ISAF denies cross border raids into Pakistan

Denial technically true; Achilles update

Incidents by region in Afghanistan, 2007. Click to view. Courtesy of VSSA.

Last week, western forces from Afghanistan were reported to have crossed the Pakistani border, and captured Mullah Hakimallah Mehsud, a clansman of Baitullah and Abdullah Mehsud, the two leading Taliban commanders in South Waziristan. Yesterday, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force spokesman denied any involvement in operations inside Pakistan. “Contrary to recent press reports, the NATO International Security Assistance Force has not and is not involved in the conduct of any operations inside of Pakistan,” noted an ISAF press release. “” ‘These reports are simply false,’ said Col Tom Collins, ISAF spokesman.” Colonel Collins is technically correct, this wasn’t a NATO led mission, but, as we noted the day the news broke, one conducted by Task Force 145, the hunter-killer Special Operations group created to pursue senior al Qaeda leadership.

The U.S. currently has over 11,000 troops in Afghanistan who do not fall under the command of ISAF. They are deployed largely in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan, and their primary mission is interdicting Taliban and al Qaeda cells and formations. Task Force 145 certainly would not fall under the command of NATO.

Meanwhile, the NATO led ISAF forces are still battling the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. British, Afghan, U.S., Canadian and Dutch forces are engaged with the Taliban in Operation Achilles in northern Helmand province. Two days ago, NATO forces called in close air support to attack Taliban positions in Ghorak. “Ghorak is situated in the northwestern part of Kandahar province and is the general area where the U.S. 1st-508th Airborne Infantry is manoeuvring operating as part of Operation Achilles,” noted the ISAF press release. “This position was part of a wider web of Taliban extremist positions used to conduct operations aimed at de-stabilising the Government of Afghanistan.”

Last week, NATO killed killed Mullah Jamaluddin, “the joint deputy commander of Taliban forces in the Garmsir area of southern Helmand Province,” along with several of his aides in air strikes on March 7. Three Taliban commanders in Helmand province have been since December of 2006.

Incidents by province in Afghanistan, 2007. Click to view. Courtesy of VSSA.

The Taliban and al Qaeda have stepped up the suicide bombing campaign over the past several days. Yesterday, three suicide bombers struck in Kandahar and Helmand provinces in the south. Only four were killed in the attack however. The bomber in Kandahar struck at the border town of Spin Boldak. He crossed the border from Pakistan.

Today, a suicide attack Khost killed 5 and wounded 38. The terrorist struck at the trailing vehicle in a police convoy. “Four civilians and a policeman were killed,” reports The Associated Press. “Nine of the 38 wounded were policemen… Twelve of the injured were in critical condition.”

Aftermath of gun shop explosion in Kabul. Image Courtesy of VSSA. Click to view.

Kabul had a scare last evening, as a large explosion rocked Police District 1, the same district where the Presidential palace is located. “One of the haji shops back in the gun bazaar in PD 1 blew up,” reports Tim Lynch, the Vice President of Vigilant Strategic Services Afghanistan, a security company. “The explosion killed about 10 locals. A lot of people thought it was the Serena Hotel getting bombed because when you looked at the blast cloud from our direction the [cloud] looked like it was over the Serena.”

Mr. Lynch also provided graphs of the violent incidents in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2007. The pie graph shows 64 percent of the violence reported in Afghanistan occurs in the Pashtun regions bordering Pakistan, while the bar graph shows Nangarhar, Kandahar, Kunar and Khost provinces lead in incidence of violence. Nangarhar and Kunar provinces directly border Bajaur province, where al Qaeda has established a command a control center and the Taliban rule. Khost borders North and South Wazristan, where the Taliban openly rule and al Qaeda has established terror camps. Kandahar borders Baluchistan, where the Taliban direct operations into the south.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • bman says:

    the book “Charlie Wilson’s War” is a real eye opener.

  • RJ says:

    I always like news that suggests we are killing the bad guys. Further, I really don’t care who travels into areas supposedly off limits if they are successful in taking out more bad guys. Granted, if such moves are discovered by our enemies, then trouble could arise. However, I certainly don’t think the leadership in Pakistan considers our killing people who want to overthrow that government a bad thing. In other words, behind the dust of complaints one should be able to see smiling faces! Go American soldiers…do what is necessary. Also measure the opium crop earlier this year for counter choices. And keep your eyes open for our good buddy, Mullah Omar! Allah wants to have a personal talk with him…sooner, rather than later!

  • lawrence de la garza says:

    Slightly off topic…
    ..but everyday I read the sidebar news wire…. I see another “American Spy” being beheaded by the Taliban..and it DOES seem like everyday…
    ..what is this?..paranoia?…. intelligence deficit on the part of the Taliban that leads to a kill for intimidation?..or are we leaving our sources out in the cold?…how does this stuff work? we get info from individuals that we can’t protect?
    I’m just wondering how that kind of thing works…

  • Bill Roggio says:

    The Taliban & al Qaeda treat anyone that disagrees with them or supports the Pakistani government as a ‘US spy’. These can tribal leaders, Afghan refugees, etc. I’m told al-Qaeda has a cell specifically devoted to this task. They are consolidating their power and killing anyone that remotely poses a threat to their control.

  • lawrence de la garza says:

    Thank you for responding…
    ..but are these kills actually related to any breach of intelligence or just an intimidation factor to prevent dissent or Western leanings in the region?
    I would hate to think that Afghans who are helping our cause ..meaning the West, I guess..well, hell….USA….were left unprotected after giving valuable intelligence…
    I guess it’s impossible to protect everyone…
    I just hope that these people I read about have
    not been people who we have used for info…then left unprotected…
    that would not be good…well, I guess I just wouldn’t feel good about it.

  • Typhoon says:

    Larry; Lighten up. Stalin, Hiltler and rest could always justify the killing of any opposition as “spys.” You think these guys are any better? Just the same old, same old. It get worse when they start loosing control(as they are) and deep parnoia sets in. It seems that these guys are just locals that said the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong guy and probably couldn’t spell America. We don’t leave guys out in the cold ever.

  • Alberich says:

    This does point up one of the difficulties in gaining good intelligence on groups like this (and on regimes like Stalin’s or Saddam’s) — when anyone can be executed as an imagined spy, keeping a real spy alive and active can’t be easy.

  • Drazen Gemic says:

    I’ve heard that Khmer Rouge killed people wearing glasses. They were suspected to have myopia because they read books. Being educated was a serious crime.
    Islamic radicals have similar attitude. There was a statement by that al-Baghdadi character (from Iraq), who called for an educational system reduced for needs of Moslem nation.
    Se executing someone for being western, capitalist, free masonic, trotskist, subversive element or whatever is a common thing.

  • RJ says:

    Of course the KR and the VC did things we might consider horrendous. We used to take ears for score. What of it? It is within a war, and at a certain point the troops can cross over into a world of pure death and anything that even walks close to it. That’s where leadership comes into play. Whether it is a pile of arms or heads, it’s a message for others. The game is not to be one of those who lost. For some it may be very difficult to realize this is a very real, deadly, and serious game of war, where there will be both winners and losers…on all sides. It is ugly at its very best, beyond cruel and inhuman at its worst! Let’s win this! Peace is better, and much closer to what our hearts desire, on all sides when one finally comes to really think about it.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 03/15/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

  • ldlg says:

    ASADABAD, AFGHANISTAN: Taliban guerrillas chopped noses and ears of at least five truck drivers in eastern Afghanistan as punishment for transporting supplies to United States-led troops, officials and residents said on Sunday.
    The drivers were part of a convoy headed for a coalition military base when they were attacked in the province of Nuristan on Saturday.
    “The number of drivers who had their noses and ears cut varies, it is between five and eight,” Ghulamullah, the police chief of Nuristan who uses only one name, said citing locals and officials in the area.
    Several trucks were destroyed in the attack.


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