Taleban Government Appoints Two New Ministers

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"Pressure is mounting on Pakistan to carry out a military operation in North Waziristan against the Haqqani network. It is clearly evident that they want to place the Haqqani network between a hammer and a hard rock (NATO forces in Khost and the Pakistan army in North Waziristan)."
The Talib concluded, "There is more. For the first time, we see extraordinary movement in Chaman (a border town in Pakistan's Balochistan province across from the Spin Boldak-Kandahar area in Afghanistan). This makes us wonder what the reconciliation process is really all about. In this whole situation, Pakistan's role is central. If it takes NATO's side, the Taliban will have a tough time as we see a serious battle ahead behind this smokescreen of the reconciliation process."
Ali al-Shamsi, a special envoy of the UAE for Pakistan and Afghanistan and the main person who arranged high-profile Taliban meetings in Dubai at the US's behest to initiate the dialogue process, submitted his resignation this month. (Shamsi was the UAE's ambassador to Pakistan during Taliban rule in Afghanistan - 1996-2001.)
However, the UAE government requested him to continue his assignment until a peace c onference in Dubai on Afghanistan scheduled for late next month. The conference is an initiative by the Afghan government.
Shamsi's move followed the Americans stating that Washington could not give any guarantees for meeting any conditions set by the Taliban in the leadup to dialogue and that it backed out of earlier promises. (See Taliban and US get down to talks Asia Times Online, September 11, 2010.)
Al-Qaeda, meanwhile, realizing all along that it is the US's main target, is regrouping after all the losses it has sustained.
Early this year, al-Qaeda finally had 16 of its members released by Iran. (See How Iran and al-Qaeda made a deal Asia Times Online, April 30, 2010. Prominent among them were Saad bin Laden (one of Osama bin Laden's sons), Saiful Adil, Suleman al-Gaith and Abu Hafs al-Mauritani.
They settled in the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, since they had spent almost eight years in detention in Iran, al-Qaeda kept them away from operations, they were not even allowed to attend shura (council) meetings.
In the face of al-Qaeda's losses, though, al-Qaeda decided to embrace them for operations. Saiful Adil is likely to be the new face of al-Qaeda in 2011, with operations emanating in Pakistan and spreading to Somalia, Yemen and Turkey to pitch operations in Europe and India.
As matters stand now, going into 2011, the Taliban will continue the struggle in Afghanistan with the help of al-Qaeda's new team, which in turn will also plan attacks in Europe and India.
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 in English -- Online newspaper focusing on political and economic issues from an "Asian perspective," with over 50 contributors in 17 Asian countries, the United States, and Europe, and a branch office in Bangkok; 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, with 65% of the audience based in North America, and 22% in the Asia-Pacific region; tends to be critical of the United States; URL: http://www.atimes.com]

Pakistan: Article Highlights Consequences of Moving Haqqani's Network to Kurram
SAP20101113118001 Lahore Daily Times Online in English 13 Nov 10
[Article by Farhat Taj: "Between the military and militants"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
Recently, there has been news in the national and international media that Jalaluddin Haqqani's network, based in North Waziristan, is being shifted by the military establishment of Pakistan to Kurram to flee the relentless US drone attacks that have considerably damaged the group. Most media discussions about this development focus on external factors, like how difficult it may become for NATO and US forces to gather intelligence and strike the Haqqani group in Kurram, and the possibility of an extension of the US drone attacks to Kurram. The last possibility is also claimed as leading to more anti-Americanism in the wider society of Pakistan, which, unlike tribal society, seems to oppose the drone strikes as a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.
No due attention is being paid to the impact of the arrival of the Haqqani fighters on the people in Kurram and the areas close to it. With the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, all the nearby districts were destabilised. D I Khan, with its mixed Sunni and Shia population, was rocked by sectarian attacks, the people in Tank and Bannu were attacked and the civilians in all frontier regions came under repeated terrorist actions.
The point is that Jalaluddin Haqqani is widely respected among the Taliban groups and he uses his position to influence them and to make peace among warring Taliban groups. When two Taliban groups anywhere in Pakistan or Afghanistan have a go at each other's throats, Jalaluddin asks his sons to invite the two to one of his guesthouses in North Waziristan. He ultimately convinces them to stop fighting against each other by giving money to some and weapons to others. People in Waziristan constantly complain that our intelligence agencies always try to push all militants, Pakhtun, Punjabi and foreigners, into the 'Haqqani loop'. Staunchly anti-Shia sectarian groups are also linked to the Haqqani network. So many militant groups now coming to Kurram, including the sectarian groups, will inevitably intensify sectarian violence against the civilians from Kurram to Kohat, the region with a mixed Sunni-Shia population.
This means that the Sunni IDPs from Parachinar (Kurram), displaced since 2007, and Shia IDPs from Sadda (Kurram), displaced since the 1980s, should forget about going back to their native areas in the near future. The Shias in upper Orakzai suffered at the hands of the Taliban and this was followed by the Taliban atrocities against the Sunnis in upper Orakzai. The Ali Khel, the biggest tribe in Orakzai, lost its entire mixed Sunni and Shia leadership (over 100 tribal leaders) in a suicide attack by the Taliban. The Shia area in lower Orakzai that has remained largely stable could face acute, violent attacks from the anti-Shia groups. Some of the Orakzai Sikh families displaced by the Taliban have been given refuge by the Shias in lower Orakzai. Instability in lower Orakzai could displace the Sikh families once more. Both Kohat and Hangu with their mixed Sunni-Shia population have already been victims of several sectarian attacks.
There have also been suicide attacks on the general public in both cities regardless of sectarian distinction, including the attacks on markets and families of policemen. Residents of the two cities may now be exposed to intensified violence of the kind never seen by them before.
Moreover, the US is putting pressure on Pakistan to start a military operation in North Waziristan and, seemingly, Pakistan will give in. With the Haqqanis moved to the safety of Kurram, a military operation will begin in North Waziristan that will kill innocent civilians and also lead to large-scale human displacement from the area. In all the areas of FATA where military operations have been conducted, people complain that the army deliberately targeted civilians and let the Taliban flee or avoided firing at the terrorists. This is the key reason why so many people became displaced in the tribal areas where the military operations have been conducted. This is also precisely the reason why the people in FATA favour drone strikes on the militants instead of military operations; the former never miss their target, the latter always kills civilians in large numbers and have been unable to kill any leading Taliban commander in so many military operations. Despite the relentless drone attacks in North Waziristan, there is no mass scale displacement from the area. There would be large-scale human displacement from North Waziristan if a military operation begins in the area.
How long will the 'strategic assets' -- the Haqqanis -- of the military establishment be moved from one area of FATA to another to destabilise it along with nearby districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? It has been years since the people of FATA and the adjoining districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been trapped between the military and the militants. The two have killed civilians when they are fighting each other as well as when they are not fighting each other. The recent media debate about the Haqqani's new destination in Kurram is from the point of view of NATO and US forces, the strategic considerations of the military establishment of Pakistan, and state level relations between Islamabad and Washington. There seems to be no one to voice the local people's perspective in the whole debate, the people who will most likely become innocent victims of the strategic transport of the Haqqanis from North Waziristan to Kurram.

[Description of Source: Lahore Daily Times Online in English -- Website of the independent, moderate daily, run by Media Times (Private) Ltd., owned by Salman Taseer, the incumbent governor of Punjab province. Veteran journalist Najam Sethi is the editor-in-chief. The same group owns and publishes weekly newspaper The Friday Times and Urdu daily Aaj Kal. Strong critic of radical and jihadi elements. Provides extensive coverage of activities of jihadi/militant groups. Caters to the educated middle class, with an estimated circulation of 20,000.; URL: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk]

Pakistan: Al-Qa'ida-Linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Splits To 'Outsmart' Law Enforcers
SAP20101117093001 Karachi The Express Tribune Online in English 17 Nov 10
[Report by Zia Khan: "The Fission of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
ISLAMABAD: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), the homegrown sectarian-jihadi outfit with strong links to al-Qaeda, is in the process of splitting its strength into at least eight small cells to better coordinate its activities from Karachi to Waziristan, according to sources in Kohat, Hangu, Peshawar and Lahore.
"Each sub-group is responsible for carrying out activities in a specific geographic location," disclosed one of the sources on condition of anonymity. Individuals having connections within the group and intelligence officials tackling them said the move appeared to be an attempt to outsmart Pakistani law enforcement agencies.
"It looks like they [LeJ strategists] don't want to put all their eggs in one basket," explained a local intelligence official. "It's a typical guerilla warfare and urban militancy technique. With scattered cells, they have better chances of survival by diverting the focus of law enforcement agencies," added the official.
The LeJ--an anti-Shia terror icon dominated by militants from Punjab --has established safe hideouts inside North Waziristan, the area controlled by the network of veteran Afghan jihadist, Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani.
While there are hardly any significant signs suggesting that the Haqqani network is directly supporting anti-Pakistan LeJ activists, security officials contend the two groups have one strong commonality that keeps them connected--both take pride of being staunch allies of Arab al-Qaeda.
The LeJ's cell for Karachi and Balochistan has been named 'Jundullah' but it operates separately from an existing organisation of the same name, led by separatist Iranian Sunnis, that is also active in the region.
"That's where intelligence agencies' personnel are often mistaken. They sometimes confuse activists from one group with the other," an official in Sindh's Crime Investigation Department (CID) said.
The LeJ is the biggest group operating in Karachi and of 246 terrorists arrested from the city since 2001, 94 belonged to LeJ, according to a secret report by the CID.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Almi
This group, headed by Maulana Abdul Khalil, a fugitive militant leader from central Punjab, operates mostly in central parts of Punjab and the tribal areas. The group works in close connection with al Qaeda and its activists are used as foot soldiers for Arab-dominated terror group's plots inside Pakistan.
Asian Tigers
This group emerged after the recent disappearance of a British journalist of Pakistani origin and two former pro-Taliban personnel of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in North Waziristan. Officials believe it is one of the offshoots of the LeJ and is using a different name to spread confusion.
Like the LeJ itself, the Asian Tigers are dominated by Punjabi militants but some Mehsud militants are affiliated with it as well.
Junoodul Hafsa
This group comprises militants that aim to exact revenge for the storming of Islamabad's Lal Masjid and its affiliated female seminary, Jamia Hafsa, in a military operation in 2007.
The group operates in close coordination with Ghazi Force, a network named after one of the two clerics of Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, who was killed in the operation.
The outfit, led by a former student of Lal Masjid, Maulana Niaz Rahim, operates out of Ghaljo area of the Orakzai Agency and the adjacent Hangu district and targets military installations and personnel in parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and upper Punjab, especially Islamabad.
Punjabi Taliban
Several small cells operate under this umbrella outfit including those belonging to Usman Punjabi, Qari Imran, Amjad Farooqi and Qari Zafar. These cells generally target Punjab.

[Description of Source: Karachi The Express Tribune Online in English -- Website of a newspaper partnered with the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of The New York Times. It is part of the Lakson Group, which includes Daily Express and Express News Television in Urdu and Express 24/7 Television in English. The group's media wing has no known political affiliations and operates as a moderate, independent commercial media organization. The newspaper claims its mission is to defend "liberal values and egalitarian traditions"; URL: http://tribune.com.pk]

Asia Times: 'Broadside Fired at Al-Qaeda Leaders'

CPP20101210715022 Hong Kong Asia Times Online in English 0115 GMT 10 Dec 10
[Asia Times Report by Syed Saleem Shahzad: "Broadside Fired at Al-Qaeda Leaders"; headline as provided by source]
ISLAMABAD - A number of senior al-Qaeda members who had earlier opposed the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and some of whom were recently released from detention in Iran, have produced an electronic book critical of al-Qaeda's leadership vision and strategy.
The book, the first of its kind to publicly show collective dissent within al-Qaeda, was released last month. It urges the self-acclaimed global Muslim resistance against Western hegemony to open itself to the Muslim intelligentsia for advice and to harmonize its strategy with mainstream Islamic movements.
Analysts who spoke to Asia Times Online said that on face value the book did not indicate a spilt, rather an academic and "polite" review of al-Qaeda's policies. However, at a later stage, such discussion could lead to a division within al-Qaeda's ranks in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region where the top leadership is stationed.
Twenty questions
Three of the top al-Qaeda decision-makers who opposed the 9/11 attacks plotted by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad were Egyptian Saiful Adil (Saif al-Adel), an important military planner; Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, once the chief of al-Qaeda's religious committee that reviews all decisions; Suleman Abu al-Gaith, who was al-Qaeda's chief spokesperson.
All three moved to Iran where they lived under limited restrictions until being released along with more than a dozen others earlier this year. (See How Iran and al-Qaeda made a deal Asia Times Online, April 30, 2010.) They then settled in the rugged Pakistani tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan that is home to the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaeda and related militant groups.
On November 15, some members of this group released Twenty Guidelines for Jihad on the Internet site www.mafa.asia. The author is cited as Suleman, saying he was "al-Qaeda's official spokesperson in 2001," indicating a distancing from al-Qaeda's organizational structure.
The preface of the Arabic-language book was written by Mehfuz bin Waleed (as Abu Hafs al-Mauritani is also known). He was the chief of al-Qaeda's religious committee before 9/11, after which he was sent to Iran as al-Qaeda's envoy in that country. He struck a deal with the government to allow the free movement of Arab families from Afghanistan to the Arab world via the province of Zahedan.
He was later joined by other al-Qaeda members, in addition to some family members of Osama bin Laden. They were all kept in guest houses in a designated colony, but were not allowed to leave Iran.
The website on which the book was released is owned and operated by Abu Waleed al-Misri, also known as Mustafa Hamid. He was a close aide of Bin Laden but fled to Iran before 9/11. He has written 11 books on Arab-Afghans. His latest book, Cross in the Skies of Kandahar , criticizes the al-Qaeda leader in particular and al-Qaeda in general, holding them responsible for the collapse of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan (Taliban regime), which fell in late 2001 following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in retaliation for 9/11.
Hamid's main criticism of Bin Laden is that he is authoritarian and refuses to take advice. He alleges that Bin Laden has placed himself as a superior to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, whom all Arab-Afghans recognize as their ameer or chief. Hamid narrates that while Bin Laden has pledged his allegiance to Mullah Omar, he does not follow his instructions and therefore deserves punishment.
Al-Qaeda at a crossroad
Gaith's electronic book is ostensibly for tarbait (guidance) and is not written to directly malign al-Qaeda's leaders - indeed, it does not name any of them. It is critical though, for example Gaith takes to task leaders who do not take advice. "They took decisions in haste that resulted in a big defeat."
"They think that they are right all the time and they are encircled by a bunch of advisers who do not qualify to give advice. Ironically, this situation stands in the way of jihad, which belongs to the ummah (Muslim world ) and their decisions affect the whole Muslim world. This is such a delicate matter as strategy is supposed to be consulted with all Muslim groups, scholars and the Muslim intelligentsia in general."
This could be taken as an explicit criticism of al-Qaeda deputy Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has condemned Islamic movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in Palestine and severed all ties with them.
"It means isolation of yourself and the mujahideen from the mainstream Islamic movements and from the Muslim world. It makes the task easier for the enemy to isolate you and target you," Gaith writes.
He stresses that the feelings of the ummah should be taken into account before any grand operation is carried out. "Your arsenal is supposed to be used against combatants only, not against innocent people. You mishandled operations and oppressed common men, while our role is supposed to be that of liberators against zulm (oppression)."
This is the first book by a member of al-Qaeda that cites early modern Islamic movement ideologues like Hasan al-Banna (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood), Muhammad al-Ghazali (Muslim Brotherhood Egypt), Syed Abul Ala Maududi (founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami in South Asia), and Gaith urges al-Qaeda leaders to follow the advice of these ideologues.
Gaith does not endorse the adherence to democratic systems adopted by some contemporary Islamic movements, and also condemns their relations with Muslim ruling regimes, but he stresses in the book that they still have a lot of merits and those merits should be appreciated.
"Definitely, we will fail if our leadership does not follow and practice the characters of good leaders and ideologues and if our leaders continue to believe that they are right all the time."
Without naming Mullah Omar, Gaith underlined a necessity to obey his directives as a single central command. "All jihadi groups should be under one leadership, which must consult with experts and scholars from the whole ummah . They (leaders) are silent against some declared enemies of Islam while they openly mock and criticize Islamic groups."
Potential split?
During the 1990s, at least 17 Arab groups operated in Afghanistan and while they were influenced by al-Qaeda, they operated separately. By the time of 9/11, the majority had merged into al-Qaeda, with exceptions such as al-Gama Islamiya al-Muqatilal (GIM), Jamaatul Toheed Wal Jihad (led by Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi who joined al-Qaeda very late after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003), beside hundreds of Arabs who independently joined the cause of jihad with the powerful Jalaluddin Haqqani.
After 9/11, even these independent operators had little choice but to operate with al-Qaeda as in the "war on terror", all Arab-Afghans were seen as al-Qaeda. Many were arrested in Pakistan and abroad simply because they lived in Afghanistan. In a quest for a safe haven, they went to the Pakistani tribal areas and stayed in al-Qaeda's camps because it was the only potent Arab organization left in the region that could provide them shelter. Many Arab-Afghans were opposed to al-Qaeda's strategies, but they had no room to question them.
Now, with top al-Qaeda operators openly expressing criticism, such views could gain momentum. This could lead to reform of the most violent self-acclaimed global Muslim resistance movement against Western hegemony, or it might allow dissenters to side with mainstream Afghan-Taliban leaders and break with al-Qaeda.
Renowned Arab journalist Jamal Ismail, author of Bin Laden, al-Jazeera and Me who has met Bin Laden and interviewed Zawahiri, commented to Asia Times Online, "It is not a spilt (at this point), but a review. However, at a later stage, it might lead to a spilt if the advice (in the book) is not listened to, as well as other opinions from inside and outside of al-Qaeda."
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief and author of upcoming book Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban 9/11 and Beyond publi shed by Pluto Press, UK. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com

[Description of Source: Hong Kong Asia Times Online in English -- Online newspaper focusing on political and economic issues from an "Asian perspective," with over 50 contributors in 17 Asian countries, the United States, and Europe, and a branch office in Bangkok; 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, with 65% of the audience based in North America, and 22% in the Asia-Pacific region; tends to be critical of the United States; URL: http://www.atimes.com]

Al Qaida Plans to Foil Pakistan Armys Military Operation in North Waziristan
SAP20101213128007 Islamabad The News Online in English 13 Dec 10
[Report by Amir Mir: Al-Qaeda to pre-empt Army operation in Waziristan]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
LAHORE: In a bid to dissuade the Pakistan Army from launching a full-scale military offensive in North Waziristan tribal agency on the Pak-Afghan border, the al-Qaeda high command has dispatched Saif Al Adal, the military chief of the Osama-led terror outfit, to North Waziristan, which has already become a safe haven for the fugitive al-Qaeda leadership as well as the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban.
According to well informed sources in the Pakistani security establishment, Saif Al Adal, one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives, has been dispatched to North Waziristan by bin Laden's No 2, Dr Ayman Al Zawahiri, with the prime objective of boosting al-Qaeda's military might against the Pakistani security forces in Waziristan and stepping up cross-border ambushes against the US-led allied forces in Afghanistan. Saif was set free by Iran in October 2010 after spending nine years under house arrest, and that too in exchange for the release of Heshmatollah Attarzadeh, a senior Iranian diplomat who was kidnapped by the Taliban in Pakistan in 2008. Saif has been dispatched to North Waziristan amidst reports that the Pakistani authorities have already given a commitment to the Obama administration to launch a full-scale military action in the area to uproot the Haqqani militant network led by veteran Afghan leader commander Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani.
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