Clashes between Pakistani security forces and al Qaeda and the Taliban continue in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province. Yesterday, the Pakistani Army hit “suspected Taliban hideouts” with artillery barrages and helicopter strikes after security outposts in North Waziristan came under attack from Taliban fighters. Today in North Waziristan, “a paramilitary trooper and three tribesmen were killed on Sunday in a shoot-out in a restive Pakistani tribal region, as authorities tried to enforce a ban on carrying arms.”
Pakistan remains in a largely reactionary posture in North and South Waziristan, while the Taliban continues to openly consolidate power. A Pakistani Taliban commander is openly recruiting jihadis to fight in Afghanistan while calling for further implementation of strict Shariah law, according to Pakistan’s Daily Times. “‘We are leaving for Afghanistan tomorrow, those who want to participate in Jihad can join us,’ Asmatullah Shaheen told a gathering of more than 300 people in Jandola town, near the restive tribal region of South Waziristan, they said. Shaheen, 30, also announced a three-month extension on an Islamic edict he handed down last month stating that men in the conservative region should all grow beards.”
Pakistan remains a target-rich environment for mid and senior level al Qaeda and Taliban commanders. Over the past week alone, four mid-level al Qaeda and Taliban commanders are believed to have been killed in a series of separate operations, Two mid-level al Qaeda operatives are believed to have been killed in Pakistan, and a mid-level al Qaeda operative and senior Taliban commander have been killed in Pakistan.
Pakistani security forces reportedly killed Abu Marwan al-Suri in Pakistan’s in Bajaur Agency. al-Suri was believed to have been killed in the Predator strike in Damadola, Bajaur in January of 2006. al-Suri has been called al Qaeda’s “bagman” who “distributed money among terrorists and their families, including a relative of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.” He is also said to have been an explosives expert. “‘He (al-Suri) was in charge of al Qaeda operations against Pakistani forces in North and South Waziristan. He was behind attacks against coalition and Afghan forces in eastern Afghanistan,’ according to Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao.
Pakistan’s Daily Times reports al-Suri was al Qaeda’s operational commander in Pakistan’s Bajaur province and Afghanistan’s Kunar province. A laptop and diary were discovered after the firefight, which provided proof of his identity and operations. The likelihood is al-Suri was a regional commander in the tribal agencies and across the border in Afghanistan. al-Suri’s death follows that of Mohsin Matawalli Atwa, one of the architects of the 1998 attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Eastern Africa who was believed to have been killed in a helicopter attack in North Waziristan.
Palestinian Authority security forces indicate Husam Abu Baker, a Palestinian member of al Qaeda, was recently killed in during “a US military operation in Afghanistan.” While not stated, the likelihood here is Baker was killed during Operation Mountain Lion in Kunar province. Baker is described as “One of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted aides” who “was married to Fatmeh, the daughter of Ayman Zawahiri.”
Afghan police killed Mohamad Haleem and two of his underlings during a raid in Zabul province. Haleem is described as a “senior [Taliban] commander” who is said to have been “behind many attacks targeting government officials and schools in the province.”
Afghanistan remains a battleground. Four Canadian soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing attack in the restive Kandahar province. One U.S. soldier was killed during an ambush in Uruzgan Province. And an Afghani man discovered an improvised explosive device inside a mosque in Khost province. “A Coalition explosive ordnance disposal team entered the mosque and rendered the IED harmless,” according to CENTCOM. The Taliban attacked an Afghan construction company “on the Uruzgan-Kandahar highway near a southern Kandahar provincial village,” and killed a security guard and wounded two. Twelve Taliban suspects were arrested in Kandahar and four were arrested in Zabul province.
The Taliban’s resurgence and the establishment of safe havens in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province if fueling the Afghan insurgency, and having a direct impact on the security situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban and al Qaeda have a fertile recruiting base in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, much to the detriment of the Pakistani and Afghani governments, and the Coalition forces trying to restore order and rebuild the nascent Afghan nation.
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