‘Foreign trainers’ active in southeastern Afghan province


Map of attacks in Afghanistan. Ghazni province is the most violent in Afghanistan. Map from ANSO.

A US military commander operating in the southeastern Afghan province of Ghazni said that “foreign trainers” are working with the Taliban in the district of Andar, while Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate is seen as sabotaging efforts in the province.

“We also have seen some indications that there have been foreign trainers that have come to train the local Taliban who are fighting here in Andar,” Lieutenant Colonel David Fivecoat, commander of 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, recently told TOLOnews. The report stated that “foreign trainers” are “Arabs, Chechens, and Pakistanis.” US military officials often describe members of al Qaeda and allied terror groups as foreign fighters.

Throughout Afghanistan, Al Qaeda operates in conjunction with the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin network. Al Qaeda operatives often serve as embedded military trainers for Taliban field units and impart tactics and bomb-making skills to these forces. In addition, Al Qaeda frequently supports the Taliban by funding operations and providing weapons and other aid. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda’s paramilitary ‘Shadow Army’ for more information on al Qaeda’s role in Afghanistan.]

Andar is the second district in Ghazni to have been identified by the US military as a location where Pakistani, Chechen, and Arab fighters are operating. In July 2010, the International Security Assistance Force targeted a Taliban commander “who is responsible for smuggling Pakistani, Chechen and Arab fighters and improvised explosive device materials into Shah Joy District from Pakistan.”

The Andar district in Ghazni is a known Taliban and al Qaeda hub in the southeast. Since October 2008, the US military has conducted seven raids against al Qaeda cells in Andar, according to press reports compiled by The Long War Journal. Senior Taliban and al Qaeda foreign fighter facilitators are known to operate in the district.

Ghazni is the most violent province in Afghanistan, according to data released by the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office. In 2010, there were 1,540 recorded attacks in Ghazni, compared to 1,387 attacks in Helmand, the second-most violent province in Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda and allied terror groups maintain a strong presence in Ghazni province. The presence of al Qaeda cells has been detected in the districts of Andar, Gelan, Ghazni, Shah Joy, and Waghaz, or four of the province’s 16 districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.

Al Qaeda’s extensive reach in Afghanistan is documented in the body of press releases issued in recent years by the International Security Assistance Force. Looking at press releases dating back to March 2007, The Long War Journal has been able to detect the presence of al Qaeda and affiliated groups such as the Islamic Jihad Union in 70 different districts in 21 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

Meanwhile, US soldiers claim that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, is attempting to sabotage security in Ghazni.

“The ISI, some people from Pakistan to tell the civilians don’t go to Shura with the Americans, don’t talk with us, don’t have local police program, don’t work with them, and it’s because they want to destroy our plans for security in this area,” Sergeant First Class Paul Meacham said to TOLOnews. “They want to destroy the plans for the government to become stronger. They don’t want these people to have government.”

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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  • Charu says:

    “Meanwhile, US soldiers claim that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, is attempting to sabotage security in Ghazni.”
    So who do we believe? The grunts fighting and dying in AfPak or the politicians who continue to shovel money into the lost cause that is the Pakistan military? Time to lance this boil!

  • jayc says:

    Whew. I was starting to worry about SFC Meacham’s communication skills until I read the source. TOLOnews.com is actually a good site to read to get a different Afghan perspective.

  • Al says:

    The US should make it clear to all these Afghani (and Pak) politicians, that should they fall to the Taliban, there will be NOT be refuge in the US. Win, or die. Tough cookies for them.

  • paul says:

    Pakistan has never been our friends.They are the epicentre of Jihadi culture which they use for foreign policy and to keep their Masters the Saudis happy!
    Why do we pay them when they are actively working to undermine us in Afghanistan.
    At least Iran admit to being our enemy the Paks two time us which is worse ie Betrayal!

  • Ben says:

    I served in Ghazni Province, embedded with the ANA a couple years ago. Hell we had paks and chechens and the whole lot there blowing us up left and right. Any mission into Andar was white knuckle….

  • Caratacus10ad says:

    Surely it would be far cheaper (?) for the US to cut all Pak civil and military aid and divert the ‘aid’ money into both Iraq and Afghanistans military and civil infrastructures…
    A far better way of spending the bucks!
    If Pak wants to slip into the stoneage, well throw them some flint!! Its upto them to fight for Democracy or not now…

  • Charu says:

    @Ben, thank you for your service. Glad that you made it out of that treacherous back-stabbing zone. The Chechens are playing with fire. A US anvil and a Russian hammer would obliterate them. And an Indian anvil and US hammer would take care of the country once known as Pakistan. The patience of the world is wearing thin.

  • Graham says:

    1) What is the “smoking gun” that proves Chechen presence in Afghanistan? I know some sources have expressed doubts as to whether they exist there at all.
    2) This is Ghazni, so how is the Polish army doing here? Helpful?

  • Jimmy says:

    Notice how the Afghan provinces bordering Pakistan are at extremely high security risk? Thanks Bill, this is an amazing picture – demonstrates the two timing nature of Pakistan.
    Guys remember, just cutting off aid to Pakistan will not achieve anything. Pakistan will still survive on China’s and Saudi aid and will at the same time block NATO supplies into Afghanistan. Therefore, this approach is not a long-term solution. Plus, everytime they choke our supplies, we have to back down…making us look stupid and helpless in the eyes of the world.
    What we need to do is play a double game! Continue aid only to authorized educational and relief institutions. Aid in the form of supplies and food, not money, not weapons. Perhaps some money to bribe the low-down politicians is OK. At the same time work feverishly to dismember the country from within. Send spies, whip up propoganda, help ethnic freedom movements, especially Balochs, Sindhis who are pro-west. Help India diplomatically in Kashmir and bug their communication networks and nuclear sites through the internet.
    Lets hit them with their own weapon – BETRAYAL!

  • tony says:

    why we keep dealing with the paks. they are the most violent people. they have no regard for life and are the most sorry of muslims.

  • Exactly says:

    It is very clear the ISI with their puppet General Galani has no interest in seeing Afghanistan prosper. In fact, they are doing everything they can to defeat democracy.
    Secretary Gates would have to be a fool not to realize this, as he continues to praise the accomplishments they claim to have made which are riddled with Lies.
    Anyone with common sense would have to know the ISI is protecting Bin Laden and his henchmen.
    The amount of money going into Pakistan should be redirected toward many more Drones.
    The old double-game of attacking one sector (but, “Oh we don’t have enough troops to clear these other sectors”) is nothing but Bull.
    Even secretary of state Clinton told them they’re full of “S”
    I say, cut off all money to Pakistan and use a Berlin style Airlift to supply are troops.

  • Anonymous says:

    Is it 24 polish KIA enough?

  • indus says:

    Pak considers Afghanistan to be its strategic depth, a client state if you will. There are Afghans in the north (Northern Alliance) who understand this. The Pakhtoons (Pashtuns) in the south on the other hand buy into the Pakistani story line that they are an ally (bretheren, if you will). Any progress in Afghanistan therefore depends upon driving a wedge between Pakistanis and Pakhtoons.
    The simplest way to do this is by breaking Afghanistan into two. Northern part, comprised of Hazaras, Tajiks, etc. to be ruled by northern alliance. And Southern part, lets call it Pakhtoonistan, ruled by Pakhtoons. How does this help drive a wedge between Pakhtoons and Pakistanis? It does because there are a whole lot of Pakhtoons in Pakistan’s frontier areas and Baluchistan, who would naturally want to be part of Pakhtoonistan diminishing Pakistani territory. These guys never recognized the Durand line separating Afghanistan from Pakistan in the first place.
    Pakistan would thus end up fighting Pakhtoons rather than fomenting trouble for us. Plus, it would have to support this impoverished state to maintain its strategic depth, for which it has no resources. Baluchis in the south of Pakhtoonistan would also want to secede for they want control over their huge natural resources.
    US troops could be moved to Northern Afghanistan and may be to Baluchistan (if it succeeds in separating) to take care of Al Qaeda and other goons operating in the general area.

  • Charu says:

    @indus, excellent suggestion. One that I have espoused here before. This is in essence the Iraqi solution where the Kurdish region was given full autonomy and thrives because of it. The Iraqi Sunnis who fought violently for the status quo ended up losing the most; just as the Punjabis will end up in AfPak. However, Baluchis would not necessarily wish to merge with the Pashtuns as there are historical antagonisms there. Instead, an autonomous Baluchistan, with its port currently being built by the Chinese, and its natural gas reservoirs, could stand on its own and independently deal with the landlocked Pashtuns and the Northern Afghanistan tribes. The Sindhis are also far less virulent and fanatical than the Punjabis and could also stand on their own feet once the Punjabi-dominated military is neutralized.

  • James says:

    “Lets hit them with their own weapon – BETRAYAL!”
    Jimmy, I say KUDOS to that idea ! ! ! Now, please excuse me if someone might think I “speak like a geek,” your excellent strategy is what I call thinking “out of the box” (i.e., “unconventionally”).
    By no means is this a conventional war. What’s good for the goose ought to be good for the gander.

  • Kalb Kabeer says:

    I was in Paktika, A-stan 2007-2008. We destroyed a toyota hilux filled with…..wait for it….Chechens!!! confirmed… it’s no surprise, AQ has a well rounded fighting force often assisting in training and operations of their sub elements, Talib/Haqqani.
    I wish this ISI segment was more than a coat tail…But it’s a start. This is all reflective of Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul of Pakistan, head of the ISI from 1987 to 1989, who worked closely with the CIA in arming Afghan militias to fight Soviet Troops. Even after the fall of the Soviets, Gen. Gul kept grooming these forces that eventually became the Taliban. One could only guess at the evolution of, and the current depth of CIA

  • ben says:

    Hey- for anyone interested, there is a book titled Greetings From Afghanistan, Send More Ammo that I wrote about my time in Andar and Ghazni. It was published in 2010 by Penguin/ NAL. You can find it on amazon.com or in any big bookstore. Its a mix of combat, culture, and humor (believe it or not, funny stuff does go down in the midst of fighting a war).
    But yeah, my time in Andar was tough, we always seemed to be at the wrong place at the wrong time vis a vis Taliban “Welcoming Committees”

  • Lakshmanan says:

    Plant the idea that Pak Army is responsible for the economic collapse of Pakistan (a fact) among the people and help organise demonstration against Pak Army in Pakistan’s major cities. All political parties will indirectly support it. Reduction of Army budget is the only way to win the war in Afghanistan and exit route for the U.S. troops from Pakistan. But then, the Chinese – who already greatly influence the Pak Army – will start their domination in Pak Kashmir border and make the government a weak puppet. (It is willing puppet regime now but if the U.S. lose interest, the willing puppet regime will become a WEAK willing puppet regime)!

  • Chuma says:

    Pakistan’s ISI is extremely wary of a strong Afghanistan. since 911 theyve basically had to backpedal away from decades of a foreign policy which had them supporting and supplying militant groups such as the Taliban. The ISI trains terror cell members who fight in Indian Kashmir, in the Northwest Tribal region. Coalition forces have engaged these groups several times. Pakistan uses groups such as Lashkar-i-Taiba as proxy forces to support thier own intrerests in the region. Despite this the U.S. has to work with Pakistan because of its location, and ironically enough, because of the ISI’s experience in dealing with the Taliban and other extremist groups, to combat the insurgency. Even more to the point of irony, both Pakistan and the U.S. repectively, because of their involvement in the Afghan-Soviet war, both had a hand in creating the Taliban.


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