Taleban Government Appoints Two New Ministers



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Pakistan's priorities were crystal-clear: it did not want anti-establishment elements thriving under the garb of takfiri ideology, although it had no problem with the Taliban regrouping and carrying out actions in Afghanistan.
Leaders such as Haji Omar, Baitullah Mehsud, Sadiq Noor - all close to al-Qaeda - and other prominent commanders were put in the background and Haji Nazir became the most powerful Taliban commander in South Waziristan. Nazir, who was little known only a year ago, was the one who ordered the recent massacre of takfiri and anti-Pakistani establishment Uzbeks in South Waziristan.
These developments, including the infiltration by the Pakistani establishment of the rank and file of the Taliban, rattled al-Qaeda, which realized that its ideology was no longer acceptable in Waziristan and Afghanistan, and that the only way it could stay in Afghanistan was if it agreed to fight under Taliban commanders.
This was intolerable for operators such as Hadi, and dozens of them began the move to Iraq from Waziristan and Afghanistan. And Islamabad swooped on the chance when its intelligence learned of Hadi's movements and passed on the information to the US, thereby closing a powerful chapter of al-Qaeda's operations.
Note
1. Takfiris hold that Muslims who hold anything less than an extreme view of Islam that is intolerant of non-Muslims are themselves no better than kafirs - infidels.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.

[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]


Asia Times: 'Pakistan Gains from Taliban Split'
CPP20070509715038 Hong Kong Asia Times Online WWW-Text in English 1107 GMT 08 May 07
[Report by Syed Saleem Shahzad: "Pakistan Gains from Taliban Split"; headline as provided by source]
KARACHI - The Taliban are poised to launch Ghazwatul Badr to seize control of Kabul. The name of the offensive is a reference to the Battle of Badr commanded by the Prophet Mohammed in the Arabian Peninsula some 1,400 years ago.
The Battle of Badr was the key battle in the early days of Islam and a turning point in Mohammed's struggle with his opponents among the Quraish tribe in Mecca. The battle has been passed down in Islamic history as a decisive victory attributable to divine intervention and the genius of Mohammed.
In this century's version of the battle, more than 30,000 youths have been trained in the Pakistani tribal areas of North and South Waziristan as cannon fodder in a struggle that the Taliban believe will be the key turning point against foreign occupation forces and the Taliban's opponents in Kabul.
On the eve of the offensive, however, machinations within the ranks of the resistance have opened divisions among the field commanders. Plans to foment a mass uprising across Afghanistan will go ahead, but it could be that the offensive will have more than one leader and several movements, under the brand name of the Taliban.
Preparing for Ghazwatul Badr
Last year's spring offensive in Afghanistan saw a strengthening and regrouping of Taliban commanders, so much so that the resistance was the most successful since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.
As the Taliban see it, they are fighting against the subjugation of the Afghan people by the infidel armies of the West. As such, any Afghan who supports the Western armies is considered an infidel. This notion was promoted across the country, and found considerable resonance in a society with strong memories of the 10-year jihad against the godless Soviets in the 1980s.
People have been urged to leave areas controlled by North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led (NATO) forces and resettle in isolated communities. From here they are encouraged to wage war against the infidels, which includes Muslims sympathetic to foreigners.
After 2001, many small groups of Taliban militants gathered in the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and last year the tribespeople of southwestern Afghanistan welcomed them back into the heartlands. This saw the emergence of strong local warlords. With the onset of Ghazwatul Badr, the same phenomenon is likely to happen in western Afghanistan, in the east and in parts of the north.
Last year's offensive honed the command skills of Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani and his sons Sirajuddin and Nasiruddin, as well as Mullah Dadullah and the leader of the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and his commanders.
These would be the men, the Taliban believed, to expand the gains made in southwestern Afghanistan last year to other parts of the country, and ultimately to Kabul. But it will not be as clear-cut as that.
A mass uprising
With the spring offensive of 2006, the Taliban gained rapid support in southeastern and western Afghanistan with various warlords and tribal elders. The Taliban were no longer defined by their tunnel vision - they took on a messianic role against the destructive US war machine, notorious over the years for its indiscriminate aerial bombings and failure to deliver on promises for the reconstruction and well-being of the country.
The fierce NATO response to the resurgent Taliban led to the killing of hundreds of non-combatant tribespeople, including women and children. Tribal leaders had little or no moral ground to restrain the mounting anger among people to join in the retaliation against NATO.
This phenomenon helped the Taliban to expand their operations from the southwestern provinces of Zabul, Orzgan, Helmand and parts of Kandahar to the western provinces of Herat, Farah, Ghor and Baghdais, with the assistance of non-Taliban warlords. Similarly, they gained a foothold in the southeastern provinces of Kunar, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Gardez and Nangarhar.
It is from this platform that this year' s mass offensive will be launched.
Haqqani, the legendary mujahideen commander against the Soviets, was appointed by Taliban leader Mullah Omar as the deputy chief of the Taliban movement and the all-powerful commander of last year's offensive.
The forces of resistance took some time to make an impression against the war machine of the US and its allies, especially in the western provinces and parts of the southeast, as these areas were practically beyond the orbit of the Taliban's influence.
So in the initial phase, Haqqani concentrated on realigning diverse tribes, fragmented religious groups and former mujahideen into well-trained combat units.
In the meantime, militants who had streamed into the Taliban's heartland of southwestern Afghanistan from all corners of the jihadi crescent gathered under the command of Dadullah to form a very strong base.
This unexpectedly big success gave Dadullah a lot of extra room in which to operate, and he spread his wings. He enhanced his influenced in North and South Waziristan and even established contacts with the Pakistani establishment.
Top commanders such as Haqqani and Hekmatyar viewed these events with some concern, although, because of Dadullah's success, they could say little.
These commanders felt that Dadullah was going beyond fighting a war of resistance against foreign forces to initiating moves that would ultimately serve Pakistan's political and strategic designs in the region. Under a deal between Dadullah and Islamabad, the Taliban, using Pakistani territory and with Islamabad's support, will be able safely to move men, weapons and supplies into southwestern Afghanistan (see Pakistan makes a deal with the Taliban, Asia Times Online, March 1).
Haqqani and Hekmatyar feared that the one-legged Dadullah would eventually leave behind charismatic figures such as themselves in all political and strategic matters.
Internal wrangling
A feature of Ghazwatul Badr was to have been a simultaneous wave of thousands of suicide bombers. The idea came from Haqqani, and he set up facilities for the orientation of new squads.
Dadullah, meanwhile, has over the past months stepped up his activities in North and South Waziristan to gather funds and human resources to fuel his struggle to hold on to southwestern Afghanistan. And as a result of Dadullah's efforts, Haqqani's suicide bombers were co-opted as ordinary fighters for the southwest, centered in Helmand province.
Baitullah Mehsood, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Moulvi Sadiq Noor are the leading Pakistani Taliban commanders in North and South Waziristan, and as they are all close to Dadullah, they gave him their full support.
This cooperation between Dadullah and the Pakistani Taliban in the two Waziristans was unacceptable to Haqqani and his sons Sirajuddin and Nasiruddin, who are also commanders. They had been settled in North Waziristan for decades and had dreamed of the emergence of an elaborate conflict waged under their command from their bases in North and South Waziristan through tens of thousands of suicide bombers.
Haqqani, whose son Nasiruddin is from one of his Arab wives, is the only Taliban commander very close to al-Qaeda fighters. Most Arabs and other foreign militants, especially after the recent internecine strife in the Waziristans between al-Qaeda-linked militants and local Taliban commanders, now live under his protection.
Haqqani eventually raised his concerns at the Taliban's top shura (council). He pointed out that he had been installed as the main commander of the Taliban's offensives, yet Dadullah was meddling in the epicenter of Haqqani's command. The shura did not properly address Haqqani's objections.
Haqqani was not part of the original Taliban movement: he surrendered to them without firing a bullet once they emerged as a powerful force in the mid-1990s. And despite his stature as a top commander of the national resistance against the Soviets, he joined the Taliban as a second-level leader without complaint. It was only last year that he was appointed the main commander and a deputy chief of the Taliban movement.
Mullah Omar's and the shura's behavior disheartened Haqqani, and opened a rift with Dadullah as the latter diverted a flow of trained fighters to Helmand instead of their going to Paktia, Paktika and Khost, where Sirajuddin is the commander.
As a result, the intensity of attacks on NATO and Afghan troops has dropped considerably compared with last year, when Maulvi Kalam was the commander of the Taliban in these three southeastern provinces. Kalam was killed last September in a NATO air raid.

Haqqani, meanwhile, was appointed commander of the eastern province of Nangarhar, where the Taliban have marginal influence. His assignment is to sow the seeds of rebellion in the comparatively peaceful province.
During the resistance against the Soviets, Haqqani was close to Hekmatyar. Now that these legends are being sidelined by the Taliban leadership, they are finding common ground in eastern Afghanistan, where they have joined forces. In Haqqani's most recent mission, warlords loyal to Hekmatyar supported him in a successful operation.
So from their eastern war theater, Gulbuddin and Haqqani are watching the Taliban's new strongman, Dadullah, gain victories in the southwest. He is doing this with the powerful backing of the Pakistani establishment, which will allow Pakistan to open a channel of dialogue between Helmand and Washington, paving the way for a power-sharing formula between Kabul and the "moderate" Taliban.
These developments have in effect separated the eastern and southwestern areas of Afghanistan, and with it the Taliban's long Ghazwatul Badr march to Kabul as a single entity. This might not derail initial plans for an uprising, but if such an uprising is successful, it does not bode well for Afghanistan's longer-term stability.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.

[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]


Asia Times: Dadullah's Death Hits Taliban Hard
CPP20070515715027 Hong Kong Asia Times Online WWW-Text in English 1054 GMT 14 May 07
[Report by Syed Saleem Shahzad: "Dadullah's Death Hits Taliban Hard"; headline as provided by source]
KARACHI - Now that Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah is dead, everybody, including Pakistani militants, al-Qaeda, Washington, Kabul and Islamabad, is weighing how this will affect the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
The one-legged Dadullah, 41, was killed on Saturday in the southern province of Helmand, US and Afghan officials said on Sunday. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's International Security Assistance Force confirmed the death, saying that after Dadullah had left his "sanctuary" in the south, he was killed in a US-led coalition operation supported by NATO and Afghan troops.
One thing is clear. Dadullah's death will have no impact on the Taliban's formal political command structure. Mullah Omar remains firmly as head of the Taliban, with Jalaluddin Haqqani as his deputy chief.
However, Dadullah's death is certainly a serious blow to the Taliban's "soul" and their field strategy, as Dadullah had emerged as a ruthlessly efficient leader in the battlefield.
He was to be the driving force behind this year's spring offensive - Ghazwatul Badr - and he had enhanced his influence in the North and South Waziristan Pakistani tribal areas, and even made contact with the Pakistani establishment.
While Dadullah lacked much formal education, his unschooled intelligence gave him an astute understanding of the human mind. In 2005-06 he brokered a peace deal between the Pakistani armed forces and the Pakistani Taliban in North and South Waziristan and then worked to recruit Pakistani nationals into the Taliban. He advised Pakistani militants to be focused against NATO troops in Afghanistan rather than taking the war to Islamabad against President General Pervez Musharraf.
Dadullah was a natural leader in the battlefield as well as in strategic back yards. He rose to prominence in the Taliban movement in the mid-1990s, but did not have the wealth of war veterans of the Afghan resistance against the Soviets in the 1980s, like Ahmad Shah Massoud, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Jalaluddin Haqqani and Ismail Khan, who received millions of dollars in international aid to fight the Soviets.
Dadullah's popularity was not because he distributed cash and goods among the mujahideen and then enjoyed his tea on a ridge while his men fought. He derived loyalty because he fought alongside his men and suffered the same harsh conditions as them. This is how he died, in a fight with his men at his side.
Under Dadullah's command, the Taliban had taken over almost 80% of southwestern Afghanistan, and both Kabul and NATO-led forces have trumpeted his death as a major breakthrough.
And beyond the propaganda boost, they are correct, as the impetus of the insurgency will suffer, at least in the short term. And significantly, Dadullah's demise marks a shift of the Taliban's military command into the hands of "non-Taliban" and non-Kandahari commanders of southeastern Afghanistan, such as Haqqani.
The Taliban's spiritual home is Kandahar in the province of the same name, from where most of the Taliban leaders come, including Mullah Omar. With Dadullah gone, and before him leading commander Mullah Akhtar Osmani (killed in December), there could be a weakening of Mullah Omar's iron grip on Taliban military affairs.
The movement could become more reliant on southeastern Afghanistan, away from the Kandahar heartland, where Haqqani and Saifullah Mansoor hold sway, as well as Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan's commanders under Hekmatyar.
Haqqani had recently been sidelined by Dadullah (see Pakistan gains from Taliban split , Asia Times Online, May 9), and now he could reassert himself.
Dadullah's cooperation with the Pakistani Taliban in the two Waziristans was unacceptable to Haqqani, who had been settled in North Waziristan for decades and had dreamed of the emergence of a conflict waged under his command from his bases in North and South Waziristan through 30,000 suicide bombers.
Instead, many of these recruits were diverted to fight with Dadullah. The face of the battlefield in Afghanistan could change yet again if Haqqani gets his way.
And Pakistan will be looking on with concern: its recently struck cooperation deal with Dadullah could be in jeopardy, as people like Haqqani were against it.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.

[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: Report Details Career of Killed Taliban Leader Mullah Dadullah


SAP20070517005027 Karachi Islam in Urdu 15 May 07 pp 8, 6
[NNI report: "Mullah Dadullah Born in Uruzgan in 1969; Joined Taliban Movement in 1994"]
Quetta: Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah was born in an area of Afghanistan called Uruzgan Kalli Kakran. He was from the Kakar tribe of Pathans [Pashto speaking people ]. He received early religious education in a village mosque and later got admission in a seminary run by the Hizbe Islami at Kandahar for learning other sciences. However, he could not continue his studies due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and joined jihid. While waging jihad against the Soviet Union, he met the former Afghan commander, Ahmed Shah Masud, several times and participated in jihad against the Soviet Union along with him.
When the Taliban movement was launched under the leadership of Mullah Omar in 1994, Mullah Dadullah also joined it. He was considered among the important commanders of the Taliban movement. The Taliban captured Mazar-e Sharif and several other areas in northern Afghanistan under his command. He lost one leg in a landmine explosion while fighting against an important compatriot commander and former Herat Governor Ismail Khan for capturing his area. He was one of the 10 members of the Consultative Committee of the Taliban, of which Mullah Mohammad Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani were also members.
The Taliban's Consultative Committee was reduced to nine members after the martyrdom of Maulana Akhtar Usmani some time ago. Now, this number has further reduced to eight in the wake of the martyrdom of Mullah Dadullah. There are conflicting reports about another Taliban commander, Maulvi Mahmudallah Haq Yar, who sustained injuries while fighting the British troops in Helmand some time ago. It is reported that the Afghan journalist, Ajmal Naqshbandi, who was kidnapped along with an Italian journalist a month earlier, was killed by the supporters of Mullah Dadullah. Several leaders of the Taliban movement had differences with this policy of Mullah Dadullah. Mullah Dadullah visited Quetta several times.

[Description of Source: Karachi Islam in Urdu -- Jihadi daily associated with the Al-Rasheed Trust, estimated circulation around 20,000. A pro-Taliban paper which claims to have introduced a new trend in journalism based on Islamic values. Following orthodox Islamic principles, the paper never publishes pictures of living beings.]



Pakistan: Differences Reported Between Tribes Over Eviction of Uzbeks
SAP20070521005021 Islamabad The News (Internet Version-WWW) in English 21 May 07
[Report by Behroz Khan: "Tension grips Waziristan as Uzbeks find new sanctuary"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
PESHAWAR: Tension is mounting again in South Waziristan because the Ahmadzai Wazirs are annoyed with the Mehsuds for sheltering the Uzbeks evicted from Wana last month.
Once brothers-in-arms and veterans of the Afghan war, commander of the Wazir militants, Mulla Nazeer, and Amir of the Mehsud fighters, Commander Baitullah Mehsud, are not in good terms with each other these days over the issue, sources from both sides told The News.
A meeting between the two at an undisclosed location about two weeks ago ended without resolving the problem, as Mehsud refused to evict the Uzbeks from the Mehsud territory after offering them refuge at the request of Commander Sirajuddin, the son of Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani. "Khalifa has asked me to give the Uzbeks temporary refuge," Mehsud reportedly told Mulla Nazeer, when he demanded expulsion of the foreigners.
Mulla Nazeer formed a force of the Wazir tribesmen to take on the Uzbeks in Wana and its surrounding areas, after the locals fled private jails of the foreigners, mainly members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan now headed by Tahir Yaldash, also locally known as Tahir Jan.
Late Taliban commander Mulla Dadullah was also involved in a patch-up between the Wazirs and their erstwhile guests from Uzbekistan, but Mulla Nazeer and his supporters showed reluctance to allow the foreigners stay further in the Wazir heartland.
Reports say the Uzbeks have settled at different places in the Mehsud area, including Kanigoram, Ladah, Shinkay, Dela Khunkhela, Nano and Srarogha. Officials from the political administration also concede that the Uzbeks leaving their previous abode in Wana have now been spotted in the Mehsud area.
According to some sources, as many as 160 families in addition to dozens of individuals have been offered sanctuary in the Mehsud region, which is away from the Pak-Afghan border. More than 60 Uzbek families, these sources said, have shifted to Mirali subdivision of North Waziristan agency to join their fellow countrymen and some Arabs living with the Dawar tribe since long. Signs of tension appeared when some of the Wazir tribesmen, together with the foreigners, stopped a couple of passenger vehicles near Jandola in the Mehsud area and searched for the Wazir tribesmen. "Now we have reports that Baitullah Mehsud has taken notice of the incident and asked his men not to resort to such activities," remarked a government official from the area.
More than 60 kilometres road between Wana and Tank passes through the Mehsud territory, while Baitullah Mehsud, the sources said, would depend on the cooperation of the Wazirs to have access to the Pak-Afghan border to send fighters against the anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan. The Wazir territory in North Waziristan agency is also purged of the foreigners, following the drive initiated against them in Wana, as the Utmanzai Wazirs in North Waziristan have pledged to show unity with the Wazirs dominating both the agencies.
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