'Good' Pakistani Taliban group vows to step up attacks in Afghanistan


South Waziristan Taliban leader Mullah Nazir [bottom-center].

A Taliban leader who is supported by the Pakistani state has vowed to ramp up attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan after the US launched several Predator airstrikes in his tribal areas over the past week.

Maulvi Younus, a senior Taliban commander and spokesman for Mullah Nazir, who leads Taliban forces in the Wazir areas of South Waziristan, said his group would "send more fighters" into Afghanistan in an effort to kill US soldiers. Pakistan's military and intelligence services consider Nazir and his followers "good Taliban" as they do not openly seek the overthrow of the Pakistani state, despite the fact that they shelter top al Qaeda leaders and carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

"Because the United States is launching these strikes we will send more fighters to Afghanistan and step up our operations against US forces," Younus told Reuters. "We have no other option. We have no weapons which shoot them (drone aircraft) down so we will fight the United States in Afghanistan."

Qari Yousaf, one of Nazir's aides, claimed that the Taliban have "lots of mujahideen" to send to Afghanistan and that the Predator strikes will help with recruiting more fighters.

"We have lots of mujahideen (holy warriors)," Yousaf told Reuters. "It is not a problem. If drone strikes continue we believe many tribesmen will join us because they (drone strikes) are killing ordinary people. Our shura will decide on the appropriate time to send more fighters and how many will go."

The US has conducted five Predator airstrikes since June 3 in areas under Nazir's control, including one strike today. On June 5, the US launched three strikes in South Waziristan that killed 18 Taliban and Punjabi fighters. And four days ago, the US launched another strike in South Waziristan that also targeted Punjabi fighters. Ilyas Kashmiri, a top al Qaeda leader and the commander of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and Brigade 313, is reported to have been killed in the strike, although the reports have not been confirmed. A purported statement released by HUJI announcing Kashmiri's death contains errors, while a photograph supposedly showing Kashmiri after his death was actually that of a Lashkar-e-Taiba fighter killed during the November 2008 assault on Mumbai, India.

The US has been pounding terrorist targets in South Waziristan this year, and has already exceeded last year's total number of strikes in that tribal agency. In 2010, only seven of the 117 strikes took place in South Waziristan (104 took place in North Waziristan). So far this year, 10 of 34 strikes have taken place in South Waziristan (24 took place in North Waziristan).

"Good Taliban" leader Mullah Nazir also an al Qaeda leader

Nazir has openly supported Taliban emir Mullah Omar and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and wages jihad in Afghanistan. In an interview with the Asia Times, Nazir rejected claims that he opposed al Qaeda, and affirmed that he considered himself to be a member of the global terror organization.

"Al Qaeda and the Taliban are one and the same," Nazir said. "At an operational level we might have different strategies, but at the policy level we are one and the same.... This is wrong that I am anti-al Qaeda. I am part of al Qaeda."

Despite Nazir's affiliations with terror groups, the Pakistani military has entered into several peace agreements with him. In the summer of 2009, the military signed a peace agreement with Nazir stipulating that he would not shelter al Qaeda or members of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which were based in the Mehsud tribal areas of South Waziristan. The Pakistani government launched a military operation against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in October 2009, but left Nazir's areas untouched. Nazir has continued to allow the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, al Qaeda, and other terror groups safe haven in his tribal areas.

Significantly, more senior al Qaeda leaders have been killed in Nazir's tribal areas during the US air campaign than in those of any other Taliban leader in Pakistan. Nazir also shelters the Mehsuds from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, in violation of the peace agreement with the Pakistani government.

In the past, the US has killed several senior al Qaeda leaders in Nazir's territories. One of the most senior al Qaeda leaders killed was Midhat Mursi al Sayyid Umar, who is better known as Abu Khabab al Masri. Abu Khabab was killed along with four members of his staff in a Predator strike on July 28, 2008.

Two other top al Qaeda leaders killed while in Nazir's care were Osama al Kini (Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam), al Qaeda's operations chief in Pakistan; and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, one of al Kini's senior aides. Both men were wanted by the US for their involvement in the 1998 suicide attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

In another strike in Nazir's territory, US Predators also killed Abu Hazwa Jawfi, who is said to have led Jundallah, a Pakistani terror group that is based in Karachi and maintains close ties with al Qaeda.



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READER COMMENTS: "'Good' Pakistani Taliban group vows to step up attacks in Afghanistan"

Posted by Blackhawk Squadron at June 8, 2011 3:41 PM ET:

These guys are doing exactly what any of us would do (hopefully with a little more proficiency) if our own country was invaded and occupied.

"If drone strikes continue we believe many tribesmen will join us because they (drone strikes) are killing ordinary people."

These guys are never going to quit because they "have no other option" but to die fighting. It's _their_ country, for every ant we squash a dozen more crawl up out of the nest. This whole thing is a ridiculous waste of lives and resources.

PFC Blackhawk

Posted by Graham at June 8, 2011 4:58 PM ET:

Hey Bill, I wanted to ask you...I know that the Pakistanis distinguish between the "good" and "bad" Taliban, but how do the "good" and "bad" Taliban view each other? Does Mullah Omar cooperate with Hakimullah Mehsud?

Posted by Jose Diaz at June 8, 2011 7:22 PM ET:

This is nothing else but a bluff to try to convince us to stop using our drones.
Our drones have been proven very successful eliminating key taliban fighters and the taliban doesn't like it.
They are not "defending their country" they are invading their neighbor's.
I can surely bet that his community has been sending fighters to Afghanistan all along through the years.
Now is the time to carpet bomb them out of existence since the pakistani are not doing anything about them.
The more we bomb the less are their probabilities to win and they know it !

Posted by James at June 8, 2011 10:14 PM ET:

@Blackhawk Squadron

Actually, let's face the reality of the situation. We are now at war with Pakistan. Why doesn't Congress just declare it as such?

I say as I have many times before we join forces with India to eliminate these tyrants from the face of the earth once and for all.

Posted by JRP at June 9, 2011 12:03 AM ET:

@ Blackhawk Squadron . . . Had the Taliban turned the AQ leadership over to us in 2001 as demanded, none of this would be happening. What is your proposed alternative in light of the professed goal of both AQ and the Taliban to destroy America?

It seems to me that if we can post U.S. Military personnel to South Korea and Germany and Japan, etc. etc. in perpetuity for the purpose of placing those countries under our military protection, then we certainly can decide to remain in AFPAK indefinitely for the purpose of thwarting said professed goals.

I'd rather our forces be in and be active in AFPAK than be here policing the area following detonation of smuggled Pakistani Nukes.

Posted by kp at June 9, 2011 1:31 AM ET:

@Graham: See some of my previous comments (and links) on the "killing of IK" story showing that certainly some "good" Taliban like Nazir do not get along with "bad" Taliban (like Mehsuds and Kashmiri) to the point of violet conflict. Some of this is tribal (and perhaps historical) efforts for power in the region: think something like different Mafia families. Hence some people being surprised when the IK meeting was hit in SW (Nazir territory): what was IK and AQ doing there.

Posted by Eric at June 9, 2011 6:09 AM ET:

Stop sending your goons over the Afghan border to attack NATO and Afghan troops and we will stop the drone attacks. It is that simple!

Posted by Mohammed Atta at June 9, 2011 7:44 AM ET:

PFC Blackhawk,

Your kind of answer is EXACTLY what THEY want to hear from America's leaders. Yes, THEY will DEFEAT you eventually because you have no HEART for war nor understand their STRATEGIC VISION of killing all INFIDELS like you NO matter where you live. It is their Koranic sacred duty to perform JIHAD to eliminate your kind from the FACE of the EARTH and re-institute Islamic hegemony all over the world. If YOU don't understand your ENEMY, study Muhammed's teachings and ALL of the Islamic scholars who PREACH jihad each and every day, 365 days per year, in the MADRASSAS and MOSQUES.

Posted by sports at June 9, 2011 8:01 AM ET:

So they are sending more fighters to Afghanistan? I was wondering if it would be possible to keep an eye on these fighters as they move into Afghanistan with drones and welcome them with a few missles?

Posted by Charles at June 9, 2011 9:12 AM ET:

More likely Mullah Nazir is talking about sending troops to afghanistan because of ISI suspicions about overall Taliban intentions that cast a pall on both the "good" and "bad" taliban.



But more importantly people can't help but notice that a lot of the drone attacks are in Nazir's territory. People wonder whether Nazir is a "good" Taliban because he is also giving away targeting.



The double cross is just a way of life in that neck of the woods.



The exception may be Haqqani network. The washington times has an article today on them that says they are the main obstacle to peace in the area.



http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jun/8/haqqani-terrorists-threaten-us-withdrawal-from-afg/



If so you have to wonder why their top guys were not on the Clinton's hit list. May be because of memories of Jalaluddin Haqqani and Charlie Wilson.



There is no mention of Nazir.

Posted by James at June 9, 2011 11:40 AM ET:

Bill, I wonder if @Blackhawk Squadron is active duty.

Because if he is, I believe the statements attributed to him above are the equivalent of treason.

Someone that expresses views like his does NOT belong in our military.

Posted by Villiger at June 9, 2011 11:51 AM ET:

I wouldn't dismiss Blackhawks remarks so easily.

America is fighting a half-Af'ed war.

The root causes are not being addressed:

--Pakistan's State sponsorship of terrorism and thugs (which is what their Establishment is too), and

--Pak's NUKES.

Its NOT AF, it's PAK-PAK stupid!

Posted by kp at June 9, 2011 12:42 PM ET:

@Charles: "If so you have to wonder why their top guys were not on the Clinton's hit list."

Siraj Haqqani is on the top five list along with AQís number two Ayman al Zawahiri, Taliban leader Mullah Omar, chief of HUJI Ilyas Kashmiri, and Al-Qaeda chief Atiya Abdel Rahman.

Posted by Neo at June 9, 2011 7:09 PM ET:

This isnít any better for the other side. The Taliban canít be all that happy right now either. They have a faction of the ISI in on their side, but effective support is half assed at the best. Being double crossed by the same people is increasingly a problem. You have to watch your back all the time, all the while those mechanical buzzards keep circling round and round.

The Pakistaniís seem willing to fight to the last Waziri. That is not resolve. If Pakistan actually had any resolve about the matter, this would have been over years ago. The absolute last thing we need to do is make this into a Pakistani, US showdown.

Posted by villiger at June 9, 2011 8:59 PM ET:

At some time we need to do that absolute last thing, unless of course, which is the course they are on, Pakistan has imploded before that.

Pakistan needs to grow a few inches taller, but in fact they are shrinking.

Posted by ArneFufkin at June 10, 2011 12:43 AM ET:

@Mohammed Atta: Don't misconstrue an internet Agent Provocateur like "PFC Blackhawk" for any serious individual in the American political, military or diplomatic corps.

Posted by Bungo at June 10, 2011 10:42 AM ET:

Sometimes I get the feeling that the Taliban keep sending sacrificial lambs into Afghanistan ONLY because the ISI is somehow coercing them to do so for their own strategic negotiating goals. Even the stupidist Jihadi has to have, at one point, realized that if they simply lay low in Pakistan and drink beer and watch TV for a year that the Coalition would then be more than happy to declare victory and leave. At that point the Taliban could walk into Afghanistan unopposed and take the whole place over in a few short weeks. DUH!

Posted by Charu at June 10, 2011 6:27 PM ET:

@Bungo, my thought exactly. Haqqani is only making it needlessly difficult for this administration to declare victory and hightail it out of Afghanistan. OTOH the Pakistanis are clever enough to understand that they need to keep up the pressure on the politicians who care more about their reelection than the lives already sacrificed, to force a total American withdrawal like it happened before in Somalia, Lebanon, and Vietnam. The Pakistanis realize that the only way they can achieve their goal to colonize Afghanistan is if there is no superior force in their way.

Posted by Danram at June 10, 2011 8:09 PM ET:

Yeah, PFC Blackhawk ... Let's just pack up and leave, then watch as Afghanistan is turned into a terrorist sanctuary once again and the Taliban exact their bloody revenge on all the Afghans who were stupid enough to believe that the US was committed to victory. If we leave now before the job is done, then we'll just have to come back again in five years' time and start all over again.

Posted by steve m at June 10, 2011 9:00 PM ET:

From my understanding, in Saleem Shahzad's book he discusses that Aq's stated strategy is to keep the US in Afghanistan for as long as possible. In my opinion, some countries seem to support this strategy, certainly elements of Pakistan.

Posted by Peter Johanssen at June 11, 2011 9:37 AM ET:

The article states that "..Pakistan's military and intelligence services consider Nazir and his followers "good Taliban" as they do not openly seek the overthrow of the Pakistani state...".

Surely, this is not true.

Please see Mullah Nazir's 6-part interview in
Urdu (with English subtitles) here--
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkEkLluNmRo

Posted by don at June 11, 2011 1:35 PM ET:

Since religiously committed irregulars in their home stomping grounds have the strategic advantage (merely to survive is to win to fight another day), I suggest crossing the drone warhead threshold; a one kiloton device should do nicely, repeated as necessary, sanctuary after sanctuary. Just think of it as draining the village seas the sharks swim in. Or call it ethnic cleansing with extreme prejudice. Whatever. Otherwise we're just playing the decent interval game in search of a departure formula for face saving.

Posted by sajid khan at June 23, 2011 11:36 PM ET:

the report illustrates gul bahadur as more powerful than the Pak state,which is not true,People like him are pupets in hands of the state.they have been killing.looting.kidnapping for ransom,and for money sake selling their loyalities.taliban means student which is unjustified to be used for such,people with a supplement good or bad.