Taleban Government Appoints Two New Ministers

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Shaheen then excused himself and joined his subordinates Zahid, Mohsin and Muslim Yar, all in their early 20s. "Please don't mind them, they are discussing their previous operations and planning fresh ones," Jarrah told me.
"We carried out attacks on a daily basis until last Thursday (November 8). We assign a particular group for a particular assignment. There are different sorts of attacks. We do send attackers called fedayeen in which fighters loaded with rockets and hand grenades and AK-47 guns attack an American base or the Afghan National Army or the intelligence headquarters in Sarkano.
"In such fedayeen attacks, there is zero chance of survival (for the attackers).
"Then we carry out specific attacks based on precise information provided by pro-Taliban elements within the Afghan establishment or by local people. And then the third and the most expensive attacks are those in which we fire missiles on an enemy position from a distance. It costs us 250,000 Pakistani rupees (about US$4,000) per operation.
"We launch all three kinds of operations many times a month. At present, due to the dim moonlight, operations have stopped for few days. We only launch operations during moonlight because Kunar is all jungle and mountains and without such light there is a strong chance of falling into the crevasses," Jarrah explained.
Jarrah said that the Taliban's operations are based on various tactics and are not only asymmetric attacks. "We have tribes and people who live in particular places. They openly resist foreign troops in the Kunar Valley. Then we have organized guerrilla groups - we use them as our special forces - and finally we have a missile battery. Not a single day passes without the enemy facing several of our attacks in various parts of Nooristan and Kunar provinces.
"The fighters have acquired a lot of confidence due to their successes and now they confidently play tricks. Recently, we used Afghan National Army uniforms and laid siege to American troops in Nooristan and killed and wounded many of them. In return, the Americans threatened to bomb a whole village. That's why the local people didn't spy on the Taliban's positions," Jarrah said.
Suddenly, in the far distance, we saw the dark skies of Kunar light up.
"That is a light bomb used by the enemy to trace the Taliban's positions. That is approximately 10 kilometers from here, and obviously a battle is going on between the enemies and the Taliban. We are not necessarily aware of such battles every time," Jarrah said.
After a dinner of rice and chicken curry and saying the final prayers of the day, we all slept in an isolated mud house of the village. The call to morning prayers marked the start of a new day and a new struggle. After saying prayers and eating breakfast, the men who had accompanied us the previous evening left, but within two hours a new group joined us.
"They rotate throughout the day and night. Some of the people will go back to Pakistan to stay with their families and new ones will join us. Some will finish their guerrilla operations in the Kunar Valley and join us here to rest, and then a new guerrilla group will be launched," Jarrah said.
"But do you sometimes have a serious dearth of fighters?" I asked.
"Not at all," said Jarrah, laughing. "Instead, the real issue remains how to accommodate all the guerrilla groups because people are flooding to us to join the jihad and we don't always have enough resources to provide for them all at the same time. But I think we will increase our resources soon, and then you will see a flood of fighters finding its way against the foreign occupying forces."
Before I could ask any further questions, a tall man who introduced himself as Maroof asked me, "What is your name, Mr Journalist?" "Saleem Shahzad," I answered. "What?" I repeated my name. "Aren't you the one who was detained by the Taliban last year in Helmand? I listened to your interview on radio after your release," Maroof said with excitement.
"He is with us now, what happens if he is killed?" I heard Maroof inquiring of Jarrah in a loud whisper. Jarrah chuckled, "If he is killed, it would be the will of God."
Maroof was in the Afghan National Army and was once detained by the Americans for being in the army but "facilitating" the Taliban. He says he did not cough up anything during interrogation, but when he was released he promptly joined the ranks of the Taliban.
"The mujahideen have now acquired such strength that neither Pakistan nor NATO can fight against us. The Taliban are standing on both sides of the border. More oper ations breed more Taliban, and this time the Taliban will rule the whole region," Maroof said confidently.
Jarrah summoned a few armed men and we took a long walk on a mountain trail, ending up at a goat farm.
This was the Taliban's missile battery, comprising about 200 Russian-made rockets, which the Taliban call Sakar 20. They are 2.5 meters long with a range of about 30 kilometers and the capacity to devastate an area of about 100 square meters. The Taliban's Sarkano district battery has six donkeys to carry the weapons.
"We use these donkeys to carry the missiles and other equipment when we attack an enemy installation. In this terrain, donkeys are the only 'vehicles' that can be used as transport," Jarrah said.
"These missiles come from old dumps of weapons the Taliban recovered after the fall of the communist government in Afghanistan (in the early 1990s). Russian technology is far superior to American," Jarrah said, and illustrated his point by taking out his Russian-made pistol.
"This pistol works like a revolver and you don't need to cock it like American pistols. It belonged to the Russian special forces. We have mostly Russian weapons stocks, but we have recently started using American weapons recovered from American troops or the Afghan National Army," Jarrah explained.
Behind the simple structures, I see the formation of a very well-trained army which was non-existent even a year ago. Only three years ago, the Taliban did not have a central command, secure bases, and the motivation they now obviously possess.
The ideologues of the neo-Taliban were raised and trained by the Pakistani military to bleed India, and now, using the same techniques, they aim to bleed NATO and the Pakistani Army.
But it was time to run - I had an appointment that evening with these Punjabi ideologues.
Next: The Punjabis: From proxies to diehards
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]

Tokyo Monthly: Hardline Commander Haqqani Said Gaining Power in Taliban
JPP20071112023001 Tokyo Sentaku in Japanese 01 Nov 07 - 30 Nov 07 p 18
[Unattributed article: "The Hard-Line 'Haqqani Faction' Is Gaining Power Within the Taliban"]
Commander Sirajuddin (Siraji) Haqqani, 37, a young leader, is now gaining power in the Taliban, the former governing body in Afghanistan. He has now become so powerful that he does not follow Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar's instructions. It looks as if he is going to take over the group. [boldface in original]
The Haqqani faction led by Siraji has formed units comprised of aggressive and ferocious young members. The faction looks down on elders and is notorious for cruelty, since it does not hesitate to behead women. The faction has played a leading role in the recent resurgence of the Taliban. Siraji was originally based in eastern Afghanistan and Waziristan in Pakistan. He is now expanding his influence to the southern and central parts of Afghanistan.
Siraji is the son of commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, who led Mujahedeen (Islamic warriors) in fighting against former Soviet Union forces in Afghanistan. Jalaluddin Haqqani is a powerful figure. He served as justice minister under the Mujahedeen administration following the collapse of Najibullah administration and then served as minister for border affairs under the Taliban administration. Lastly, he is said to be the one who helped Usama Bin Ladin escape to Pakistan. By using the personal connections he has taken over from his father, Siraji can collect funds and soldiers from supporters in the Middle East and Pakistan, and this is the source of his strength. The US military has put up a $200,000 (approximately 23 million yen) reward for Siraji and has been looking for him frantically.

[Description of Source: Tokyo Sentaku in Japanese -- monthly journal covering political, economic, and foreign affairs]

Commander Haqqani Gets His Son Freed in Exchange for 213 Pakistani Security men
SAP20071114099022 Peshawar The Frontier Post (Internet Version-WWW) in English 14 Nov 07
[Pakistan Releases 3 Relatives of Fugitive Taliban Commander Under Swap Deal]
PESHAWAR: A son and a brother of Taliban commander Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani were also among 43 local Taliban the Pakistan government freed last week. Their release came as a result of a swap deal involving 213 security personnel, who had been kidnapped in the restive North Waziristan region some two months back, a friend of the dreaded commander confirmed Tuesday. The Pakistani security men had been abducted by supporters of pro-Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud. Some of them were freed later in line with a jirga decision.
According to the source, the remaining 213 were released when the government agreed to exchange 43 local Taliban, some of them convicted on terror charges, from the Peshawar prison. Maulvi Sangin, a close friend of Jalaluddin Haqqani, told Pajhwok Afghan News three family members of the fugitive commander - his brother Khalil Ahmad, son Dr. Fazl-i-Haqqani and brother-in-law Ghazi Khan - were among beneficiaries of the prisoner exchange. He said the three family members of Haqqani had reached their home in Miranshah, North Waziristan.
As Peshawar Central Jail official Zaheen Sathi expressed ignorance about their release, one intelligence operative confirmed the agreement between the government and Baitullah Mehsud. He admitted Haqqani's relatives were freed under the deal. Haqqani, a noted jihadi commander, was minister for border affairs during the Taliban rule. He and his son are on a US list of most wanted men.
[Passage omitted on Baghlan blast investigation]

[Description of Source: Peshawar The Frontier Post in English -- Daily providing good coverage of the Northwest Frontier Province, Afghanistan, and narcotics issues]

AFP: Further on Afghanistan Says More Than 50 Taliban Killed
JPP20071212969087 Hong Kong AFP in English 1341 GMT 12 Dec 07
[By Nasrat Shoaib]
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Dec 12, 2007 (AFP) - More than 50 Taliban were killed in two days of intense clashes in southern Afghanistan after the rebels were pushed out of a nearby stronghold, the defence ministry said Wednesday.
The fighting took place in a district of Helmand province neighbouring Musa Qala, where the Afghan army mounted a campaign that on Monday drove out Taliban rebels who had been entrenched there for 10 months.
"The terrorists, after being defeated in Musa Qala, attempted to put pressure on Sangin district. During 48 hours of intense clashes around Sangin, over 50 terrorists have been killed," the ministry said in a statement.
It said three of the dead were foreign nationals, a reference to Al-Qaeda-linked foreign fighters who are said to be helping the Taliban in their insurgency against the government and its mainly Western allies.
Soldiers were now moving through the small southern town in Afghanistan's opium-growing core.
"We are using loudspeakers on top of our vehicles, in mosques and other places, and are calling on those who somehow have picked a gun to lay down their arms and live peacefully," said the top Afghan commander in the south.
Those who do so would be "forgiven and not pursued", General Gul Agha Ayoubi told AFP.
The militants stormed Musa Qala in early February, breaking a controversial deal in which British forces pulled out at the request of local elders who said they would handle security after months of intense fighting.
President Hamid Karzai has said he was asked by locals, including "Afghan Taliban", to retake the town and rid it of "Al-Qaeda terrorists" based there.
The 1996-2001 Taliban government sheltered Al-Qaeda, and they are said to be influencing some of the groups involved in an intensifying insurgency that has this year claimed around 6,000 lives. Rebels account for most of the dead.
Officials say other rebel groups not aligned with the network may be persuaded to stop fighting and side with the new administration.
The general said a "big number of people" had returned to Musa Qala after the fighting and that his soldiers were working to normalise the troubled town.
"As we entered the district, we erected the national flag of Afghanistan.It's flying over Musa Qala now," Ayoubi said.
His units would stay in Musa Qala for a while before handing over to law enforcement authorities, he said.
The Taliban also suffered "big casualties" in Musa Qala, the defence ministry said, without giving figures.
Militants meanwhile targeted an Afghan army commander in the main city in the south, Kandahar, with a suicide car bomb that killed a passer-by and wounded two Afghan soldiers, authorities said.
Suicide bombings are a favourite Taliban tactic. The Islamic rebels have carried out about 140 such attacks this year alone, mostly targeted at soldiers but killing many more civilians.
Authorities announced they had killed a senior rebel who was second to militant commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, the head of a faction operating mainly in the east and reportedly close to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.
The rebel, identified as Mullah Sangin, was killed with three other Taliban in a firefight with Afghan and NATO-led troops in the eastern province of Paktika on Tuesday, said Ahmad Gul, an Afghan army spokesman.

[Description of Source: Hong Kong AFP in English -- Hong Kong service of the independent French press agency Agence France-Presse]

Bin Ladin Warns Iraqis Against Joining Anti-Al-Qa'ida Tribal Councils, Unity Govt
GMP20071230637002 Jihadist Websites -- OSC Summary in Arabic 29 Dec 07
[For a copy of this video, contact OSC at (800) 205-8615 or GSG_VSD@rccb.osis.gov. Selected video also available at OpenSource.gov.]
On 29 December, "Muhammad al-Ghazzawi" posted to the Al-Mujahidin Electronic Network website at majahden.com/vb/ several links to a 56-minute audio message by Al-Qa'ida Organization leader Usama Bin Ladin entitled "The Way to Foil Plots", produced by the Al-Sahab Media Production Organization, the media arm of Al-Qa'ida Organization.
The 56-minute audio recording plays against the background of a still image of Bin Ladin and a map of Iraq.
The following is a translation of Usama Bin Ladin's audio message:
"God be praised. We laud Him, we beseech help from Him and ask His forgiveness; we seek God's protection against the evils and mischief of our souls and from the bad results of our deeds. Whoever is guided by God cannot be misled by anybody, and whoever is denied guidance will find nobody to guide him. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except God, the One, without any partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is servant and His Messenger. Now then, to the dear Islamic nation in general, to our patient and steadfast brothers in Iraq's fronts and fortress towns in particular, to the people of knowledge and favor, to the leaders of the mujahidin groups and members of their shura councils, to the chieftains of the free and proud tribes, and to my brother mujahidin, may God's peace and blessing be upon you. My talk to you is about the plots that are being hatched by the Zionist-Crusader alliance, led by America, in cooperation with its agents in the region, to steal the fruit of blessed jihad in the land of the two rivers, and what we should do to foil these plots. It is no secret that America is using all military and political means to entrench its troops in Iraq. Having realized its military failure, it stepped up its political and media efforts to deceive Muslims. One of its wicked schemes was to tempt the tribes and buy their allegiance to form the councils of dissension, which they termed as awakening councils. Many free and proud tribes have refused to form such councils and to sell out their religion or defile their honor. I pray to God to entrench their feet firm on the path of right and make them a treasure in support of Islam. May God bless them, their families, and property, and may God reward them in the best way. At the same time, some weak-hearted people have accepted this. One of these was the misled and the misleading one, Abd-al-Sattar Abu-Rishah, and some of his family members. These have betrayed the religion and the nation. They have brought lowliness, scandal, and disgrace to themselves and to those who followed them. This disgrace will live with them forever unless they repent. The evilest of tradesmen are those who trade with their religion and that of their followers. They sell out their religion in return for a mortal world. Despite this, they have not enjoyed themselves in this world after the lions of Islam have immediately killed them as a punishment to them and deterrence to their likes. Bush and his soldiers were of no use to them. Thus, they have lost life in this world and in the hereafter. And this is the biggest loss. I advise those who proceeded on the path of temptation to wash out this infidelity and disgrace by a true repentance. Almighty God says: "Unless they repent thereafter and mend (their conduct); for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Koranic verse, Al-Nour (The Light), 24:5]
"Recruiting hypocrite chieftains of tribes is one axis. America, along with its agents in the region, is seeking through the other axis to form a new government that is loyal to it, like the Gulf countries' governments, instead of Al-Maliki government. This government will also be called a national unity government. This name appeals to many people, particularly those who have become tired of war. The Muslims should know the true nature of this government before welcoming it. The national unity government means that all groups of people agree to glorify the homeland more than glorifying anything holy to them. This means th at the homeland has the upper word and that it is above anything. Thus, all sides meet in the middle of the road and accept half solutions. This means that the Ba'thists and the other parties should relinquish some of their principles and the Muslims should relinquish some of their religion. This stipulates that the Muslim should accept the rule of the man-made laws and that these man-made laws should share the Islamic shari'ah in enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. This sharing is the capital polytheism that takes one out of his religion and puts the one who does so in hell forever. We seek God's protection from hell.
"In the name of the homeland and patriotism, the Gulf countries have supported America to allow it to invade Iraq so that its people will suffer from the woes they are suffering from now. All this was for the sake of not erasing the homeland of the map, as they claimed. The truth, however, was their fear of not erasing them, not the homeland. Their former ally, Saddam, was erased, but Iraq was not erased. In the name of the homeland and patriotism, the Crusaders are being strengthened in the land of two rivers too by installing a government that is agent to America, a government which agrees in advance to the existence of major US bases in the land of Iraq and gives the Americans whatever they want of Iraq's oil according to the oil law to continue to subjugate it and maintain absolute hegemony over the rest of the countries of the region. Regrettably, however, is that parties and groups that are affiliated with knowledge, [Islamic] call, and jihad participate in this high treason. This is a kind of confusing truth with falsehood. Some people saw some of these leaders cooperating directly with the Americans, as the leader of the so-called Islamic Party did. He openly called for signing long-term security agreements with America. The people have also seen other leaders cooperating indirectly through America's agents in the region, particularly the ruler of the land of the two holy mosques [Saudi Arabia]. Riyadh cannot receive and support these leaders unless they accept a national unity government. The sane people should learn a lesson from the fate of the HAMAS Movement's leadership. It [HAMAS leadership] relinquished its religion and did not achieve worldly gains when it obeyed the ruler of Riyadh and others by entering the national unity state and respecting the unjust international charters. Will the honest ones in HAMAS correct its course?
"Just as the rulers of Riyadh tempted the leaders of HAMAS, they are seeking to tempt the mujahidin groups in Iraq. They allow some groups to confidently move in the Gulf countries to receive support, but not official support, which these groups reject. The support is channeled under the banner of raising donations by some unofficial scholars and preachers. Many of them, however, are loyal to the state and seek to implement its policy in Iraq by pulling the rug from under honest mujahidin's feet. The mission of these scholars and preachers is to convince the leaders of these groups of the same previous condition; that is, accepting a national unity government, in addition to urging them to air tendentious propaganda against the Islamic State of Iraq and fight it if possible. This is one of the secrets of the fierce military and media campaign against the state. One sees it as very strange how these leaders lost the trust they held and went to put their hand in the hand of one of its most malignant foes, the ruler of Riyadh. His support for and collusion with America's invasion of Iraq have been confirmed. Is it a secret today to the Muslim youths, let alone their scholars, preachers, and the leaders of the mujahidin, that this ruler is the main US agent in the region? He took upon himself to tempt and tame every free, virtuous, and honest person with the aim of dragging him to the path of temptation and misguidance. He [the ruler of Riyadh] accepted this path to himself when he is in his nineties. It is the pat h of betraying the religion and the nation and submitting to the will of the Crusader-Zionist alliance. What a miserable path is their path. However, will the scholars and the honest ones come back to their senses? This is what we wish.
"The advocates of this approach justify their collaboration with the enemies of the nation, of the rulers of the region and their agents, by the fierce shocks the people of Islam have sustained at the hands of the Al-Sadr Army and the treacherous [Badr] brigades, led by Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim and members of the Al-Da'wah Party inside and outside Al-Maliki's government. I say that the crimes of these sides have exceeded all limits, and one cannot believe what they are doing against the people of Islam. But these are facts on the ground and they are being tasted by our brothers there in Iraq. These people have ambitions and goals to expand their crimes outside Iraq. Despite all this, it is possible to stop the crimes of these militias and their expansion, God willing, by relying on Almighty God and by unifying the mujahidin's efforts to fight the invaders and their henchmen. This can also be achieved by urging all Muslims to support the mujahidin with all that they need.
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