Pakistani Taliban capture 300 troops

#1
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/04/w...02247632f&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Sept. 3 — Close to 300 Pakistani soldiers and officers have been held captive for four days after they were seized by pro-Taliban militants in a tribal region near the Afghan border without a shot being fired, government officials said Monday.

It was the first time government officials acknowledged that so many men had been captured and that they were being held hostage. The government has asked tribal elders to intercede to seek the release of the soldiers, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the embarrassment the capture has caused the government.

The militants have demanded that the military withdraw from the restive area of South Waziristan and release 15 of their men from government custody.

The capture of the soldiers on Thursday was a serious setback for the Pakistani military in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. It demonstrated the confidence of the militants in South Waziristan, one of seven Pakistani tribal regions that has been described as a virtual Taliban state, where the government has so little control that the military can move only with the consent of the local militants.

Foreign fighters are also known to live and operate in South Waziristan, but the captors of the soldiers seem to be Pakistanis who are sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The Taliban claimed to have captured 300 men. A government official and a tribal elder, Maulan Esamuddin, who is involved in the negotiations, said 270 soldiers, officers and tribal paramilitary members had been captured. Nine were reported to be officers, including a colonel, and the Taliban had also seized 17 military trucks, officials have said.

The capture took place after an argument between officers and some militants. “Not a single shot was fired,” one official said.

The government has been reluctant to comment publicly on the situation. The chief military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad, has said little and could not be reached for comment on Monday. He has told reporters over the last few days that the soldiers had not been captured, but were lodging with tribal villagers after running into poor weather.

But in comments made Monday to the television channel Dawn News, General Arshad admitted that the soldiers were being held hostage.

A tribal member of Parliament, Senator Saleh Shah, who was asked to help mediate their release, said the militants were demanding the withdrawal of the military from their area and the release of their comrades. The government rounded up 100 Mehsud tribesmen in the area soon after the soldiers were captured, but released the men again as part of the negotiations.

The Taliban militants holding the soldiers are loyal to the Taliban commander, Baitullah Mehsud, a veteran of fighting in Afghanistan and the strongman of the area. He is demanding that the government return to a peace agreement made in February 2005, which gave an amnesty to the militants as long as they refrained from attacking government installations and vehicles.

The agreement broke down last month when the Pakistani military redeployed troops into the area in a new operation against the militants and foreign fighters in the region and the militants declared the agreement over.

The agreement, and a subsequent one in September 2006 in the adjoining region of North Waziristan, have been much criticized for allowing the militants freedom to operate as the military pulled back from operations and checkpoints. The militants pledged not to allow foreign fighters in their midst or to run cross-border operations, but violated those pledges from the start, intelligence officials from several nations have said.

Officials from the United States watched with alarm as the cross-border violence increased and the militants expanded their reach into adjoining regions of Pakistan and sent suicide bombers and fighters into Afghanistan.

The soldiers captured Thursday were moving in a convoy through a remote area of South Waziristan where the Mehsud tribe holds sway, north of Wana, the regional capital, on the way to Luddah, some 25 miles north. The military normally has the right of way along roads in the tribal areas, but Mr. Mehsud, the Taliban commander, said he made a verbal agreement with a military commander in 2005 that the army would notify him of movements in his area.

A government official said the militants had feared that the military was planning an operation as it moved hundreds of troops, along with two truckloads of rations, through the area.
Utterly bizarre.
 
#2
It´s not bizzare,it´s what happens when you try to get pally with terrorists and make arrangements with them.Had the Paki Army wiped them out years ago they wouldn´t have this problem,ask Chamberlain what the fruits of appeasement are.

Should the Taliban execute these hostages then I think the sh*t will really hit the fan,will Sharif(?pm) ask the coalition for help?
 
#4
I think they've already started. I saw footage on CH4 News last night of some callow youth being videoed brandishing a sword over a bound kneeling soldier - apparently the full footage showed him getting the final haircut.

Surprised it wasn't the Pakistani Navy, though...
 
#5
Why is it so surprising?
A few years ago an entire UK batalion was taken captive (in the former Yugoslavia) without a shot being fired. Troops need clear engagement policies. Politicians tend to use weasly words to provide them (the politicians) with deniability.
 
#7
http://www.kuna.net.kw/home/Story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=1017494

MIL-MILITANTS-RELEASE-SOLDIERS
Militants release 16 of 210 kidnapped soldiers

ISLAMABAD, Sept 5 (KUNA) -- Militants have released 16 of the 210 kidnapped soldiers in South Waziristan tribal agency, along Afghan border, said officials.

Ten soldiers of Frontier Core (FC), kidnapped on Sunday in Mohmand tribal agency by a Mehsud tribe Taliban-linked militant group, were released on Tuesday night after hectic negotiations, security officials told KUNA Wednesday.

While, six more soldiers were released Wednesday as a goodwill gesture by militants, officials said. The six soldiers were among 200 soldiers who were kidnapped last Wednesday in Mehsud tribe while on their way to a military camp. The move came two days after the authorities released more than 100 tribesmen of Mehsud tribe, detained by security forces on the charges of supporting foreign elements in the area, carrying out attacks on forces and other various criminal cases.

The Mehsud militant group beside release of tribesmen has demanded the army to withdraw from their area and abide by a peace accord, signed in 2005. The military spokesman Waheed Arshad has stated that a total of 210 soldiers have been kidnapped but the purported spokesman for militant group, Zulfiqar Mehsud, has claimed a total of 300 soldiers were kidnapped last Wednesday and 10 more on Sunday.
 
#8
Mr_Jones said:
Might be more of a morale problem.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6978240.stm

Pakistan crisis 'hits army morale'

By Ahmed Rashid, Lahore

Pakistan's worst ever political crisis that has divided the nation also appears to be having a dramatic impact on the morale of Pakistani troops on the Afghan-Pakistan border who are engaged in the "war on terror" and fighting the Taleban.

Talebanisation along Pakistan's border regions has escalated even more rapidly since the political crisis began.

As people flee their villages to escape armed extremists, the state has been unable to protect the population and is rapidly losing credibility and authority.

Moreover, the army's insistence that a pro-Taleban Islamic party once again be part of any future government that may emerge after expected general elections will only lead to a further lessening of state control, an increase in the pace of Talebanisation and further divisions in the nation.

The surrender of an estimated 280 soldiers, including a colonel and nine other officers, on 30 August in South Waziristan to just a few score Taleban fighters who blocked their supply convoy on the road to the main town of Wana shocked the nation.

People have lost faith in the political system and in the army's attempts to concoct a new one

The Pakistani Taleban, ostensibly belonging to the group led by Baitullah Mahsud, persuaded the troops to surrender without firing a single shot. The group comprised more than a dozen mid-ranking officers, including a colonel.

The militants then split the soldiers into groups and took them into the high mountains as hostages - much as the Afghan Taleban did six weeks earlier near Ghazni to a group of 23 South Koreans who were subsequently freed.

A jirga of tribal elders who met the Pakistani Taleban for two days returned empty handed. The Taleban demanded the release of 10 of their prisoners held by the government and insisted upon all troops leaving the Federally-Administered Tribal Area or Fata, which comprises the seven tribal agencies.

After the hostage-taking, the government arrested 100 Mahsud tribesmen - but was quickly forced to free them in order to appease the militants.

The army attempted to cover up the disaster by making conflicting statements, none of which appeared logical and all of which were contradicted by the militants and local tribal elders.

The government has banned all journalists from the region since 2004 so real information is sparse.

In case anyone doubted the militants' intentions, 10 Frontier Corps paramilitary soldiers and a major were kidnapped in Fata's Mohmand agency on 1 September, while two deadly suicide bombings killed several soldiers in Bajaur agency on the same day.

After a US intelligence estimate in mid-July that South and North Waziristan had become Terrorism Central and were the headquarters for al-Qaeda and the Taleban, President Pervez Musharraf sent 20,000 troops into the region breaking a ceasefire and a troop withdrawal treaty agreement the army had signed with the Pakistani Taleban in 2005.

The Pakistani Taleban are now demanding the army returns to the status quo.

But that is impossible with the Americans breathing down Gen Musharraf's neck and threatening to attack al-Qaeda hideouts in Fata if the army does not move first. However, that is looking increasingly difficult.

Many of the army and Frontier Corp personnel serving in Fata are Pashtuns, the ethnic group that lives on both sides of the border and from which the Taleban in both countries originate. Pakistani Pashtun soldiers are now loathe to fire upon their fellow Pashtuns.

The last time the army attacked Fata in 2004 more than 700 soldiers were killed and dozens of Pashtun soldiers and Frontier Corp men deserted, while some army helicopter pilots refused to bomb their own fellow citizens. As a result, Gen Musharraf was forced to do a deal with the militants that took the troops out of Fata - much to the chagrin of the American forces based in Afghanistan.

This time the situation is much more serious.

Apart from the Taleban there is widespread public anger against the army which could make the loss of morale amongst the troops much more serious. People have lost faith in the political system and in the army's attempts to concoct a new one.
In such a political vacuum it is only natural that extremism should grow and the Pakistani Taleban face only a modicum of resistance from the military.

Gen Musharraf has failed to convince the general public that the struggle against extremism is not just President Bush's war, but a struggle that all fair-minded Pakistanis must wage.

In the meantime, the army is insisting that Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who leads the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI), be part of any future government, whether it is led by Benazir Bhutto or the ruling Pakistan Muslim League.

The JUI has been the mainstay for the revival of the Taleban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

With supervision from Pakistan's intelligence services, thousands of JUI-run madrassas in Balochistan and North West Frontier Province have provided shelter to tens of thousands of extremists from both sides of the border.

As long as the JUI is a part of any future Pakistani government it is impossible to imagine how that government will be able to move against the Taleban.

Thus, by insisting that the JUI does become part of a future government, the army appears to be directly boosting the fortunes of the Afghan Taleban, even as Pakistani Taleban kidnap or kill Pakistani troops.

This is only part of a wider tragedy that is a result of eight years of military rule when Gen Musharraf appeared to be running with the hares and hunting with the hounds - following a deeply contradictory policy course that has now caught up with him and helped plunge the country into its present chaos.
 
#9
Perturbed said:
Why is it so surprising?
A few years ago an entire UK batalion was taken captive (in the former Yugoslavia) without a shot being fired. Troops need clear engagement policies. Politicians tend to use weasly words to provide them (the politicians) with deniability.
That is absolutely not true.
 
#11
To President Musharraf ... "if you sup with the Devil use a long spoon".

You have now reaped the consequences of allowing the "tribal" [i.e. lawless] areas to do their own thing for too long.
 
#12
blue_sophist wrote:

You have now reaped the consequences of allowing the "tribal" [i.e. lawless] areas to do their own thing for too long.
Indirectly maybe, but then everybody else has been letting them (mostly) do their own thing for the last few thousand years. He's reaping the consequences of Bush's nagging to directly attack the tribal areas. The one thing guaranteed to make them team up instead of fight with each other.

imo
 
#13
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6990674.stm

More Pakistani soldiers abducted

Scores of soldiers have been kidnapped in recent days
Pro-Taleban militants have attacked a check post in north-west Pakistan and abducted 12 soldiers, officials say.
The militants, armed with rocket launchers and heavy weapons, attacked the troops outside the town of Bannu near the North Waziristan tribal area.

The rebels are still holding scores of soldiers they kidnapped a fortnight ago in nearby South Waziristan.

Violence has soared since troops were sent in to oust radical Islamists from Islamabad's Red Mosque in July.

More than 100 people died in the operation.

The latest fighting coincided with a visit to Pakistan by the American deputy secretary of state, John Negroponte.

The United States is pressing Pakistan to take stronger action against Taleban and al-Qaeda miliants operating from its border areas.

"After the rocket attack, about 200 militants launched a physical attack on the post and kidnapped 12 men of the Frontier Constabulary," Reuters news agency quoted an officer in the force, Amir Badshah Utmankheil, as saying.

He described the attackers as "local Taleban".

Later in the day, the military said army helicopters and artillery had bombarded militant positions in North Waziristan. Up to 40 militants had been killed, a spokesman said.

There was no independent confirmation of the report. Local officials told the BBC they had no knowledge of any clashes.

The latest kidnapping comes amid negotiations to free the soldiers abducted two weeks ago. The insurgents say they are holding about 300 troops.

Local tribal elders have been negotiating with the rebels to secure the men's passage to safety after they went missing in the Ladha area of South Waziristan on 30 August.

Last week, the rebels released six of them in what they called was a "goodwill gesture".

The militants have demanded the release of a number of prisoners and an end to military deployment in their area.

There has been a spate of kidnappings in the tribal areas in the recent weeks.

Last month, militants freed 18 soldiers, but only after they had beheaded one and videotaped the killing.

The army has given conflicting accounts of what happened to the soldiers in Ladha on 30 August.

First they said the men had been caught in bad weather and had taken shelter.

Then they said no troops had been seized, but that about 180 men were stuck in fighting between militants and tribesmen and unable to leave.

Correspondents say that the kidnapping of so many soldiers, apparently without a fight, has been a major embarrassment for the authorities.
 
#14
Release of 100 soldiers likely today
Troops vacate two South Waziristan posts, to withdraw from third today

By Mushtaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Army pulled out from two of the three posts in the restive South Waziristan Agency after days of negotiations with the tribal militants, thus, paving the way for the release of around 300 security personnel held captive by the militants, a tribal Jirga disclosed on Tuesday.

All the three posts are located in the Mahsud-inhabited tribal territory. According to the Jirga sources, after vacating the two strategic posts, the tribal militants led by Commander Baitullah Mahsud would fulfill their commitment on phased release of the held soldiers. In the first phase, the militants were to release around 100 soldiers either on Tuesday night or today (Wednesday).

When contacted on phone, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Waheed Arshad told The News that troops were not deployed at the two posts mentioned by the Jirga members. He, however, said that from one of those posts, the forces were relocated which often takes place in the region according to requirements.

Sources told The News from Wana, South Waziristan’s regional headquarters, on phone that the Jirga of Mahsud tribe, after a series of talks with the government functionaries and the tribal militants, on Tuesday held a crucial meeting with senior military officials where Political Agent Hussain Zada Khan was also present and informed them about their talks with the commanders of militants.

The Jirga informed the meeting about persistent demands of the militants that Army vacate three posts, including Ghatsar in Tiarza, Sheensar in Barwand and Mohammad Nawaz Kot in Makeen in the Mahsud-inhabited areas.

The militants had made the release of the captured soldiers conditional to withdrawal of troops from these areas, removal of military checkposts there and also the release of their 20 colleagues, held by the law-enforcement agencies on charges of terrorism from various places.

Before leaving for Makeen in the Ladha subdivision on Tuesday afternoon, the Jirga headed by a pro-MMA MNA from South Waziristan Maulana Merajuddin, was quite hopeful about a breakthrough in their talks.

Malik Akhtar Gul, one of the Jirga members, said the militants after learning that Pakistan Army had vacated two out of the three posts agreed to start phased-wise release of the security forces and in the first round, they promised to hand over 100 soldiers to the Jirga either on Tuesday night or this (Wednesday) morning.

He said the troops had been divided into small groups and kept at distance from each other. Militants, he said, would gather all the held soldiers from different areas and present them to the Jirga.

Senator Saleh Shah, one of the Jirga members, told The News that they would hold a crucial meeting with the militants somewhere in Makeen in which the militants would likely hand over some of the kidnapped soldiers.

“Yes, I am going for that important meeting and hope to bring back some of the soldiers from their custody,” he remarked while talking to The News from Tank on telephone. He also admitted that Pakistan Army had vacated two posts and was likely to vacate the third one today.
http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=10191

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070918/wl_sthasia_afp/pakistanafghanistanunrest

Bodies of 15 Pakistani soldiers recovered Tue Sep 18, 8:33 AM ET

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) - Pakistani authorities on Tuesday recovered the bodies of 15 soldiers killed in clashes with pro-Taliban militants in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said.

The troopers were reported to have died on Monday in fierce clashes with the Islamist rebels at a military checkpost in North Waziristan, where the United States says Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are regrouping.

"The bodies of 15 soldiers have been recovered from Shawal area in North Waziristan while one soldier is missing. Two injured soldiers have been rescued," a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A tribal elder who helped authorities bring back the bodies to Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, said that the soldiers' bodies had been left lying in a forest and were in "very bad shape."

The militants had earlier refused to hand over the bodies to the army but later agreed to leave them for collection on the intervention of a council of tribal chiefs, he said.

Clashes erupted in the region when militants attacked troop positions with rockets late Sunday, killing two soldiers and injuring another five, while soldiers retaliated and killed about 16 militants.

Separately four Pakistani soldiers were injured early Tuesday when militants fired rockets at their camp in Datta Khel village in North Waziristan, the security official said.

Residents said gunship helicopters hovered in the sky periodically but they did not hear any firing.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, a key US ally, has come under increasing pressure from Washington to crush Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters who fled to the tribal areas after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.
Looks like the Pakistani Taleban are winning, then.
 
#15
Rumpelstiltskin said:
Release of 100 soldiers likely today
Troops vacate two South Waziristan posts, to withdraw from third today

By Mushtaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Army pulled out from two of the three posts in the restive South Waziristan Agency after days of negotiations with the tribal militants, thus, paving the way for the release of around 300 security personnel held captive by the militants, a tribal Jirga disclosed on Tuesday.

All the three posts are located in the Mahsud-inhabited tribal territory. According to the Jirga sources, after vacating the two strategic posts, the tribal militants led by Commander Baitullah Mahsud would fulfill their commitment on phased release of the held soldiers. In the first phase, the militants were to release around 100 soldiers either on Tuesday night or today (Wednesday).

When contacted on phone, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Waheed Arshad told The News that troops were not deployed at the two posts mentioned by the Jirga members. He, however, said that from one of those posts, the forces were relocated which often takes place in the region according to requirements.

Sources told The News from Wana, South Waziristan’s regional headquarters, on phone that the Jirga of Mahsud tribe, after a series of talks with the government functionaries and the tribal militants, on Tuesday held a crucial meeting with senior military officials where Political Agent Hussain Zada Khan was also present and informed them about their talks with the commanders of militants.

The Jirga informed the meeting about persistent demands of the militants that Army vacate three posts, including Ghatsar in Tiarza, Sheensar in Barwand and Mohammad Nawaz Kot in Makeen in the Mahsud-inhabited areas.

The militants had made the release of the captured soldiers conditional to withdrawal of troops from these areas, removal of military checkposts there and also the release of their 20 colleagues, held by the law-enforcement agencies on charges of terrorism from various places.

Before leaving for Makeen in the Ladha subdivision on Tuesday afternoon, the Jirga headed by a pro-MMA MNA from South Waziristan Maulana Merajuddin, was quite hopeful about a breakthrough in their talks.

Malik Akhtar Gul, one of the Jirga members, said the militants after learning that Pakistan Army had vacated two out of the three posts agreed to start phased-wise release of the security forces and in the first round, they promised to hand over 100 soldiers to the Jirga either on Tuesday night or this (Wednesday) morning.

He said the troops had been divided into small groups and kept at distance from each other. Militants, he said, would gather all the held soldiers from different areas and present them to the Jirga.

Senator Saleh Shah, one of the Jirga members, told The News that they would hold a crucial meeting with the militants somewhere in Makeen in which the militants would likely hand over some of the kidnapped soldiers.

“Yes, I am going for that important meeting and hope to bring back some of the soldiers from their custody,” he remarked while talking to The News from Tank on telephone. He also admitted that Pakistan Army had vacated two posts and was likely to vacate the third one today.
http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=10191

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070918/wl_sthasia_afp/pakistanafghanistanunrest

Bodies of 15 Pakistani soldiers recovered Tue Sep 18, 8:33 AM ET

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) - Pakistani authorities on Tuesday recovered the bodies of 15 soldiers killed in clashes with pro-Taliban militants in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said.

The troopers were reported to have died on Monday in fierce clashes with the Islamist rebels at a military checkpost in North Waziristan, where the United States says Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are regrouping.

"The bodies of 15 soldiers have been recovered from Shawal area in North Waziristan while one soldier is missing. Two injured soldiers have been rescued," a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A tribal elder who helped authorities bring back the bodies to Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, said that the soldiers' bodies had been left lying in a forest and were in "very bad shape."

The militants had earlier refused to hand over the bodies to the army but later agreed to leave them for collection on the intervention of a council of tribal chiefs, he said.

Clashes erupted in the region when militants attacked troop positions with rockets late Sunday, killing two soldiers and injuring another five, while soldiers retaliated and killed about 16 militants.

Separately four Pakistani soldiers were injured early Tuesday when militants fired rockets at their camp in Datta Khel village in North Waziristan, the security official said.

Residents said gunship helicopters hovered in the sky periodically but they did not hear any firing.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, a key US ally, has come under increasing pressure from Washington to crush Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters who fled to the tribal areas after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.
Looks like the Pakistani Taleban are winning, then.
8) WHO IS SUPRISED, TALIBAN RUN BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER GET LOTS OF SUPPORT FROM PAKISTAN< CAN SEE BIG BANG WEAPONS BEING USED ON THE PAKI BORDER 8)
 
#16
Militants abduct Pakistan troops
By Syed Shoaib Hasan
BBC News, Islamabad

Pro-Taleban militants have kidnapped seven paramilitary soldiers in Pakistan's volatile tribal areas, local police officials say.

Tuesday's abduction follows the killing on Monday of 18 army troops by the militants.

Pakistan's army re-started operations against militants in tribal areas along the Afghan border in August.

US officials have said the area has become a safe haven for the Al Qaeda and Taliban.

"Dozens of Taleban from North Waziristan attacked the check post near Tull on Tuesday night," local police chief Mirza Khan told the BBC.

Tull is a sub-division of North West Frontier Province's Hangu district near North Waziristan.

Morale

This is the fourth major incident of kidnapping of army troops by the militants.



In August, 18 soldiers, an officer and a civilian were taken hostage. One of the soldiers was later decapitated on video. The others were later released after the intervention of local tribal elders.

A few days after their release, more than 200 soldiers were taken hostage without a fight in South Waziristan.

Another group of 10 soldiers was also taken hostage in the Mohmand tribal area, but soon released.

The 200-plus soldiers are still being held and the militants say they will be killed unless the army discontinues its operations and leaves the region.

An interior ministry spokesman told reporters in Islamabad on Wednesday that the government was doing its best to resolve the matter peacefully. But he added all options were open if negotiations failed.

Analysts say the kidnappings, as well as several recent attacks on army personnel, have seen morale plummet.

Tuesday's kidnapping follows the cold-blooded killing of 18 army troops in Razmak in South Waziristan on the same day.

But the most significant attack was on 13 September when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a heavily-guarded special forces base, killing 20 personnel.

The special forces have been used as a strike force in operations against pro-Taleban militants
 
#17
Confederation of Terror

By Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
Special to washingtonpost.com's Think Tank Town
Saturday, September 15, 2007; 12:00 AM

On September 6 the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan marked the first anniversary of its de facto recognition. On that day last year, the Taliban used the name when it signed a ceasefire agreement with the Pakistani government. The ceasefire is in tatters, but the terror trail of the recent plots in Germany and Denmark indicates that the Emirate is doing fine.

The Emirate's writ is spreading among the mountainous areas that make up the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that run along the Pakistan-Afghan border. Going by trends, the Emirate is more than just a safe haven: It is on a nightmare path of nation-building. Osama bin Laden will be its sultan; Mullah Omar its spiritual leader; heroin and smuggling its economic drivers; and terrorism its primary export. "Al Qaeda is building a mini-state, an enclave, in the FATA," says Rohan Gunaratna, author of Inside al Qaeda.

Besides the heartland of South and North Waziristan, "al Qaedastan" also encompasses a belt of tribal land going up to Mohmand and Bajaur areas. Its sphere of violent influence, says a former member of the Afghan National Security Council, includes bordering Afghan provinces like Loya Paktia and, increasingly, Nangarhar.

Three developments are feeding the growth of "al Qaedastan." One is a resurrected, more militant Taliban, which is supplanting traditional Pashtun chiefs in the border areas with its radical clerics. The second is the increasing number of global Islamic militant groups who are taking up residence there. The third is the inability of either Kabul or Islamabad to marshal a credible military response.

Over the past three decades, the Pashtun have been repeatedly mobilized under the jihadi banner: first by the Pakistani military and the U.S. to fight the Soviets, then by various Afghan warlords and the Taliban, and now by the ideology of al Qaeda. The malik, a local chief who helped keep the peace since the British Raj, and represented an older secular Pashtun nationalism, has been marginalized. The mullah now holds sway. "The Durrani tribal maliki that once dominated these areas is being physically eradicated," says Michael Shaikh of the International Crisis Group.

Some argue this is nothing more than Durrani nobility being replaced by an upstart subtribe, the Ghilzai. But the spread of Islamicism is blurring tribal distinctions. "Today's Taliban are fighting for an extremist ideology, not for Ghilzai supremacy," says an Afghan official. An example of how this ideology is taking root is how it has ended the centuries-old feuds between the Waziri and Mehsud subtribes.

The "al Qaedaization" of the Taliban can be seen in their use of suicide bombing, human shields and bloodier kidnappings, practices abhorrent in traditional Pashtun culture. The Afghan government has no doubt this represents foreign tutelage. Says the Afghan ambassador to the U.S., Said Tayeb Jawad: "Al Qaeda is the commander, the Taliban the foot soldier. Al Qaeda provides strategic guidance."

The Emirate is not a centralized political entity. The ground situation more closely resembles a medieval confederation of warlords. Starting at the southern border of FATA is South Waziristan, where Maulvi Nazir holds sway with an estimated 3,000 Wazirs. Some months ago he bloodily drove away several hundred Uzbek militants, who then sought refuge in the North Waziristan areas held by Baitullah Mehsud, a militant commander rapidly gaining strength.

Also in this area, says Taliban watcher and Pakistani journalist Khawar Mehdi Rizvi, is Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani. "He is ill and one sees his sons moving around in the area. But he is the key man in FATA. He acts as the interface between the Taliban, al Qaeda and the tribal leaders." There have been recent arrivals: A few thousand fighters from Pakistan militant groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad, normally focussed on fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir, moved there earlier this year. They have been called the "Pakistan Taliban" or, more accurately, the "Punjabi Taliban." The northernmost tribal area of Bajaur is home to Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, the anti-Soviet Afghan warlord once favored by the Pakistani military.

There are differences on how al Qaeda, centered around bin Laden and a new crop of North African Arab commanders, fits into all this. Gunaratna argues al Qaeda, which has always had to be a guest of a local host in the past, is master of its new home. Rizvi believes al Qaeda secures its position by providing money and training. Most agree al Qaeda stays atop the terror pyramid in large part because it is perceived as the fount of militant ideology.

The various parts of the confederation of terror wage their own separate holy wars. Haqqani's sights are set on Kabul. Indian counterterrorism expert B. Raman says Mehsud, who can count on the support of a Mehsud subtribe, is behind the recent suicide bombings in Pakistani cities and capture of hundreds of Pakistani soldiers. Al Qaeda, the group with the most extensive international connections, has been behind a number of attempted attacks against European targets ranging from last August's British airplane plot to this month's German peroxide plot. The main Uzbek jihadi groups look to Central Asia. Unsurprisingly, hundreds of aspiring terrorists are flocking to FATA for training and inspiration. Many fighters from FATA also make a pilgrimage to Iraq to get a taste of the war, learn new tactics and techniques.

The forces arraigned against this rising terrorist mini-state are in disarray. The Afghan government of Hamid Karzai is isolated. NATO is hamstrung by a shortage of soldiers and too many casualty-shy contingents. Pakistan is heading for a year of political turmoil as military ruler Pervez Musharraf hemorrhages legitimacy and his civilian political rivals challenge his rule. U.S. policy is paralyzed by a presidential campaign, a situation exacerbated by the consuming domestic debate over Iraq. Says Shaikh: "The best-case scenario is another 30 years of low-level tribal warfare." The worst is the consolidation of al Qaedastan. In his latest 9/11 anniversary message, Osama bin Laden dyed his beard. Perhaps he was celebrating.

The author is the Bernard Schwartz Fellow at the Asia Society in New York City, and Foreign Editor of the Hindustan Times.
 
#19
node said:
8) WHO IS SUPRISED, TALIBAN RUN BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER GET LOTS OF SUPPORT FROM PAKISTAN< CAN SEE BIG BANG WEAPONS BEING USED ON THE PAKI BORDER 8)
Kills 99% of household terrorists...
 
#20
still21inmymind said:
node said:
8) WHO IS SUPRISED, TALIBAN RUN BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER GET LOTS OF SUPPORT FROM PAKISTAN< CAN SEE BIG BANG WEAPONS BEING USED ON THE PAKI BORDER 8)
Kills 99% of household terrorists...
:? But the cockroaches will survive, even Nuclear wont kill them all,sod it :x But the next few years dont look good for the area :? :?
 

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