Central Asians linked to al-Qaida, and of training suicide bombers.

In his latest comments, Mehsud identified the White House as one of the targets in an interview with local Dewa Radio, a copy of which was obtained by the AP.

For regular readers of The Captain’s Journal, there isn’t anything new in this threat.  We have discussed it before.

The globalist jihad movement of al Qaeda has been merged with the Tehrik-i-Taliban of Pakistan.  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.

TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud has saidWe 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.”  Now there are even indications that the original Afghan Taliban under Mullah Omar have morphed into an organization that desires regional Islamist revolutions.

Only recently (March, 2009) did the U.S. see the danger with him and begin to target Baitullah Mehsud with UAVs.  If readers will tool back through the archives for Baitullah Mehsud, you will find that we have been discussing him for approximately one year, warning throughout the last year of his globalist intentions.

What turns out to be big news today, you found out about one year ago.  That’s why you read The Captain’s Journal.

UPDATE: Welcome to Instapundit readers, and thanks to Glenn for the link.  While you’re on board, drop by and check out reports of a son at war in Fallujah, 2007, and recently returned from the 26th MEU.

Has Swat Fallen to the Taliban?

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 4 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.

Baitullah Mehsud

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 4 months ago

We have provided analysis of Baitullah Mehsud, the center of gravity of the globalist jihad movement in the Taliban controlled areas of Pakistan, head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) and more powerful by far than al Qaeda.  The Guardian has an exposé on Baitullah that is so good and extensive that several quotes will be provided below (the entire article is recommended reading), followed by brief analysis.

… after five years of germination, the disparate forces behind most of these attacks formally merged into the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) under the leadership of an illiterate 35-year-old commander, Baitullah Mehsud, confirming western suspicions that the epicentre of global jihad had shifted. Soon militias allied to the new grouping had permeated all of Pakistan’s border regions, even the northern ski slopes and trout streams of the former tourist haven of Swat …

“From the 26 suicide attacks where we recovered a head in 2007, we made a startling discovery,” says the Sig analyst. “The vast majority [of suicide bombers] came from just one tribe, the Mehsuds of central Waziristan, all boys aged 16 to 20.” Until the Sig team analysed the 2007 bombings, no one realised how successful the Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud had been in recruiting his extended clan to the martyrdom business …

The officer found out more when a few Mehsud boys, who escaped a suicide training camp, recently contacted him. “They told me, ‘We have nothing. Simple things would make a difference. We are fond of football. Give us a ball and we won’t bomb.’ ” The officer is working to recruit informers, but tentatively. Those who resist Baitullah Mehsud have been brutally dealt with – like the 600 elders who spoke out against him in 2005 and were, according to Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, each sent a needle, black thread and 1,000 rupees with which to buy some cloth to stitch their own shrouds; all of them were then killed

“The suicide bombers would be nothing without the bomb makers,” says Pervez, describing how men in caves and cowsheds, operating with a generator, a soldering iron and a pair of pliers, have become eminently adaptable. What the Sig proved was the axiom that today’s Islamic war zones inter-relate, how advice is passed down the line, in knapsacks and saddlebags, in encrypted computer files, in postcards and even in love letters. After insurgents in Iraq began to use mobile phones to detonate roadside bombs in the summer of 2003, the same technique emerged in Pakistan, deployed in one of the two assassination attempts on Musharraf in December. However, as western intelligence agencies caught up, developing high-frequency jammers to block the phone signals, the bombers changed tactics. Pervez says: “In Pakistan they returned to older techniques, using a 300-rupee [£2.50] wireless doorbell to send a low-frequency signal for which no one had thought to make a jammer” …

In the 80s, when Pervez was a young officer, the military and ISI had established hundreds of Sunni madrasas in southern Punjab that were aligned to a strict revivalist sect, the Deobandis, similar to the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. On graduation, most of these students were funnelled by the ISI into the secret war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, used to target Pakistan’s minority Shia population or infiltrated Indian Kashmir. “All the groups we are familiar with today came out of this process, and by the late 90s these men had had more consistent exposure to war than most officers in premier league armies in Europe” …

The closer you get to Baitullah Mehsud, the more of his strategy you can see. He is estimated to need one billion rupees (£8.6m) a year to keep his operations going. “It’s Jihadi Inc out here,” one senior police officer says. Among the Pakistan Taliban’s most recent recruits are a serial killer and two criminal dons, all of whom have been invited to become commanders. The officer says: “Mehsud’s Talibs now act like criminals, too, mounting a protection racket, charging road tolls, stealing fuel at gunpoint, blackmailing communities.”

They reach out across Pakistan. After arresting Qasim Toori, a wanted villain, in Shah Latif town, southeast Karachi, in January 2008, police learned he had been sent by Baitullah with 19 Taliban fighters to begin a crime wave. In Toori’s most successful raid, on October 30 2007, he held up the Bank al-Habib and stole 5m rupees (£43,000), money that was used to buy arms from al-Qaida. Baitullah’s men simultaneously began kidnapping …

Commentary & Analysis

When behind-the-times television analysts refer to al Qaeda who is being given safe haven in Pakistan, they fundamentally miss the point.  The globalist jihad movement of al Qaeda has been absorbed into the TTP of Pakistan.  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.

Baitullah Mehsud is not only the unchallenged master of the Tehrik-i-Taliban movement in Pakistan and across the border into Afghanistan, and he is essentially the head of not only a terror state, but also of a criminal enterprise worth 1E9 rupees annually (21 million dollars annually).

The group he leads is adaptive and improvisational with regards to their tactics, techniques and procedures.  They are even more experienced in war than the Pakistan Army, and certainly more so than most of the NATO forces in Afghanistan.

As for their global vision, 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.”

Baitullah Mehsud and the Tehrik-i-Taliban are not just dangerous; concerning the future of global jihad and the security of the West, they are – without rival – enemy #1.


Pakistan Declares Baitullah Mehsud Patriot

Kidnapping: The Taliban’s New Source of Income

Tehrik-i-Taliban and al Qaeda Linked

Baitullah Mehsud: The Making of a Terror State

Pakistan Declares Baitullah Mehsud Patriot

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 5 months ago

Baitullah Mehsud, the most powerful man in the Tehrik-i-Taliban and the one who has created a literal terror state in the North West Frontier Province, and whose organization was outlawed approximately three months ago, was declared a patriot by the Pakistan Army.

All main militant groups fighting in Fata, from South Waziristan to Bajaur and from Mohmand to the Khyber Agency, have contacted the government through different sources after the Mumbai bombings and have offered a ceasefire if the Pakistan Army also stops its operations.

And as a positive sign that this ceasefire offer may be accepted, the Pakistan Army has, as a first step, declared before the media some notorious militant commanders, including Baitullah Mehsud and Maulvi Fazlullah, as “patriotic” Pakistanis.

These two militant commanders are fighting the Army for the last four years and have invariably been accused of terrorism against Pakistan but the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage has suddenly turned terrorists into patriots.

A top security official told a group of senior journalists on Saturday: “We have no big issues with the militants in Fata. We have only some misunderstandings with Baitullah Mehsud and Fazlullah. These misunderstandings could be removed through dialogue.”

The Indian allegations against Pakistan have suddenly forced the military establishment in Pakistan to finally accept that they are not fighting an American war inside the Pakistani territory.

On another level, the parliamentary leader of the 12 Fata members in the National Assembly, Munir Orakzai, has expressed optimism in this regard, saying: “I see a bright ray of peace in the tribal areas and if we come out of the American pressure, I can guarantee that there will be peace in the tribal areas in a few days and we will be ready to fight against India on the eastern border along with the Pakistan Army.”

The change in the attitude of the Pakistani military establishment is remarkable. Thanks to India, the security officials, who used to criticise the Pakistani media, are now praising its role in the recent days, saying: “You have proven that you are patriotic Pakistanis.”

Last year, the same officials were part of a decision to impose a ban on many Pakistani TV channels because of their alleged anti-state behaviour. Meanwhile, Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has made it clear to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani that if India escalates tensions, then Pakistan has to move its troops from the tribal areas to the eastern borders and it would not be possible to continue the war against terrorism.

While the new Pakistan administration sees the need for the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda, the Pakistan Army mostly doesn’t and wishes not to be fighting their own people. The Army also has an almost pathological preoccupation with India, and the rumblings in India over the Mumbai attacks have given both the Pakistan Army and the Tehrik-i-Taliban the perfect cover to end their cooperation with the U.S. and NATO over the Taliban safe haven in the Pakistan FATA and NWFP.

This is a troubling development for Operation Enduring Freedom, but it doesn’t end the danger for Pakistan. The Taliban still see the current administration in Pakistan as an infidel regime which governs a nation that is entirely too Western and secular. Sharia law is the goal for Pakistan, and the Taliban will stop at nothing to effect this end.

In 2003 Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda second in command and head of field operations, began arguing that the primary goal of jihad should be the toppling of impious regimes. To the North in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai has demanded a time table for NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, a move which can only be interpreted as a sign of the continual diminution of his senses. Without NATO forces the Taliban would be inside Kabul within one week and Karzai would be fleeing the country to save his own life. And regarding Zawahiri’s view of the negotiations with the Taliban demanded by Karzai, he sees this as a sign of weakness, a view similar to our own.

There are seasons in any campaign, and Hamid Karzai is showing signs of increased desperation over the security situation in Afghanistan just as the Pakistan Army is showing signs of weakness by labeling the head of a terror state – Baitullah Mehsud – a patriot. Time is short for strengthening the force presence in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Tehrik-i-Taliban and al Qaeda Linked

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 8 months ago

Beginning with Resurgence of Taliban and al Qaeda where we discussed the Next-Gen Taliban, and going through Interview with Taliban Spokesman Maulvi Omar, for six months The Captain’s Journal has outlined the synthesis of al Qaeda and the new Taliban.  From adoption of suicide tactics to taking a global perspective for jihad in lieu of the nationalistic one, the differences between al Qaeda and the Tehrik-i-Taliban of Pakistan  (TTP) have all but disappeared, with Baitullah Mehsud the most powerful man in the North West Frontier Province as the head of the TTP.

Musharraf wouldn’t publicly admit it, but with his departure at least there is a whiff of honesty in the air concerning the actual state of affairs.

Pakistan’s top security official says the country’s Taliban is a “mouthpiece” of al-Qaida.

“We have certain evidence that there is a close connection, links and that there are similarities between al-Qaida and TTP,” Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik told reporters in Islamabad, Dawn reported Tuesday.

TTP is the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, which was banned by the government last month after being blamed for a series of suicide attacks, which killed hundreds of people, the report said.

Malik, responding to a question whether Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy to al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, talks to the TTP, said, “If al-Qaida is to move in a tribal area, they have to look to the TTP” to find refuge, the report said.

“The TTP is a host to al-Qaida and is their mouthpiece,” he added.

Noting that there is evidence of foreign fighters operating in Pakistan, Malik said, “We have also found traces of militants from the Uzbek and … Chinese Islamic movements in the tribal regions.”

Again, this marks a change in position by the Pakistani government.

Pakistani authorities previously sought to draw a sharp distinction between homegrown militants and al-Qaida, which is led by Arabs. But the interior ministry official declared that al-Qaida had morphed into Pakistan’s Taliban movement, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban, which is a copy of the Afghanistan’s Taliban guerillas.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the Tehreek-e-Taliban and al-Qaida are the same thing,” Malik said. “They have not only connections, I would say Tehreek-e-Taliban is an extension of al-Qaida. The mouthpiece is now Tehreek-e-Taliban.”

Readers of The Captain’s Journal have heard this for a half a year or more, and while a stand down of operations by the Pakistan Army over Ramadan is not encouraging, at least Pakistan realizes that their very existence is at stake in this war.

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