Yesterday Musharraf downplayed the import of going after Al Qaeda vs the import of going after the Taliban, and in a recent article we see that the Bush administration is worried about the lack of intel on Taliban and their related groups. Both are correct, as an overall danger in the region the Taliban is the greater threat. Worldwide and for US interests, Al Qaeda obviously looms larger.
As I’ve said in the past – the Taliban taught Al Qaeda more than AQ taught them regarding 4GW. With the numerous secret cells and organizations spun up over the years by Pakistan’s ISI came pockets of great expertise in certain areas, and a deep leadership cadre, with each leader maintaining their own bands of loyal followers. They are a fractious lot, but in times of strife they tend to tighten up and ally better.
Breaking down which groups are which, and where they are aligned with tribes, and which groups are disliked by particular tribes seems somewhat important. If we can do that we get a leg up in the Frontiers, and eventually we gain our goal of finding Bin Laden.
Right now in the Wazirs they are grouped under the Waziristan umbrella of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, and in Afghanistan under Mullah Omar, and there are loose odds and ends as well (Hekmatyar.) One of those loose ends in Pakistan, TNSM, recently led the uprising in Swat, but as I’ve said in the past TNSM actions tend to be feints and distractions to mask AQ’s real movements.
The other groups come into play from the Kashmir theater, and they are much less known – they tend to not have ‘media wings” and tend toward greater secrecy. Most of the successful actions in nearby India have been carried out by a bundled umbrella group comprised of Jaimsh e Muhammed, HuJI, and Laskar e Taibr (multiple spellings here for all three btw.)
Since these groups tend to rename themselves depending on the operation and cause, they are particularly hard to ferret out. The current drift or change to focus within Pakistan came starting in October 2006, when Musharraf actually shut down their Kashmir border training camps and defunded them.
At this blog I’ve done ok sometimes in predicting movements and actions as well as stances particular groups would take, and I’ve had some strikeouts. My intel comes soley from reading english language newspapers in Pakistan and Pakistani forums and blogs.
I suspect our intel services are already doing that. What I would recommend if they aren’t already doing this is to hire some Urdu speakers to start scouring the Urdu newpapers and leaflets in the frontiers. The information is always in Urdu first and I would wager that much gets left out when it hits the papers that international audiences read.
Hopefully we have Urdu speaking radio monitors, e.g. listening to Maulana Earthquake’s broadcasts regularly might have tipped us off to things transpiring early.
Lastly, human intel is always the best of all, but the hardest to get and maintain. The Bazaars of Pakistani towns and villages are rife with both rumors and true information. If we could find a way to tap bazaar gossip we would get ahead of the game.