Taleban Government Appoints Two New Ministers



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Ciftci was already under suspicion due to his contacts to the Sauerland terror cell, whose three members were arrested in September 2007. He tried again and again to get German papers, something the police found suspicious. When the authorities asked him to come in for questioning in early April 2007, he feared he would be arrested and took off with his family. It was presumably Adem Y., also a member of the Sauerland cell, who told him at the time how to travel through Syria and Iran to Pakistan, where his destination was an Islamic Jihad Union terror camp.
From Pakistan, Ciftci must have at some point made it to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The propaganda DVD also features a recent speech by the Taliban legend Jalaluddin Haqqani. For years, it was unclear what had happened to Haqqani, a top Taliban commander.
The video marks something of a comeback for him. "With God's help, the United States will leave Afghanistan with their heads hung in shame," a confident Haqqani announces. He leaves no doubt as to the determination of jihadis like Ciftci. "One should not hurry in war," he says. "We have a lot of patience."
It appears that the Taliban deliberately hand-picked the Turkish youth from Germany to appear in a recruiting video. Terrorist investigators suspect that Ciftci was intended to be an example for a new generation of jihadis.
[Description of Source: Hamburg Spiegel Online in English -- news web site funded by the Spiegel group which funds Der Spiegel weekly and the Spiegel television magazine; URL: www.spiegel.de: ]
Investigators See 'German Jihadists' as Acting Under Direct Orders From Taliban
EUP20080406036001 Hamburg Der Spiegel (Internet Version-WWW) in German 07 Apr 08
[Unattributed report: "German Jihadists Under Taliban's Direction]
Security officials assume that German jihadists -- such as the 20-year-old Neunkirchen convert Eric B., who has appeared on wanted posters in Afghanistan since last week -- are operating under direct instructions from high-ranking Taliban and Al-Qa'ida figures. This is also evidenced by an analysis of the terrorist video showing 28-year-old Cuneyt Ciftci of Ansbach, Bavaria, as he apparently prepared for the suicide bomb attack carried out on 3 March in the Sabari district of Afghanistan's Khost province, in which two US soldiers and two Afghans were killed. Not only does Ciftci extol his plan ("Inshallah, may my creator elevate our religion through our hands and bring torment to the enemies") in the 45-minute propaganda video; for the first time in quite a while, high-ranking Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, who was believed dead, also makes an appearance, expressly praising the assassin and his attack. Haqqani was a minister under the Taliban before its chief Mullah Omar appointed him leading military commander in 2004. The video confirms close contacts between the Taliban and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), according to the Federal Criminal Police Office [BKU]. Like Ciftci, Eric B., alias "Abdul Rafar," and Houssain al-M., both of who are now on the wanted list in Afghanistan, had contacts with what is known as the Sauerland cell of the IJU.

[Description of Source: Hamburg Der Spiegel (Internet Version-WWW) in German -- major independent news weekly; leans left of center]



Asia Times: 'Taliban Welcome Back An Old Friend'
CPP20080406721001 Hong Kong Asia Times Online WWW-Text in English 0307 GMT 05 Apr 08
[Report by Syed Saleem Shahzad : "Taliban Welcome Back An Old Friend "; headline as provided by source]
KARACHI - Like a voice from the grave, legendary Afghan mujahideen leader Jalaluddin Haqqani has emerged from years of silence to boldly launch the Taliban-led spring offensive in Afghanistan, at the same time burying any doubts of a split between his coalition of resistance groups and Mullah Omar's Taliban.
In a video message released last week and which is only now coming into wider circulation, Haqqani, speaking in his trademark low-pitched voice and with his hair dyed red with henna, called on the people of Afghanistan "to stand up against the US-led forces in Afghanistan and drive them out".
The release of the message by Haqqani, who has a bounty on his head as one of the US's most-wanted men, coincides with an important North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meeting in Bucharest, Romania, this weekend at which the divided alliance will try to hammer out a more coherent strategy in the war in Afghanistan which many analysts believe it is losing.
As Haqqani speaks on the video, he is accompanied by a background song which pledges his allegiance to Mullah Omar, laying to rest any doubts that he has set himself up as a rival to the mainstream Taliban.
Along with his son Sirajuddin, Jalaluddin Haqqani has built up a well-organized group, known as the Haqqani Network, with roots in Pakistan's tribal areas, that, now firmly allied with Mullah Omar, will pose a dangerous challenge to the coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Haqqani soundly dismissed any notion - as touted by senior NATO officials - that the Taliban were weakened and might forego their spring offensive. "All 37 allies (in NATO) will be humiliated and driven out of Afghanistan - jihad is compulsory and will continue until the end of time; we are without resources, but we have the support of God."
Haqqani said the Taliban and their allies in Afghanistan had come up with new plans to fight against NATO, but these did not have any room for reconciliation. "We are geared for war," Haqqani stated.
"(President George W) Bush and his allies have decided to kill us or arrest us - they consider us as weak and think of themselves as all powerful. They think we have no place left in the world to survive - they think we are destined either to die or to be captured... they think they are wealthy nations, with their money and with half of the world behind them.
"They think they can enslave poor Afghans - bomb us with their planes and gunship helicopters - they think they have everything and we are voiceless - the media are with them and they belittle our resistance. We kill 80 and they report two or one. I promise the Afghan nation that soon we will be victorious," said Haqqani.
The long speech by the Pashtun leader, who made his name fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s and remains the most-respected tribal figure in southeastern Afghanistan, is the most sophisticated yet of the Taliban's presentations to Pashtun people.
Copies of Haqqani's speech have spread all over eastern Afghanistan and are available in various formats, including on cassette tape and through cell phone downloads. After being silent for so long, and having been reported dead on numerous occasions, the impact of people listening to Haqqani is immense and will undoubtedly work as a galvanizing force among Pashtuns.
This especially as NATO has in recent months worked hard to portray the Taliban as a spent force consisting of a bunch of naive young lads with no credible leader left.
"They projected the rumor that Jalaluddin Haqqani had died in Dubai (in the United Arab Emirates). I am neither a shopkeeper nor a trader that I would travel to Dubai. Neither am I a politician who roams all around the world... the Americans thought that with their developed technology they could plant the news of my death in the media. But now the media are realizing their lies to demoralize the mujahideen," Haqqani said.
A graphic part of Haqqani's video shows a suicide operation carried out by a Turk-German n amed Cuneyt Ciftci, also known as Saad Abu Furkan. He is seen in the video blowing himself up in a delivery truck near a US base in the Sabari district of Khost province in Afghanistan on March 3. According to Western press reports, two soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and two Afghan workers were killed and six others wounded. But the video claims the killing of 63 people.
The Taliban's new battle
The inclusion in the video of this suicide attack - one of dozens that has taken place in the country in recent years - is important as it shows an unprecedented level of planning and organization not normally associated with the Taliban.
Footage shows a professionally drawn map, like an architect's, of a compound of the Sabari district headquarters. There is detail of the boundary walls, the protective inner walls, entry points, rooms, backyard and front portions of the newly built structure. Clearly the Taliban had contacts among the laborers or contractors. There are pictures of Taliban guerrillas sitting around the map discussing their plan to launch the suicide bomber in an explosive-laden vehicle.
This is a far cry from usual grainy Afghan videos of ambushes on military convoys in the mountains. Haqqani's video is reminiscent of those made by the Iraqi resistance in 2004-05, when operations were meticulously planned by former officers of Saddam Hussein's army and executed with precision.
In the many years since being ousted in 2001, the Taliban have had numerous ups and downs, from the successful spring offensive of 2006 to the failed mass uprising of 2007. Now, the Taliban have adopted a policy of preserving their strength by only hitting specific targets, rather than waste their resources in multiple direct confrontations with NATO forces.
The Taliban have also opened up a new front based in Khyber Agency in Pakistan just across the border from Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, as NATO has beefed up its presence in the traditional Taliban strongholds of Paktia, Paktika, Khost and Kunar provinces.
Last week, NATO announced the opening of an intelligence center near the Torkham border post, at the crossroad of Khyber Agency and Nangarhar province. But it was not able to thwart the biggest-ever guerrilla operation against a US base in the province a few days later. More than 200 Taliban participated in an overnight hit-and-run operation. Taliban sources claimed the killing of 70 US soldiers, but there was no confirmation of that figure from NATO or any other independent source.
According to the video, the Taliban will use as much foreign expertise as possible, as well as tapping into tribal elders and their supporters. This means that mainstream Taliban commanders like Mullah Beradar from southwestern Afghanistan and commanders who are allied with the Taliban but who keep their own identities, like Anwarul Haq Mujahahid from Nangarhar and Uzbek and Arab commanders, will join hands for a coherent overall strategy. This of course includes Haqqani and his considerable following.
A relatively new string in the Taliban's bow is the reliance on thousands of Pakistani and other jihadis put out of "work" since the struggle in Kashmir de-escalated. They are well trained, and as they did in Indian-administered Kashmir and other parts of India, they can be expected to target key infrastructure and high-profile targets, such as government buildings.
This year's suicide attack by the Haqqani Network on the Serina Hotel in Kabul, in which several people, including foreigners, were killed, and the attack in Khost on March 3 shown in the video, indicate one key direction in which the Taliban-led insurgency is headed.
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]


German Islamists Suspected of Planning Attack in Afghanistan


FEA20080407616314 - OSC Feature - Spiegel Online 04 Apr 08
[Report by Matthias Gebauer: "German Islamists Suspected of Planning Attack in Afghanistan"]
Security officials assume that German jihadists -- such as the 20-year-old Neunkirchen convert Eric B., who has appeared on wanted posters in Afghanistan since last week -- are operating under direct instructions from high-ranking Taliban and Al-Qa'ida figures. This is also evidenced by an analysis of the terrorist video showing 28-year-old Cuneyt Ciftci of Ansbach, Bavaria, as he apparently prepared for the suicide bomb attack carried out on 3 March in the Sabari district of Afghanistan's Khost province, in which two US soldiers and two Afghans were killed. Not only does Ciftci extol his plan ("Inshallah, may my creator elevate our religion through our hands and bring torment to the enemies") in the 45-minute propaganda video; for the first time in quite a while, high-ranking Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, who was believed dead, also makes an appearance, expressly praising the assassin and his attack. Haqqani was a minister under the Taliban before its chief Mullah Omar appointed him leading military commander in 2004. The video confirms close contacts between the Taliban and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), according to the Federal Criminal Police Office [BKU]. Like Ciftci, Eric B., alias "Abdul Rafar," and Houssain al-M., both of who are now on the wanted list in Afghanistan, had contacts with what is known as the Sauerland cell of the IJU. (Spiegel Online, 7 Apr)
Two Islamic extremists from Germany may be planning attacks against targets in Afghanistan, investigators have warned. The men, who share connections to the Sauerland terror cell and suicide bomber Cüneyt Ciftci, are thought to have trained at terror camps in Pakistan.
Two German Islamists may be planning a terrorist attack in Afghanistan, German investigators are warning.
The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) on April 1 notified leaders of the Bundeswehr, Germany's military, as well as the United Nations and potential targets -- including a five-star hotel in Kabul -- that two men from Germany with known ties to terrorist groups could be planning a bomb attack against Germans in Afghanistan.
The men are identified as Eric B., a 20-year-old German Muslim convert, and Houssain al-M., a 24-year-old Lebanese native who holds a German passport.
Federal investigators connect the men to the Sauerland terror cell, a group of three would-be terrorists arrested in Germany last September. Investigators believe that the cell, comprised of two German converts to Islam and one Turkish national, was plotting a major attack on US military bases in Germany.
The Sauerland group and the two men named by German authorities this week also share connections to the Islamic Jihad Union, a terrorist organization that runs a training camp in northern Pakistan. Investigators believe all five men trained at the camp.
The terrorist group also claims to have trained Cüneyt Ciftci, a German-born Turkish citizen who is believed to have become the first German-born suicide bomber last month when he detonated a truck bomb in front of a government building in Afghanistan's Khost region, killing two US soldiers.
Officials within the BKA told SPIEGEL ONLINE that investigators kept an eye on Eric B. and Houssain al-M.'s movements after they left Germany last fall. The two men's first stop was Cairo, where they visited a radical Islamic cleric with ties to Germany.
At the end of November they proceeded to Dubai, then on to Tehran. Investigators lost track of them in early December, but they are believed to have crossed the border from Iran into Waziristan, a north-western Pakistani province where the Islamic Jihad Union has several training camps.
Houssain al-M. attempted the same crossing last summer with a member of the Sauerland terror cell. However both men were arrested by Pakistani secret service agents.
A German intelligence official told SPIEGEL ONLINE that the men were detained for days and interrogated by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency before being deported to Germany. The official suggested that al-M.'s interrogation could have "heightened his intention to take part in the holy war." Fearing that he would be monitored or apprehended by authorities in Germany, the official explained, al-M. quickly planned his return to Pakistan.
The current whereabouts of Eric B. and Houssain al-M. are unknown, but German authorities hope that their public alert may prompt the men to abandon any planned attacks.
"When they see their pictures everywhere and realize that we and the Afghan authorities are looking for them, maybe they will give up the worst of their plans because it is too dangerous," the official told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
[Description of Source: Hamburg Spiegel Online in English -- news web site funded by the Spiegel group which funds Der Spiegel weekly and the Spiegel television magazine; URL: www.spiegel.de: ]
[This item was originally filed as EUP20080404086004]

AFP: Military Says Afghan, US-Led Troops Detain Rebel Commander, Five Militants


JPP20080414969031 Hong Kong AFP in English 0645 GMT 14 Apr 08

KABUL, April 14, 2008 (AFP) -- Afghan and US-led troops have detained six militants including a commander "directly" involved in the preparation of suicide attacks in eastern Afghanistan, the coalition military said Monday.


Mohammad Ghanam and five other militants were captured during a raid by Afghan and US-led troops in the eastern province of Khost on Friday, the force said in a statement.
"Mohammad Ghanam, 33, was one of two militants who were the focus of the operation. He was directly involved in the preparation of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (IEDs)," it said.
The militant leader "has conducted attacks against coalition bases throughout Afghanistan," it added, without providing details of the attacks.
Ghanam was part of the Haqqani network, the statement said, referring to a group headed by key Taliban-linked militant leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, part of an insurgency against government and foreign forces in eastern Afghanistan.
Bomb-filled jackets and other ammunition were also found in the compounds where the men were caught, the statement said, adding that troops destroyed the weapons at the site.
Khost, a restive region on the Pakistani border, has experienced increased suicide bombings in recent months, including a March 3 car bombing that rammed a joint Afghan and US base, killing two US troops and two Afghan workers.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack. The hardline movement, ousted from power in a US-led invasion at the end of 2001, are waging a growing insurgency and violence has spiked since early 2007.
More than 8,000 people, including 1,500 civilians and nearly 220 foreign troops, were slain in the conflict last year, according to a UN report.
More than 70,000 international troops are in Afghanistan to fight the insurgency and help the war-torn country rebuild.
[Description of Source: Hong Kong AFP in English -- Hong Kong service of the independent French press agency Agence France-Presse]
Asia Times: 'The Taliban Talk the Talk'
CPP20080410721010 Hong Kong Asia Times Online WWW-Text in English 1029 GMT 10 Apr 08
[Report by Syed Saleem Shahzad : "The Taliban Talk the Talk "; headline as provided by source]
KARACHI - With the destruction of a bridge on the Indus Highway in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) region of Darra Adamkhel last weekend, the Taliban have taken another step towards choking the supplies that flood through Pakistan to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) mission in Afghanistan.
At the same time, the Taliban believe an agreement Russia concluded with NATO at its summit last week will not alleviate the situation. Moscow agreed to the transit of food and non-military cargo and "some types of non-lethal military equipment" across Russia to Afghanistan. NATO is acutely aware that the 70% of its supplies that enter Afghanistan through Pakistan are in jeopardy with the Taliban's new focus on cutting transit routes.
These developments take place as the Taliban-led battle in Afghanistan is about to enter a new phase; for the first time since their ouster in 2001, the Taliban will scale back their tribal guerrilla warfare and concentrate on tactics used by the legendary Vietnamese commander General Vo Nguyen Giap, an approach that has already proved successful in taming the Pakistani military in the tribal areas.
"For the first time, the Taliban will have a well-coordinated strategy under which we will seize isolated military posts for a limited time, taking enemy combatants hostage, and then leaving them," "Dr Jarrah", a Taliban media spokesman, told Asia Times Online in a telephone conversation from Kunar province in Afghanistan.
"This is the second tier of General Giap's guerrilla strategy. The third tier is a conventional face-to-face war. This aims to demoralize the enemy," Jarrah explained. "We have been delayed by rainfall, but you shall see action by mid-April."
Jarrah claimed the Taliban have already launched some attacks over the past few weeks in Nooristan province, killing several American soldiers. Jarrah said retaliatory bombing only resulted in civilian casualties.
The Taliban and al-Qaeda used these tactics against the Pakistani military in the South Waziristan tribal area during 2007. This involved targeting remote military posts and forts and other installations on the fringes of towns such as Bannu. The Taliban would occupy the positions for only a few hours, long enough for them to take scores of soldiers as hostages. These would then be swapped with Taliban prisoners or used as bargaining chips for ceasefires and other demands.
The Taliban's new focus is the brainchild of several retired Pakistani military officers who are now part of the Taliban movement. They are complemented by men trained by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence's India cell to fuel the insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir.
These "neo-Taliban" have changed the face and dynamics of the Afghan insurgency. They are particularly careful not to blindly waste manpower, as in the past. During 2008, the main center of Taliban activity will be eastern Afghanistan.
"Almost 90% of the men have been launched for this spring," a Pakistani Taliban told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity. He is known for his professional military skills and strategic planning.
"About 10,000 fresh men have joined hands with us. Of these, half of them have been trained and launched, along with the old lot, while the other half (5,000) are getting training and will be launched in the next phase," the man said.
He continued, "Chopping off NATO's supply lines from Pakistan is the prelude of our operations and, believe me, the NATO deal with Russia for an alternative supply line is useless. To me, this is a fallacy or a political slogan to pressurize the strategically illiterate Pakistani leadership that NATO can do without Pakistan."
The strategic expert pointed out that the transit agreement was signed between Afghanistan and Pakistan because historically NWFP has always been the lifeline for southeastern Afghanistan, and nothing has changed this status. Iran is the second choice, but it is not willing to allow its territory to be used to support NATO.
Maintaining military supplies to Afghanistan this year will be a great challenge for the US, which is why Richard Boucher, the top US official for South Asia, and US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte were in Pakistan's Khyber Agency recently to try to get tribal elders on side. But because of the Taliban's threats, only three elders turned up for secret meetings.
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