Taliban waging ‘jihad to purge Pakistan’ – Zawahiri

As the Pakistani Taliban merge forces and strike peace deals with the government, al Qaeda’s second in command said that the Taliban is waging war against the Pakistani state.

In a videotape released on the internet on Feb. 23, Ayman al Zawahiri said that the Pakistani Taliban is fighting the Pakistani government just as the Afghan Taliban has fought the Afghan government and NATO forces.

“Your brothers in the Taliban are not fighting to liberate Afghanistan only, but also the Taliban in Pakistan are carrying out jihad to purge Pakistan from the United States and its agents in the Pakistani Government and army,” Zawahiri said.

Zawahiri’s video appeared on the internet just days after the three major Taliban factions in North and South Waziristan put aside their differences and formed the Council of United Mujahideen. Baitullah Mehsud, Mullah Nazir, and Hafiz Gul Bahadar created the umbrella group at the behest of Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar. They promised to fight against “infidels” in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the US.

Al Qaeda has advocated for the Pakistani people to fight their government since August 2007. Abu Yahya al Libi, an al Qaeda spokesman and ideologue, urged the Pakistani people and the Army to turn against then-President Pervez Musharraf’s regime after the military stormed the radical Red Mosque in the heart of Islamabad. Zawahiri has repeated this call to rebellion several times since then.

In his latest tape, Zawahiri also urged the Pakistani and Afghan people to continue to fight their governments and eject Western countries from the region.

He mocked the West and Afghan President Hamid Karzai for attempting to negotiate with Taliban outsiders “not linked to al Qaeda,” highlighting the interconnectedness of the two groups and dispelling the rumors that there is a split between al Qaeda and the Taliban.

He described the attempted negotiations as a sign of weakness. “Americans are in a serious predicament, and their agents are in a state of confusion and turbulence,” Zawahiri said.

“We saw Hamid Karzai in Munich inviting those members of Taliban residing outside Afghanistan who are not linked to al Qaeda to return to Afghanistan in order to participate in the political process,” Zawahiri said. “It is an invitation which draws out ridicule, similar to what the United States and Saudi Arabia tried to promote earlier in regard to holding negotiations with Taliban through Saudi mediation.”

The Taliban issued multiple public statements, including several statements by Mullah Omar that said the negotiations were being carried out with people who no longer represented the group. The Taliban also described these negotiations as a sign the West’s failure in Afghanistan.

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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  • Bill Roggio says:

    wYSe Guy,
    I am currently looking into the Bajaur situation and hope to have a report on this later this evening.
    I would warn that listening to & believing the Pak military spokesman comes with much peril. I can, and have, cite numerous instance where he has blatantly lied to the media, only to backtrack days later. Whatever Abbas is saying, he is putting the best possible spin on it.
    It should be noted that Faqir Mohammed is lying through his teeth when he says that there are no foreign fighters in Bajaur.
    Also, Baitullah Mehsud signed off on the Swat peace deal. And why wouldn’t he? The Taliban got what they wanted; they brought the military and government to its knees.
    Finally, Zawahiri and the Taliban have much to be happy about, they’ve carved out a large chunk of territory on both sides of the border.

  • Ayamo says:

    Bill is right.
    Remember how the Pakistani army claimed to have cleared Bajaur TWICE in 2008?
    They will call the capture of a small village a huge victory.
    I doubt that the Taliban and their allies are beaten in Bajaur.

  • Raj Kumar says:

    IMO it is obvious to all of us now that Pakistan will fall to the Taliban sometime in 2009 or 2010 at the latest and we must start preparing for a world were the Taliban are in control of a country which has a functioning ‘nuclear’ industry and the implications of the black turban brigade getting their paws on radioactive nuclear material.
    I hope all democratic governments have already prepared for this ‘black swan’ event!!!

  • KW64 says:

    Re: Raj comment 4
    For what it is worth, my limited number of Pakistani friends feel that Pakistan will NOT fall to the Taliban/Al Queda. The Northwest highland’s tribal areas are not of much concern to them but they feel the army will be more willing to fight for the heavily populated lowlands and that the majority population will reject their style of rule.
    One could expect a number of sources of foreign assitance becoming available against a move to take over the whole country by radical elements. One would also expect that the guerilla style fighting against air, armor and artillery that we have seen in FATA will be less effective away from the mountains and their base of support. The army may even be willing to pull some 1st class units away from the Indian front if the leadership sees the potential for a khomeini style take over when they look at what happened to the Shah’s generals.

  • Everyone in the West would be foolish not to start drawing up contingency plans for the fall of Pakistan to Muslim fundamentalists like the Taliban.
    But perhaps the general public, like the Iranian people during the fall of the Shah, want the radical fundamentalists to win? Pakistanis are no fools. They must be seeing what is going on in their own country and if they really wanted to defeat Muslim fundamentalists like the Taliban they certainly would have done it by now. After all, are the moderates in Pakistan only going to take the threat seriously after more than two-thirds of the country is taken over by the Taliban?
    Also, another thing the West may not be considering about Al Qaeda is that maybe, just maybe, their primary objective is NOT to stage more 9/11-type attacks. After all, if they did stage another 9/11 against a Western target, it would only further unify the vacillating Western nations against them. What if all of Al Qaeda’s rhetoric against the West is just that, rhetoric, and that their primary objective is to take over Pakistan? After all, if the Taliban and Al Qaeda take over Pakistan, then that makes them a defacto nuclear power, which puts them in a much more dangerous position than if they simply committed a random act of terrorism against the West. What we may be seeing here playing out in Pakistan is Al Qaeda’s true game plan, which is to become a nuclear power by overthrowing the Pakistani government. Question is, what is the West doing to stop this from happening?

  • rational enquirer says:

    Excellent points, Libertyship. Sometimes the worst possibilities are the hardest to face.

  • Adayamo says:

    @ Raj Kumar:
    I also doubt that PAK will fall to the Taliban by 2010.
    What they need is support of the population which they have in the NWFP and the FATA.
    Those are the places where the Pashtuns are living.
    But for example Punjab would be another league and I do not think that the Taliban will start to conquer other provinces.
    First of all they’ll try to grab as much of NWFP and FATA as they can.
    And also it is sad to say: The can grab a lot, and they will grab a lot there throughout 2009.
    That’s for sure.
    We won’t see the Taliban defeated. Not in 2009 and not in 2010. As long as the Pashtun tribes support the Taliban, as long there will be no chance to achieve final victory over the Taliban.

  • Bangash Khan says:

    The Pashtuns of Pakistan no longer support the Taliban. The problem is that there are too many Taliban-type groups now, with lots of heavy weapons and no humanity.


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