Father of Taliban endorses LWJ

The Long War Journal has received a compliment from one of the most unlikely sources. General (Retired) Mirza Aslam Beg, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff from 1988-1991, said that the depiction of the Taliban provided by The Long War Journal is spot on. Here is what General Beg had to say in his column, which was published sometime last week in The Pakistan Observer:

The Taliban of today are very much different from the Taliban of 1988-89. The Taliban of today are what the CIA website, ‘The Long War Journal’ describes in detail.

If you are not familiar with General Beg, he is essentially one of the fathers of the Taliban and one of the architects of Pakistan’s strategy of ‘strategic depth,’ which states that Pakistan’s tribal areas and Afghanistan would serve as a fallback position in case of war with India, and that jihadist groups such as the Taliban and other Pakistani terror organizations would function as both a strategic reserve and as agitators against India. The New York Times has an excellent summary of General Beg, which is reprinted here:

Aslam Beg played a leading role in the military’s creation of “asymmetrical assets,” jargon for the jihadis who have long been used by the military as proxies in Kashmir and Afghanistan. He was chief of the army staff from 1988 to 1991, while the Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan was selling the country’s nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Beg held talks with the Iranians about exchanging Iranian oil for Pakistani nuclear skill.

Aslam Beg likes to remind visitors that he was one of a group of army officers trained by the C.I.A. in the 1950’s as a “stay-behind organization” that would melt into the population if ever the Soviet Union overran Pakistan. Those brigadiers and lieutenant colonels then trained and directed the Afghan jihadis.

In the 1980’s, “the C.I.A. set up the largest support and administrative bases in Mohmand agency, Waziristan and Baluchistan,” Aslam Beg told me. “These were the logistics bases for eight long years, and you can imagine the relations that developed. And then Chechens, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Saudis developed family relations with the local people.” The Taliban, he said, fell back after 2001 to these baselines.

More on Beg from Wikipedia:

According to Zahid Hussain, in his book Frontline Pakistan, General (retd) Mirza Beg and former ISI chief Lt. Gen. (retd) Hamid Gul were part of the 9 January 2001 Darul Uloom Haqqania Islamic conference held near Peshawar, which was also attended by 300 leaders representing various radical Islamic groups. In the meeting, they declared it a religious duty of Muslims all over the world to protect the Taliban government, and the Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden it was hosting, whom they considered as a ‘great Muslim warrior.’

So if anyone should know about the nature of the Taliban, General Beg would.

Now to be fair, General Beg didn’t exactly spell out how we here at The Long War Journal describe the Taliban. So I’ll sum it up right here: The Taliban comprise a radical Islamist group operating on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border. The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban are closely linked, and their followers have sworn allegiance to Mullah Omar, who is known as the Leader of the Faithful. The Taliban seek to establish an oppressive Islamic state in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, just as the one that existed in Afghanistan from 1996-2001. The Taliban are closely aligned with al Qaeda, the TNSM, and the alphabet soup of Pakistani jihadist groups such as Lashkar-i-Taiba, Jaish-i-Mohmmed, HUJI, etc., as well as central Asian terror groups such the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party. These groups often share training facilities and fight side-by-side in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Taliban serve as Pakistan’s strategic depth, and Afghanistan functions as their client nation. The Taliban are supported by powerful elements in Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, as well as by members of Pakistan’s elite.

To address Beg’s accusation that The Long War Journal is a “CIA website,” I can say for a fact that nothing could be further from the truth. I have often heard other imaginative accusations: that The Long War Journal is an arm of the Department of Defense or the CIA, or both (I’ve yet to hear that we’re owned by Mossad or RAW, but surely that is coming down the road). The fact is, The Long War Journal remains a reader-supported website. If The Long War Journal is owned and operated by the DoD or CIA, then I’m the world’s worst businessman, as I’ve yet to receive the check. Or maybe the CIA and DoD are really that clever….

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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  • Pashtun says:

    Great work Bill, thanks for that, we are getting some serious stuff for free.
    Mr. Beg & Mr. Gul are over 60 & retired so they shouldn’t be taken seriously. I don’t think many people are listening to them; even they would be boring their wives with lectures about Taliban & strategic assets. I don’t think they have good active relationship with new generation of Taliban & other Jihadis. These two guys are not keeping long beards like Colonel Imam (very active ideologically) tells some thing about their effectiveness while nurturing Jihadi infrastructure. If you want to run a Jihadi enterprise the first thing you need to have a long beard, black or white turban or Chitrali cap. This way the Jihadis trust you. Compared with Col Imam these two is just passing time with good old memories of Mujahideen fighting against Soviet Union or accumulating free tanks & F-16 against India by playing US/West. Last year Gen Hamid Gul was in Saudi Arabia to help US Secretary of Defense to bring Taliban to negotiation. Which is a great honor for a retired General living on meager pension. Personally, I think they all are hypocrite, even the Taliban recognizes their two faces.

  • Nick says:

    Bill and the rest of the LWJ staff,
    I have been a long time reader of your guys work and always enjoy it. My co-workers and I have often wondered where/who your sources are.
    We also have always commended your insight in everyone of the articles you post. Always helping us think further outside of the box. Along with your analysis always being a fair narrative as good journalism should be.
    So with that being said we can say that if you are sponsored by the CIA or DoD, then you must be the redheaded stepchild. Or the least favorite spiner, because of the true nature of your reporting.
    Thank you,

  • Mudslider says:


  • T Ruth says:

    I don’t want to say Long Live the LWJ, only because I don’t want this war to be a Long War.
    So, I say Long Live Bill Roggio!

  • Render says:

    High praise from an unlikely source.
    Twelve years and I still haven’t seen my first check from the great Zionist Conspiracy either. We may have to form some kind of union…or something.
    IT’S IN

  • LisaN says:

    Dear Bill–
    As one of your long-time supporters, I guess this means I am so deep under-cover as an operative of the CIA/DoD/Mossad, I no longer even know I am deeply undercover. Maybe I should be looking for that check in the mail.

  • MILNEWS.ca says:

    But if you WERE a CIA site, you’d deny it wouldn’t you? AH-HAH! Holding out on us, eh! 🙂
    Chalk it up to “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”.

  • Rocco says:

    Keep up the great work!

  • Neo says:

    The CIA never would have done those cheesy PowerPoint presentations with the martial music you did way back in the first Anbar Campaign. I also doubt the CIA would ever do a public information web site that is this in depth in the first place. The style would no doubt be much heavier on production. You’d also think they would have sent somebody to my place and told me to shut the hell up a long time ago. Thank you for your patience over the years at my occasional outbursts.

  • Greg says:

    You would think the CIA would provide more pictures!

  • NS says:

    I am constantly amazed as to how the Paks can accuse the CIA on the one hand and “work” with them on the other. THis has to be the Great Pakistani Trick..
    Keep it coming Bill !


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