Wednesday, January 16, 2008

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.

22 Comments:

Blogger hdgreene said...

Running an army can't be cheap. I assume their former pay masters have canceled their credit cards. Where do they get their money from? Those Saudi charities?

Or is it one of those EU billion dollar a year humanitarian aid packages with no auditing requirement. Receipts? We don't need no stinking receipts! The model here is the "Let's be Pals with the Palestinians" program. So the bandages come with suicide vests. High explosive flour is shipped to the bakeries (they thought it was high glucose). Then there's that mix up where they sent RPGs instead of hypodermic needles. But then again, they refuse to vaccinate their kids. Oh, and all the social workers carry AK47s. And are paid in cash. They work in "Population Control."

AQ, the gun that shoots backward.

Hey, will this get me on a hate mongers list?

1/16/2008 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Where do they get the money? The short answer is Middle Eastern sympathizers, Islamic charities, drugs and extortion. Maybe even a little Islamic banking on the side.

1/16/2008 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Ex-Congressman, U.N. Delegate Indicted as Part of Terrorist Fundraising Ring

1/16/2008 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

The really decisive weapons in this War on Terror is not going to be the laser, JDAM or robot fighter. It's going to be the suitcase full of cash.

The downside outlawing the politics of personal destruction is it's also made any discussion of the "T" word -- and I don't mean terrorism -- out of bounds.

1/16/2008 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Don Rumsfeld Gates?
- Westhawk
Since his assumption of the Pentagon’s throne a year ago, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has received unstinting praise as the “anti-Rumsfeld”:
mild with his use of language; cooperative with America’s allies, especially the Europeans; and a technocrat, without an ideological agenda.
Thus, Mr. Gates’s many fans must have fallen off their chairs when they read this morning about their man publicly ripping into some NATO allies for demonstrating incompetence, topping even Mr. Rumsfeld for undiplomatic language.

Los Angeles Times explains :

---
The British claim it is shouldering the load of the fighting in Afghanistan is incorrect .
ALSO
See the Front Page Magazine symposium on Iraq .
- Roggio

1/16/2008 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Fun debate question:
"What would someone have to do to be accused of Treason?"

(much less charged!)

1/16/2008 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Huckster won't use the "C" word,by Arkansas political Standards at least.

Huck's Non-Conspiracy Conspiracy
--Duane R. Patterson
From this morning's Morning Joe on MSNBC with Mika Brzezinski.I'm not going to use the word conspiracy, but I think there's a conspiracy out to get me.I'm calling this press conference to say I'm not going to run any negative ads, but if I were to run negative ads, this is what they would look like.
I wonder if South Carolinians are going to see a pattern here with Governor Huckabee.
And by the way, conspiracies are usually done in secret.
The attacks are not on Governor Huckabee himself but on his non-conservative record as governor in Arkansas, and his very disturbing views on foreign policy.
And the attacks are very public. There's no conspiracy about it, and it frankly makes Huckabee look a little thin-skinned in seeing criticisms as conspiracies.

1/16/2008 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Where do they get the money? The short answer Middle Eastern sympathizers, Islamic charities, drugs and extortion. Maybe even a little Islamic banking on the side. –Wretchard

I really think the money side of this war has to be addressed if it is to be won. Money is what buys men and material.

Intuitively, I would suggest we should silently hunt down those who provide money to the Taliban and AQ – liquidate them without comment. This will eventually starve the Taliban of resources and they will eventually be defeated. Further, it will serve notice that financing the Taliban is bad for one’s health.

As other posters have noted, there is a lot of things that we can do (the Col. Landsdale method).

On the military side, in this instance it would have been good to have some close air support depleting the Taliban attackers.

I am sure these Taliban are also involved in killing our guys. There have got to be some people in Paki that can radio our forces of an impending Taliban assault (We just have to find them).

If Musharraf cannot control his country then he really doesn’t have a country. I would suggest that US take what ever action is necessary to suppress these enemies and to it anonymously.

1/16/2008 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Afghanistan: Charting the violence in 2007
-Bill Roggio
A look at the violence in Afghanistan over the course of 2007. The Taliban insurgency is strongest in the regions bordering Pakistan.
Almost three-quarters of the violence occurs in the East, Southeast, and South.

1/16/2008 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Suicide Terrorism in Pakistan: al-Qaeda's Lal Masjid Plan In Motion

To put the Lal Masjid raid reaction into proper perspective, one must understand it as a planned event. It was an event of which al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri wrote in a letter to the brothers who ran Lal Masjid that “things are going according to plan.” The plan was communicated in a letter found inside the Lal Masjid complex by Pakistani forces:
Provoke a government siege for the purposes of creating martyrs through which the public - particularly fence-sitting or inactive (with AQ/Taliban) Pashtuns - would be whipped into a violent frenzied anger.

That anger manifested itself partly in retaliatory suicide bombings against the government and government forces, as well as increased recruiting for the Taliban and al-Qaeda inside Pakistan.

1/16/2008 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

It's funny how much conventional capability matters. If you can't do it, then people who can will eat your lunch.

Our enemies fight unconventionally because they have to. It's because of our superior conventional capability that they resort to bombs and terrorism. We've seen the limits of that approach.

Oddly enough, Iraq is closer to a pure insurgency than Vietnam was. Vietnam was so bloody becuase the enemy had a conventional capability. Al Qeada in Iraq does not, so we lose many fewer soldiers.

In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the enemy is much closer to being able to fight conventionally. They can certainly do it against the Pakistani army.

As for money and support, the problem with this war is that the people who support the enemy are not having the war brought home to them. It's not possible to do so. So they send money and sometimes their sons to help the Jihad without having to suffer the consequences. I'm not sure how to stop that.

1/16/2008 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Lashkar is a Pashto language word meaning a group of men raised to fight a war against a common enemy.

The term can be applied to both a dozen men going to a nearby village to exact revenge or to the thousands who poured into the Kashmir valley in 1947-48 to attempt to wrest it from Indian control.


WANA: Members of the Pashtun Ahmedzai Wazir tribe on Thursday raised a 600- strong Lashkar (tribal militia) to “protect peace in the area”, elders and eyewitnesses said.

Phases of Revolutionary Warfare

Phase 1: ORGANIZATION AND PREPARATION -- building cells, recruiting members, infiltrating organizations, creating front groups, spreading propaganda, stockpiling weapons

Phase 2: TERRORISM-GUERILLA WARFARE -- kidnappings, terrorist attacks, sabotage, guerilla raids, ambushes setting up parallel governments in insurgent areas

Phase 3: CONVENTIONAL WARFARE -- regular formations and manuever to capture key geographical and political objectives

Was the Taliban force that captured Sararogha Fort a regular formation or was it a heavily armed gang?
Was the attack on the fort a raid? Is the fort still in Taliban hands?

1/17/2008 04:20:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Militants 'abandon' Pakistan fort

1/17/2008 04:36:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Pakistan paramilitary fighters lose heart

1/17/2008 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger SpeakEasy said...

ledger,

Unfortunately, the CIA has been infiltrated and 'annonymous actions' are no longer possible. I prefer the direct method anyway. Shying away from confrontation a la Carter and Clinton has done nothing but embolden our enemies.

One key part of any military action is to 'fix' your enemy-- identify who and where they are-- then kill them as decisively as possible. The Taliban has put out the welcome mat in Pakistan, all we have to do is kill them. The Taliban is only effective as long as they can hit and run. When they mass, they die in large numbers.

I am an adherent to Genghis Khan's teachings: completely destroy your enemy when and where you find them as decisively as possible. That way you destroy your current enemy and discourage potential enemies.

Excellent book alert: Genghis Kahn and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford.

1/17/2008 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger buck smith said...

"The downside outlawing the politics of personal destruction is it's also made any discussion of the "T" word -- and I don't mean terrorism -- out of bounds."

I da some wine last night so I guess I am slow this morning. WHat is the "T" word? Great Post by the way. I agree with speakeasy, if the Taliban is making a conventional army in Pakistan, that is easy to destroy.

1/17/2008 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

I believe the "T" word Wretchard referred to is "traitor."

1/17/2008 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen Renico said...

"Where do they get the money? The short answer is Middle Eastern sympathizers, Islamic charities, drugs and extortion. Maybe even a little Islamic banking on the side."

And where else?

Every time we Americans fill up a gas-guzzling H3, we may as well write a check to a radical madrassa.

1/17/2008 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

http://www.ctc.usma.edu/sentinel/CTCSentinel-Vol1Iss2.pdf

A Profile of Tehrik-i-Taliban
Pakistan

Baitullah Mehsud—The 34-year-old warrior
belongs to South Waziristan Agency and
hails from the Mehsud tribe. He did not
attend schooling or religious madrasa.
He shuns media and has refused to be
photographed, indicating that he stands by
the fanatic Talibanized version of Islam. His
worldview is evident from his statement that
“only jihad can bring peace to the world.”17
He came to prominence in February 2005
when he signed a deal with the Pakistani
government that it termed as his surrender,
although he interpreted it as a peace deal in the interests of the tribal regions as well
as Pakistan.18 As part of the deal, he had
pledged not to provide any assistance to al-
Qa`ida and other militants and not to launch
operations against government forces. The
deal was short lived, and since 2006 he
has virtually established an independent
zone in parts of South Waziristan Agency,
which is widely believed to be a sanctuary
for al-Qa`ida and the Taliban. In private
discussions, Pakistani officials also blame
the United States for direct military
operations in FATA, leading to the collapse
of some deals. Mehsud commands a force
of around 5,000 militants and has moved
aggressively against Pakistan’s army in
recent months, especially when he captured
around 250 army soldiers in August 2007.19
The soldiers were returned only when the
government released 25 militants associated
with Mehsud.20

1/17/2008 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Intuitively, I would suggest we should silently hunt down those who provide money to the Taliban and AQ – liquidate them without comment.

"Within four months, all three princes met untimely ends in Saudi Arabia, in rapid succession. The horse owner died of a heart attack at 43; his cousin died in a car wreck en route to the funeral; the third, age 25, "died of thirst" during a trip in the summer heat. "

http://www.peterlance.com/futureofterror.htm

I wonder how many other 40-ish Saudi princes with links to terrorists have died suddenly (and unusually) in the last several years.

1/17/2008 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Isn't there a spare Hellfire missile laying around that we can paint Baitullah Mehsud's name on?

Ledger: Intuitively, I would suggest we should silently hunt down those who provide money to the Taliban and AQ – liquidate them without comment. This will eventually starve the Taliban of resources and they will eventually be defeated. Further, it will serve notice that financing the Taliban is bad for one’s health.

Here's my list:

1. Ayman al-Zawahiri
2. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
3. Ayatollah Kahmeini
4. Mullah Muhammad Omar
5. Abu Bakar Ba'asyir (Bashir)
6. Moqtada Sadr,
7. Abu Hamza al-Masri,
8. Mullah Krekar (AKA: Abu Sayyid Qutb),
9. Khaled Meshal
10. Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah
11. Ismail Haniya
12. Mohammed Abbas
13. Yusuf al-Qaradawi
14. Tariq Ramadan
15. Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali
16. imam Omar Bakri Muhammed Fustuq
17. imam Abdel-Samie Mahmoud Ibrahim Moussa
18. imam Sheikh SyeSyed Mubarik Ali Gilani
19. Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal
20. Sheik Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi
21. Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar
22. Prince Sultan Ibn Abd al-Aziz
23. Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz
24. Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz
25. Muhammad Taqi Usmani
26. Yasin al Qadi (Saudi terrorist financier)
27. Imad Mugniyah, — Iranian master terrorist
28. Sheikh Abdullah bin Jibreen — top Wahabbi cleric
29. Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan — top Wahabbi cleric
30. Sheikh Nasser Al-Omar — top Wahabbi cleric
31. Sheikh Essa
32. Abu Waleed Ansari
33. Abu Yahya al-Libbi
34. Maulana Ilyas Kashmiri
35. Ahmed Abu Laban — DEAD — January 19, 2007
36. Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi (al Qaeda CEO)
37. Sheikh Abdel-Aziz Al al-Sheikh — Saudi Grand Mufti
38. Ramadan Shalah — Islamic Jihad leader
39. Ali Abdullah Saleh – Yemini President
40. Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ghaith — head SA’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.

Eliminate these few dozen major players and Islamic terrorism goes on life support. As Norvell B. De Atkine noted in Why Arabs Lose Wars:

In every society information is a means of making a living or wielding power, but Arabs husband information and hold it especially tightly. U.S. trainers have often been surprised over the years by the fact that information provided to key personnel does not get much further than them. Having learned to perform some complicated procedure, an Arab technician knows that he is invaluable so long as he is the only one in a unit to have that knowledge; once he dispenses it to others he no longer is the only font of knowledge and his power dissipates. This explains the commonplace hoarding of manuals, books, training pamphlets, and other training or logistics literature. On one occasion, an American mobile training team working with armor in Egypt at long last received the operators' manuals that had laboriously been translated into Arabic. The American trainers took the newly-minted manuals straight to the tank park and distributed them to the tank crews. Right behind them, the company commander, a graduate of the armor school at Fort Knox and specialized courses at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds ordnance school, collected the manuals from the crews. Questioned why he did this, the commander said that there was no point in giving them to the drivers because enlisted men could not read. In point of fact, he did not want enlisted men to have an independent source of knowledge. Being the only person who can explain the fire control instrumentation or boresight artillery weapons brings prestige and attention. In military terms this means that very little cross-training is accomplished and that, for instance in a tank crew, the gunners, loaders, and drivers might be proficient in their jobs but are not prepared to fill in for a casualty. Not understanding one another's jobs also inhibits a smoothly functioning crew. At a higher level it means there is no depth in technical proficiency.

Now, compound the above complications with a dire need for secrecy, even less transparancey, far more greedily husbanded resources and a supreme sense of paranoia. This makes terrorist leadership incredibly sensitive to atrittion.

As Wretchard himself noted about Palestinian terrorists:

The Israeli strike against the terrorist top tier exploits the weakness inherent in terrorist organizations which are unstable alliances based on a delicate balance of internal intimidation. None of them, the Palestinian Authority included, are either transparent or accountable. They are exceptionally vulnerable to changes in their leadership. They can stand the loss of any number of teenage fighters or youthful suicide bombers without much damage but are rocked -- as Yassin's death illustrates -- by death at the top.

The Palestinains have yet to recover from Israel's serial elimination of Yassin and Rantissi. Fatah and Hamas thin their ranks battling against each other while Israel finally has a little breathing room. Now, imagine the internecine quarreling that would ensue over such an immense power vacuum as one that would be created by liquidating the above 40 odd players. The infighting might never stop. More than likely, it would go on long enough for us to make significant inroads. Moreover, such squabbling is difficult to keep secret. Competition for these newly available seats of terrorist power would draw attention to the contestants and permit a bead to be drawn upon them as well. The potential benefits are almost unlimited and available at a cost of one single day's operating expenses in Iraq.

John Lynch: As for money and support, the problem with this war is that the people who support the enemy are not having the war brought home to them. It's not possible to do so. So they send money and sometimes their sons to help the Jihad without having to suffer the consequences. I'm not sure how to stop that.

Simple. Muslims must be made to feel our pain. Nothing even remotely of the sort has yet to happen and Islam is laughing up its collective sleeve at how delicately America is futilely attempting to winnow out the terrorists with minimal collateral casualties. Muslims must be made to bear the burden of cleaning Islam's house. No one else can perform this onerous task nor should they be obliged to. Either Muslim majority nations begin to cleanse their ranks of terrorists or we must treat them to the spectacle of entire cities disappearing beneath a wave of carpet bombing for each new Islamic atrocity. Islam must be made to feel our pain.

Peter: I believe the "T" word Wretchard referred to is "traitor."

My vote is for "Treason".

Nahncee: I wonder how many other 40-ish Saudi princes with links to terrorists have died suddenly (and unusually) in the last several years.

Two words: Not enough. Only one person on my list has succumbed in over TWO SOLID YEARS. That individual is Danish imam Ahmad Abu Laban and he died of cancer instead of lead poisoning.

1/17/2008 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Interesting Developments in Pakistan:

Pakistani police say they have arrested a teenage boy who has confessed to being part of a team instructed to kill opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.
It was the first arrest in connection with last month's assassination.

Security officials say the boy told them he was part of a backup squad trained to attack, if the initial attempt on her life had failed.

But local newspapers say investigators are treating the boy's claims with caution.

The unnamed 15-year-old was arrested in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province along with a more senior militant, officials say.

He allegedly told investigators that he would have been "next in line" to attack Ms Bhutto.

He also named a local militia commander, Baitullah Mehsud, as being behind the assassination, officials say.

1/20/2008 05:14:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger