Tag Archives: Taliban

Taliban Destroy More Buddhas

Taliban Destroy More Buddhas

Adil Najam at ATP looks at the Swat Valley as it was then, and as it is now, and there are videos at his site showing the paradise that Swat was. Buddhas are not all that Mullah Fazlullah and his terror army of children are destroying. In the video you also see them blow up schools, destroying the future hopes of all. Here’s what’s happening there now under the terror of Fazlullah’s TTP Taliban, previously know as TNSM:

Iran Receives Praise For Terror Aid to Al Qaeda: Zawahiri Letter

In an intercepted letter to Iran, Ayman Al Zawahiri praises Iran for their aid in setting up the terror cells in Yemen responsible for the recent US Embassy attacks there. In the past both Al Qaeda and the Taliban have sheltered in Iran, and without Iran’s logistics and weapons aid it’s doubtful that they can be effective in Pakistan and Afghanistan now that AQ is shut off from their ISI sugardaddies by the new Pakistan government. Story at The UK Telegraph:

Delivery of the letter exposed the rising role of Saad bin Laden, son of the al-Qaeda leader, Osama as an intermediary between the organisation and Iran. Saad bin Laden has been living in Iran since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, apparently under house arrest.

The letter, which was signed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s second in command, was written after the American embassy in Yemen was attacked by simultaneous suicide car bombs in September.

Western security officials said the missive thanked the leadership of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for providing assistance to al-Qaeda to set up its terrorist network in Yemen, which has suffered ten al-Qaeda-related terror attacks in the past year, including two bomb attacks against the American embassy.

In the letter al-Qaeda’s leadership pays tribute to Iran’s generosity, stating that without its “monetary and infrastructure assistance” it would have not been possible for the group to carry out the terror attacks. It also thanked Iran for having the “vision” to help the terror organisation establish new bases in Yemen after al-Qaeda was forced to abandon much of its terrorist infrastructure in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

There has been intense speculation about the level of Iranian support for al-Qaeda since the 9/11 Commission report into al-Qaeda’s terror attacks against the U.S. in 2001 concluded that Iran had provided safe passage for many of the 9/11 hijackers travelling between Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia prior to the attacks.

First Snow in Pakistan

Snow is falling in the higher passes as people prepare for winter, and the country faces the economic downturn being seen worldwide. Many pin it on the downturn in the US, but the housing bubble burst in the US is really not the whole of it, it’s just another symptom. The downturn we see now is really the spreading wake of two years of sustained high energy prices. Pakistan got an IMF loan to weather the economic drought, and the government is having the usual sniping in their chambers as everyone tries to deflect blame and flames. There have been crackdowns and arrests of Foreign exchange operators, as the government tries to prevent money from fleeing the country (note to intel types: think on who would be refugee under the current scenario, and why money would be leaving…)

The war in Bajaur and Swat continues at low key, and there is supposed to be an operation underway to tackle Mohmand agency. On the border of Mohmand in Charsadda, a suicide bomber in a van attacked a school being used by Police and paramilitaries, killing four at the gate and himself. Authorities blocked the Peshawar-Bajaur road while they investigated. There are now “Peace activists” in a camp in Peshawar led by a black turban as well. That would bear some watching, on the other hand it could just be a poseur trying to sell shuttlecock burqas…

The authorities arrested an Afghanistan Taliban ex-minister trying to leave for Dubai under false papers, the detainee was civil aviation deputy minister during the period the Taliban ruled in Afghanistan.

President Zardari is attending the UN interfaith conference and met with Sect’y Condoleeza Rice on the sidelines. The goverment has stabilized a bit in the wake of the IMF loan and after making the decision to proceed with the operations in Bajaur. While US missile strikes have become routine the outcry has lessened as suicide bombings continue and the urban core areas feel threatened.

The TTP taliban appear a bit fractured even though they are fighting to hang on in Swat and Bajaur, it appears that some are trying local warlord ploys. Any of the splinter groups will still take orders from Al Qaeda however the influence of Baitullah Mehsud has lessened in some areas, notably Khyber Agency.

What’s ahead? Expect more frontier unrest as food and fuel goes scarce in some areas due to fighting, the usual Taliban road blockages and hijackings, as well as the summer harvests running low during January-February. Border incursions to the north in Afghanistan will problably lessen and Taliban transiting north will swing wide through Iran to get around the frozen passes if they go at all with the war in the frontiers. I am seeing indications which are not yet clear of a shift in strategy, watch for movement at all Pakistan borders — this might be the beginning of an exodus.

This report was compiled from various news stories in The International News and the Daily Times

Update: TTP Claims the Suicide Bombing

Another Haqqani Madrassah Hit

Another predator missile attack occurred at the main Haqqani madrassa in Pakistan today, the previous is detailed here.

This appears to be a new strategy, with strikes coming non stop and that should keep the leaders moving. Since Pakistan suspended the FRC’s perhaps Nato intends to apply them as needed in the frontiers. The old code made sure that leaders in the frontiers took sometimes draconian responsibility for crimes committed in their tribal lands. Sometimes they called for houses to be destroyed. In this case Haqqani is waging war against fellow Pashtun muslims at the bidding of Arab interlopers. Many thousands of innocents have died at Taliban hands this year both North in Afghanistan, and right in Pakistan.

There have been statements in the Pakistan press that Ayman al Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden, as well as the Haqqanis are all in Afghanistan, however those statements come quite frequently. My money says they are still in or near Quetta, Peshawar, and/or Lahore. They always seem to gravitate back there.

More on Today’s strike at The Long War Journal

New Missile Strikes in Pakistan

A new missile strike in Pakistan has killed 16 Taliban at a madrassah complex belonging to a friend of Osama Bin  Laden’s, Jalaluddin Haqqani. Haqqqani and his son, Sirajuddin, are the leaders of the Taliban in Afghanistan post-Daddullah, and they have been behind this year’s campaign of targetted bombings, kidnappings, and ambushes.

The refinement of tactics we’ve seen from him has been from adaptation of Al Qaeda’s new strategies. No longer do you see the Taliban acting as a large army, but instead using classical asymetric or guerrilla warfare techniques, mixed with many more terror attacks against civilian targets.

The strike was at a compound in the small village of Dande Darpa Khel in the tribal area of North Waziristan. One witness says there were two drones and six missiles used in the attack. It’s unknown whether we got any Al Qaeda or Taliban leaders of note, since villagers quickly surrounded the area and removed the bodies. A Pakistani official states that neither Jalal or Sirajuddin were in the buildings at the time of the attacks, but Pakistani officials have been notoriously wrong in reports in the past, most often they tend to claim that a leader was killed when they were not however.

This and the other recent up tempo strikes by the US and Nato forces seems to signal a new doctrine: that Taliban leaders will not be allowed to attack with impugnity and think their property and homes are safe across the border in Pakistan when they attack the property and homes of Afghans and destroy their lives.

More at the Washington Post:

A Pakistani security official in North Waziristan confirmed local villagers’ accounts of the attack, saying that the Taliban commander’s supporters immediately cordoned off the area around the bombsite and barred anyone from entering. He said that Haqqani and his son, Sirajuddin — a leading Taliban fighter — were not in any of the targeted buildings when the missiles struck.

The Pakistani security official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly on such incidents, said dozens of the injured were taken by ambulance to local hospitals in the tribal area’s main town of Miranshah. Haqqani’s younger son, Badruddin, told the Reuters news service that his father and brother, Sirajuddin, were unharmed because they were away in Afghanistan at the time of the strike.

UPDATE: 3 Al Qaeda leaders dead from strike per ARY and Rediff: Hamza Arabi, Qasim Hamza and Musa Arabi

Much more on the strike and Haqqani at The Long War Journal
More on Haqqani’s history at Wiki

Pakistan Update

There have been two missile strikes in two days, one in North Waziristan, one in South Waziristan. Two “Canadians of Arab origin” were killed in the first, and an unknown number of foreigners were killed in the second. We won’t know for up to a couple of weeks if any Taliban or Al Qaeda leaders were killed by the strikes but by the increased tempo of strikes you can guess that TTP, the Afghan Taliban, and Al Qaeda are heavily infiltrated now.

This is not so much paid spying but rather disaffected members and tribespeople who are waking up to the fact Al Qaeda & TTP is at war with Pakistan and every Islamic country in existence. The Taliban and Qaeda certainly spend the great bulk of their time and effort on killing muslims, and mostly innocent ones.

The place this is most evident is in their ongoing war against Pakistan; with Musharraf gone and the fighting still going and reinforced by the most recent Al Zawahiri tape, it’s evident that the war isn’t against the US. It’s a war to achieve temporal power for the takfirist extremists who compose these groups.

In Parachinar the sectarian tribal war continues, and it’s evident that some of the terror groups are not just aiding and abetting the Sunni side, but also creating new inflamatory incidents any time this two year old fighting gets near to dieing out. It really started in 2006 at which point the Kurram levies were pretty effective against the Taliban, but several incidents involving a shrine caused violence to escalate between tribes. At points the Afghan Taliban have fired cross-border artillery on the Shia portions of Kurram, and the market areas of some towns have been gutted by fighting multiple times.

On the political front Zardari is the strongest candidate running for president, and all barriers have now been removed with the International court case in Switzerland being dropped. Aftab Ahmed Sherpao (PPP-S) and Maulana Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) also swung in behind him. This brings moderate and conservative support to Zardari, but it must be noted that Fazl’s swing was conditional on the Bajaur offensive being stopped. Note that JUI-F bills themselves as “moderate” but they take many of the same sympathetic to the Taliban stances that the old MMA coalition used to. While JuI-F participated in elections, JUI-S (Sami ul Haq) boycoted them and is pretty much openly in bed with the Taliban. In the background the purported reasons for the boycotts have been largely removed. Musharraf is retired, and many but not all of the judges have been reinstated.

The Bajaur offensive is now officially stopped for Ramadan, but this will be temporary as the TTP and their AQ allies aren’t going to stop the war on Pakistan. It’s likely they will slow their pace as they reposition and rearm, but expect targetted assassinations against Pakistani leaders and their families to continue. Until Pakistan takes out the leaders of the insurgency, and all of them, the state is in danger of crumbling.

UPDATE: One other notable thing I neglected, once again you are seeing tribals band together to fight the Taliban. This was also the case in Musharraf’s 2006 offensive, but that faded quickly as the tribes did not receive support from Pakistan’s military. If Pakistan’s military commits, and the support is both consistent and persistent, then things could turn around in the frontiers relatively quickly.

[ This update was compiled from various stories in The International News, Dawn, and the Pakistan Daily Times. ]

Missile Strike Against Hekmatyar Camp in Pakistan; 9 Dead

Associated Press and Reuters are reporting a missile strike at a Gulbuddin Hekmatyar training camp in Pakistan. The report has 9 militants dead (unamed, but militants usually equals foreign Taliban or Al Qaeda, local TTP Taliban are either named or tagged extremists.) From Reuters:

WANA, Pakistan, Aug 13 (Reuters) – At least nine militants were killed in a missile strike on their training camp in Pakistan’s South Waziristan region, near the Afghan border, security officials and residents said on Wednesday.

In a separate incident, a militant faction leader was shot and killed by a gunman at his office in a mosque in a northwestern town.

This strike occurred in Bhagar, about 22 miles West of Wana, a hotbed and gathering area for Taliban forces in the South Waziristan area. One out of two camps located at Bhagar was hit. According to an unamed Pakistan intel official :

“This camp was run by Hizb-e-Islami and there were about 15 people including foreigners there at the time of the attack,”
Militants sealed off the area and were not letting anyone approach, they aren’t even letting residents who live nearby go there but our information is that they have recovered nine bodies.”

Here’s the wiki page on Gulbuddin, you will see that Hizb-e-Islami (G) and Hekmatyar have a long history, including some ties to Iran.

Update: AFP reports the possibility that Zanjir Wazir, commander of HIG Afghanistan was killed. His brother, Abdur Rehman and Abdul Salam were counted among the dead.

US officials are denying the strike, which was four missiles. Pakistan is known to have laser guided munitions (helicopter launched) and as the training camp’s plot is well known, the missiles could have been targetted via GPS.

Also note this from the AFP Story linked above:

Separately on Wednesday a gunman shot dead an Islamist militant leader, Haji Namdar, as he taught at a religious school in the Khyber tribal region near the northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said

It’s a “red on red” killing and retribution for Namdar’s resistance in the Khyber agency, there will undoubtably be counter-strokes, stay tuned.

More at Jammie Wearing Fool

Yazid Al Masri Update: Army Spokesman Partially Confirms Death of AQ #3

From the Pakistan Daily Times we have a named source saying that they think Abu Yazid “Saeed” Al Masri is dead. He refuses to confirm until secondary verification from ground sources however.

From the Daily Times:

Strikes by Pakistani fighter jets have killed a senior Al Qaeda commander in the Bajaur Agency, according to unofficial reports on Tuesday. Military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said the security agencies had intelligence on presence of top Al Qaeda operative Abu Mustafa Al Yazid but his death could not be confirmed as yet by “contacts on the ground”. “I can only speak when we have 100 percent confirmation that he was killed,” Abbas told Daily Times. However, he confirmed air raids in the area by security forces.

UPDATE II: In the International Times they have both Taliban and “Arab” sources denying the death of Abu Yazid “Saeed” Al Masri. This looks like another false report from Pakistan’s Military at the moment, but note that the military also states that intercepted insurgent radio chatter is where they first heard of the death, we’ll give this another 48 hours since Al Qaeda ususally does confirm when we kill a leader.

Update: Apparently after the strike the bodies where taken away, and then sent to separate villages, see this article.

Militants’ positions were also targeted by artillery and mortars from the paramilitary Bajaur Scouts headquarters in Khar, they added. The officials said 21 militants were killed and several were injured in the daylong bombing and artillery shelling on their hideouts.

Officials said the militants later took bodies of the slain and injured colleagues to their headquarters in Seway village of Mamond subdivision. “After their funeral prayers offered in Seway, the bodies of the militants were dispatched to their respective villages for burial,” sources close to militants told The News from Seway.

Sources said the militants from other tribal regions, including South Waziristan, Khyber, Mohmand and settled districts of Mardan, Peshawar, Nowshera, Dir and Swabi also reached the area to fight alongside their fellow fighters in the Bajaur Agency against the security forces.

[also note that the village mentioned has a history. You also see that the Mullah Faqir mentioned in the article and released in 2006 is leading the Taliban here.]

Today’s Earlier Post:
Pakistan has announced the death of Abu Yazid “Saeed” al-Masri in the Bajaur region as a result of their ongoing offensive there. (The Reuters story specifies an “Unamed Official, but that’s normally how these reports come from Pakistan.) Originally billed as Al Qaida’s leader in Afghanistan way back in May 2007 in an As Sahab video, he later seemed to have been replaced in subseqent announcements by other AQ leaders in Afghanistan as they tried Emir after Emir. I think this was by design after Dadullah’s death, their second tier now leads from the rear. He was the replacement after we killed Mullah Dadullah, and from what I can see he was in the second tier of leadership of Al Qaeda, managing both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here is the video announcing him as leader in Afghanistan from Memri.

While I’m calling Abu Yazid as a “tier II” leader, some refer to him as Al Qaeda’s number three, he also served time in the same cell alongside Ayman Al Zawahiri in Egypt. Regardless of where you place his position, he is part of the critical strategic leadership for AQ, and this is a tremendous blow to them if the initial reports pan out.

He was the one who declared Jihad against Turkey, and later he pops up in the news claiming credit for the Benazir Bhutto assassination for Al Qaeda. ( Rememeber that many think Baitullah Mehsud did it as well, I would still wager that AQ ordered the killing and that Baitullah managed the logistics.)
You can also see in this dispatch at Memri that he doesn’t distinguish between civilians and government for purposes of Jihad.

Here’s the story from Fox News:

Senior Al Qaeda commander Abu Saeed al-Masri has been killed in recent clashes with Pakistani forces in a Pakistani region near the Afghan border, a security official told Reuters on Tuesday.

“He was believed to be among the top leadership of Al Qaeda,” the senior security official told the news agency on condition of anonymity.

Al-Masri, which means Egyptian, was the senior most Al Qaeda operative to have been killed in Pakistan’s tribal belt since the death of his compatriot, Abu Khabab al-Masri, an Al Qaeda chemical and biological weapons expert, last month

You can also see that Abu Yazid Al Masri, like all Al Qaeda leadership, interprets Jihad the way he wants to at the moment. Here he specifically states that blowing up mosques is forbidden, but later you saw Al Qaeda suicide bomb the mosque at Charsadda in an attempt to get Aftab Ahmed Sherpao:

In the interview, Abu Al-Yazid stated that Al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack on the Danish Embassy in Islamabad last June. He said that the bomber was a Saudi, and added: “We are proud to have carried out [this operation], and we congratulated our brothers for completing this task. We timed the attack in such a way that no Muslims were in the vicinity.” Abu Al-Yazid also stated that Al-Qaeda had been responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. On a previous occasion, he claimed that the organization had carried out the December 27, 2007 assassination of former Pakistani prime-minister Benazir Bhutto.

Referring to the permissibility of suicide bombings, Abu Al-Yazid said that eminent Islamic scholars around the world had issued fatwas sanctioning them. He added: “Suicide attacks are justified by Islamic shari’a. [However, Islamic] scholars [who are affiliated with] governments issue whatever fatwas they are told to issue… However, suicide attacks inside mosques are forbidden.”

Meanwhile the offensive in Bajaur is continuing, I think the ruling coalition in Pakistan has realized that they must get AQ and Baitullah before the terrorists get them. ( Baitullah circulated a list of 300 PPP and PML-N stalwarts up for assassination last month.)

More at Jawa Report

More at The Long War Journal

Al Zawahiri Injured or Dead? UPDATE: False Report From CBS Based on Flimsy Doc.


 Pakistan Taliban Deny Zawahiri’s death. Maulvi Omar is the spokesworm for Baitullah Mehsud, and while he might be lying, it’s not likely. The Taliban are quick to promote the death of leaders on the internet when there are deaths (as they did this week with the real death from the missile strike) as this gains them more recruits at times. Once again CBS news has run with a weak story based on probably fraudulent documents. From Maulvi Omar, Spokesworm:

“Ayman al Zawahri was not present there. Ayman al Zawahri is neither present in Waziristan nor in Bajaur,” Omar said, referring to another Pakistani tribal region known as a sanctuary for al Qaeda militants.

A senior Pakistani intelligence officer also rejected suggestions that Zawahri was present when al-Masri was killed. “It’s absurd,” he told Reuters, adding that the only notable casualty had been al-Masri.

Once again I will mention that if Zawahiri and Bin Laden are in Pakistan it’s more likely that they are in a large walled compound in the exurbs of Peshwar, Lahore, or Islamad. (Remember where they found Kardazic?)

Previous Report:

CBS has an unconfirmed report up that Ayman Al Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s number two but also their strongest master of strategy, might be injured. Judge for yourselves, I’ve seen no mention of this in Pakistani papers, but I’m on my way out to dig now:

CBS News has obtained a copy of an intercepted letter from sources in Pakistan, which urgently requests a doctor to treat al-Zawahiri. He’s believed to be somewhere in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas of Pakistan.

The letter refers to Sheikh Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri by name – and says that he is in “severe pain” and his “injuries are infected.”

It is reportedly written by local Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, whose signature and seal are visible on the letter.

The Taliban logo and the Mehsud’s seal have been confirmed by experts as legitimate.

However, CBS News has not been able to confirm the authenticity of Baitullah Mehsud’s signature and seal.

Stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, the TTP and AQ have shown that they want nothing less than a separate state for themselves carved out of the frontiers of Pakistan. Failing that they will attack Pakistan, and have throughout the negotiations. Baitullah Mehsud’s previously mentioned assassination list of 300 PPP and ANP politicos also sends clear message that Pakistan needs to get the leaders of AQ before AQ gets them. Against that background I could see this happening…

Update: more at the Jawa Report

UPDATE: Bill Roggio is reporting that the information CBS is basing the story on comes from a suspect source. Unfortunately there’s a conflict out there that seems to be between IE and Sitemeter.com, which Bill uses. You can’t get to the site with IE, so use firefox if you want to read.

Update: More from Hot Air and from Lawhawk

Four days later, two reports emerged that stated Zawahiri was either killed or seriously injured in the strike. The first news on Zawahiri’s involvement in the strike came from STRATFOR, which repeated the claim from a Pashtu television station that Zawahiri was killed. The Pakistani station broadcast the report of Zawahiri’s demise on July 29, yet the report was not repeated in Pakistan’s robust, independent media outlets.

Update: AFP writes that there is not yet confirmation.

[Editor: I will back up what Bill is saying – surfing all of the Pakistani major newspapers, blogs, and forums reveals zero stories on this. The factor that’s different about this story is the letter that CBS in theory has. As we know however, they’ve been suckered by fraudulent documents in the past.]

Interesting, but probably unrelated.

Factors for Doubt:

  • Zawahiri has been referenced in missives to the Doctors in Jundullah in the past, along with Bin Laden however they have always been referenced by code names, and vagueness – like “the good doctor in Quetta”.
  • There are active raids, like the one against the Haqqani compound Monday, but so far they seem to have come up dry.
  • So far no secondary confirmation in the Pakistani press, I’m still looking for news that does not circularly reference the CBS article.

In other news from Pakistan the TTP insurection in Swat continues, with the Army using convential tactics to fight against the Taliban. Also note that security forces are swinging into place on the borders of Swat, possible to bottle up the Taliban. NWFP will continue operations in Swat.
The order transferring the sometimes renegade ISI of Pakistan under the Interior Ministry is still standing. [editor: I seem to have lost the four links in the bottom section during my updates, you can see the stories confirming the “other news” section in Saturday editions of The Frontier Post, The International News, The Pakistan Observer, and The Daily Times.]

Pakistan Taliban Schism Confirmed – 50 Dead

The schism that has stewed for a couple of months within Baitullah Mehsud’s loose alliance of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan broke out into open large scale fighting in the Mohmand agency Friday. Initial reports had ten dead up until the point when the Afghan Taliban leadership brokered a peace through a Jirga. Fighting broke out again immediately after the Afghanistan Taliban left, demonstrating that they have little authority anymore.

Baitullah’s Wazir Taliban  ended by capturing the opposition forces with 50 dead and dozens injured on both sides. As Mehsud works to extend his warlord power you can expect to see more of this as he moves into regions with other tribes who will oppose him. Continue reading Pakistan Taliban Schism Confirmed – 50 Dead