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Af-Pak War: Failure to Win Hearts and Minds

by Oui Sat Jan 2nd, 2010 at 11:47:15 AM EST


Pakistan Taliban say they carried out CIA attack

(MSNBC/AP) - Qari Hussain, a top militant commander with the Pakistani Taliban who is believed to be a suicide bombing mastermind, said militants had been searching for a way to damage the CIA's ability to launch missile strikes on the Pakistani side of the border.

The U.S. has launched scores of such missile attacks in the tribal regions over the past year and a half, aiming for high-value al-Qaida and other militant targets; one strike killed former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in August.

Hussain said a "CIA agent" contacted Pakistani Taliban commanders and said he'd been trained by the agency to take on militants but that he was willing to attack the U.S. intelligence operation on the militants' behalf. He did not specify the nationality of the "agent."

"Thank God that we then trained him and sent him to the Khost air base. The one who was their own man, he succeeded in getting his target," Hussain told an AP reporter who traveled to see him in South Waziristan on Friday. The region is where Pakistan's army is waging a military offensive aimed at dismantling the Pakistani Taliban.

Pakistan's new Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud (c.) stands  with deputy Waliur Rehman (l.) and spokesman Azam Tariq in Sararogha, South Waziristan, along the Afghan border. (Ishtiaq Mahsud/AP)

PBS In Depth Interview - Pakistan blast sharpens concerns on Taliban

Pakistan army captures Kotkai, hometown of Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud

(AP) Oct. 24, 2009 - Kotkai is symbolically important because it is the hometown of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and one of his top deputies, Qari Hussain. It also lies along the way to the major militant base of Sararogha, making it a strategically helpful catch.

South Waziristan is part of Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt, a rugged stretch of land along the Afghan frontier where al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden is rumored to be hiding. Pakistan is under intense international pressure to clear its tribal areas of insurgents, many of whom are blamed for attacks on U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The U.S. has launched scores of missile strikes in the region over the past year, killing several top militants including former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.

The latest strike hit Chuhatra village in the tribal region of Bajur, local government official Mohammad Jamil said.

The missile hit a hide-out of the militants that included a tunnel. The target appeared to be Faqir Mohammad, a prominent Taliban leader, but he is believed to have escaped, Jamil said. Most of the 22 killed were Afghan nationals, he said

VIDEO link

South Waziristan battle fails to win hearts and minds of tribesmen

Enemy No. 1: Barack Obama

(CS Monitor) Aug. 26, 2009 - "Obama is our foremost enemy and our workers are raring to face him," Rehman said. "Our workers cherish death more than the life and London, Paris, and New York are not far away from them."

The Pakistani Taliban has no known capacity to mount attacks in the West.

Speaking before the announcement on the Taliban leadership, Pakistan's interior minister, Rehman Malik, was confident that the extremist movement was sinking.

"They cannot hide," Malik said. "We are close to their jugular vein. Now the people have turned against them."

Keeping ties with Al Qaeda

According to a tribesman in South Waziristan, who could not be named for his own safety, Hakimullah, thought to be just 28, had threatened to form a breakaway group if he wasn't given the title of leader.

"In order to avoid bloodshed, Waliur Rehman has been forced by the Afghan side to agree. He's a decent, respected guy," said the tribesman.

He added that the dispute was mediated by a representative of Mullah Omar, founder of the Afghan Taliban, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of veteran Afghan jihadist Jalaluddin Haqqani. The Pakistani Taliban regards its older Afghan counterpart as its mentor, and the Haqqani network in particular wields considerable influence over the Afghan branch.

VIDEO: Interview with Sirajuddin Haqqani

Hakimullah could be the choice of Al Qaeda, analysts say, as he is linked closely to two terrorist groups banned in Pakistan - Sepah-e-Sahaba and its even more extreme offshoot, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi - that now take their lead from Mr. bin Laden.

Hakimullah formerly belonged to Sepah-e-Sahaba. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is regarded as a key Al Qaeda facilitator in Pakistan and played a role in many of the bombings and other attacks that have rocked the country more than two years, including the assault on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team earlier this year.

Killings Rock Afghan Strategy
The New Taliban

Read my previous diaries:
FOB Chapman Hit by Suicide Bomber - 8 CIA Killed
Base Leader, Mother of Three, Killed in Suicide Attack [Update]
Obama Policy and Af-Pak Border Fallacy

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

Al-Qaeda as the Hydra Monster

See epic sage of Hercules with the multi-headed hydra monster. Bush in 2003: the $3 billion question. Today I listened to an interview on Dutch radio with an Afghan national who fled the war with the Soviet Union in 1983. In 2004 he returned to Afghanistan to work for a NGO. The security situation has gravely deteriorated since then, even in Kabul. In perspective of Afghan history, violence has never solved a conflict. His advice is to enter into talks with the moderate Taliban, if that window of opportunity hasn't already lapsed.

The Multi-headed Monster: terrorism defined before 9/11

This closely relates to my recent comment:  

In Afghanistan, Less Can Be More

(NY Times) - As President Obama moves to ramp up the United States' presence in Afghanistan, he might benefit from the lessons learned by one of the C.I.A.'s legends of covert operations, Bill Lair. Mr. Lair ran the C.I.A.'s covert action in the 1960s in Laos, which at its height included 30,000 Hmong tribesmen battling Communist insurgents.

I met Bill Lair when he came to the C.I.A.'s training center in Virginia in 2000 to speak at the graduation ceremony for my class of trainees. His agency career had started in the 1950s in Thailand, where he trained an elite force called the Police Aerial Reinforcement Unit. By the early '60s, Mr. Lair was in neighboring Laos, trying to build an anti-Communist resistance. Corruption was endemic, poppy cultivation was widespread and the poorly educated Hmong tribesmen of northern Laos were barely out of the Stone Age. Yet Mr. Lair and his unit quickly taught the Hmong to resist the Communist tide using guerrilla tactics suited to their terrain and temperament.

By 1966, his C.I.A. bosses looked to tap into this momentum and started throwing more men and money at Mr. Lair -- personnel and funds he felt only bloated the operation. He knew his initial successes with the Hmong came because his Thai troops were the perfect people to train the Hmong: they looked like the Hmong, spoke their language and understood their culture. Mr. Lair didn't want or need more white guys from headquarters who couldn't speak Laotian and lorded it over the locals. When he resisted, his superiors overruled him.  

Xmas 2009 Thailand: Hmong people dumped back into Laos

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Jan 2nd, 2010 at 12:40:02 PM EST
I think that the US is breaking its military in the Arab world with no possiblity of a bood end.

you have to marvel at the American delusions regarding their military myths that almost no truth may penetrate them.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jan 3rd, 2010 at 10:22:17 AM EST
Has Western policy in Af-Pak actually included winning hearts and minds? It's not hard to fail if you don't even try.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 4th, 2010 at 05:20:01 AM EST
Jordanian Captain Sharif Ali bin Zeid Al Aun killed in Afghanistan

Amman, Jan 2 (Petra) -- His Majesty King Abdullah II, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah were at the Queen Alia International Airport on Saturday to receive the body of Captain Sharif Ali bin Zeid Al Aun who was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Sharif Ali fell as he performed his humanitarian duty with the Jordanian contingent of the U.N. peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan.

(Getty Images)

His body was flown home today on board a Royal Air Force plane.

Their Majesties and the Crown Prince expressed their heart-felt condolences to the martyr's family.

Jordan emerges as key CIA counterterrorism ally ...

Cross-posted from my diary -- @BooMan

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Jan 4th, 2010 at 09:01:20 PM EST

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