Taleban Government Appoints Two New Ministers

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The new strategy was illustrated to Corriere della Sera by the members of two Pakistani organizations -- close both to Mullah Omar (the Taliban's supreme leader) and to Usama Bin Ladin -- that are playing an active role in the "holy war" against the West. The first was Hussein Hamad Deeshani, the military commander of Herakat-ul-Jihad Islami, a group to which a number of the "terrorists" on the FBI's black list belong. Having come back from Afghanistan a few days ago, he is now spending a short time in Islamabad pending his return to the front. "The surrender of Mazar-e Sharif was agreed on by the Taliban with the leaders of the Northern Alliance," he claimed, adding: "It is a withdrawal that makes it possible to save both men and arms in order to counterattack at a later date."
According to him, also the "handover" of Kabul is imminent. The Taliban are apparently only taking their time pending the consolidation of defensive positions in the mountains. They are reportedly prepared to give up all of the cities "including Kandahar," the moral capital of the Koran's militiamen, in order to get entrenched on the outskirts and to launch their murderous attacks from there. "The US air strikes have caused the Taliban serious damage," Hussein Hamad Deeshani admitted, "but all of us who operate in Afghanistan are capable of holding out in the bush for another 10 years. Even the Northern Alliance will end up moving over to our side."
So does the country's future hold chaos? Or are these the dying quips of an increasingly less convincing propaganda machine? Herakat-ul-Jihad Islami has lost about 80 men in the US air strikes but its commander carried on with all the vehemence a preacher: "Do you know how many people have died among the Taliban, the Arabs, and the Pakistanis? A mere 500 militiamen, no more. What is that?"
The foreign legions are still the mainstay of the future guerrilla forces for an unconventional army such as that of Mullah Omar. Alongside the volunteers in Herakat-ul-Jihad Islami, also two other Pakistani organizations, chips off the same block, are operating in Afghanistan. They were first set up back in the days of the Soviet invasion: Herakat-ul-Mujaheddin and the Army of Mohammad, against both of which George W. Bush has pointed the finger of accusation, charging them with terrorist activities. And alongside them, there are Arabs of all nationalities who are not necessarily officially incorporated into al-Qa'ida, Usama Bin Ladin's network. "While Mullah Omar could count on the help of 12,000 Arabs before 11 September, the number of volunteers has shot up today. They are coming from all over the world, including from the West. We have a former US serviceman who has converted to Islam, who has fought in Chechnya, and who is now with our men. There are volunteers who hold German nationality and even some with Italian nationality," one Herakat-ul-Mujaheddin activist told me, adding: "Some are immigrants, others are not. They are full fledged Westerners."
His code name is Janghir; he is 31 years old, with a beard longer than Usama's. His initiation took place when he was barely out of childhood, during the holy war against the Russians. He perfected his training in the art of war in the training camp in Khost, an Afghan terrorist center bombarded by the United States back in 1998. "Each group is entrusted with oversight over a part of the territory. But the command stays with the Taliban under the leadership of Jalaloddin Haqqani, the head of land operations," he explained. Resistance in the mountains does not frighten anyone. "We have been used to eating dry bread dipped in water and to sleeping in trenches for years."
The exodus from the cities heralds a war of attrition. But try as Janghir might to revive his memories of the glorious era of the jihad, it would in fact be a form of solitary resistance more similar to that enacted by the Chechens against Moscow than to the Mojaheddin's war in the eighties. Right now there is no superpower behind the Taliban, no country prepared to back a new guerrilla movement; but there are the "martyrs": "In other words, fighters like myself prepared to sacrifice their lives. The order could come at any time. The 11 September attacks were not justified because there was no war on," Janghir said, "but ever since the United States has begun its air strikes, it has been legitimate to strike at the enemy." The Herakat-ul-Mujaheddin activist issued a warning: "You must all watch out, including you Italians. Remember that the moment your troops set foot in Afghanistan, you will become targets for us."
[Description of Source: Milan Corriere della Sera in Italian -- leading centrist daily; largest circulation of Italian dailies]

AIP: US aircraft bomb Taliban minister's house, religious school in south

IAP20011117000003 Peshawar Afghan Islamic Press in Pashto 0730 GMT 17 Nov 01
Peshawar, 17 November: US aircraft severely bombed the house and religious school of a famous commander and formerly a prominent commander of the jihad against the Russians, Mowlawi Jalaloddin Haqqani.

According to AIP [Afghan Islamic Press] sources, American aircraft severely bombed the house and the religious school belonging to the prominent commander of the jihad against the Russians and minister of tribal and border [affairs] of the Taleban government, Mowlawi Jalaloddin Haqqani, in Mata China, some three kilometres west of Khost town [the capital of southeastern Province of Khost] last night. As a result, two people were martyred and four others were injured.

Afghan Islamic Press learned from a spokesman for Haqqani: "The Americans intended to eliminate Haqqani. For this purpose they bombed his houses in Kabul and Gardez [the capital of southeastern Paktia Province] as well. As a result, several people were martyred.

Mata China was attacked twice last night.

On the other hand American aircraft heavily bombed the southern town of Kandahar last night and this morning.

According to Afghan Islamic Press sources, six people were martyred and 15 others were wounded as a result.

There are also some reports about air raids on Konduz [the capital of northern Konduz Province] but no further details have been received by the Afghan Islamic Press so far.

[Description of Source: Peshawar Afghan Islamic Press in Pashto -- Peshawar-based agency, staffed by Afghans; good contacts with Taliban leadership. Faxes reliable, hand-written news reports, describing itself as independent and self-financing]

Report Says Arab Fighters in Afghanistan Split Into 5 Groups
GMP20011127000068 London Al-Hayah in Arabic 27 Nov 01 p2
[Report by Ahmad Muwaffaq Zaydan from Islamabad: "Arab Afghans Dispersed in Afghanistan and Some of Them Succeeded in Escaping From Konduz; Most of Them Are in Kandahar and the East and a Few Are Cut off"]
The constant US strikes on Afghanistan and the destruction of Taliban's means of communications have apparently forced the Arab Afghans to split into scattered islands all over Afghanistan that are unable to coordinate with each other.
Afghan sources that recently returned from Kandahar told Al-Hayah yesterday that the Arab Afghans' forces are still walking about in large numbers in the city and showing a readiness to confront the US landing forces like yesterday's one. The Arab Afghans who are in Afghanistan now are divided into five groups.
1. The Kandahar group that is still entrenched in the city, the Taliban's stronghold, and has sworn to defend it regardless of the price. This group feels safer than others because it has the confidence of the pro-Taliban Kandaharis in addition to the presence of Taliban Leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in the city. The rugged mountains around Kandahar provide an important safe hideaway for this force if it decides to evacuate the city. Some circles believe that the movement has prevaricated the surrender of the city all these past weeks in order to carry as much equipment, ammunition, and supplies as possible to the mountains.
2. The Konduz group and this is divided into two groups. One was forced to surrender and then rebelled at the Qalai Janghi. Anyone who has escaped will be tried as "a war criminal" or "a terrorist." The second Konduz group includes those who were smuggled across the mountains' rugged roads. It is believed that "Khattab", the Chechen leader who reportedly led 2,000 Arab and Chechen volunteers during the Konduz siege, was among those who were smuggled. Some sources say they have arrived in Kandahar to join their comrades.
3. The Jalalabad group, which ran the training camps in Darunta on the road to Kabul. After the city's fall, the group moved to the Tora Bora Mountains, which Arab fighters under Usama Bin Ladin used as the base for their military activities during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Circles believe that dozens of Arab Afghans are living in these hideouts. US planes are daily bombarding the area but to no avail because it is full of caves on the mountainsides, which bombs cannot reach.
4. The Paktia and Paktika group. These are the Arab Afghans who fled to this area because they have close ties with Leader Jalaloddin Haqqani who knows the area and its conservative tribal population very well. There are hideouts in this area, especially on the outskirts of Khowst city, which the mujahidin had built during the Soviet invasion.
5. The dispersed group. Some Arab Afghans were cut off and most of them were in areas that were handed over suddenly to the Northern Alliance after the local Taliban forces' surrender. Sources believe that these Arab Afghans are forcing their way with difficulty to reach the Taliban strongholds in Kandahar and the east.
Western sources have reported that the Arabs and foreigners hiding in the caves are using local citizens and paying them money to bring them food and information about what is happening in the main cities and on the main roads.
According to these divisions, some believe that the Arab Afghans' deterrent response to the US presence is not going to be easy.
[Description of Source: London Al-Hayah in Arabic -- Influential Saudi-owned London daily providing independent coverage of Arab and international issues; commentaries occasionally critical of US policy.]

AIP: US aircraft bomb areas in eastern Afghanistan

IAP20011123000026 Peshawar Afghan Islamic Press in Pashto 1149 GMT 23 Nov 01

Peshawar, 23 November: American aircraft bombed Khost this morning, and one woman and a girl were martyred as a result.

During the morning prayer, American war planes bombed the house of a tribal leader, Haji Mohammad Naim Kochi, 20 km to the south of the Khost bazaar in Khost Province. One bomb fell on another house, and as a result one woman and a girl were martyred. Haji Mohammad Naim Kochi helped the Taleban government. And in 1992 he also worked in the [previous] mojahedin government.

In another development, Osmani in Paktia Province was also bombed. During the jihad [against the Soviets] Osmani was [prominent commander] Jalaloddin Haqqani's base.

Konduz was also bombed.

[Description of Source: Peshawar Afghan Islamic Press in Pashto -- Peshawar-based agency, staffed by Afghans; good contacts with Taliban leadership. Faxes reliable, hand-written news reports, describing itself as independent and self-financing]

Afghanistan: Former Jihad Commander Appointed as Governor of Khowst

SAP20011128000068 Islamabad Ausaf in Urdu 25 Nov 01 pp 8 6
[Report by correspondent: "Ex-jihadi commander Haji Abdur Rehman appointed as governor of Khowst"]
Miran Shah -- US bombers have once again bombarded the former jihadi centers of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani located in Zawar. However, no human or material loss has been reported. Likewise, former jihadi commander Muhammad Naeem Kuchi was also targeted last [24 November] night in Dibli, but no loss has been reported.
According to details, US bombers are continuously attacking the commanders of former organizations at the the borders of Khowst. Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani's school and mosque have been targeted thrice. As a result, hundreds of men, women, and children have been martyred and hundreds injured.
In line with the decision of jirgah, elders of different areas of Khowst have elected ex-jihadi commander Haji Abdur Rehman Zoran, the head of Zoran tribe, as the governor of Khowst.
[Description of Source: Islamabad Ausaf in Urdu -- Newspaper with strong anti-India views. Gives wide coverage to fundamentalist religious groups]

Afghanistan: Local commanders seek about Rs 600,000 to free Pakistani Mujahideen

SAP20011202000061 Rawalpindi Jang in Urdu 29 Nov 01 pp 1 7
[Report by Muhammad Jamil Khan: "Jalalabad: 750 Pakistani Mujahideen in custody of local commanders"]
Peshawar - According to sources, two local commanders of Jalalabad, Muhammad Zaman and Hazrat Ali, have 750 Pakistani Mujahideen in their custody. Majority of these Pakistanis are untrained and below 20 years of age. Some religious scholars have contacted these commanders for the release of these Pakistanis and the commanders have agreed to release them for 500,000 to 600,000 rupees. In this regard, the religious scholars are having talks with relatives of these commanders present in Pakistan.
According to sources, in areas occupied by the Northern Alliance, the families of Arab mujahideen are being looted, women are being humiliated and children are being subjected to violence. According to sources, trained mujahideen have safely reached Pakistan via mountainous passages after vacating Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, and other areas, whereas large numbers of untrained mujahideen were arrested by local commanders as they approached Jalalabad by road.
Some families have had their men released after paying 100,000 to 300,000 rupees to the commanders. The NWFP [North-West Frontier Province] government is trying to get these mujahideen released without any payment, but in that case they would be arrested by Pakistan government. Maulana Fazlur Rehman's brother Maulana Ataur Rehman, Maulana Gul Naseeb, Jalil Jan, and Abdul Wadood Faqiri are having talks with relatives of Commander Hazrat Ali and Commander Muhammad Zaman Khan in Pakistan.
According to some reports, many Pakistani and Arab mujahideen have moved to Khost and Darangoon, the areas supportive of Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani and Arsalam Rehmani. In this situation, the families and children of Arab mujahideen are facing the worst conditions. The Arabs can neither come to Pakistan nor can they go back to their country. Their families have appealed to the Pakistan government through religious scholars that they should be given asylum so that they could live their lives in peace. These religious scholars have appealed to Muslim relief organizations to make special arrangements for their resettlement on humanitarian basis.
In Miran Shah and tribal areas, there is a lot of tension. Due to the bad treatment of Pakistani mujahideen, it is feared that Afghans and their families living in these areas may be harmed. At some places, one or two such incidents have started to occur.

[Description of Source: Rawalpindi Jang in Urdu -- Largest circulation daily]

Pakistan: Afghans reported spying for US on satellite phones
SAP20011204000027 Islamabad The News (Internet Version-WWW) in English 04 Dec 01
[Report by Rahimullah Yusufzai: "Satellite phones both boon and bane in Afghanistan"]
Peshawar -- There are so many satellite telephones now in use in Afghanistan that this war-battered country seems to have undergone a telecommunication revolution. And most Afghans now in possession of such expensive phones say these were a gift from the Americans.
Anti-Taliban military commanders appear to be the greatest beneficiary of the US largesse. Those who do not possess a satellite phone are considered weak and ineffective. Some of the commanders have effectively made use of the phones by promptly informing the US authorities about Taliban and Arab hideouts so that they could be bombed. Others have misled the Americans and allegedly organised US bombing raids against their personal and political opponents to settle old scores.
The Taliban recently caught an Afghan in Kandahar with a satellite phone and charged him with spying for the Americans. He was accused of pinpointing Taliban targets that were to be attacked by the US warplanes. True to their reputation and in keeping with the Fatwa [religious decree] by pro-Taliban Ulema [religious scholars], the man was hanged after being found guilty of spying for the US. The Taliban have reportedly apprehended two more men carrying satellite phones in Kandahar. There is no reason to suggest that their fate would be any different.
Well-known mujahideen commander Abdul Haq, whose brother Haji Abdul Qadeer is now the governor of eastern Nangarhar province, was also caught in possession of a couple of satellite phones. The Taliban had accused him of spying for the US after capturing him along with eight of his men in Logar province and summarily executed him. Sections of the American media and certain former US government officials later reported that he had used the satellite phones to request CIA help to rescue him. Help did come in the form of US bombers and helicopters but it was too late and too little to save his life.
Supporters of Taliban commander and minister Mulla Jalaluddin Haqqani have alleged that the bombings of his homes in Kabul, Gardez and Khost were carried out by the US warplanes after the Americans were tipped off by his opponents using satellite phones gifted to them by Washington.
An Afghan who travelled to Peshawar from Khost said the people in his area were afraid of a former mujahideen commander and tribal elder Badshah Khan Zadran because they thought he would call in US aircraft by using his satellite phone whenever he wanted to punish those daring to oppose him.
An Afghan intellectual, requesting anonymity, said the satellite phones were being grossly misused to settle old scores. He said the Americans had not hesitated to bomb areas when told that there were Taliban or Al-Qaeda's Arab members hiding there. He advised the Americans to check and cross-check all such reports before organising bombing sorties because Pashtun populations in eastern and southern Afghanistan had suffered heavily due to the bombardment. Such a policy, he warned, would only earn hatred for the US among the Pashtuns. Besides the anti-Taliban military commanders, international journalists are the second big group of people possessing satellite phones in Afghanistan.
[Description of Source: Islamabad The News in English -- Independent daily, member of the Jang Publishing Group]
Pakistani sources claim Taliban's top slot still safe, mixed with local population
SAP20011212000020 Islamabad The News (Internet Version-WWW) in English 12 Dec 01
[Report by Kamran Khan: "Taliban human assets still well intact"]
Karachi -- As a new Hamid Karzai-led interim government prepares to take power in Afghanistan for an initial period of six months, Mulla Omar and almost each of his close associates is known to have survived the two month long air and ground attacks by the United States forces, Pakistani officials responsible for monitoring development inside Afghanistan on daily basis have reported.
At the same time, the Pakistani officials said, the non-Afghan Al-Qaeda movement headed by Osama Bin Laden is fast losing its men and leaders and the ongoing Tora Bora operation in eastern Afghanistan may soon herald the near complete elimination of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials feel that in the absence of any widespread killing or defection of hardcore Taliban, shrewd backroom negotiations by important Taliban commanders with the Pashtun [Pashtun] dominated anti-Taliban forces in the east, west and south of Afghanistan provided Mulla Omar a leverage to protect the human assets of the Taliban movement.
Pakistani military security agencies have reckoned that the Al-Qaeda and Taliban explicitly followed separate strategies to meet the US military might. The Al-Qaeda opted for a 'last-man, last-bullet' strategy, while the Taliban leadership ordered strategic retreat all over Afghanistan. The divided strategy, Pakistani officials said, created a major gulf between the Al-Qaeda's Arab leaders and Taliban mullahs.
"Unbelievably not one top cabinet minister of Mulla Omar was killed, arrested or defected to opposition forces during the two month long non-stop bombing," noted a senior Pakistani security official.
Mulla Mohammad Khaksar, the deputy minister for interior affairs, remained the only important Taliban official to announce defection after September 11. Reports about the defection of Qari Ahmadullah, the minister for intelligence affairs, remained unconfirmed notwithstanding his earlier public confession of capturing the dissident Pushtun commander Abdul Haq and for bringing him to justice.
"Whether the Americans like it or not the anti-Taliban Pushtun forces have gained ground with an implicit Taliban support all across the Afghan Pushtun belt," observed a senior Pakistani official who noted that it was unfair to suggest that a common Afghan hated the Taliban rule.
Credible reports reaching Pakistan from Kandahar said that much before agreeing to surrender Kandahar to the forces of pro-Taliban former Mujahideen commander Mulla Naqibullah, the supreme Taliban leader Mulla Omar, his interior minister Mulla Abdul Razzak and minister of defence Mulla Ubaidullah Akhunzada along with scores of heavily armed followers were given safe passage to leave the town.
Pakistani sources said that the complete safety of Taliban leaders and supporters in and around Kandahar province was the exclusive responsibility of Mulla Naqibullah who would now govern Kandahar along with Gul Agha. The same deal also guaranteed security of former Taliban governor of Kandahar Mulla Mohammad Hassan and his men.
Earlier on in the conflict, Mulla Omar had directed two of his key cabinet ministers Abdul Wakil Mutawakil, the foreign minister, and Mulla Nuruddin Turabi, the justice minister, to go into hiding. Despite repeated stories in The New York Times about Mutawakil's defection the Taliban foreign minister remained loyal to Omar.
Mulla Omar apparently followed the same strategy in each of the provinces where he quickly ordered his representatives to surrender power to local warlords in exchange for immunity to his supporters. For that reason alone the transition remained smooth in most provinces, particularly in the western province of Herat where the Taliban governor Maulvi Khair Mohammad Khairkhawa personally welcomed Ismail Khan, a former Tajik speaking Mujahid commander.
Maulvi Walijan, governor of Jawzjan province, and Mulla Muhammad Shafiq, governor of Samangan province, also struck identical deals with Ismail Khan whose forces smoothly moved into these provinces without causing any collateral damage to the Taliban followers.
In eastern Afghanistan, the key Taliban commanders such Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani, the minister for border affairs, and Nangarhar province governor Mulla Abdul Kabir, also the head of eastern zone, reached a negotiated settlement with the key figures of the eastern Shura [Advisory Council] such as Haji Qadeer and his close associates. The deal won a complete immunity to all Taliban leaders and men in Nangarhar province.
In western Afghanistan, like Kunduz, a big majority of the Taliban fighters were allowed by the anti-Taliban commanders to simply melt away into the local population before resorting to the target killing of non-Afghan al-Qaeda supporters. As a result of this strategy, important Taliban figures such as Jalaluddin Haqqani would continue to exercise considerable influence on the Nangarhar affairs in the months and years to come.
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