Why Taliban leaders prefer dead diplomats

The Guardian.co.uk…According to a Taliban spokesman the real target of the suicide bombing in Kabul was the American embassy

According to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, the target of Saturday’s explosion in Kabul was not the headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan but the American embassy. This careful clarification reveals the insurgents’ strategic logic.

For weeks analysts have been puzzled by the apparent lack of a effort to disrupt the polls. The Taliban have, after all, made assaults on relatively poorly protected Afghan government officials a key element of their strategy. Yet other than a couple of raids and a few bombings nothing on the scale of the operations that the Taliban could launch if they wanted has been seen. The next few days may see this change but all the activities associated with the election have passed off with little interference.

Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, has not made any confirmed public declarations about the election and the insurgents have limited themselves to a statement posted on their internet site which calls on Afghans to boycott the polls. There are some reports of local intimidation and some leaflets in mosques dissuading potential voters but little else. It is as if the Taliban high command has decided to make their presence felt but not fully engage.

There are several reasons for this. Continue Reading →

Swat’s Taleban expand operations

border-map
from BBC

Taleban militants from Pakistan’s troubled district of Swat have expanded operations into nearby regions after a peace deal with the government.

Dozens of militants have been streaming into bordering Buner district to take over mosques and government offices.

Buner is part of the Malakand region which has just seen the implementation of Islamic Sharia law.

This is part of a peace deal with the militants who had been fighting security forces since August 2007.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister for North West Frontier Province, said he had received reports of the Taleban expansion.

Recent reports said the Taleban had ransacked the offices of international aid and development agencies working in Buner.

Some employees of the agencies were also briefly taken hostage before being released on Monday.

Patrols

The Taleban have banned the playing of music in cars and are also using mosques to invite local youth to join them.

The Taleban have also started regular patrols in the district.

Buner’s police chief, Rashid Khan, said the police had lodged an official complaint over the matter.

But the Taleban are not mentioned in the reports, which only names “unknown persons” as the culprits.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain maintains that the Taleban must disarm as agreed under the peace deal.

“Even Sufi Mohammad has said that there is no reason for the Taleban not to disarm,” he said.

He was referring to the head of a local religious group who has been acting as the government’s chief negotiator with the Taleban.

“We initially adopted the path of dialogue and reconciliation, but this is as far as we can go,” Mr Hussain said.

“We implemented Sharia law as it was a demand of the people, not just the Taleban.

“If they continue with their activities, they will not have the support of the people.

“The majority of the people are now with the government. The government will not stand by and tolerate [the violation of] the peace deal.”

Meanwhile, the Taleban say they will continue to operate in the valley and will not lay down their arms until Sharia is fully implemented.

“We told [non-governmental organisations] to stay away from Malakand division”, Muslim Khan, a spokesman for the Swat Taleban, said.

On Monday, he said there was “no question” of the Taleban laying down their arms.

He said his movement’s aim was the enforcement of Sharia law in all of Pakistan.

Canadian dies in Afghan blast

Globe and Mail Update

Kandahar, Afghanistan — On a day that was to be reserved for the pomp and ceremony of the Canadian battlegroup’s change of command here, soldiers are instead mourning the death of Canada’s 117th casualty in Afghanistan.

Trooper Karine Blais, 21, was only the second Canadian female soldier to die in combat. She lost her life around 5 p.m. Monday in the often mountainous district of Shah Wali Kowt, north of Kandahar city, when the vehicle she was riding in struck a deadly improvised explosive device.

“This young woman’s life did not go to waste,” said Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance in a statement released Tuesday morning in Kandahar. “Her life was lost in the pursuit of peace and stability,” he said.

Trooper Blais, from 12e Régiment Blindé du Canada based at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, was serving with the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group – the famed francophone regiment nicknamed the Van Doos. She had only been on the ground in Kandahar for two weeks.

“She was an energetic soldier who gave 100 per cent to every challenge she faced, using a unique sense of humour, based on her honesty,” Brig.-Gen. Vance said. “Frank and direct, she demonstrated the qualities of a future leader who was respected by all members of her squadron,” he said.

Four of Trooper Blais’ comrades were also injured in the blast. They were ultimately airlifted to the medical facility at Kandahar air field following the incident, although fierce sand and rain storms delayed the helicopter Monday night.

Two remained in hospital Tuesday morning.

This is the Quebec-based battlegroup’s first death on their six-month tour. Although it officially begins Tuesday, soldiers have been phased into their posts across Kandahar over the past couple of weeks.

“The days and months ahead will be extremely difficult for those who knew Karine, and we must stand together to support all of those for whom she had a profound effect,” said Brig.-Gen. Vance. “Her dedication to the overall mission is commendable.”

Trooper Blais leaves behind her mother Josée, her grandmother Laurette and one brother, Billy.

Young love, Spring time and Sharia

young-love

Afghan Taliban execute eloping pair: official

From yahoo news

HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Taliban militants publicly executed a man and girl on Monday for eloping when she was already engaged to marry someone else, an official said, in a sign of the grip the Islamists have over parts of Afghanistan. Hashim Noorzai, head of Khash Rud district in southwestern Nimruz province, said the two were executed by gun shots in front of a crowd of villagers.He said he had no details on how the Taliban had come to be involved in passing judgment on them but that much of the mainly desert district was under control of the militants. Nimruz is a sparsely-populated area near the Iranian and Pakistani borders where foreign or government troops have little presence. Like much of the south of the country, it has become a stronghold for Taliban fighters who were driven out of Kabul by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001 but are making a comeback in the south and east.A Taliban-led insurgency against Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government has grown in recent years, and the militants have occasionally carried out their form of justice, including public executions, in towns and villages under their control. Taliban spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

Taliban claim more land in Pakistan

 Wow. Nobody saw this coming. Did we?

25swat_600REUTERS April 13-2009

Pakistani Taliban begin imposing rule in new area

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani Taliban are imposing their rule in a Pakistani mountain valley they took over last week, spreading fear in the area only 100 km (60 miles) from the capital, police and residents said on Monday.

 Surging militant violence across Pakistan and the spread of Taliban influence through the northwest are reviving concerns about the stability of the nuclear-armed U.S. ally.

 Pakistan is crucial to U.S. efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan but the government has been unable to check militant attacks in its cities let alone stop insurgents crossing into Afghanistan from border strongholds to battle Western forces.

 Clashes erupted in Buner district last week after scores of Taliban moved in unopposed from the neighboring Swat valley, where authorities struck a deal with Islamists in February to enforce Islamic law in a bid to end violence.

 Buner residents formed a militia, or “lashkar,” to resist the militants and 13 people, including eight Taliban, three policemen and two villagers, were killed in clashes.

 Authorities say they are negotiating with the militants to persuade them to withdraw but the Taliban have stayed put and appeared determined to take over the valley, police said. Continue Reading →

Taliban threaten 2 attacks per week in Pakistan

President Obama looks to pardon non-violent Taliban.
Pakistan surrenders the Swat Valley and it’s inhabitants to the Taliban.
One has to ask if America or Pakistan will ever realise they are in a war.
All these concessions  are seen as victories by the Taliban, and rightly so.
They are now stronger, more bold and are riding a wave of momentem.

The Associated Press google news

0629-taliban-back

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A suicide bombing at a crowded Shiite mosque south of Pakistan’s capital killed 22 people Sunday, the latest evidence of how security in the U.S.-allied nation is crumbling well beyond the Afghan border region where al-Qaida and Taliban fighters thrive.

The violence came as a senior Pakistani Taliban commander said his group was behind a deadly suicide bombing Saturday night in Islamabad and promised two more attacks per week in the country if the U.S. does not stop missile strikes on Pakistani territory.

Sunday’s suicide bomber set off his explosives at the entrance to a mosque in Chakwal city in Punjab province, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Islamabad, said Nadeem Hasan Asif, a top security official in the province. The blast killed 22 and wounded dozens, he said. Continue Reading →

US claims Gulf donors fund Taliban fighters

Anyone out there surprised?

From the Financial Times By James Blitz in London and Daniel Dombey in Washington truthinadvertising-x

The US has told its Nato partners that funds from individuals in Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia now rival drug money as a source of financing for Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

The US launched a high-profile push to reduce Gulf funding for the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other militant groups operating out of Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001. As a result, in recent years insurgent links to Afghanistan’s burgeoning heroin trade have become the principal focus.

But Richard Holbrooke, US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, expressed fresh concerns to Nato ambassadors during a briefing this week on the US’s strategic review of Afghan-Pakistan policy, which is expected to be announced on Friday.

“He said that the prime source of funding for the Taliban is not from narcotics but from private individuals in the Gulf region,” said a western diplomat, without giving further details.

Another official attending the meeting said Mr Holbrooke had suggested that much of the funding from poppy production appeared to go to individuals linked in some way to the Afghan government.

“There is real concern about funding for extremists in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region coming from the Gulf, which we understand rivals or exceeds the money they are getting from drugs,” said another diplomat, quoting estimates of $150m-$300m for insurgents’ drugs cash. Continue Reading →