|SAP20060708033001 Lahore Daily Times (Internet Version-WWW) in English 08 Jul 06
[Daily Times staff report: "Amarat-e-Islami will not fight Pakistani soldiers"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
MIRANSHAH: Amarat-e-Islami has declared that its mujahideen, whether they are ansaar or mohajir, will not fight Pakistani soldiers because this war would benefit America and its allies fighting the mujahideen in Afghanistan.
Pamphlets written in Pushto and distributed on Thursday night in Miranshah read: "Amarat-e-Islami has declared that Wazir and Mehsud tribes of South Waziristan and the mujahideen of North Waziristan will remain loyal to Jalaluddin Haqqani, mujahideen commander and a former Taliban minister". The pamphlet stated that the mujahideen in South and North Waziristan should form a committee to collect funds and assign clerics and honest tribesmen to use the funds for the mujahideens' welfare. It added that all commanders should consult each other before doing or deciding anything, follow the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), and urge others to do the same. The pamphlets were signed by Bakhat Jan, a commander of Jalaluddin Haqqani, and Usmani.
[Description of Source: Lahore Daily Times (Internet Version-WWW) in English -- Internet version of the independent, moderate daily, run by veteran journalist Najam Sethi and published by the Friday Times group. Strong critic of radical and jihadi elements. Provides extensive coverage of activities of jihadi/militant groups. Caters to the educated middle class, with an estimated hardcopy circulation of 20,000; root URL as of filing date: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk]
UK Source Says Three Taliban Leaders Behind Deaths of UK Soldiers in Afghanistan
EUP20060709031001 London The Observer (Internet Version-WWW) in English 09 Jul 06
[Report by Jason Burke: "Hunt for the Taliban Trio Intent on Destruction"]
The trio are known as 'the junta'. They live in the shadows of southern Afghanistan, masters of bands of determined fighters who want to destroy any outside military presence. And that means destroying the British army in Afghanistan.
Coalition intelligence officers in the country held an emergency meeting last week to co-ordinate the hunt for the three, who are believed to be behind much of the current upsurge in fighting.
As fears in London grew over the spiralling violence in southern Afghanistan, British, American and French officers discussed how to track down, capture and kill the Taliban leaders. They are: Jalaluddin Haqqani, a veteran tribal leader and guerrilla fighter; Mullah Mohammed Omar, the reclusive one-eyed cleric who led the Taliban regime when in power; and the lesser-known Mullah Mohammed Dadullah Akhund, an ultra-violent and media-savvy commander who is emerging as the number-one enemy of coalition and Afghan government forces.
The Observer has learnt that an air strike in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province, where around 4,000 British troops are deployed, was aimed at Mullah Dadullah. American defence officials have claimed that the strike killed 35 Taliban, including 'senior figures'. But Dadullah appears to have escaped again.
US and British military officials are keen to downplay any focus on individual leaders: 'This is about tackling the roots of a complex and dynamic insurgency, not just taking out individuals,' said one US source in Kabul. Yet few doubt that killing or capturing any of the three leading figures in the Taliban would seriously weaken the militants.
The atmosphere in the leafy compound of the British-run headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul was tense last week. Though ISAF, and thus NATO, which runs it, has yet to assume overall control of military operations in Afghanistan from the Americans, a transfer which should occur in three weeks, the staff officers splitting their time between open-air coffee shop and meetings and briefings are increasingly concerned by the task that faces them.
Estimates of the size of the Taliban forces range from 1,000 active fighters - the number given by Major General Chris Brown to The Observer - to 5,000, the number given by American officials. Coalition bulletins have claimed a total of more than 900 Taliban killed since the beginning of the year. The truth is that no solid figures exist.
Afghan officials in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand, where the insurgents are most active, speak of 'a broad range of actors who are united on an ad hoc basis to carry out individual operations'. Coalition reports now refer to the enemy as 'anti-coalition militants' or 'ACM', rather than 'Al-Qa'ida/Taliban' or 'AQT' as before. 'It's a semantic change but important evidence of our evolving appreciation of the varied nature of the foe,' said one coalition officer. However, the very complexity of the enemy - which includes religious militants, tribal militias, drug traffickers and bandits - has paradoxically reinforced an emphasis on identifying, tracking and killing leaders. 'At least that gives us something to shoot at,' said one senior soldier.
Intelligence reports and interviews in Kabul and Kandahar reveal that the new 'Taliban triumvirate' was put in place in the spring when Mullah Omar, who founded the original Taliban in 1994, appointed Haqqani to the command of the eastern sector of the insurgency, along the border with Pakistan, and gave Dadullah control of the militants battling the British in Helmand province.
All three men share similar backgrounds, though Haqqani is by far the oldest and most famous locally. All fought the Soviets before taking part in the campaigns of the mid-Nineties that saw the Taliban impose a rigorous rule on the anarchy that was Afghanistan at the time. 'They are good men, good Muslims and good mujahedin who have proved themselves,' said one Taliban supporter in the bazaar in Lashkar Gah, a few hundred yards from the British base there.
Both Dadullah and Omar received a low-level religious education and have lost legs to mines. All three are from Pashtun ethnic tribes that straddle the Afghan-Pakistani frontier, all hate America and all have powerful backing in the conservative religious networks that exist in Pakistan. Haqqani, a respected Islamic scholar, has additional lines of financing that reach back to oil-rich fundamentalists in the Gulf. According to several sources, one of Haqqani's wives is a Kuwaiti aristocrat and members of the Saudi Arabian royal family are thought to have contributed to the construction of several large religious schools under his control.
It is from these schools that Haqqani, a senior commander for the Taliban during the war of 2001 who is held in high esteem in his native dusty hills around the eastern Afghan city of Khost, has organised the dispatch of hundreds of young students to fight coalition forces during the summer break in their studies. Dadullah, for his part, has relied on contacts in the Pakistani city of Quetta and the frontier town of Chaman for fighters, many of whom are paid a salary, to bolster his largely local forces in Helmand.
Though the Pakistani government denies any support for the Taliban from within its territory, it is clear that much of the population along the frontier is deeply sympathetic to the religious militant movement. Scores of people gathered recently in the small Pakistani village of Mahmoudabad, a mile from the Afghan border, for the funeral of Abdul Baqi, 24, a local man who was killed fighting coalition forces near Kandahar. Baqi, a student in a madrasah or religious school, joined the Taliban this year and was killed during an attack by American jets on a Taliban stronghold in Panjawi district, just to the west of Kandahar. 'We are proud of him,' Abdul Qadir, his older brother, told reporters.
Much of the limelight has been seized by Mullah Dadullah. After being declared dead by coalition forces, the 40-year-old fighter surfaced last month in a video broadcast by al-Jazirah in which he was seen firing an automatic weapon and dispatching orders to suicide bombers. Dadullah is known as ruthless even among the Taliban. Some video images show fighters decapitating six Afghans they accuse of spying.
Though Dadullah is believed to be behind much of the resistance in Helmand, where six British troops have been killed, a classified American intelligence briefing on narcotics reveals that the fierce resistance to the attempt by troops to establish a presence in the hills in the north of the province owes as much to a powerful desire to protect drugs industry profits as it does to religious fervour.
The report details the close links between drug traffickers and Taliban leaders and alleges high-level corruption in the Afghan government. It also reveals the existence of mobile heroin laboratories in Pakistan which process large quantities of Afghan opium. The drug is then smuggled to Iran, Turkey and finally to Europe along routes that pass through the valleys where British troops are currently fighting.
The British military still hope that reconstruction may win over 'hearts and minds' despite the fierce fighting. Brigadier Ed Butler, the commander of British forces in Afghanistan, has reportedly requested engineers to aid building projects. Yet the overall reconstruction context is not promising.
Two years ago, The Observer travelled to the village of Sangesar, the birthplace of the Taliban and at that time still under government control - or at least government-friendly warlords. When asked what they wanted, local people replied: 'Security and a well.' Last week Engineer Asadullah, the head of the Ministry for Rural Development (DRD) in Kandahar province, said that Sangesar district now has dozens of wells - 32 were completed last year. Yet Sangesar, like so many other districts locally, is now strongly Taliban. 'You could say it's too little too late,' said Asadullah bitterly. 'Most of the money that was pledged from the West for reconstruction has not been spent on projects but has gone on experts and rents in Kabul,' Asadullah said.
Observers say the British government is over-estimating the impact even a successful mission would have. 'The UK element is part of a broader military strategy that is part of a national political strategy that itself is heavily influenced by a regional situation,' said one Western diplomat in Kabul. 'Even if it works 100 per cent, it will not be the answer without a huge effort elsewhere.'
The result may be that Haqqani, Omar and Dadullah - 'the bad, the ugly and the uglier', as one intelligence officer put it - are likely to be at large for some time yet, along with as many Taliban as they can put in the field.
[Description of Source: London The Observer (Internet Version-WWW) in English -- Sunday edition of The Guardian, the prominent center-left daily]
Asia Times: 'In Search of the Taliban's Missing Link '
CPP20060918720003 Hong Kong Asia Times Online WWW-Text in English 1023 GMT 15 Sep 06
[Report by Syed Saleem Shahzad : "In Search Of The Taliban's Missing Link "; headline as provided by source]
KARACHI - Despite spending many millions of dollars, US intelligence, five years after the ouster of the Taliban from Kabul, remains in the dark over the command structure of the Taliban.
The Taliban have a tight high command from where - and this is the mystery - precise orders, such as targets, are relayed to the fighters in the field. Cracking this code is key to putting a brake on the insurgency that gathers strength by the day.
When the Taliban's spring offensive began in June, the US-led coalition's intelligence identified the people in the Taliban's command council and their usual modus operandi and location in the guerrilla war.
All coalition tactics were based on this information, such as search operations, troop postings, logistics and arms allocations. The primary aim was to net Taliban leader Mullah Omar and close aides, such as Maualana Jalaluddin Haqqani, Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Gul Mohammed Jangvi.
Months later, these men have not even come close to being captured. That leaves the questions unanswered: How (and from where) do they manage to relay their instructions into the battlefield? Asia Times Online has learned that this year alone, international intelligence operations in Afghanistan have spent millions of dollars trying to find out, even as fighting in the past month has been the heaviest ever.
Significantly, the Taliban are now drawing increasing support from the Afghan population. These additional numbers have allowed them for the first time to conduct their own large-scale search operations against NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) troops in the south.
As a result, NATO this week requested additional troops, with no success. The alliance, which took command of military operations in southern Afghanistan on July 31, had wanted 2,000 extra soldiers to reinforce the 19,000-strong International Security Assistance Force.
Throwing more troops into a conventional battle (artillery and air strikes especially) might not be the best way to go as long as there remains a basic lack of understanding of where the enemy's command center is and how the mujahideen receive orders. What is known is that among the rank and file of the mujahideen there is a strong system of communication, with instructions flowing freely and quickly.
And despite claims by coalition forces to the contrary, the Taliban are not obsessed with taking control of provinces or districts. They abandoned that tactic at the end of July, and a lull in fighting followed.
Since then, the new policy has been that the local population join in the fight against NATO, especially hunting down its convoys.
What is worth noting is that what is happening in Afghanistan has happened before, against the British many years ago and against the Soviets more recently. This latest battle against a foreign invader is being fought as a classic Afghan war, although the sequence of events is somewhat different.
In the past, resistance leaders migrated to neighboring states early in the campaign. This time it is happening much later. Previously, command councils were formed at the end, and the mass mutiny started earlier. This time it is the other way around.
Of one thing the Taliban are convinced, blindly some might say: Afghan tradition dictates that foreign forces will be resisted to the last. Further, the Taliban believe that by the end of the spring offensive, Mullah Omar will again declare himself head of the Islamic Emirate of Taliban for a final battle against the foreigners.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Description of Source: Hong Kong Asia Times Online WWW-Text in English - - Hong Kong-based online newspaper with a Bangkok branch office focusing on political and economic issues from an "Asian perspective," with over 50 contributors in 17 Asian countries, the United States, and Europe. Successor of the Hong Kong/Bangkok based print daily Asia Times that closed in 1997, it claims an average of 100,000 daily site visitors as of Feb 2006, with 65% of the audience based in North America, and 22% in the Asia-Pacific region. Root URL on filing date: http://www.atimes.com]
Pakistan: 'Taliban Armed Force' Patrols Areas; Talibanization Spreads in NWFP
SAP20060930033003 Islamabad The News (Internet Version-WWW) in English 30 Sep 06
[Report by Behroz Khan: "Settled NWFP areas also under threat of Talibanisation"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
DERA ISMAIL KHAN: The one after the other peace agreements with militants in south and north Waziristan agencies have not only strengthened religious groups in the tribal region, but sent a strong message to the adjacent settled districts of the NWFP to be the next to witness a visible parallel administration supervised and controlled from this troubled belt along the Pak-Afghan border.
Interviews with tribesmen belonging to both agencies based in DI Khan revealed that lifestyle of the people in DI Khan, Tank, Lakki Marwat and Bannu is undergoing a rapid change, as the writ of religious groups reigns supreme.
"People live in fear in the tribal as well as settled areas," was a brief comment of a lawyer in DI Khan, as he had to abandon his native south Waziristan and make this multicultural city situated on the bank of Indus river as his permanent abode. The lawyer had to pull his 16-year-old son back from a training camp in Wana run by militant groups on the pretext that his college has reopened after the two and a half months summer vacation.
"I did not know that my son will land in a training camp while visiting his village in summer," the lawyer said, whose name is not being disclosed for security reason. It is a fact that every family from the Mehsud tribe has volunteered to send one person to the armed force operating under Amir of the Mujahideen, Commander Baitullah Mehsud. However, locals said the Afghan Mujahideen leader, Commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, who is the Amir of all the Afghan and Pakistani fighters, has appointed Haji Muhammad Omar as the overall in charge of the Mujahideen in South Waziristan agency. But the role and respect of Baitullah Mehsud has not been eclipsed by the appointment of Haji Omar and the fighters, mainly active on the Afghan side of the border at the moment, affiliate themselves with Mehsud.
The administration of South Waziristan is run through a Shoora of elders, which is responsible for peace and security and awarding punishment to sinners under the Shariah laws. "Apart from seizing civil liberties and encouraging the youth for "Jihad", the Taliban rule in South Waziristan has provided a sense of security to the people," said another lawyer at the DI Khan district courts.
Muhammad Hashim, who is also from South Waziristan said the people in DI Khan, Tank and Bannu have mentally accepted the fact that the Taliban-style of governance was their fate. About 98 per cent of the people in South Waziristan have grown beards, the youth dress like the Taliban of Afghanistan and the trend is now taking its roots in the settled districts.
Only Taliban CDs and cassettes are allowed to play in the tribal region and shopkeepers doing business in CDs and other electronics in Tank and DI Khan have either closed down businesses or switching to something else due to warnings issued by local Taliban to them.
Meanwhile, the arguments of President Gen Pervez Musharraf during his trip to the United States regarding the peace agreement have not been received positively by religious and militant groups, party to the deal.
Interaction with tribesmen from North Waziristan in DI Khan and telephonic contacts with representatives of the religious groups in Miranshah, headquarters of North Waziristan agency, suggest that the clerics, militants known as 'Mujahideen' and the students of religious seminaries, identifying themselves as the Taliban, have expressed reservations over the arguments of President Musharraf that the agreement reached with them on September 5 was not with militants but the Utmanzai tribe.
Government representatives, Taliban, Mujahideen, clerics and the tribal elders on behalf of the Utmanzai tribe, including Wazir and Dawar tribes, have singed the peace agreement. The impression among the militants and clerics is that as if the government has backed out of the pact by dissociating itself from the real party to the conflict, those who fought the security forces and are now in control of the affairs of the agency.
The Taliban armed force has started patrolling the roads and streets in Miranshah and Mirali areas wherein they stop and search vehicles and people during night to ensure foolproof security in the agency, a source from Mirali told The News.
Locals in Miranshah said that no peace deal would bring results minus Taliban and the impression at the moment among them is that they (militants) have been de-recognised by the government.
Contacts with the representatives of the militants bore no fruit, as they are reluctant to speak about the validity or otherwise of the agreement, but one of their spokesman asking anonymity said that such statements at the highest level were indicative of the fact that Mujahideen and the Taliban are no longer under obligation to honour the peace deal because the government only own the Utmanzai tribe while it has signed the agreement with the Taliban, Ulema and Mujahideen.
[Description of Source: Islamabad The News (Internet Version-WWW) in English -- Internet version of the widely read, influential English daily, member of the Jang publishing group. Neutral editorial policy, good coverage of domestic and international issues. Hardcopy circulation estimated at 55,000; root URL as of filing date: http://www.thenews.com.pk]
Asia Times: 'Taliban Lay Plans for Islamic Intifada '
CPP20061006720004 Hong Kong Asia Times Online WWW-Text in English 1044 GMT 05 Oct 06
[Report by Syed Saleem Shahzad : "Taliban Lay Plans For Islamic Intifada "; headline as provided by source]
THE PASHTUN HEARTLAND, Pakistan and Afghanistan - With the snows approaching, the Taliban's spring offensive has fallen short of its primary objective of reviving the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, as the country was known under Taliban rule from 1996-2001.
BOTh foreign forces and the Taliban will bunker down until next spring, although the Taliban are expected to continue with suicide missions and some hit-and-run guerrilla activities. The Taliban will take refuge in the mountains that cross the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where they will have plenty of time to plan the next stage of their struggle: a countrywide "Islamic Intifada of Afghanistan" calling on all former mujahideen to join the movement to boot out foreign forces from Afghanistan.
The intifada will be both national and international. On the one hand it aims to organize a national uprising, and on the other it will attempt to make Afghanistan the hub of the worldwide Islamic resistance movement, as it was previously under the Taliban when Osama bin Laden and his training camps were guests of the country.
The ideologue of the intifada is bin Laden's deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has assembled a special team to implement the idea. Key to this mission is Mullah Mehmood Allah Haq Yar. Asia Times Online was early to pinpoint Haq Yar as an important player (see Osama adds weight to Afghan resistance , September 11, 2004).
Oriented primarily towards Arabs, especially Zawahiri, Haq Yar speaks English, Arabic, Urdu and Pashtu with great fluency. He was sent by Taliban leader Mullah Omar to northern Iraq to train with Ansarul Islam fighters before the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. He returned to Afghanistan in 2004 and was inducted into a special council of commanders formed by Mullah Omar and assigned the task of shepherding all foreign fighters and high-value targets from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan.
He is an expert in urban guerrilla warfare, a skill he has shared with the Taliban in Afghanistan. His new task might be more challenging: to gather local warlords from north to south under one umbrella and secure international support from regional players.
A major first step toward creating an intifada in Afghanistan was the establishment of the Islamic State of North Waziristan in the Pakistani tribal area this year. This brought all fragmented sections of the Taliban under one command, and was the launching pad for the Taliban's spring offensive.
Subsequently, there has been agreement between a number of top warlords in northern Afghanistan and the Taliban to make the intifada a success next year. Credit for this development goes mainly to Haq Yar.
Haq Yar was recently almost cornered in Helmand province in Afghanistan by British forces. Before that, he spoke to Asia Times Online at an undisclosed location in the Pashtun heartland straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan.