US military begins to link Afghan Taliban to Pakistani terror groups

Within the past several days, the US military has begun to publicly identify the Lashkar-e-Taiba and other foreign fighters based in Pakistan, as well as a Pakistani Taliban group, as constituting direct threats to Coalition and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.

In what may be a dramatic shift, the official press releases from the US-led International Security Assistance Force and other Department of Defense outlets published on US military websites are starting to mention specific links between insurgents in Afghanistan and their sponsors in Pakistan.

The shift began on July 3, when ISAF announced that it had captured a Taliban commander, a Taliban facilitator, and two fighters during a raid in the eastern province of Nangarhar. “The commander is directly linked to the Taliban emir of Khugyani district and assisted with the recent influx of Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT) insurgents into the province,” ISAF stated in the press release.

Four days later, ISAF reported the capture of another Taliban commander who is tied to Lashkar-e-Taiba operations in Khugyani district in Nangarhar province. “The commander had direct contact with a Taliban commander detained by the security force July 3,” ISAF reported on July 7. “He was also directly linked to the overall Taliban emir of Khugyani District and associated with the recent influx of Lashkar-e Tayyiba operatives into the province,” ISAF reported on July 7.

In all, two initial press releases and four related stories from ISAF and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs discussed the capture of the two Taliban commanders linked to the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Prior to these six recent press releases, there have been only three official releases that discussed the Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to the archives of official military press releases stored at the DVIDS website. Two were issued in December 2008 and one in January 2010. All three releases discussed Lashkar-e-Taiba in relation to the threat to India, however, and not Afghanistan.

Just one day after the US military issued its latest press release on the Lashkar-e-Taiba, it issued another unprecedented press release, this time mentioning a Taliban commander in Ghazni province linked to Pakistani, Arab, and Chechen fighters.

“An Afghan-international security force detained two suspected insurgents in Ghazni province this morning while pursuing a Taliban commander who is responsible for smuggling Pakistani, Chechen and Arab fighters and improvised explosive device materials into Shah Joy District from Pakistan,” ISAF stated in a press release.

And today, the US military issued another press release linking Taliban fighters to al Qaeda and a Pakistani Taliban leader coddled by the Pakistani government.

“An Afghan and international security force killed several insurgents and detained two suspected insurgents in Ghazni province yesterday while pursuing a Taliban commander in direct contact with Taliban leadership in Pakistan and associated with al Qaeda and Commander Nazir Group,” an ISAF press release stated.

Commander Nazir is none other than Mullah Nazir, the leader of the Wazir Taliban in South Waziristan. Nazir is considered a “good Taliban” leader despite his open support for al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban. Nazir’s own forces carry out attacks inside Afghanistan. Nazir does not support attacks against the Pakistani state but backs terror groups that do, including the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The Pakistani government has cut several peace deals with Nazir in the past.

The US military has never mentioned Mullah Nazir before in any of its press releases on Afghanistan.

In the past, the US military has occasionally mentioned Pakistani links to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. For instance, in early 2009, there was a big push to directly name top Afghan Taliban leaders based in Pakistan. But up until today, the US military had yet to officially acknowledge the presence of Chechens in Afghanistan in its press releases. There has been only one mention of Chechens in the military’s press releases prior to July 10, and that was related to Chechens in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Although the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Chechen fighters have been operating against Coalition and Afghan forces in Afghanistan for years, the US military has been hesitant to directly identify these groups. The Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is supported by Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, and Chechen fighters are known to have carried out multiple attacks against Coalition and Afghan forces in northern and eastern Afghanistan for years. In addition, Chechen fighters have been identified in Taliban propaganda videos as carrying out attacks against US combat outposts in Kunar and Nuristan.

While US military and civilian leaders previously have publicly identified Pakistan-based terror groups, such as the Haqqani Network, the Quetta Shura Taliban, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i-Islami faction as being direct threats to Afghanistan’s security, the recent identification of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and other groups in the official military press releases is significant because it indicates that the military views these groups as a direct threat and has now begun to openly target them.


IJC Operational Update, July 11, ISAF Press Release

IJC Operational Update, July 10, ISAF Press Release

IJC Operational Update, July 9 ISAF Press Release

Officials in Afghanistan Describe Recent Operations, Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs

IJC Operational Update, July 7 ISAF Press Release

International, Afghan Team Investigates Air Strike, Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs

Forces Conduct Operations in Three Afghan Provinces, Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs

Taliban commander linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba detained in eastern Afghanistan, The Long War Journal

IJC Operational Update, July 3, ISAF Press Release

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

Tags: ,


  • LisaN says:

    Is this a sign of Petraeus?

  • Bill Baar says:

    So is this P4’s influence already?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    The thought also ran thru my mind.
    Also, there was yet another release today, this time linking the Afghan Taliban to Mullah Nazir. I updated the entry with the information. This shift in reporting from ISAF couldn’t be more obvious, it will be interesting to see if they continue it, and if they continue to target the networks as well.

  • Cid says:

    The United States must realize that the true war is against the state of Pakistan, and these terrorists are not stateless actors.
    All wars are between nations.

  • anan says:

    Cid, the true war is between the global networked Takfiri syndicate and everyone else. There is a lot of diversity among Takfiri, which many misinterpret to induce that there are different groups don’t share common objectives.
    The largest of the many global fronts is the Pakistani civil war. In the last two years, large parts of the Pakistani establishment have begun to fight the Takfiri in a serious way for the first time. Other parts of the Pakistani establishment continue to back the Takfiri.
    Much of what is happening in Afghanistan, Iran, anti Shia terrorism, anti Sufi terrorism, northern Stans, Chechnya, Xinjian, India, Indonesia, Thailand, are collateral effects of the Pakistani civil war.

  • JRP says:

    I could not agree more with CiD’s comment about this WoT really being U.S.A. v. Pakistan. If a child in a neighborhood was running amuck, you think the neighbors and the local Police Dep’t would not be going after the Parents?
    If Pakistan’s Army and Intelligence Services feel it is in Pakistan’s best interest vis-a-vis India to shelter Osama Bin Ladin and the rest of AQ leadership plus AQ ally The Taliban, wouldn’t Pakistan respond favorably to the AQ argument: “Look, if you think we are rock solid reliable now regarding India, think what more we can do for you, if you’ll just hand over a couple of Nukes from your 60-some odd stockpile.”
    To rational Westerners, the preceding sounds bizarre, but in the paranoid world of India/Pakistan hatred and distrust, it is plausible.
    We have to come to grips with Pakistan, before Pakistan hands nuclear weapons over to AQ, an eventuality I predict will occur within the next few years unless we go into Pakistan and eliminate the AQ/Taliban threat once and for all.

  • Bill Baar says:

    Recall then some of Obama’s campaign talk when he sounded as though he was almost going to declare war on Pakistan. Maybe these is P4 making the same points in more diplomatic ways… and that’s a bit of a twist in itself between civilian and military ways.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    The McChrystal imbroglio was unfortunate, but probably a necessary wakeup call to the civilian masters in the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and White House.
    If you are unable to clearly identify the enemy, you can never garner the necessary political mandate to defeat the enemy.
    We’ve been too vague in the Afghan theater. Good Taliban, Bad Taliban blah blah blah. There are Taliban who will reconcile and become lawful citizens of Afghanistan and the rest need to be caged or die.

  • Tjg says:

    Just wondering if Amrullah Saleh statements on Pakistan and the ISI as Afghanistan’s enemy number one may prove true? Any word on where the former head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) has landed.

  • Eric says:

    The ISAF should be a little more careful with its communication since, at the end of the day, it is more and more likely that the only way out of Afghanistan will be through negotiating with the talibans. And at this moment, there will be no good TB, bad TB, just who has enough influence to take over.

  • Charu says:

    How many more US deaths before Pakistan’s duplicitous military and its venal ISI are identified as the true enemy? And why finance their nuclear gifts from China? Shades of capitalism selling the rope by which to hang itself?

  • Render says:

    Rare is the terrorist group that is truely stateless or unsupported by a nation state or states.
    The LRA is such an exception.
    There very few such exceptions in the alphabet soup of Pakistani jihadi groups.
    The Taliban do not recognize the Durand Line. Al Qaeda does not recognize the Durand Line. Pakistan does not recognize the Durand Line. Afghanistan does not recognize the Durand Line.
    So why are there Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban?
    Somewhere somebody on P4’s staff is smiling as he reads the comments on LWJ.

  • T Ruth says:

    ISAF’s press releases that LeT and Mullah Nazir are fully-loaded members of ITAF, are about as newsworthy that the UAE and Singapore are members of ISAF. In fact, frankly, even less so given the obvious.
    If this is ISAF’s rate of assimilation, watch out for 2020, if not 2022.
    All roads lead to Islamabad, even the slow ones.

  • Lorenz Gude says:

    Yes, this reminds me of Obama’s loose talk about invading Pakistan for which he was immediately criticized. (My reaction, was that he probably just trying to score points, but that sometimes it is wise to take people at their word even when we are skeptical.) Anyhow, this change in news releases reminds me of reading a move in a chess match like P4: Pawn to Queen’s5!! Like Bill says it is out in the open but it has lots of possible ramifications. One that I see is that it would seem to encourage the parts of the Pakistani elite that are seriously fighting the Taliban. even though it might embarrass them in the sort term. I think timing is really important in this matter
    because it could strengthen either side in the Pakistani civil war. But nonetheless a good bold move to pull their chain and see what happens while events are still fluid. If we just continue it will become inevitable that we end up negotiating with the Taliban and withdrawing. And that ain’t going to work. What will work in the long term is Muslims getting so thoroughly sick of the Takfiri that they eliminate them. That is why I think that this is so much a matter of timing and I think we all sense the presence of a great strategic mind probing the entire real theater – not just the deck chairs on his side of the Durand line. (Heh I had to look it up but Takfiri I know from Kilcullen) 😉

  • Mr T says:

    Hey Pakistan,
    Just tell us where Osama and Zawahiri are. If you don’t, we should turn up the heat. Billions of US aid dollars come to mind. We have earned it, now tell us where they are, even if it does turn out to be in Iran.

  • madashell59 says:

    If there is really a nation behind this Jihad then that nation either houses or thinks it houses the Cailph of Medina or the rightful heir to Muhammad. I believe that nation is Iran not Pakistan. However, it could also be that there are several Mid East nations via for power and still utilize the successful approach of expansion of Muhammad.
    To better understand methods and reason for insurgency use; follow the link below.
    Since deception is one key to Muhammad’s strategy we may find that we are actually fighting against a subset of all Mid East Nations and hence potentially all expansions of Islam no matter where they exist. If in fact this is the case then to stop the Jihad we must find the heart of the beast.
    Pakistan and Afganistan are only a part of the puzzle.

  • fuzair says:

    OK, I’ll try this again, sans the objectionable content (I hope!).
    It’s always amusing to see Indian (and some American) readers get all moral and holier than thou about Pakistani support for ‘terrorist’ groups such as the Afghan Taliban. I wonder what many Sri Lankans would say about Indian support for the LTTE–Tamil Tigers? One of the world’s most murderous ‘freedom fighters’? Or, for that matter, US support for the Nicaraguan Contras? Didn’t Ronald Reagan call them the “moral equivalent” of the US’s own founding fathers? IIRC, the US withdrew from the ICJ to avoid being labelled a ‘state supporter’ of terrorism because of its support of the Contras.
    All countries, for raisons d’etat, support nasties; always have, always will. Pakistan does so to counter the Indians in Afghanistan; big, deal; ho hum. “Oh look! The Pakistanis are following their national interest! How dare they! We are the only ones who are allowed to do that!”
    Now if someone was to argue that the blowback from this Pakistani policy is threatening to destroy Pakistan; that it is bankrupt and should resign itself to being merely another, say, Nepal or Bangladesh vis-a-vis India, that is another matter. This holier-than-thou nonsense is just ridiculous.

  • Render says:

    And the Sandinista’s were backed by Russia, Cuba, and Vietnam.
    So we can expect a Boland Amendment from Pakistan any time soon?

  • Syed Hassan says:

    It must be understood that terrorism was created by US invasion of Afghanistan. Pakistan was at peace with itself and with the world. US says that it came after Osama. I ask why did it force Sudan to push him out ton Afghanistan in the first instance.
    The entire plan was to target Pakistan and force it to give up nuclear weapons and accept India as the dominant power. That just cannot happen. If Pakistan is not there then there will be Taliban everywhere equipped with all sorts of weapons. Just get out of Afghanistan and there will be peace. Get Osama through other clandestine means etc—if you still need him.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram