UK Source Says Taliban Papers Reveal Intent To Fight, Spread Insurgency Training
EUP20081111031003 London Times Online in English 11 Nov 08
[Report by Anthony Loyd in Tang Khata, Bajaur: "Captured Battle Plan Shows Strength and Training of Taliban Forces"]
The map tells a war story of its own. Sketched by a Taleban [Taliban] commander, it is of a stretch of territory fought over in Bajaur between the Pakistani Army and the insurgents. The ground has been neatly divided into specific areas of responsibility for different Taleban units.
Weapons caches, assembly areas and rendezvous points have been carefully marked and coded. This is not the work of a renegade gunman resistant to central authority; it is the assessment of a skilled and experienced fighter, and begins to explain how more than 400 Pakistani soldiers have been killed or wounded since August in Bajaur, the tribal district agency that is said to be the haunt of Osama Bin Laden [Usama Bin Ladin] and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Discovered along with the map in a series of recently captured tunnel complexes are other documents - radio frequency lists, guerrilla warfare manuals, students' notes, jihadist propaganda and bombmaking instructions - that provide further evidence of the Taleban's organisation and training. They prove that the Taleban in Bajaur, one of Pakistan's seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), were planning not only to fight, but also to disseminate their fighting knowledge.
"They were training people here," Colonel Javed Baluch, whose troops seized the village of Tang Khata in an early stage of the autumn fighting, said, as he thumbed through the captured literature. "This was one of their centres. There were students here taking notes on bombmaking and guerrilla warfare. They were well trained and well organised."
But training whom and to do what? Despite the documentary evidence in Bajaur, the Taleban's ultimate aims - and the nature of their relationship with al-Qaeda [Al-Qa'ida] - remain contentious issues.
America and Britain claim that the terrorist network and affiliated organisations are being hosted by the Taleban in the tribal areas, which they use as a base for training camps, refuge and recruitment. This, they say, extends the threat from the tribal agencies to the rest of the world.
"If I were going to pick the next attack to hit the United States, it would come out of Fata," Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said recently. A Western diplomat in Islamabad claimed last month that among those killed by a Predator drone strike in the tribal area - there have been at least 18 drone attacks there in the past 12 weeks - were members of a terrorist cell planning an attack on Britain.
One eminent Pakistani political figure, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed that al-Qaeda and the Taleban had set up a joint headquarters in 2004 as an "Islamic emirate" in North Waziristan, headed by Sirajuddin Haqqani, an Afghan Taleban commander. (His father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, a veteran of the fight against the Soviet Union, was funded by the CIA 30 years ago and was once feted at the White House by Ronald Reagan.)
"Sirajuddin ... connects the Taleban with al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taleban with the Afghan Taleban," the source said. "It basically runs the war and has made Fata today the same as Afghanistan was before September 11 - controlled by foreign and local militants who fight a war on both sides of the border."
Such claims, which have been circulated widely in Pakistan, are denied strongly by the military. Many officers describe the Taleban in Fata as a disparate group of home-grown militants with little vision beyond the affairs of their own district, and claim that al-Qaeda's involvement is negligible.
"There was an al-Qaeda presence here but it didn't include their training bases or headquarters," Colonel Nauman Saeed, commander of the Frontier Corps garrison in Khar, Bajaur's capital, said. "They (al-Qaeda) were as a pinch of salt in the flour."
General Tariq Khan, the officer commanding the Bajaur operation, said: "I do not see a coherent stategy in any of these militants. I don't see any Islamic movement of Waziristan or an Islamic emirate ... I think that everyone is in it for himself."
The Pakistani military claims to have killed more than 1,500 insurgents in Bajaur, and General Khan admits that many foreign fighters - "Uzbeks, Chechens, Turkmen, some Afghans" - have been among them. Of al-Qaeda's top leadership, however, not a trace has been found. "We've hit some Arab leadership there but not of a very high level," he said.
It could be that the leaders have withdrawn to the two valley strongholds still held by the Taleban in Bajaur, or that they have escaped to Afghanistan or to a neighbouring tribal area.
Or were they ever in Bajaur at all? Shafirullah Khan is the savvy political agent in the area, himself a Pashtun and a long-term veteran of tribal affairs. "At first I would never have believed that al-Zawahiri was here," he said of the rumours that Bin Laden's deputy had been a visitor.
"But now that I have seen those tunnels and hidden shelters, I am not so sure."
[Description of Source: London Times Online in English -- Website of influential center-right daily The Times; URL: http://www.timesonline.co.uk]
Pakistan: Militant Outfits Said Raising Funds Through Criminal Activities
SAP20081114027004 Karachi Herald in English 01 Oct 08 - 31 Oct 08 pp 70-75
[Article by Maqbool Ahmed: "In the Name of God"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
Deputy Superintendent of Police, Asghar Daihri of the Special Investigation Unit, had no idea what lay in store when he signaled the white Corolla to a halt. It was the afternoon of Tuesday, January 29, 2008 and Daihri had gone to Cattle Colony, Landi, with six constables responsible for a spate of robberies, carjackings and kidnappings were hiding in a house in the area.
On the way, the seven men got stuck in a traffic jam and the white car happened to stop next to them. The young man at the steering wheel seemed uncannily similar to a suspect Daihri had seen on the security camera footage of a bank heist. The officer was right: he was the bank robber.
He soon admitted to the crime as Daihri questioned him on the roadside. The young man seemed nervous to the police officer but he offered to lead the law-enforcement personnel to a house in Shah Latif Town in the south-east of Karachi, where he claimed his three accomplices were hiding. Daihri agreed and the policemen were in front of the house within minutes. The seven unsuspecting men got out of their vehicles and approached the small house. Just as they got near the main door, they were greeted by a hail of bullets and rocket-propelled grenades.
What Daihri did not know was that the young man he had stopped was Qasim Toori, the leader of Jundallah, a militant group that had first appeared on the scene when it carried out an attack on Ahsan Saleem Hayat, then Karachi corps commander, on June 10, 2004. And that he had led Daihri and his men to a hideout of the group where a dozen members, armed to the teeth, were ensconced.
Only after calling for reinforcements and a four-hour shoot-out did the police force manage to enter the house. By then, three men inside - Junaid Farooqui, Abdullah and Tayabdad - had been killed while the police had lost Daihri and head constable Raja Tariq. Abrar Kemariwala, another Jundullah member, was injured and Mehmood, Badshah Khan and Javaid fled in the confusion. Toori and Danish alias Tallah, who had led the police to the hideout, were also injured.
Interrogation of the men over the next few days revealed startling information. They were no ordinary outlaws. In their case, militant and criminal activities went hand in hand. Toori, for instance, had committed his first robbery before the attack on the corps commander: he had looted a bank in Malir Cantonment, Karachi. After the attack, however, the group members went their separate ways. Toori was injured and eventually ended up in Wana where he trained for about two-and-a-half years. In 2007, he returned to Karachi with 19 other young men with the sole aim of raising money. The first steps were to rent a number of houses in the city and purchase weapons. Toori has revealed to the police that in his first such consignment he bought four SMG rifles and eight hand grenades. Then began the spree of robberies and kidnappings: on October 30, 2007, for instance, Toori and absconding co-accused Azad Khan, Obaid, Farooqui, Iqbal, Ishaque, Abdullah, Mehmood, Tayabdad, Badshah Khan, Abu Bakr, Yaqoob Abdullah and Shakir stormed Bank al-Habib and looted 5.03 million rupees.
It appears that this sum was sent to the tribal areas where it was passed on to Hamza Jofi alias Haji Mumtaz, an Egyptian national based in Wana, South Waziristan. In return, the Egyptian sent arms, explosive substances and ammunition to the group in Karachi. In most cases, however, money was routed to the tribal agencies to fund militant activities in the region. And this 'fundraising' was not limited to Jundullah men: according to an intelligence agency officer who has been investigating such robberies, various militant and jihadi' groups have "raised over one billion rupees through robberies and kidnappings in about two years".
This trend of committing crimes to finance jihad, the Herald has learnt, has gained strength since 2004. "When the military became involved in an armed confrontation with the militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), the militants started sending groups of men to big cities, not only to recruit people but also to raise money through robberies and other crimes," a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) official tells the Herald. However, the extent of these activities came to light only after the arrest of the Jundullah activists in January this year.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand that the roots of this phenomenon lie further in the past than 2004 - in fact, they lie in the aftermath of 9/11. With the initiation of the 'war on terror', the military regime of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf came under pressure to dismantle the 'jihad' factory running in Pakistan. The state took a number of steps - some half-baked or faulty - to dismantle the infrastructure. Several militant groups were banned, their members arrested or forced to go underground to avoid imprisonment and their training camps disbanded. More importantly, the authorities also clamped down on the financial infrastructure of the organisations.
Accounts were frozen, transactions to suspected organisations, especially global and cross-border ones, were monitored strictly and the impunity with which militant outfits had been collecting donations domestically was checked. All this created considerable financial problems for militant organisations and they began to explore new sources of funding. "After the effective ban on collection of funds from the public, militant outfits turned to raising funds through criminal activities," says an intelligence agency official.
Partly this change came about because of the steps that militant organisations initially took to protect themselves from the state crackdown. "When the ban was first implemented, the organisations started investing in agricultural land and commercial property," a counterterrorism expert of the FIA tells the Herald. While cash flow remained restricted, they did manage to save assets through these investments. Worse was, however, yet to come. The ban meant that property had to be bought in the name of individuals, many of whom were members of the organisations themselves. And when these individuals were later asked for money for the militancy, many of them "simply refused to do so and severed their ties with the organisations, an FIA officer tells the Herald (see "Saving for a Rainy Day"). Cash flow dried up even further.
Adding to these setbacks were the deaths of scholars such as Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, Mufti Jamil and others who had managed to unite the disparate groups and their members. Splintering accelerated in their absence. "With the death of top scholars, the command structure fell apart and splinter groups proliferated," the FIA officer adds. The smaller groups that emerged were even more strapped for cash and hence more willing to turn to crime.
"It was this complex mix of events which meant that when armed confrontation with the Pakistani security forces increased in 2004, very little help was available to those who were engaged in fighting the military in Fata," says the officer. As a result, outfits fighting in the north started sending small groups to urban centres for inducting fresh recruits and to raise funds by resorting to bank robberies and other crimes.
In fact, such groups do not stop at burglaries: kidnappings are also a lucrative way to raise money for their activities. Take Mohammad Farhan Qasim, who was arrested in March this year in Karachi for three kidnappings that the police has evidence for. Qasim, along with his men, kidnapped people from high-end residential localities in Karachi. Hostages were kept in the group's hideouts on the Super Highway, and in Shershah and Gulbai areas. The kidnapped victims' families were told to pay ransoms in Peshawar to various individuals before hostages were released in Karachi. Qasim has since confessed that this ransom money was passed on to Baitullah Mehsud.
Law-enforcement personnel also believe that in a number of incidents such groups have used private security firms to get access to secure targets. Investigations have revealed that private security firms' guards were responsible for both the 10-million-rupee robbery at al-Baraka Islamic Bank in Gulshan-e-Igbal and the 150-million robbery at the Continental Exchange on 1.I. Chundrigar Road on January 6, 2008. In the first case, the deployed guard Hussain was from Kurram Agency and in the second case Noor Khan and Hameedullah were from North Waziristan. All three fled at the time of the robberies, and a policeman claims the authorities have evidence that significant funds are transferred to Mehsud after each theft in which security men originating from tribal areas are involved. "Faizullah, a henchman of Mehsud who is based in Sohrab Goth, transferred money," he adds.
Interestingly enough, it is not just money that is being collected: a dozen members of Tehreek-e-Islami, Jalaluddin Haqqani's organisation which is now being led by his son Siraj Haqqani, have been arrested for stealing 150 walkie-talkies and laptops in small robberies from different shops in Karachi in December 2006. The stolen items were handed over to Tahir, an accomplice in Sohrab Goth, who delivered the goods to Mullah Daadulla, a Taliban commander who, till his death last year, was involved in the insurgency in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
All three groups that have been operating in Karachi - Jundullah, Tehreek-e-Islami and the Sohrab Goth-based organisation run by Faizullah Mehsud - have links with militants operating in the tribal areas. "Tehreek-eIslami has links with Jalaluddin Haqqani and Jundullah with groups in South Waziristan," says a Crime Investigation Department official. In fact, law-enforcement agencies have also realised that such militant groups and their members have joined hands with ordinary criminal gangs in the city to carry out robberies and thefts: the 'earnings' are then split between the criminals and the militants.
This came to light when Mohammad Waseem was recently arrested for allegedly kidnapping a resident of Karachi, Leschester Lobo, from the city's Cantonment Station area on February 2, 2008. During the interrogation, Waseem told the police that he was a member of the gang of Afzal Khan alias Afzal Ustad and said he had only recently realised that the group had forged links with militants when two gang members went to Dara Adamkhel to collect ransom from Lobo's family. His suspicions were confirmed when an appointment with Afzal Ustad turned into a meeting with the Taliban in a locality on the Super Highway near Sohrab Goth.
Fata-based militants have clearly begun to exploit the 'fund-raising' potential of Pakistan's urban centres, with their large and relatively affluent populations and the presence of existing criminal networks. In Karachi this is only adding to an already dismal track record of crime as terrorism of a more insidious nature is seeping into the day-to-day fabric of innocent civilian lives.
[Description of Source: Karachi Herald in English -- Monthly, owned by the Dawn publishing group, with a circulation of 15,000. Considered to be a serious socio-political journal, with in-depth articles.]
Asia Times: 'US Strikes Deeper in Pakistan'
CPP20081121715005 Hong Kong Asia Times Online in English 1122 GMT 20 Nov 08
[By Syed Saleem Shahzad: "The US Strikes Deeper in Pakistan"; headline as provided by source]
"The al-Qaeda leadership (shura) has apparently now installed itself in Jani Khel village in the Bannu district of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)."
Taliban a step ahead of US assault Asia Times Online, August 11, 2007.
KARACHI - Wednesday's missile attack by an unmanned United States Predator drone on the Pakistani village of Jani Khel marks a significant development in the battle against militants.
On the one hand, it is the first such attack to take place outside of the semi-autonomous tribal areas, that is, in territory directly ruled by Islamabad. Previous US strikes have focused on North Waziristan and South Waziristan, where at least 20 missile attacks and a cross-border commando raid have killed scores of people since September.
But on the other hand, the strike also signifies that there is now a genuine alliance between the Pakistani military and US forces against the common foe of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Previously, under former president General Pervez Musharraf, this relationship was blurred by pockets of latent sympathy on the side of the Pakistanis for the militants.
The drone is reported to have fired at least two missiles early on Wednesday morning at a house near North Waziristan. An unnamed Pakistani security official said that six foreign militants "with links to al-Qaeda" had been killed. Unconfirmed reports said one of them was Dr Abdullah Azzam al-Saudi, who is said to be a coordinator between the Taliban and al-Qaeda leadership.
Whether al-Saudi is indeed dead is not so much the point. What matters is that the Pakistanis had passed on to the Americans information of al-Qaeda's shura (council) in Jani Khel.
Pakistan had known of the shura since it was set up over a year ago, but as it was not in a tribal area and therefore directly under the writ of the Pakistani government, this intelligence was never shared.
Indeed, on one occasion Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda deputy leader, was cornered during a shoot-out between the Pakistani security forces and militants in the district of Bannu, which lies just outside the semi-autonomous tribal areas, but on learning of his presence the law-enforcement agencies allowed him a safe passage.
Clearly, under Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kiani - currently in Brussels for talks with North Atlantic Treaty Organization officials - highly sensitive information is now being relayed to the US. This has dangerous implications.
Al-Qaeda is likely to spread out south into the cities, instead of going north to the tribal areas. The result could be the bloodiest of all battles in urban centers.
The village of Jani Khel was initially chosen as the tribal areas, although remote, were not suitable for regular high-profile meetings and they were coming under increasingly more drone attacks. There was also no precedence of US attacks outside the tribal areas - and neither were any anticipated. To date, heavily armed militants and their local supporters had kept the al-Qaeda leaders safe.
Top Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani is also believed to be active in Pakistan's cities, rather than in his usual compounds in North Waziristan and in Khost province in Afghanistan.
As a possible portend of things to come in this new phase of urban warfare, on Wednesday a trusted member of Musharraf's former team, retired Major General Amir Faisal Alvi, former commander of the elite commando unit Special Services Group (SSG), was assassinated by a group of armed men in the capital Islamabad.
As chief of the army and president, Musharraf, who had also been a member of the SSG, maintained a close relationship with Alvi. Alvi retired two years ago but was credited with masterminding the Angor Ada operation in 2004, when many Arabs and Chechans based in the tribal areas were killed or arrested and turned over to the Americans.
Other key figures who have participated in anti-al-Qaeda and -Taliban operations could be next on the hit list. These include army boss Kiani, who previously served as the director general of military operations, Corps Commander Rawalpindi and as director general of the Intelligence Services. The present chairman of the Joint Staff Committee, General Tariq Majeed, was the architect of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) operation in 2007 in which the radical mosque was stormed by troops. He was then Corps Commander Rawalpindi.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at email@example.com
[Description of Source: Hong Kong Asia Times Online 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. URL: http://www.atimes.com]
Differing accounts given of clash in Afghan south
IAP20081211950024 Kabul Pajhwok Afghan News in English 1220 GMT 11 Dec 08
Differing accounts given of clash in Afghan south
Text of report in English by Afghan independent Pajhwok news agency website
Ghazni: Over eight Taleban fighters with motorbikes were detained after an hour long firefight on the main Kabul-Kandahar Highway in the southern province of Ghazni late Wednesday [10 December] evening, according to officials.
Ismail Jahangir, spokesperson for the Ghazni governor, told Pajhwok Afghan News on Thursday that a number of militants attacked the police patrol in Cherali area of the remote Gilan district late Wednesday evening.
After an hour long clash between the police and the militants, coalition troops were called in. Neither Afghan nor US-led coalition troops received any casualties, he explained.
However, the self-proclaimed Taleban spokesman Zabihollah Mojahed said one police vehicle was destroyed and all the onboard police were killed. The police have detained ordinary people, he continued.
The US-led coalition troops have meanwhile detained five suspected militants when targeting the Jalaloddin Haqqani network. In a statement emailed to this news agency the coalition troops added the militants were detained in a joint operation of Afghan and coalition soldiers.
Giving no more details about where the operation was carried out, the statement added that Afghan and coalition troops will continue to target leaders of terrorist networks to improve security in the area.
[Description of Source: Kabul Pajhwok Afghan News in English Independent Afghan news agency]
Afghan Tribal Leaders Protest Against Anti-Taliban Raids by US Special Forces
EUP20081204015017 London Independent Online in English 04 Dec 08
[Report by Jerome Starkey in Gardez: "Tribal Leaders To Sabotage West's Assault on Taliban"; for assistance with multimedia elements, contact OSC at 1-800-205-8615 or firstname.lastname@example.org.]