The Taliban's New Army
The BBC has an interesting story about the capture the Sararogha Fort in the Northwest Frontier. A real fort, the kind depicted in Beau Geste and it dates back to the British colonial period.
Hundreds of militants have overrun a paramilitary fort in north-west Pakistan, killing or kidnapping many troops, the military says. At least eight soldiers died in the raid and 15 escaped, the army says. The whereabouts of another 25 are unknown. Some reports put the death toll higher. ...
"About 200 militants charged the fort from four sides," army spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said. "They broke through the fort's wall with rockets."
Bill Roggio has been following developments.
The Taliban commander responsible for taking the fort, Baitullah Mehsud, had earlier captured an entire company of Pakistani troops and took credit for killing Benazir Bhutto.
The Sararogha region, which abuts the Afghan border, is a stronghold of Baitullah Mehsud. Baitullah's fighters captured a company-sized military convoy in South Waziristan during a complex military operation in early September 2007. ... Pakistani intelligence intercepted a communication where Baitullah took credit for Benazir Bhutto's assassination and stated he was in the town near the Afghan border.
Baitullah Mehsud is now apparently the head of unified Pakistani Taliban. The Taliban and al-Qaeda may be gearing up to conduct conventional military operations against the Pakistani Army.
The Taliban and al Qaeda operate 29 training camps in North and South Waziristan, and the Taliban have been organizing along the lines of military formations. A senior US intelligence official familiar with the Taliban resurgence in Pakistan who wishes to remain anonymous stated the Taliban have organized militarily at the brigade level, if not higher.
The attack on the fort was foreshadowed by Meshud's earlier demands. "The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan demanded the Pakistani military halt operations in Taliban territory and release of their members." Now the Taliban is denying the Pakistanis territory and capturing prisoners with the possible goal of swapping them for its own captured fighters. In other words, it is acting like the army of a regular state.Bill Roggio remarks:
The consolidation of the disparate "local Taliban" movement is a logical step in the Taliban's insurgency campaign in northwestern Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban, while allied with al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, has operated as local groups. The creation of a unified Taliban movement in Pakistan will allow them to better coordinate both military and political operations inside Pakistan, as well as with the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda.
It will be interesting to see whether the Pakistani Army, which has for a long time engaged in proxy warfare and covert action, can successfully conduct conventional operations against the Taliban.