Consolidating Talibanistan

Taliban base in South Waziristan. BBC Photo. Click to view.

The Taliban takeover of the Northwest Frontier Province continues virtually unopposed. In North Waziristan, the Pakistani government is suing for peace after five days of fighting that resulted in at least 50 soldiers killed; unofficial estimates are over 100). In South Waziristan, the Taliban are showing off a captured military base, parading captured soldiers in front of the media, and bragging about beheadings. In the settled district of Swat, the local Taliban are conducting public floggings while the bomb religious statues. In Mohmand, the Taliban are conducting public beheadings.

North Waziristan

The fighting in North Waziristan has essentially stopped. The last reported incidents from North Waziristan occurred on Thursday. Two soldiers were wounded in a roadside bombing, and rockets were launched at a fort near Miranshah. The majority of the fighting earlier this week occurred in Mir Ali.

The Taliban and the Pakistani military are currently working on a ceasefire, the Daily Times reported, with the end goal being the renegotiation of the North Waziristan Accord.

“Once the ceasefire is agreed upon then a larger jirga will discuss permanent peace,” Ali Jan Orakzai, the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province said. The negotiations between the government and the Taliban are being conducted through tribal elders.

The government signaled it was looking for a political solution earlier in the week just as the fighting raged in and around Mir Ali. The government claimed over 200 Taliban were killed, including 25 Uzbek, Arab, Afghan, and Tajik members of al Qaeda. Tribesmen claimed the majority of those killed were civilians after the air force bombed a series of towns in the region.

South Waziristan

The Taliban continue to showcase the Pakistani soldiers captured two months ago. BBC News correspondent Syed Shoaib Hasan was taken to the Taliban base in South Waziristan where scores of soldiers are still in captivity.

Hasan was taken to a captured Pakistani army communications outpost. The Taliban displayed post communications equipment, vehicles, as well as several of the Pakistani soldiers taken prisoner. Zulfiqar Mehsud, the spokesman for al Qaeda-linked Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, said 50 Pakistani soldiers were captured when the outpost was overrun.

The Taliban base is in an identifiable location, as the BBC photograph shows. The mountains, fortifications, and white marking on the ground are clear markers. The Pakistani military will know exactly where this site is located.

But “the militants control so much of the territory here,” Hasan noted. “The reaction of the people is startling – the children smile and wave, while the adults look on with respect and pride,” he said as he passed through South Waziristan to reach the camp. “It appears that local support for the militants is almost universal.”

The Taliban continue to practice the beheading of their enemies. Numerous “US spies” and “government spies” have been murdered and beheaded, and the Taliban are beheading Pakistani soldiers. Hasan interviewed the Taliban about their practice:

One militant, Faisal, said “cutting off the head is the best and most humane way to kill”.

“When the head is removed from the body the soul is immediately released. Whereas when you hang a person, the soul has to struggle to escape from the mouth.”

“If we want to punish someone, we cut his head from the back of the neck, instead of the throat,” says Faisal. “That is very painful and its takes a long time to die.” One of the group, we are told, has decapitated 53 men.

Many of the US and government spies have been found beheaded “from the back of the neck,” with notes pinned on their bodies warning others of the consequences of going against the Taliban.

Swat, Mohmand agencies

The situation in Swat and Mohmand agencies continues to deteriorate. The Pakistani government cut deals with the Taliban in both agencies this year.

In Swat, where Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah just formed a volunteer force to “control the law & order,” the Taliban whipped three accused kidnappers in front of a crowd of 20,000 people in the town of Matta. “Such punishments will deter others from committing crimes,” Fazlullah said.

The local police in Swat stood by as the punishment was meted out by the Taliban. “Police confirmed that three men were publicly whipped but said that they were unable to take any action because [Fazlullah] had a large following of armed men,” AFP reported. “He has declared a holy war against the government and it is not the police’s job to fight a war,” a senior police official told AFP. Fazlullah is famous not only for his attacks on the government, but for running illegal FM radio programs extolling jihad and opposing polio vaccination programs.

The Taliban also successfully damaged a statue of a 23-foot-tall Buddha, which “is considered to be the largest in Asia, after the two Bamiyan Buddhas,” reported. The Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan in 2001 just prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Swat Taliban had time for “drilling holes in the rock and filling them with dynamite.” A prior attempt to destroy the Buddha on September 29 failed.

In Mohmand, the Taliban publicly beheaded six “criminals.” The accused were captured after a gun battle that resulted in four Taliban killed. The Taliban raided the leader of a kidnapping gang, and a battle ensued. “The gang leader opened fire, killing four of the militants, but they later killed him and five of his family members, burned down his house and seized another six of his followers,” AFP reported.

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



  • Iraq and Jihad Central 10-13-2007

    Only posting a few links today and then starting my weekend
    A Tale of Two Massacres — Matt Sanchez
    Consolidating Talibanistan — Bill Roggio
    HLF’s Financial Support of CAIR Garners New Scrutiny — IPT
    Trial date set for officer ch…

  • Morgan says:

    This is a terrible situation. The Pakistani military is obviously a spine-less, incompetent, impotent force with nukes. The Talib’s will undoubtedly use this territory from whence to launch incursions against NATO and the Afghan government. I pray that our military and intelligence leaders are examining ways to launch debilitating strikes against the terrorist leaders in this region, while maintaining some degree of “plausible deniability”.

  • raj Kumar says:

    Perhaps the question should be possed to your Congress representative & your Senator. Given the fact that Pakistan has been given $10 Billion by the USG since 2001.
    And what does US have to show for that not a single HVT!!!! pretty poor return on investment if you ask me. Pretty amazing considering that some of that $10 billion is being used to buy bullets/RPG’s heading towards American’s wearing green!!!
    I hope you get what you are asking for but I know you won’t. GoP has too many protectors in the US DoD / State.

  • Morgan says:

    Thanks for your response. I’m not very happy about many aspects of our government’s policies in central Asia. I just wish that it was India and not Pakistan that bordered Afghanistan. India’s military is everything that Pakistan’s is not.
    I don’t believe that our government really ever considers ROI anymore on foreign aid. With the possible exception of the Marshall Plan and Israel, ROI on FA has been very poor indeed! I also hope that Iraq will be an exception, in the longer term.
    God bless.

  • Rhyno327/lrsd says:

    Bill, i read where British Warrior IFV’s were very effective against t-ban and AQ forces. Is there any Bradley’s, Strykers or Abrams in the ATO? the Stryker with the 105mm MGS would be effective in the right kind of terrain. Is there any heavy US armor in theater? Do you agree with the Marine Corps desire to run the war in a-stan? thank you…

  • Bill Roggio says:

    The Canadians were using LAV IIIs in Kandahar last summer. But from my perspective the lack of troops, not firepower, is what hinders the cause in Afghanistan. We need more boots on the ground.

  • Morgan says:

    Perhaps I’ve just missed it being addressed here at LWJ, but what is the status of the Afghan armed forces? I can see why you’ve alluded to boots on the ground, but I would like to see most of those boots filled by Afghan army troops.
    An Afghan OOB profile (similar to the ones you do such a great job of with regard to Iraq) would be great.
    Of course, OPSEC concerns are paramount.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Hello Morgan,
    You are correct, we have not given the ANA a fair shake here at the LWJ. In my opinion, the ANA is behind the Iraqis int heir ability to field forces and operate independently. Some folks are working behind the scenes on the ANA OOB (nice catch by you).

  • Morgan says:

    Thanks for the response Bill, and I salute you and the entire LWJ team for the great work that you all do. I tell everyone I know to look here first for the real news and goings-on in both of these important theaters of operation.
    One more point about armor in Afghanistan: The visions of those Soviet BTR, BMP, etc., convoys being decimated by mujahadin during their decade-long “quagmire” there, are always fresh in my mind when speaking of armored deployment to that theater. As a former armored cavalryman, Afghanistan looks like a light, air mobile, airborne infantry-type of theatre to me. I think continuing that strategy, along with the necessary changes to tactics as the situation there develops, is the right one. I’m sure that there are situations where armor support for a given operation would be quite right and welcomed, but I’ve not heard of any complaints from commanders there about any shortages of armor (a la Mogadishu during “Blackhawk Down”). I also trust that should more be requested, NATO (particularly the US) would provide it.
    I sure would like to see the ANA catch up to the IA in getting units on line and engaging the Talibs. My thoughts are that will become an accelerated process once the resources for that mission become available (by more significant progress in Iraq?).
    Thank you again for all you do and God speed.


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