The strength of Maulana Sadiq Noor's and Hafiz Gul Bahadar's fighters in North Waziristan is also 10,000. In North Waziristan's Mirali area, elders of the Dawar tribe, along with Faqir Ipi, resisted the British forces for several years. They had willingly accepted when Pakistan came into being in 1947. But Mirali has been a big center of resistance against the Pakistan Army since 2004. Air strikes were carried out on Ipi Village several times
The Jalaluddin Haqqani group is also present in North Waziristan. His sons, Nasiruddin Haqqani and Badruddin Haqqani, are fighting foreign forces in eastern Afghanistan with the help of local groups. The strength of Maulvi Faqir Muhammad and Ziaur Rehman in Bajaur is also about 5,000. Maulana Tariq and Maulana Hakimullah are active in Darra Adamkhel and Khyber Agency. Both of them belong to the Baitullah Mehsud group. In Khyber Agency, Mangal Bagh's Lashkar-e-Islam has enjoyed open government backing. Haji Namdar [Amr Bil Ma'roof Wa Nahi Anil Munkir, or bid for virtue and refrain from vice, chief] was killed by Baitullah. In Mohmand Agency, the Omar Khalid group is considered responsible for bids on Aftab Ahmed Sherpao [Pakistan People's Party-Sherpao chief and interior minister in the Musharraf government] and Asfandyar Wali [Awami National Party president]. Instead of fighting in Afghanistan, this group considers waging the Pakistani jihad.
In Orakzai Agency, Qari Shakil's group supports Baitullah. But a Shiite group, Haidery Taliban, also exists in Orakzai. This group is opposed to Qari Shakil. In Khurram Agency, there exist Mahdi militia [Shiites], consisting of thousands of people, who are opposed to the Taliban. But Mahdi militia's influence is confined to areas around Parachinar.
Six important militant groups exist in North Waziristan and South Waziristan, and they have decided to unite in the event of the military operation. The agenda and background of these groups is totally different from that of the Swat Taliban.
The Swat Taliban is hardly three years old. Very few of these militants have the experience of fighting in Afghanistan. Maulana Fazlullah took up arms when his younger brother Samiullah died in a US missile attack on a madrasah in Bajaur Agency in 2006. He got an opportunity to strengthen militancy in Swat following the military operation in the Red Mosque in Islamabad in [July] 2007, and he tried to establish his influence from Dir to Shangla.
Dir has always been a center of the people waging jihad in occupied Kashmir. Fazlullah closed the centers of the militants waging jihad in occupied Kashmir. He also tried to control Karakoram Highway by capturing Shangla. He managed to maintain his awe in the region for sometime, but he did not have the fighting experience. The TTP helped him for sometime, but this support is not visible in the ongoing military operation in Swat.
The total strength of Fazlullah's militants is not more than 5,000. But the operation launched to defeat these 5,000 people has rendered 2.5 million people homeless. If an operation is started against over 50,000 trained fighters in North Waziristan and South Waziristan, hundreds of thousands of people will be forced to leave that area. But those migrating from Waziristan will not go to Peshawar or Mardan [town in the NWFP], but to southern Punjab, interior Sind, and Baluchistan via Dera Ismail Khan [a town in the NWFP]. The Waziristan militants have rich experience of guerilla war, and there is every possibility that they will expand the sphere of their reaction to Punjab and Sind Provinces. Only a few actions of the Waziristan fighters will be enough to unleash more crises for the Pakistani economy.
We must also understand that Malakand Division is under the administrative control of the NWFP Government. It is not a traditional tribal region. The provincial government, through its strategy, created a situation in Malakand Division that the local population refused to support the Taliban. North Waziristan and South Waziristan are directly under the administrative control of the federal government. Has the federal government devised any strategy under which the local population prefers becoming refugees to fight the Pakistan Army like the Swat people? And if they also leave their homes, has the state enough resources to handle another 2.5 million internally displaced people?
The government should draw up a political strategy for the tribal areas, including Waziristan. There is need to introduce political reforms in the tribal areas in accordance with the promises made in the Charter of Democracy [guidelines signed by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to strengthen democracy and good governance in Pakistan]. The local population should know that the Islamabad people want to give them roads, schools, and hospitals. They should know what is the real hurdle in the way of their development? The government's writ cannot be established in Waziristan without winning the hearts and minds of the local population. Along with the Taliban, the US drone attacks are also a threat to the government's writ. A solid strategy should be drawn up to deal with both these threats so that Sher Khan can get rid of hell and more such hells do not emerge in other parts of the country.
[Description of Source: Rawalpindi Jang in Urdu -- Influential, largest circulation newspaper in Pakistan, circulation of 300,000. The countrys only moderate Urdu newspaper, pro-free enterprise, politically neutral, supports improvement in Pakistan-India relations.]
AFP: Up To 35 Insurgents Killed in Afghanistan: Officials
JPP20090528969118 Hong Kong AFP in English 1443 GMT 28 May 09
KHOST, Afghanistan, May 28, 2009 (AFP) -
by Khan Mohammad Watanyar
Up to 35 Taliban insurgents were killed in an assault on a militant camp near the border with Pakistan overnight, the Afghan and US militaries said Thursday.
Security forces were tipped off about a gathering of militants linked to the Taliban's Haqqani network in the eastern province of Paktika and raided the encampment in the early morning, they said.
The operation was aimed at capturing a wanted Haqqani commander named Sangeen, a US military statement said, describing the militants as "suspected foreign fighters."
It did not say if Sangeen, whom the military said carried a 50,000-dollar reward for his capture, was caught or killed.
The Haqqani network is linked to Al-Qaeda and said to be responsible for deadly attacks on both sides of the border, including in the Afghan capital.
"Today was very significant operation that killed about 30 -- we are not certain of the number at the moment," US military spokesman Colonel Greg Julian told AFP in Kabul.
At least six of those who died wore suicide vests, which they detonated killing only themselves, although one blast wounded a coalition soldier, a US statement said.
The Afghan defence ministry said fierce clashes continued for hours.
"As a result a 35-member enemy group affiliated to a terrorist commander known as Sangeen... was eliminated," it said.
The ministry also said six militants blew themselves up before they could be arrested.
Paktika province government spokesman Hameedullah Zhohak told AFP that the militants left behind 27 motorbikes, four vehicles and more than 30 rocket-propelled grenades, machine-guns and automatic rifles.
The fighting took place in Wor Mamay district, which borders Pakistan's violence-torn Baluchistan province and is near the neighbouring country's semi-autonomous tribal areas, where Al-Qaeda and Taliban have bases.
The clash follows days of heavy fighting and stepped-up attacks in Afghanistan, where 34 people were reported killed on Wednesday.
Among them, the US military said troops had killed four militants in a raid to capture a Haqqani commander in the province of Logar, near the capital.
The Haqqani network was founded by Afghan Soviet resistance commander Jalaluddin Haqqani but is now believed to be led by his sons, notably Siraj Haqqani.
The US government has offered a five-million-dollar reward for the location, arrest or conviction of Siraj Haqqani, said to be one of the most powerful commanders in the Taliban network.
He has reportedly admitted to an attack targeting a five-star hotel in Kabul in January 2008 and the attempted assassination of President Hamid Karzai at a military parade in the capital in April 2008.
The US military said the man targeted in the Paktika raid, Sangeen, was responsible for numerous attacks against forces in eastern Afghanistan.
"He has also planned and coordinated the movement of Al-Qaeda senior leaders and hundreds of foreign fighters from Pakistan to Afghanistan," it said.
The militants are said to cross into Afghanistan to carry out attacks and then withdraw across the border.
The British defence ministry announced meanwhile that two of its soldiers had died after attacks in the southern province of Helmand. One was killed in a bombing on Thursday and the other died after being wounded in a blast on May 22.
Before the latest deaths were announced on Thursday, 113 foreign soldiers had lost their lives in Afghanistan this year, according to a toll maintained by the icasualties.org website.
[Description of Source: Hong Kong AFP in English -- Hong Kong service of the independent French press agency Agence France-Presse]
Asia Times: 'Al-Qaeda Spreads Its Tentacles'
CPP20090601715022 Hong Kong Asia Times Online in English 1008 GMT 29 May 09
[By Philip Smucker: "Al-Qaeda Spreads Its Tentacles"; headline as provided by source]
KHOST, Afghanistan - Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network is seizing a greater role behind the scenes in Afghanistan and Pakistan in an effort that could block the Barack Obama administration's stated goal of denying the terror network sanctuary in South Asia.
A three-month investigation of al-Qaeda's activities, from Nuristan in the north to Paktika in the southeast, suggests that bin Laden's terror network - working through Afghan and Pakistani partners - is present in almost every Afghan and Pakistani province along the fluid border areas between the two countries.
Interviews with US military commanders and American radio intercepts of Arab and Chechen fighters as well as confirmed captures or kills of foreign fighters inside Afghanistan bolster the findings.
More alarming to Western terrorism analysts and US commanders, however, is the recognition that al-Qaeda has succeeded in goading its regional partners into accepting the idea of a "two-front-war" against US-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan and the government in Pakistan. That war in turn guarantees bin Laden's network permanent safe havens along the porous border between the two nations, from which it can plan larger international terrorist attacks.
Unlike in Iraq, where al-Qaeda chose to participate directly in battles with its own frontline fighters and under its own brand name, bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in South Asia is increasingly content to play a role behind the scenes, influencing key players in the struggle and furthering its political interests, said Western terrorism analysts and Afghans.
American terrorism experts say that al-Qaeda's leadership has chosen the senior leader of Pakistan's Taliban, Baitullah Mahsud, as their point man. Uzbek and Chechen "trigger men", most of whom have been living opposite across the border in the North and South Waziristan tribal areas in Pakistan, have helped Mahsud, 34, consolidate his own authority up and down the border in the past year. In March, the US government offered a US$5 million reward for Mahsud, whom it says is a "key al-Qaeda facilitator", or ally, responsible for multiple suicide attacks.
Pakistani officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan said this week that Mahsud was using al-Qaeda's highly trained gunmen in the Pakistani Taliban's ongoing guerrilla struggle in the Swat Valley. Mahsud bullied his way into a position of leadership across most of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas earlier this year when a new coalition of insurgent groups confirmed him as their "supreme commander" in February.
American counter-insurgency efforts in Afghanistan are focused on building a bulwark against al-Qaeda, which the Barack Obama administration deems an essential part of the puzzle for peace in South Asia. But Mahsud and several of his deputies, who operate on both sides of the border, have created a strong bridge linking the Pakistani Taliban with the Afghan Taliban in a two-front war with a border that has proven impossible for US and Pakistani forces to control.
"Al-Qaeda is operating parasitically on the successes of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban by providing them with critical services, including global media networks, resource mobilization and precious human capital," said Vahid Brown, an al-Qaeda analyst with West Point's prestigious Combating Terrorism Center (CTC).
An Afghan, working with Western forces in Afghanistan and who asked to remain anonymous, said he had monitored al-Qaeda radio traffic in a Paktika province district that is a stronghold of the Haqqani network, run by Sirajuddin Haqqani. "I set up a radio scanner two months ago and I picked up Chechens and Arabs talking regularly," he said. "At one point, we heard an Arab talking to a Chechen say, 'Hey, the money has come in, you can attack soon'." The Afghan said that an Afghan al-Qaeda figure, Maulvi Twaha, who he said he had personally seen shoot dead five Afghan students in 2001, was operating openly in the province, assistin g foreign agents and fighters to enter and leave the region.
An American, embedded as a trainer with the Afghan National Army, confirmed similar radio traffic. "It sounds from radio chatter like they have more recruits coming in, including Arabs, Uzbeks, Turkmen and Chechen fighters," said US Army Major Cory Schultz, 37, from the San Francisco Bay Area.
A leading al-Qaeda propagandist and ideologue, Abu Yahya al-Libbi, an escapee from the US prison at Bagram in July 2005, claimed in a propaganda booklet released in mid-March that Pakistan's army should be treated as an occupying infidel army waging an offensive war on an invaded Muslim population. He told Pakistanis that it was incumbent on them, as "good Muslims", to fight their own government.
Al-Libbi has helped the Pakistani Taliban set up successful propaganda operations of their own with FM broadcast stations that operate through portable Chinese transmission boxes. "Abu Yahya al-Libbi translates the network's ideas to a popular audience" on both sides of the border, said Brian Fishman, also at West Point's CTC.
Al-Libbi maintains close ties to the "Tora Bora Front" in eastern Afghanistan, north of the White Mountains, and has been interviewed on the website of the front, which is the domain of Mujahid Khalis, the son of deceased mujahideen leader Younus Khalis, who welcomed bin Laden to Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996.
Al-Qaeda's proxy Mahsud has aligned his fighters closely with those of Mullah "Radio" Fazlullah, whose insurgents are fighting a protracted war with Pakistani forces well to the north of Waziristan and centered in the region of Swat in Pakistan.
In a 2007 interview with this correspondent, Fazlullah did not mince words in support of al-Qaeda's goals in neighboring Afghanistan and around the globe: "When Muslims are under attack in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have a duty to fight back against the American crusaders and their allies," he said.
Other leading insurgent groups led by Jalaluddin Haqqani's son, Sirajuddin, as well as Mullah Nazir, who operate along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border out of Waziristan, have been forced to agree to the new al-Qaeda-backed strategy for the two-front war, said Western terrorism analysts.
Though bin Laden remains the head of al-Qaeda, operational control and support for wars in South Asia is largely believed to be the work of his right-hand man, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, who lives in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
Other leading American terrorism experts said al-Qaeda had made significant adaptations meant to enhance its own power base, albeit usually well hidden behind the scenes. "Al-Qaeda is acting as a force multiplier by providing funding, assistance in propaganda efforts using its print and video outlets, strategic planning ability and aid on tactics," said Seth Jones, an advisor to the US military and the author of the forthcoming book, Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires .
Terrorism analysts believe that bin Laden has likely taken refuge in North or South Waziristan, or a large city well inside Pakistan's settled areas. They say his larger-than-life presence remains a thorn in the side of US efforts. "He is the head of the snake and he does matter," said Fishman, adding that bin Laden still likely takes part in the network's major decision-making.
West Point's terrorism analysts believe that al-Qaeda stands to gain from continued fighting and chaos on both sides of the border. "There has already been a significant movement of Pakistani Taliban leaders in the al-Qaeda camp into the settled areas of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province and their front for operations planning is spreading," said Brown. "Hundreds of thousands of additional internally displaced persons in Pakistan means lots of fresh blood for al-Qaeda's ranks."
BOTh US military and Afghan security officials confirmed a steady movement - by air from Dubai and other aerial hubs, by land across Iran and water from the Gulf - of international jihadis from the M iddle East to South Asia. Many Arabs, Chechens and other foreign fighters recently completed tours of fighting in Iraq, where al-Qaeda suffered significant setbacks.
American military commanders say they are doing what they can to flush out known Taliban and al-Qaeda safe havens inside Afghanistan, but terrorism experts believe insurgents are planning fresh attacks in conjunction with an influx of 20,000 US and NATO forces this summer.
Colonel John Spiszer, 46, of Harker Heights, Texas, who commands US forces north of the White Mountains in eastern Afghanistan, acknowledged that one, Abu Ikhlas al Masri, an Egyptian al-Qaeda member, was contributing to the intense fight against his forces in the province of Kunar, not far from the Pakistani regions of Swat and Bajaur.
"The guys (al-Qaeda and other financiers) giving the insurgents money right now are doing it to survive and get fighters," he said. He added that his goal in pressing the fight along the border with Pakistan was to keep "facilitators and financiers" locked down in a battle near the border and keep them from further impacting the fight inside Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, the ties between al-Qaeda and leading insurgent groups go back to the days of bin Laden's own involvement in the fight against the Soviet Union. In the 1980s, he fought in eastern Afghanistan himself near Khost in the remote town of Jaji in Paktia province. Many of al-Qaeda's Arab operatives later took up residence inside Afghanistan as the Taliban rose to power in the late 1990s. Most of this crowd fled to Pakistan in the wake of the US invasion in 2001.
Leading Arabs and Uzbeks, in addition to plotting international terrorist actions, became successful in the cross-border trade of opium and heroin. Efforts of Pakistani and Afghan warlords to wrest more control of Pakistan's share of the regional drug trade from these same groups have failed, said Western analysts and Afghans.
Across from Khost in Pakistan, over mountains traversable by bicycle, al-Qaeda's own military trainers still work closely with strategic Taliban commanders at Haqqani command centers like the Manba Ulum Haqqania madrassa (seminary) in Northern Waziristan.
American unmanned Predator drones have repeatedly dropped bombs on or near the religious school, which is believed to maintain a number of secret bases across Waziristan. As a precaution against the US's aerial raids, al-Qaeda members in Waziristan rarely have tea in groups of more than three, said Afghans who travel to the region.
In addition, Taliban fighters, often working with al-Qaeda military trainers, have started to train indoors as well as in small mud-walled compounds, where they attract only limited attention from US aerial overflights and drone bombing runs.
Most Afghanistan-Pakistan insurgent groups, led by Mahsud and Mullah Omar's Afghan Taliban, have not officially adopted the "al-Qaeda" brand name, but they have essentially sworn their allegiance to bin Laden, say leading experts on the terror network.
They claim that al-Qaeda has learned from the mistake of going into business under its own name in Iraq and it prefers, instead, to remain behind the scenes, protected by local gunmen on the one hand, but capable of influencing the fight against US and foreign "infidels" in South Asia on the other hand.
Philip Smucker is a commentator and journalist based in South Asia and the Middle East. He is the author of Al-Qaeda's Great Escape: The Military and the Media on Terror's Trail (2004). He is currently writing My Brother, My Enemy, a book about America and the battle of ideas in the Islamic world.
[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]
Pakistan: Article Urges Pro-National Militants To Back Army Action in Waziristan
SAP20090603105002 Karachi Ummat in Urdu 30 May 09 p 4
[Article by Saifullah Khalid: "Expected Operation in Waziristan -- Pro-Pakistani Groups Can Prove Helpful Against Extremists"]
After the bomb explosions in Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan, it has no more remained difficult to determine the outcome of an operation in Waziristan. A majority of the militant groups is based in Waziristan, and they also include the ones that are loyal to Pakistan and are ready to lay down their lives for the defense of Pakistan. However, there are others among them whose agenda is to cause harm to Pakistan: These anti-Pakistani groups have been overlooked by the Americans, and the Pakistani Government has, in its operations, targeted only those groups that are anti-United States. No operation has ever been carried out against the anti-Pakistani groups, like the Asmatullah Moavia and Maulvi Qari Sahkeel groups.
The attitude of the Americans toward them is understandable, but it is beyond perception why the Pakistani agencies have not taken any action against them, but rather, provided an opportunity to them to flourish -- although something could have been done against these groups if only the pro-Pakistani groups were given the permission to function. The operation of the Maulvi Nazir group against the Uzbekistani militants is a good example in this connection. In that operation, Maulvi Nazir had successfully rooted out these antistate elements, restricting them to the frontier of Mohmand Agency, otherwise they were the same Uzbekistanis who had become a sign of terror in Waziristan. It was after the Americans began to criticize the anti-US role of Maulvi Nazir and Gul Bahadur that the enemies of Pakistan were made safe in the entire region while its friends became unsafe. We mentioned about those FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas]-based groups that have the capacity to carry out attacks in Pakistan, particularly in Punjab, in our yesterday's edition.
After the bomb explosions in Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan, it has become necessary to review the groups functioning in the entire region, so as to see what situation is emerging. Such a review will also show which group, in the future, can become a sign of danger for the region. It will not be true to call all these groups Taliban. Although the Western media use the same term for them, it is not true. Rather, in FATA, only Jalaloddin Haqqani group's fighters are called Taliban, who are also described as Khalifa group. This group enjoys reverence throughout FATA.