The Warriors of Allah

Posted by: Maloy Krishna Dhar on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Recent pronouncements by several US authorities, comments by US/UK security and intelligence experts and even some transparent Pakistani politicians expressed the likelihood of Taliban (al Qaeda backed) forces sweeping Pakistan and taking over political reins of the country. The desperate attitude of top Pakistani politicians indicate that in the face of Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (al Qaeda ally), Laskar-e-Taiba, Jais-e-Mohammad (allied to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan) and some al Qaeda raiders Pakistan’s very existence is in jeopardy. These forces have occupied the entire Waziristan in NWFP, established control on Peshawar, Quetta, Bannu, Mohmand etc administrative centres and have carried out tantalizing attacks in Lahore, Islamabad, Chakwal, Multan, besides several attacks in Karachi.

David Kilcullen, a former adviser to top US military commander General David Petraeus and a top counterinsurgency expert feels that Pakistan could collapse within six months. The same concern has been expressed by NATO experts. In a report released in February 2009 by a task force of the Atlantic Council that was led by former Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said: “We are running out of time to help Pakistan change its present course toward increasing economic and political instability, and even ultimate failure.”

President Obama and his European allies are ready with huge financial and military assistance to induce Pakistan to combat the Taliban, al Qaeda. President Zardari and Chief General Pervez Kiyani may be willing to go for the Taliban. But to the Pakistan Army core, the ISI, parts of the bureaucrats and the Mullah community dominated political and civil leaders consider India as the Foremost Enemy and are not willing to engage the main body of the Army to combat the Taliban, al Qaeda and myriads of jihadi tanjeems created by the State of Pakistan and the ISI.

Pakistan, as India asserts, is in a denial mode. The Chief Capital Police (CCPO) of Lahore Pervaiz Rathore said on 10th April that the police had gathered concrete evidence of Indian involvement in the Lahore attack on Sir Lanka cricket team. The political masters appear to have buried their heads like ostrich. They also talk in ambivalent voices and refuse to recognize, despite major attacks on Lahore PTS and Islamabad.
While refusing to disclose the proof, Rathore said the police would make all evidences public at the appropriate time. He said the police and intelligence agencies had jointly interrogated terrorists arrested during the attack on the school. He said they had confessed to their links with India. Such self-delusionary statements indicate that Pakistan is yet to accept the stark naked truth that the Taliban and other Warriors of Allah are on the verge of overrunning Pakistan. They still try to compel Pakistanis to live under the so-called shadow of the Indian dodo.

The truth was, however, revealed by another grassroots police officer. NWFP police Chief Malik Navid told the Pakistan National Assembly’s standing committee that the extremist organisations were spreading rapidly through the country and were no longer confined to the mountains of NWFP or Waziristan. He said the terrorists’ aims included destabilisation of current regimes in the Middle East - a long-term objective of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and establishing Taliban rule over entire Pakistan. The Talibanis are capable of swarming Islamabad as their encampments are within 100 kilometres of the capital city.

Pointing to the unchecked progress of jihadi groups, Navid said Taliban were moving towards major cities like Lahore and Karachi. “Their people are present in every city and town. In some places they are active, in others they are dormant. Taliban’s philosophy is to create pockets everywhere,” he said, adding that jihadi groups were moving through southern Punjab and eventually aimed to reach the financial hub of Karachi. (Quoted in Daily Times of Pakistan 11.04.09)

Navid, according to reports from Pakistan, said that the al-Qaida-Taliban combo hoped to use parts of the Middle East as launching pads for attacks against the West and pointed out that the groups had developed some expertise in making bio-chemical weapons. He warned that the Pakistan government needed to urgently focus on containing militancy as it spread from its bases. It is needless to point out that despite Pakistani assurance of foolproof security of its nuclear arsenal it is known to IAEA experts and the CIA that scientists close A. Q. Khan are in touch with the al Qaeda supremo.

The frank assessment of the police official serves to confirm concerns about whether Pakistan and its military complex in particular is prepared to unambiguously acknowledge the threat posed by jihadists given the army and ISI see Taliban as allies and an auxiliary force in ensuring a “friendly” dispensation in Afghanistan and feeding the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistan army’s sporadic efforts to roll back jihadis have lacked conviction and have predictably shown poor results. Some western experts say that the ISI and Pakistan and Afghanistan Taliban are in cahoots. The Newsweek commented in a recent issue: “According to a Pakistani source who follows the issue, high-level American officials have shared with their counterparts in Islamabad some intelligence indicating that renegade ISI elements helped Mehsud’s group train for the December 2007 assassination of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, whose widower, Asif Ali Zardari, is now the country’s president.”

Pakistan’s Establishment’s psyche is confined in a witch’s mirror. It refuses to see the truth and act to break out of the glass cage. The patronage extended to Deobandi and Wahhabi groups by Pakistan’s army and ISI since 1980 for operations in Afghanistan and anti-India operations had given birth to HUJI, Harkat-ul Ansar and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen etc tanzeems. They were seen to be more brutal and ready to carry out the directions of their handlers than aboriginal Kashmiri outfits. These outfits created by ISI and Deobandi-Wahhabi Maulanas were tied in with the rise of Taliban, who came from the same ideological base. Ironically, having facilitated escape of Taliban leaders from Afghanistan after 9/11, Pakistan now faces the same threat at home.

Navid’s testimony also points to the virtual merger of al-Qaida with Taliban, with the latter being both part of the core and the major striking arm. The al-Qaida core of leaders like bin Laden and the Eqyptian Ayman Al Zawahiri has shrunk but its “vision” can be seen in the overall jihadi plan to topple the Pakistani state. Indian intelligence assessments see anti-India groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba being very much a part of this conglomerate.

In the context of these observations by Mr. Navid and Daily Times we need examining the groundswell of the Taliban groups in Pakistan. I had written on August 8, 2008 in this portal about than prevailing position of the Taliban groups:

Major Taliban Groups:
1.Taliban Classical- Mullah Omar
2.Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani Group
3.Tehrik-e-Teluba; Mullah Safi; Orakzai Agency
4.Tehrik-e-Teluba: Mullah Jalali
5.Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan; Baitullah Mehsud
6.Splinter Taliban Groups in Swat, Waziri and NWFP areas:
Md. Mokhtar Mujahid; Mufti Latifullah Hakim;
Md. Yusof; All loosely connected to Mehsud and Khalili Groups.
7.Tehrik-e-Nifaz-Shariat Mohammadi; Maulana Fazlullah
8.Maulvi Nazir & Tehir Yuldashev groups
9.Tora-Bora Taliban created by son late Maulavi Khalis
10.Tehrik-e-Taliban; Omar Khalid Group
11.Lashkar-e-Taiba; Jais-e-Mohammad; Lashkar-e-Jhangvi
Lashkar-e-Mohammadia wax and wane with major Taliban groups.

Recent studies indicate some major changes:

(A Who’s Who of the Insurgency in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province: Part Two – FATA excluding North and South Waziristan
Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 4
March 3, 2009 10:46 AM Age: 42 days
Category: Terrorism, South Asia, Home Page, Terrorism Monitor, Global Terrorism Analysis
By: Rahimullah Yusufzai

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is the largest organization of Pakistani militants operating in the country’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), which includes the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Launched in a secret meeting on December 13, 2007, it is active in most of the 24 districts, seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions in the province. The militants’ strongholds are in South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Orakzai, Kurram, Khyber, Mohmand, Bajaur, and Darra Adamkhel tribal regions and in the settled districts of Swat, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank, Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan, Mardan, Charsadda, and Kohat, Miranshah, Haripur and Abottabad.

The following is a profile of important Pakistani Taliban commanders active in areas of the NWFP and FATA and South Waziristan and North Waziristan.

Bajaur Agency

In Bajaur Agency, where Pakistan’s armed forces launched an intensive military campaign against militants on August 6, 2008, the mainstream TTP is led by Maulana Faqir Mohammad, a former leader of the banned Islamic group Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM). The group’s founder, Maulana Sufi Mohammad, is presently playing an active role in peacefully resolving the two-year-old conflict in Swat district. In 1994, the black-turbaned followers of Maulana Sufi Mohammad (commanded by Maulana Faqir Mohammad) turned to violence in support of their demand for enforcement of Shari’a (Islamic law) in Bajaur and the rest of the Malakand area in Swat.

Maulana Faqir Mohammad, leader of the mainstream TTP,

Maulana Faqir Mohammad, leader of the mainstream TTP,

Maulana Faqir Mohammad is a resident of Sewai village in Bajaur’s Mamond area, a stronghold for the Pakistani Taliban. He belongs to a family of clerics who fought in Afghanistan during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet occupation and later as allies of the Taliban. The TTP in Bajaur is reported to have several thousand fighters and supporters. They put up stiff resistance against the Pakistani security forces but the military campaign has diminished their strength and disrupted their command structure and supply routes to other tribal regions, as well as Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces. The TTP managed to establish a Shari’a court in Sewai village with six branches in different parts of Bajaur. The courts were part of the parallel administration that the TTP set up before the military moved in and took tough action against the group.

Another militant group operating in Bajaur is the Jaish-e-Islami, which parted ways with the TTP in 2008 but now appears to have mended fences with the TTP in a desperate bid to resist the Pakistan Army’s operation. Led by Waliur Rahman a.k.a. Raihan, the group consists of militants hailing from the Bajaur village of Damadola. Attacked with laser-guided missiles three times by CIA-operated Predator drones in 2007 and 2008, Damadola enjoys special status with the Islamist movement in Bajaur. Another important figure in the group, which used to have several hundred fighters before the military operation in August 2008, is Maulana Ismail. There were reports that Waliur Rahman had developed some differences with Maulana Faqir Mohammad, but these were apparently not serious in nature and are reported to have been resolved.

Prior to the army’s campaign in Bajaur, the Karwan-e-Niamatullah was considered one of the most powerful groups in Bajaur. Led by Haji Niamatullah of the Salarzai area, the group stuck with the TTP despite having some differences with its policies. At its height, the group had several thousand fighters. It suffered losses when tribesmen from the Salarzai area formed a tribal lashkar (an armed force usually raised with a specific objective), with support from the government and under the leadership of their tribal chiefs. The lashkar started chasing out the militants, who retaliated with suicide bombings, one of which killed scores of their armed rivals, including some tribal elders. The Karwan-i-Niamatullah established its own Shari’a court in Pashat, the main town of the Salarzai area, but the group has since been uprooted from there.

Dr. Ismail (a quack) is another powerful commander in Bajaur. He was affiliated earlier with Pakistan’s biggest religious-political party, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, who recently declared that the government has no writ in any part of the NWFP (Daily Times, February 20). Dr. Ismail once employed the services of a few hundred fighters until the military struck in Bajaur and pushed his group out of their strongholds. Two young sons of Dr. Ismail were killed in Afghanistan. The TTP considers him and his supporters as part of the organization. However, Dr. Ismail is against the TTP’s policy of fighting against Pakistan’s armed forces. Instead, he wants the Pakistani Taliban and other militants to concentrate on fighting the U.S.-led coalition forces in neighboring Afghanistan. He has steady links with several Army and ISI operatives.

Maulana Abdullah is another known commander of the militants in Bajaur. He is affiliated with the TTP and has operated mostly in the Charmang and Utmankhel areas of Bajaur. At one time he had a few hundred fighters at his command. Also operating until recently in the Charmang area was an Afghan Taliban commander named Saeedur Rahman. He seems to have become less active after being warned by the Afghan Taliban to decide whether he wants to fight in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Mohmand Agency

Two militant groups are known to have operated in Mohmand Agency. One of the groups was evicted after a clash with the TTP cadres in the area. Its commander, Shah Sahib a.k.a. Commander Khalid, was active in Mohmand Agency for two years until July 2008, when TTP fighters led by Omar Khalid a.k.a. Abdul Wali overran his base and killed him and several of his men. Shah Sahib, a known Salafi, did not want to fight the Pakistani state or its armed forces. From his camp near the Pakistani-Afghan border, Shah Sahib sent his followers to fight in Afghanistan. He had several hundred fighters in his group, which was commonly known in the area as the Jamait Ahle Hadith, Pakistan.

A larger group of militants was led by Omar Khalid was affiliated to Baitullah Mehsud’s TTP. It emerged from obscurity in July 2007, when its fighters captured the shrine of Haji Sahib Turangzai (1858-1937), a social reformer, anti-British freedom-fighter, and religious scholar, in the Lakarro area of Mohmand Agency. Omar Khalid’s group renamed the mosque adjacent to the shrine “Lal Masjid” after the radical mosque in Islamabad that was the site of a bloody siege by security forces in July 2007. The group pledged to avenge the killing of Lal Masjid’s religious students at the hands of the Pakistan Army and President General Pervez Musharraf. The group extended its control over most of the Mohmand Agency when it publicly slaughtered notorious criminal Yousaf Khan and seven members of the gang and evicted the rival Ahle Hadith militants group of Commander Shah Khalid. Some of his fighters were also deputed to Indian Kashmir as Khalid was earlier involved in Kashmir jihad. This group of Omar Khalid is strong followers of orthodox Salafi tenets preached by Osama bin Laden.

Initially, the shrine of Haji Sahib Turangzai was turned into a base for the militants and a Shari’a court with Afghan scholar Sayyad as the judge was set up. The group had several hundred fighters but its strength was reduced following the military operation in Mohmand Agency in late 2008 and early 2009. Tribal elders from Mohmand recently expressed their support for continuing military operations in the area by the Mohmand Rifles of the paramilitary Frontier Corps.

Darra Adamkhel

Darra is the unofficial armament factory in Pakistan. There are three groups of Pakistani Taliban operating in Darra Adamkhel, a semi-tribal area known officially as the Frontier Region of Kohat. It has a strategic location due to its position on the main road linking Peshawar to the southern NWFP and beyond via the Kohat Tunnel, which was built by Japanese engineers and opened in 2003. The groups active in Darra Adamkhel are the Tehrik-e-Islami, Islami Taliban, and al-Hezb.

The Tehrik-e-Islami and the Islami Taliban became active in the area in mid-2007. The former was founded by a local Afridi tribesman named Muneer Khan, while the Islami Taliban was founded by Momin Afridi. The groups later merged and became part of the TTP. Both leaders were killed in a military operation in the area in 2008. Leadership then passed to Commander Mohammad Tariq, a tribesman hailing from the Bazidkhel Afridi tribe. Another important commander is Mufti Ilyas, a resident of the Sheraki area of Darra Adamkhel. Mufti Ilyas is now deputy to Commander Tariq and acts as a sort of ideologue for the group.

Another known commander is Hamza Afridi, who the group’s spokesman calls simply Mohammad. Several months ago the group kidnapped a Polish engineer, Petr Stanczak, from the Attock district in Punjab and killed him in February 2009 after Pakistan government refused to accept a demand for the release of its members. The group has several hundred fighters under its command. Following the military operation, the militants lost control of the Kohat Tunnel and the Darra bazaar, a gun-manufacturing center for over a century. The leadership has shifted to the adjacent Orakzai Agency, but the group’s fighters are still able to occasionally attack security forces in the area.

An obscure group calling itself al-Hezb made its appearance in Darra Adamkhel in late 2008 by distributing pamphlets and leaflets and pasting them in shops. Al-Hezb declared its opposition to the other militant groups and offered an alternative platform. However, al-Hezb never held any public meetings and its leaders are still unknown. In fact, it has even stopped distributing leaflets. Both militants and tribesmen in Darra Adamkhel felt it was part of a trick by the government to confuse the Taliban groups and create differences in their ranks.

Kurram Agency

The TTP, through its regional commander Hakimullah Mahsud, has set up bases in the Lower Kurram valley, which is inhabited by Sunnis, unlike the Upper Kurram valley where the Shi’a are in the majority. Recently, the U.S. carried out its first Predator missile strike in Kurram against an alleged hideout of Afghan Taliban in an Afghan refugee camp. The attack killed at least 26 people, including several militants (Daily Times, February 17).

Taliban & al Qaeda controlled areas in Pakistan

Orakzai Agency

The TTP has sanctuaries in the Orakzai Agency, a tribal territory with a Sunni majority and Shia minority. Orakzai is the only tribal region in Pakistan that does not border Afghanistan. Hakimullah Mahsud, a young tribesman from South Waziristan and a deputy to TTP head Baitullah Mehsud, operates out of Oarkzai Agency and is also commander of the militants in the Kurram and Khyber tribal regions. A young man in his late 20s, Hakimullah Mahsud invited the media to his hideout in Orakzai Agency in November 2008 to give his first news conference. This interaction enabled him to emerge from the shadows of Baitullah Mehsud and become known as a commander in his own right.

Khyber Agency

Kamran Mustafa Hijrat a.k.a. Mohammad Yahya Hijrat was, until a few months ago, the top Taliban commander in the Khyber Agency, which is named after the famous Khyber Pass that serves as a gateway between Central and South Asia and has been the route taken by invaders, conquerors, and traders for centuries. Hijrat was arrested in Peshawar’s Hayatabad town in late 2008 and is now in the custody of Pakistan’s security services.

Hijrat was a deputy to Hakimullah Mahsud and was reportedly responsible for attacks on trucks carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan. His men also burnt more than 300 vehicles destined for Afghanistan at a terminal for NATO trucks on Peshawar’s Ring Road. Hijrat is an Afghan by birth and was a small-time Afghan Taliban commander before making it big as a member of the Pakistani TTP. His deputy, Rahmanullah, also an Afghan national, has taken over as acting commander of TTP for Khyber Agency.
Several non-Taliban Islamist militant groups are active in Khyber Agency, mostly in the Bara area. These include Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar-i-Islam, the late Haji Namdar’s Amr Bil Maruf wa Nahi Anil Munkar (Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice), and Ustad Mahbubul Haq’s Ansar-ul-Islam.

Bailullah Mehsud, TTP leader, threatening occupation of entire Pakistan.

Bailullah Mehsud, TTP leader, threatening occupation of entire Pakistan.

{end of article}

Waziristan Groups

Two major Pakistani Taliban groups based in Waziristan are the North Waziristan faction led by Hafiz Gul Bahadar. It has strength of about 2000 fighters. The South Waziristan faction, led by Mullah Nazir led another 2000 odd Talibanis. The North and South group divided into divergent Khels had agreed in late 2008 to put an end to a local feud and their differences with Baitullah Mehsud, the overall leader of the Pakistani Taliban. The three groups have joined forces to prevent outside enemies from dividing the Taliban.

The three leaders met at an undisclosed location in the Waziristan region. The Taliban warlords agreed to form a 13 member shura, or council. Leadership of the shura would rotate and Baitullah, Nazir, and Bahadar would sit on the council. It is unclear if Nazir and Bahadar will join Baitullah’s Tehrik-e-Taliban, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. There are reports of strong ISI support to the Waziri groups. Baitullah’s group, which operates in all of the tribal areas and throughout the Northwest Frontier Province, has defeated the Pakistani military in multiple battles, forcing the government to cut peace agreements. The move to unite the Waziristan factions comes as the Taliban achieved its greatest victory yet by humiliating government forces in Swat and forcing the state to cede a vast region in the Northwest Frontier Province. Mullah Fazlullah, the second in command of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, has led the fighting in Swat.

South Waziri TTP leader Mullah Nazir, Bill Roggio; THe Long War Journal

South Waziri TTP leader Mullah Nazir, Bill Roggio; THe Long War Journal

Taliban forces in Pakistan are now spread over the entire Federally Administered Territory (FATA), Waziristan areas of NWFP, other major pockets of the province and even several blocks in Quetta region of Balochistan. The reports about Taliban and Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) collaboration are yet to be convincingly established. However, it is correct that several Taliban groups of Mullah Omar (Afghanistan) have set up camps in areas of Balochistan.

Besides territorial spread the Pak Taliban and al Qaeda forces are now located in major cities and towns like Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta and in several districts in Jhang Maghiana area of Punjab. Besides Pathan, frontier tribals, Afghani Pustuns several groups of Seraiki, Punjabi, Hindco and Pustu, Sindhi and Balochi speaking Pakistanis are now spearheading the jihadi groups. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, originally formed in Jhang area of Punjab as an anti-Shia armed force (Sipaha Sahaba) is now directly aligned with the al Qaeda. L-e-J was suspected in the Lahore attack case on the Sri Lanka cricket team. Some of the attackers spoke in Seraiki language. It may be mentioned that the Seraiki speaking people of Pakistan and India (Hindu) have a strong organisatinsl base and they resent Punjabi hegemony.

According to SABRINA TAVERNISE, RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and ERIC SCHMITT (International Herald Tribune, April 13, 2009): “Tell-tale signs of creeping militancy abound in a belt of towns and villages near here that a reporter visited last week. Militants have gained strength considerably in the district of Dera Ghazi Khan, which is a gateway both to Taliban-controlled areas and the heart of Punjab, police and local residents say. Many were terrified.

Some villages, just north of here, are so deeply infiltrated by militants that they are already considered no-go zones by their neighbors.

In at least five towns in southern and western Punjab, including the midsize hub of Multan, barber shops, music stores and Internet cafes offensive to the militants’ strict interpretation of Islam have received threats. Traditional ceremonies that include drumming and dancing have been halted in some areas. Hard-line ideologues have addressed large crowds to push their idea of Islamic revolution. Sectarian attacks, dormant here since the 1990s, have erupted once again.” The total picture drawn by the scribes indicate that even rural areas of Punjab have been infiltrated by al Qaeda, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and local tanzeems.

Another report supports the view that Lashkar-e-Taiba is training nearly 20,000 lashkars every year and bulk of the trained boys is deputed to Pakistani tribal areas and Afghanistan, besides Indian Kashmir. The training centres are very much located in Pakistani Punjab.

More alarming are the reports of the TTP occupying Buner district just about 100 km from Islamabad. Reports say that having forcibly taken over Buner district adjoining Swat Valley, Taliban militants have begun using mosques in the area as “recruitment centres” to attract youths to join their ranks. Almost all mosques in villages in Buner district are being used by the Taliban to recruit local residents for their cause of enforcing Sharia or Islamic law in the Malakand division, which includes Swat and the rest of the country, media reports said on Monday.

The entry of Taliban into Buner, which is just about 100 km from the federal capital, has raised alarm throughout Pakistan as to the intentions of the Taliban. Armed bands of Taliban poured into Buner from neighbouring Swat and took control of the district after overcoming resistance from local tribesmen and officials. The militants on Sunday (April 12) placed villages in Chamla sub-district of Buner under their protection and faced no resistance from law enforcement agencies. Despite assurances to a tribal jirga last week that they would leave Buner, the militants have instead strengthened their hold on the district.

Maulana Khalil, a Taliban leader from Swat, addressed a congregation in a mosque in Malakpur village where he was welcomed by clerics and a large number of local residents. He urged youths to come forward and shoulder the responsibility for enforcing Sharia in their areas. Khalil said the movement for enforcing Sharia in Malakand division had started 20 years ago but the peaceful campaign could not achieve results. Thus it had to be turned into an armed movement to enforce Sharia. He also said the Tehrik-e-Taliban had to spread its message in the rest of Pakistan and youths must come forward to shoulder the responsibility in their respective areas. Other Taliban commanders asked youths across Buner to join their group to take control of their own localities. They said the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has roots within and outside the country.

Besides the Pakistani nationals the al Qaeda and TTP ranks are also manned by Arabs, Chechens, Uzbeks, Uyghurs (China), Tajiks and even some professional fighters from Yemen, UAE, the Philippines and Bangladesh. The panorama has taken a wide spectrum Islamist presence on both sides of the Durand Line and both Kabul and Islamabad governments have failed to contain the march of the Warriors of Allah. While Osama bin Laden aspires to take over the heartland of the Middle East and direct Jihad against the infidel West, the TTP and allied forces are determined to take over entire Pakistan and convert it to a pure land of Islam-as earlier witnessed in Mullah Omar’s Afghanistan. Though the Muslim elites are aware that success of the Taliban would push the Muslim masses back in history by about 1300 years, they are not chipping in their best to contain the Warriors of Allah.

After several disastrous military expeditions and regular US UAV shelling Pakistan failed to tame the al Qaeda and several factions of the TTP. It realized that TTP etc were front formations of al Qaeda and Pakistan was not able to contain the surge of the Warrior of the Allah. Pakistan’s civil government is ineffective and several segments of the Army are not in favour of getting locked up in the killing fields of Swat and Waziristan. It is known that sections in the ISI are informers of Baitullah Mehsud. Maulana Sufi Muhammad, chief of banned outfit Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah-e-Muhammadi (TNSM), and the NWFP government headed by Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti signed an agreement on February 15, 2009 which reached understanding to extend Nizam-e-Adl Regulation (Shariat Rule) in the entire areas controlled by the TTP and allied forces. Maulana Fazlullah, Baitullah Mehsud, Maulana Sufi Mohammad agreed to maintain peace and surrender weapons once President Asif Ali Zardari approved the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation. Fazlullah said this during a meeting with Swat peace Jirga head Inamur Rehman. Talking to reporters after the meeting Rehman said Fazlullah had told him that the Taliban in Swat would not lay down their arms until the president signed the regulation.

While these negotiations are in progress to push back certain parts of Pakistan to the dark ages (recall a recently published BBC video of a tribal woman lashed by the Taliban in Swat area). The dark memories of Taliban rule are afresh in mind. With Baitullah Mehsud threatening to take over entire Pakistan and the main soul of Pakistan-the Army and ISI dithering to take firm action it is a matter of time before these Warriors of the Allah take charge of the reins of Pakistan.

Finally President Zardari managed to present the Nizam-e-Adil regulations in the National Assembly on April 13, and after approval of the MNAs (minus MQM). Constitutionally it was not necessary to present the Bill in the NA. Zardari did so to send a message to USA and other donor countries that he signed the Shariat Rule Bill under pressure of the majority of the MNAs of Pakistani parliament. The charade was not lost on the USA and allies. According to sources in Washington the USA is seriously examining how to digest the bitter pill of Shariat rule in parts of Pakistan where the US tax payers were being asked to invest out of their pockets.
The US, Russia and other Donor countries are aware that by succumbing to TTP demand Pakistan has initiated the process of Talibanisation of entire Pakistan. In fact, Afghanistan, CAR countries, Iran, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are threatened by al Qaeda and Taliban and their allied tanzeems. Such a strategic development is dangerous for the Middle East, Western countries, CAR countries and India particularly.
Before considering these geostrategic dangers let us examine the grassroots grouping of the al Qaeda and Taliban forces. We must have clear understanding of the Afghan Taliban, which is now a part & parcel of al Qaeda and TTP.

Antonio Giustozzi, a research fellow at the London School of Economics had studied the evolution of the Taliban since 9/11. Giustozzi feels that Taliban is not a single ethnic group.
He describes it as a religious network which turned into a political movement. And then they started expanding — co-opting other religious networks, and then gradually going beyond those religious networks to start forming alliances with local communities or local power players.

Taliban lacks a strong organizational structure and is essentially still a network based on personal relations between the leadership and people at the local level owing allegiance to local commanders, who are mostly motivated by flourishing opium. Heroin trade and cash support.

According to Giustozzi Mullah Omar is not an authoritative leader. He is more like a broker among different members of the leadership who may have differences over issues of how to fight the war or whether to negotiate or not. So in a sense, it is modeled from their experience as clerics.

In his recently published book, “Koran, Kalashnikov And Laptop: The Neo Taliban Insurgency In Afghanistan,” Giustozzi describes how the Taliban leadership has recently embraced new strategies and technologies, including computers and suicide bombings. Giustozzi’s book also describes how the Taliban has reorganized and adapted to changing political conditions in Afghanistan since 2002.

“Of course, the top leaders are people who have been with the Taliban for a long, long time. So in that sense, the very top leaders are still the same. What is new is that they are trying to incorporate new constituencies and, therefore, represent different tribes and communities. So as their constituencies change, they also adapt to those constituencies,” Giustozzi says. He says the original Taliban were largely Ghilzai, while in 2003 and 2004, the majority of the leadership were actually Durannis. Other tribes have also joined the bandwagon of Mullah Omar.

According to Giustozzi the modern Taliban are essentially a guerrilla movement, whereas in the 1990s — even in the early days of 1994 or 1995 — they fought like regular army. In that sense, the main difference is the way they operate.

Working for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Christine Fair last year studied the phenomenon of suicide bombings across Afghanistan. Her work led to important conclusions not only about suicide bombers, but also about the emergence of this new generation of Taliban fighters. Her opinion is that: “The important big picture is Afghans like to tell you that this is a Pakistani phenomenon,” Fair says. “As we all know, there is Pakistani involvement. There is recruitment across the border. In the tribal areas, madrasas figure prominently. But even if Pakistan went away, you still have a largely Afghan-driven insurgency.” Fair describes the situation as a “cross-border phenomenon,” and says that “the insurgency is not going to be resolved if you think that the problem stops either at one side or the other of the Afghan border.”

Her findings are supported by a series of interviews with Taliban fighters in Kandahar Province that was published online last month by Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper. Those interviews suggest NATO air strikes and drug-eradication programs have fed the insurgency in southern Afghanistan. Many Taliban soldiers said their family members had been killed in air strikes or that they had been opium-poppy farmers until their crops were destroyed by drug-eradication teams.

Paul Fishstein, the director of the Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit, an independent Kabul-based research organization that receives funding from the United Nations, the European Commission, and other international donors, says that researchers should be careful not to oversimplify the demographics of today’s Taliban. “We always have to be careful about referring to ‘The Taliban,’” Fishstein says. “Often, anything violent — anything bad that happens — is attributed to either ‘the enemies of Afghanistan’ or, more generally, ‘The Taliban.’”

Fishstein concludes that the structure of today’s Taliban is complex — and that foreign researchers often have difficulty understanding the rivalries and local agendas that have contributed to the resurgence of the movement. “What we generically refer to as ‘The Taliban’ is a set of different individuals and groups who have differing grievances, differing motivations, differing attitudes — and take a hostile attitude toward the Afghan government,”

According to Fishstein: “There’s an awful lot of groups out there that either have personal grudges, political grudges, or actually profit from the lack of law and order in the country.”

While these are chilling factors the other storm of chill arise out of groupings of the forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban, whatever its structure may be, is firmly aligned to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda. The TTP factions and other Pakistani Jihadi tanzeems are loosely aligned to this conglomerate. It is a Global Jihad Inc. The joint force has emerged as an ideology:

Besides this grouping, the TTP have collaborative relationship with Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jais-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-Jhangvi, Jamait-ul Mujahideen (Pak) and Hijbul Mujahideen. These forces are available at the command of Taliban, TTP and the ISI to extend operations in India and Bangladesh. Recent emergence of Hezbullah (in Bogra) in Bangladesh spells newer dangers for South Asia. This is the restructured International Council for Jihad. While these forces are partners of the TTP for occupation of Pakistan, the TTP itself is aligned to the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda. This comprehensive picture should be able to open the blinded eyes and dead soul of Pakistan.

Unfortunately Pakistan is yet to wake up despite repeated visits by high US officials and announcement of flooding Pakistan with money, honey and military bonhomie. President Zardari, PM Giliani and other lesser politicians indulge in ambivalence like the canine cutie singing into the megaphone of the armed forces and the ISI. Even if it is assumed that conscious section of the civil society of Pakistan is against Talibanisation and the democratic forces do not want politics of religion the Army, ISI and the forces of Islam germinated by Zia-ul-Haq and nurtured by the mullhas and maulanas and flowered by the jihadi tanzeems (fathered by the ISI) are likely to devour the political existence of Pakistan. The State of Pakistan is likely to very soon surrender to Politics of Religion and International Protocol of Islamic Jihad.

The Army does not want to engage the TTP, al Qaeda and other tanzeems on geostrategic consideration that in case the practitioners of politics of religion are weeded out they would lose the services of an Auxiliary Army that is being used to bleed the USA and the NATO in Afghanistan, and India in Kashmir and in its heartland. Pakistan has used such Auxiliary Army against India in 1948 and 1965 (Kashmir) and is using again in Kashmir and other parts of India. Pakistan has been transformed into a factory of Sahidee Dasta- suicide squads producing facility. By spending a paltry amount of 100,000 they can produce a human bomb that is capable of wrecking havoc.

The US has been caught in Catch 22 situation. It cannot sustain the war in Afghanistan without Pakistan’s help. With full knowledge of Pakistan Army the Taliban is regularly burning US convoys carrying war materials to Afghanistan. Now the CAR countries and Russia are opening up routes and air bases to help the NATO forces; so much so that the US now badly wants Russia to jump into the Afghan war. What an irony of history; the same US had strengthened the ISI, created mujahideen and al Qaeda to defeat the USSR in Afghanistan. Would Afghanistan and Pakistan be another killing ground of global democracy and secularism? Would the concept of politics of religion emerge victorious in this region and spread in other parts of the world? These questions would continue to haunt the world till the present fabrics of Pakistan’s jihadi forces are not destroyed and the civil societies in Afghanistan and Pakistan are restored and democracy is mad vibrant. For achieving this goal the USA has to defang the rogues in Pakistan Army, bureaucracy and the ISI.
Painfully, the situation is drifting out of control. According to Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi, a political commentator of Pakistan, “the overall disposition of the official and non-official circles towards terrorism is generally ambiguous, and they lack the much-needed unity of mind on the threat of terrorism. Most condemn terrorism and view it as a threat to Pakistan; however, many of them would not name a militant group for an incident or would not favour the application of tough measures against the perpetrators of terror.
The typical Pakistani mindset is oriented to religious conservatism and militancy and shows varying degrees of sympathy for militants. Naturally, such a mindset cannot be easily convinced that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are a genuine threat to Pakistan.

Suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks are typically described as nothing more than reactions to American military presence in Afghanistan or revenge for American drone attacks in the tribal areas. The argument is that Pakistan’s security forces are killing the tribal people at the behest of the US, which causes anger among the Taliban, who in turn target Pakistani state institutions and public places for retribution. The typical line of thought that runs quite deep in official civilian and military circles is what else can one expect from the Taliban when Pakistan and the US bomb their homes.

This mindset describes terrorist attacks as a US, Indian and Israeli conspiracy to destabilise Pakistan. The US wants to destabilise Pakistan in order to justify taking over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and making it subservient to India. This skewed mental and emotional disposition has been created not only by madrassa education but also by the regular state education system, starting in the mid-1980s under the Zia regime. Zia-ul Haq’s government also used state patronage to promote Islamist groups and militancy, and the media was also used to propagate Islamic orthodoxy and militancy.

The socialisation of young people along these lines continued even after the death of Zia-ul Haq. The military, the ISI and their Islamist allies continued with the Zia legacy. A halfhearted attempt was made by General Pervez Musharraf after September 2001 to change this Islam- oriented socialisation but his desire to win over the MMA for political survival diluted this effort… Religious extremism and terrorism are now threatening civic order and security in varying degrees in the NWFP, Punjab and Sindh. In Balochistan, Taliban-type groups have a strong presence in and around Quetta, which has transformed the religio-cultural profile of the area.

Hard-line militant groups, the Taliban and others based in mainland Pakistan, appear to have gained confidence after the peace agreement in Swat and the spate of high-profile terrorist attacks in Lahore, Islamabad and Chakwal. The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan threatened to launch two such attacks a week.” Can Pakistan cope with terrorism? Daily Times 12.04.09. The same fears were earlier expressed by Nazam Sethi, editor Daily and Friday Times in an editorial titled “The state has given up” on 05.04.2009.

This being the candid view of a Pakistani political analyst can India remain safe if Pakistan is occupied by Taliban and al Qaeda and allied tanzeems? An examination of the helplessness of Pakistan indicates that jihad has the tendency to overflow national boundaries. Additionally the Ummah concept does not recognize and national or state boundary. India is just in the pathway of Jihad twister now ravaging Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Political map Pakistan, Compare Infobase Limited

Political map Pakistan, Compare Infobase Limited

Places of Action by TTP and al Qaeda in Pakistan.

The illustration above makes it clear that Taliban elements are very much present on Swat, Waziri and ‘Azad Kashmir’ borders, even up to Manshera. Even if some reports of presence of TTP in Muzaffarabad are not correct it should be taken into account that late Commander Khalid’s group of TTP was earlier operating in Kashmir in different name. There are confirmed reports that the TTP has shifted closer to AJK, at Manshera, Sial, Kot Bhalla, Lasu Sultani, Thandiani, Balakot (NWFP) areas. From these stations the TTP can reach Muzaffarbad in 24 hours.

Can Pakistan use the TTP as an Auxiliary Army in Indian Kashmir? Your author has reliable information that a section of Pakistan Army and the ISI are bribing the TTP to cease operations in Swat and North and South Waziri areas and divert action into IHK-‘Indian Held Kashmir.’ It is a matter of time when Pakistan would use US money to deploy the combined forces of the TTP, L-e-T, J-e-M, J-u-M Pak and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. Their operations are obviously not likely to remain confined to J&K. The target is Indian heartland.
The question is: Can India cope with the situation if Pakistan deploys the combined forces of the TTP and allied tanzeems? At this point of time the answer is: NO, a big NO.

Since 26/11 very little has changed except certain uncertain pronouncements by the Union Home Minister and the Prime Minister. The UPA government has bluffed the people of India. What is being said in election rallies are nothing but electoral mud and mass placebo. Informed sources in the government say that nothing new has been done to strengthen the Central IB. What has really been done is approval of the government to fill up 6000 vacancies for which approval was given by NDA government but never administratively implemented because of Ministry of Finance setting up roadblocks. The Home and the Prime Minister and the UPA chief did very little to expedite the process. They have misled the people by offering false promises. Now there is a hesitant rush to reemploy some retired IB officers (for maximum 5 years only) and get some police and army personnel on deputation (negligible). New recruitment takes to prepare a supposed batch of 100 officers (annual capability to train) to deploy in the field as intelligence generators a minimum period of 5 years. So, to fill up 6000 vacancies in cutting edge level of intelligence gathering the IB would take minimum 10 years. Why the government is trying to fool the countrymen? The entire process of the UPA government gearing up for combating serious threat from Pakistani Auxiliary Army is a charade. The country is being bluffed.

The State Governments with some exceptions of Gujarat and Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, have done precious little to create Exclusive Intelligence Branches with dedicated officers. Creation of Strike Forces-Task Forces-Commandos etc are for battle engagement. Who generates the essential intelligence input? There is NONE. The State governments are not serious on the issue of creating dedicated Intelligence Units with wider ground spread.

A lot was said about coastal security after 26/11. What has been done in last 5 odd months? Nothing or very little. As of today nothing tangible is visible on the ground. Barring some preparedness in J&K no tangible preparations have been made anywhere in the mainland India. Mere absence of 26/11 like incidents during the lull period does not mean that the Jihadis in Pakistan have gone on summer hibernation and their collaborators in India have rushed to the mango gardens (the luscious season is coming). Not more than 3 jihadi cells have been busted in last 5 months. If the NSA is to be believed there are more than 800 cells in India. It is not mandatory for the government to share secret information. But the way organs of the government responsible for National Intelligence and Security should have more open windows to reassure the people. The Establishment should share information with the public. It is the constitutional right of the people.

India has the bitter lesson that Pakistan is not going anywhere with the 26/11 investigation. The CCPO Lahore has already blamed India for the Lahore attack on Sri Lanka cricket team. Pakistani leaders are articulating every day India’s involvement with the Baloch insurgents and some segments of the TTP. With such mental blockade of Pakistan India can expect very little cooperation. All said and done the USA is not likely to bail out India.

Should India align with the US to combat the Taliban and al Qaeda? No. The US cannot do without its nemesis-Pakistan and final desertion of Afghanistan/Pakistan leaving the region open to Islamic Jihad. Obama is not Bush who would jump into action against Pakistan, especially when the US is passing through 1929-30 like recession. The NATO would be happy if they are allowed to withdraw from Afghanistan. The US allies in Iraq are tired and want to withdraw. The US does not dare to attack Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ even though North Korea gains ICBM capability and Iran is on the verge nuclear breakthrough.

On the other hand, the Islamsit forces are gaining strength in Western China (ironically China has reached a protocol with Jamait-e-Islami Pakistan and the pro-TTP government of NWFP), Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia (all in Russian Federation), Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, Spain and the UK. Recent researches indicate that al Qaeda network exists in about 150 places in the USA. In Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt (home of al Zawahiri), Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco etc countries al Qaeda has been emerging as reckonable forces. Al Qaeda influence affects the jihadi tanzeems in Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines. This being the global picture, India, with nearly 800 jihadi modules still to be identified should not be drawn into the dragnet of US global strategy.

India is required to develop its own strategy based on the principles constant war preparedness. This is not going to be a frontal war. The al Qaeda and Taliban have introduced a new guerrilla war tactics that can thwart any conventional army. India should be prepared for anti-guerrilla warfare in its very heartland, besides Kashmir and the Northeast. To achieve capability India cannot remain complacent by false and exaggerated promises by the so-called secular Congress & casteist allies (UPA?) and much maligned so-called Hindu Right Wing Reactionary Communal Forces (NDA?). The people are no more ready to be fooled by false and provocative hyperboles. Some real ground level war preparedness is called for. And that should be now. Otherwise India would miss the opportunity and can only bemoan when a Talibanised Pakistan decides to deploy its Auxiliary Army to Indian theatres. That time is not far.

Topics: Articles

8 Responses to “The Warriors of Allah”

  1. 1
    A HINDU Says:

    Thank you sir for presenting very informative piece. I am shocked to know that HM, PM and Sonia have not done anything ecept giving false promises. How can we stop the march of taliban when they have established bases in Pak Punjab? We are the next natural target. The US, Afghanistan have objected to Pak surrender to Taliban. Why is not India lodgint protest? Are we so imbecile? Why should we vote for Congress if the PM bluffs us?  

  2. 2
    Bentham Fisher Says:

    Excellent Mr. Dhar. This is a comprehensive and in depth study. I wonder why Pakistani politicians are succumbing to Taliban? What is India doing? Can’t India join US and pressure Pakistan?

  3. 3
    chintamani sharma Says:

    Welcome Dhar. Your research is incisive. But where do we stand when HM, PM and Sonia bluff us? How do we fight al Qaeda and Taliban and the other Auxiliary Armies of Pakistan? What is our psychophant doormat NSA doing?

  4. 4
    Dharmendra Raj Says:

    Your analysis is good. You have projected the problem well. But please suggest what should we do with imbecile governments misleading us?

  5. 5
    Faqir Asakzai Says:

    Oi kafir Hindustani! How dare you take the name of the Allah? We are sure to storm India in near future. We will direct our boys to take care of you, a Satan. Be aware, you enemy of Islam.

  6. 6
    Ehasanullah Torikhel Says:


  7. 7
    BrainDead Says:

    You can storm India. You all are welcome. We are not Pakis that you will storm us.  Could heve been better titled “Assholes of Allah!”

  8. 8
    Dravid Says:

    Oh Pleeeeaze come.  Even Allah will not take you back after you meet me. I will prepare 72 virgin female donkeys for you since 72 homosexuals will not be available in your hell.

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