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
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. ]
In Saturday’s report from Pakistan I noted that there was fighting between militant units of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan. Post fighting it appears the TTP / Harkat ul Mujahideen force beat the Lashkar e Taiber (Tayyaba) force and is now in control of Mohmand Agency as outcome of that. Umar Khalid is their leader, and this appears to be the same group(s) responsible for the Kohat fighting last year. The LeT group is mostly derived from the Kashmir intifada fighters against India, they are responsible for many of the terror attacks there in the past, and have direct alliance with Al Qaeda.
From the Daily Times:
The Mohmand Agency has come under the “complete control” of Umar Khalid after he eliminated another jihadi organisation operating in the area, local residents told Daily Times.
Khalid, a Safi tribesman who is commanding the Taliban in a very strategic tribal district, took “greater control” of Mohmand following a bloody campaign against the Shah Sahib militant group, whose chief and deputy chief were among eight killed on Friday. “He (Umar Khalid) is the strongest and most influential Taliban leader after Baitullah Mehsud and Maulvi Faqir,” residents told Daily Times by phone from Ghalanai.
A member of the militant group, following a meeting with Umar Khalid, said that there was now less likelihood that a fact-finding team sent from Baitullah Mehsud would penalise Khalid for his July 18 actions against the Shah Sahib group.
People from the banned militant organisation Lashkar-e-Tayyaba had originally led the group. “Any group not showing allegiance to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan will not be tolerated in the Mohmand Agency,” Khalid had told reporters in his first press conference after taking over the headquarters of the rival jihadi outfit.
Also note that Jaish e Muhammed and HuM have fought old differences with HuJI over the Kashmir, and at one point they were part of Harkat Ansar, here’s more from WebIndia.
I’m not sure if this is a case of pushing the bubble in one place and having it bulge out another – e.g. are these mostly jihadis who fled from the earlier offenses in Khyber, Swat, or Hangu, or is it just one of power consolidation? It’s more likely the latter as Baitullah steadily campaigned to put NWFP under his power in a series of strategic moves from FATA. Baitullah also has compiled an enemies list of 300 prominent leaders from PPP, ANP, and MQM, expect targetted suicide assassinations to continue.
From the way that the government stopped the offense and is negotiating peace in Hangu from their knees, I would wager he could make it through a quarter of that list before the coalition stops infighting and he gets real, committed response back. As long as the government’s offenses against Taliban remain “poking at the edges” instead of directed attacks against the leaders, they will continue to fail.
Update: Bill Roggio has more details at The Long War Journal.
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”
The Civil war in Pakistan has heated up again with assaults on proto-Taliban agents of Mangal Bagh in the Khyber pass (Taliban groups in Pakistan change names as the occasion or the goal allows, and they sub-contract with each other. In this case they are furthering tribal goals of Mangal Bagh and theirs as well. The Taliban goal here is retribution against the tribal forces that denied their takeover of the Khyber pass, Mangal’s is to extend his power.) Namdar, who leads the forces opposed to Mangal Bagh, is no friend to the US either but his desire to maintain control of the region counteracts that of the TTP/Mehsuds. Bill Roggio has a slideshow of the extremist leaders here.
This is the outcome I predicted in posts last year – when the new Government got rid of the old laws they failed to fill the vacumn, creating a power grab by every petty warlord in the frontiers. They removed the old power bases and authorities and didn’t replace it with anything.
As always the main Taliban forces fled before the Government forces arrived. This is the usual dumb-show cat and mouse we’ve seen for several years in the frontiers. In most cases the Frontier Corps will flee their checkpoint, base, or observation post before a Taliban attack, and the Taliban will flee their “hideouts” before the government attacks. It’s as if both sides know what the other is going to do in advance, and there appears to be a lot of winking and nudging going on in lower ranks.
Meanwhile the Pakistan Taliban Shura is following Baitullah Mehsud and has backed completely out of the peace talks, putting back in force the declaration of war from last September, once again showing they are really the lapdogs of Bin Laden and Zawahiri.