Consider Bill Roggio's latest on the strengthening of al Qaeda forces in Pakistan, over at Long War Journal. This is information that you can get no where else as easily and with such depth. The re-appearance of the al Qaeda Shadow Army, particularly the unit that was the Taliban enforcer, Brigade 055, now Lashkar al Zil, or Shadow Army, is something to take note of, as the dispersal of the Talibe regime and subsequent operations disorganized it requiring it to re-formulate outside of Afghanistan. Of particular note is the presences of ex-Baathist Republican Guardsmen amongst the diverse non-Pashtun organization that is the Shadow Army. That said the 'foot soldiers' and mid-level types are bound to be from other places and Mr. Roggio cites as much in the article.
I've gone over some of the line-up previously and will list some of those posts, although I am sure to miss a few:
Examining the al Qaeda playbook (initial perusal)
Those are just the high level basics necessary to understand what we are seeing, and with those an examination of who the players are can be done. No, fun was not had in writing those.
The Shadow Army has integrated parts of other terrorist organizations into their utilization schema. In terrorist organizations that co-operate you often find mutual cooperation without hard and fast lines of authority - thus members may work together due to organizational needs, via ideology, via common contacts, via common enemy, or one just weakening and transferring to a newer and stronger organization. So seeing who they incorporate should be able to tell what sort of associations they are making. This from the Roggio piece:
Afghan and Pakistan-based Taliban forces have integrated elements of their forces into the Shadow Army, "especially the Tehrik-e-Taliban and Haqqani Network," a senior US military intelligence official said. "It is considered a status symbol" for groups to be a part of the Shadow Army.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban is the Pakistani Taliban movement led by Baitullah Mehsud, the South Waziristan leader who has defeated Pakistani Army forces in conventional battles. The Haqqani Network straddles the Afghan-Pakistani border and has been behind some of the most high-profile attacks in Afghanistan.
From the Daily Times of Pakistan article of 09 JAN 2007 on this area:
In South Waziristan, according to the sources, the two main Taliban commanders are Baitullah and Abdullah from the Mehsud tribes. The former is the most powerful Taliban commander in the entire South Waziristan. He signed a peace deal with the Pakistani authorities at Sararogha in February 2005. It was agreed that the army will evacuate tribal territories, the Taliban will not attack the army, foreigners will not get protection, the army will not conduct operations against the Taliban if they agreed to help in the completion of development work. After the agreement, the Taliban established 16 offices in different parts of the Mehsud territory which are still functioning. They undertook harsh steps against criminals and dacoits. A ban was imposed on the use of computers/TV/music/dance. Sharia law was imposed. Baitullah has a lashkar of 30,000 armed tribesmen, while Abdullah has 5,000 armed men associated with him. Both groups give training to local youth and organise cross-border attacks. Baitullah Mehsud is associated with JUI-F like Sadiq Noor in North Waziristan while Abdullah Mehsud is attached to Uzbek/Tajik groups.
The sources said that in the Ahmedzai Wazir tribe, there were 14 groups of Taliban until November 2006 but after the appointment of Mullah Nazir as commander, all of them were brought under one leadership. Two Taliban commanders, Ghulam Jan and Ifthikar, do not accept Mullah Nazir as commander. However, Mullah Nazir remains the most powerful Taliban commander. He and other Taliban commanders like Muhammad Umer, Sharif, Noor Islam, Maulvi Abbas and Javed are affiliated with JUI-F. A separate group under commander Zanjeer, associated with Gulbadin Hikmatyar of Hizbe Islami is connected to the Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan.
Taliban commander Noor Islam based in Wana is an active supporter of Uzbek/Tajik and rebel Arabs. Haji Khanan, who is against the presence of Uzbeks, is another important Taliban commander. He is based in the Shakai area of the agency. Uzbek commanders and Abdullah Mehsud groups are more active in attacks on supporters of the government, while Arab commanders are more active in cross-border attacks.
The Mehsud brothers, now down to Baitullah, have been Talibani organizers on the border for years. Their combined Lashkar was 30,000 or so locals. Baitullah is the man who had not only the bulk of their private Lashkar, but the one who associated with other organizations and actively ordered and coordinated raids across the border. Now lets look a bit more at the Mehsud brothers with this taken from the second of a two part report on them -
Part 2 from The Crime Library by Anthony Bruno:
Tribal militant leader Baitullah Mehsud has shown a disturbing interest in Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the controversial father of Pakistan's nuclear arms program, who in 2004 admitted to selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea on the black market. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan reported that when Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October of this year, Baitullah instructed Al Qaeda militants in Karachi to kill her for "three major offenses against Islamists." First, she supported the Pakistani military attack on Lal Masjid (the Red Mosque) in Islamabad on July 10, 2007—Lal Masjid was considered a hotbed of Islamist radicalism; one hundred and sixty-four Pakistani special-forces commandos stormed the mosque and madrassah, killing at least 20 and injuring over 100. Second, Bhutto has made it clear that if she takes power in Pakistan, she will allow American forces to search for Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan's borders. Third, she has said that if elected, she would allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to question A. Q. Khan.
Until 2005, Baitullah lived in the shadow of his daring and charismatic brother, Abdullah Mehsud, who, with his long black hair, was considered a terrorist rock star. Abdullah fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan against the Northern Alliance and in 1996 lost a leg when he stepped on a land mine. He was taken captive by warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum who turned him over to American forces. Abdullah Mehsud was sent to Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba and held for two years, insisting the whole time that he was just an innocent tribesman. He was released in 2004 for reasons which remain unclear and returned to Waziristan. Soon after his return, he orchestrated the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers working on a dam in his region, proclaiming that Beijing was guilty of killing Muslims. He also ordered an attack on Pakistan's Interior Minister in which 31 people perished. In July 2007 he died in a clash with Pakistani military forces as they raided his residence.
Baitullah made his intentions clear this past January when he said, "As far as jihad is concerned, we will continue to wage it. We will do what is in the interest of Islam." Speaking of the growing threat of Baitullah's militia, Pakistani military analyst, Hasan-Askari Rizvi, told The New York Times, "The army has never faced such a serious challenge in the tribal areas."
For those of you insisting that Guantanamo is such a 'bad place' and that 'innocent people are held there', do consider that Abdullah Mehsud, who controlled 5,000 personal war fighters, who was alllied with the Taliban, whose brother was actively fighting the US and its allies in Afghanistan, was SET FREE because he was 'an innocent tribesman'. Really, it sucks to get picked up with weapons in a war zone or otherwise swept up in raids and such in such a conflict. When he was released he went on to kidnapping and killing, and helping his brother and the Taliban. You wanted a swift determination of combatant status and got it: kidnapping and killing are your return on investment of 'good will'.
With this information we can start to piece together Baitullah Mesud's range and scope of influence, and I'll swipe this from a previous article of mine:
1) Baitullah Mehsud - Sipah-e-Sahaba/Pakistan (SSP) (Source: TKB and SATP) [now Millat-e-Islamia/Pakistan via the SIPS name table] and its main factional group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Source: SATP). Baitullah Mehsud does not *lead* either of these organizations, instead being a leader of a Lashkar (from TKB: Lashkar: Literally “battalion” in Urdu, the term is often part of the name of many South Asian terrorist groups) of 30,000 to 35,000 Mehsud tribesmen and other terrorist followers. Thus he is a military leader of import, with a sizeable following of Pashtuns. He is also cited as being commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban (Source: SATP, SAIR Report 31 DEC 2007) or Taliban Movement Pakistan (Source: e-Ariana).
Now for a bit on how the Mehsuds stage attacks across the border. Here is the SATP Pakistan Assessment: 2009 that examines this in part:
Alarmingly, some Taliban clerics reportedly boasted of converting ordinary persons into suicide-bombers "in six hours flat".
"From the 26 suicide attacks where we recovered a head in 2007, we made a startling discovery… The vast majority [of suicide bombers] came from just one tribe, the Mehsuds of central Waziristan, all boys aged 16 to 20," an analyst at the elite Special Investigation Group (SIG) told The Guardian. Qari Hussain, also known as Ustad-e-Fidaeen (teacher of suicide cadres), a Mehsud tribesman in his early 30s, is identified as the 'commander' who manages Baitullah Mehsud-led Taliban suicide bombing training centres and is directly responsible for indoctrinating youth for suicide missions. One of the training centres was discovered at a Government-run school in the Kotkai area of South Waziristan by the Army. GOC-14 Division Major General Tariq Khan told reporters in Dera Ismail Khan on May 18, 2008: "It was like a factory that had been recruiting nine to 12-year-old boys, and turning them into suicide bombers." The computers, other equipment and literature seized from the centre give graphic details of the suicide training. There were videos of young boys carrying out executions, a classroom where 10- to 12-year olds are sitting in formation, with "white band of Quranic verses wrapped around their forehead, and there are training videos to show how improvised explosive devices are made and detonated." .
"Pakistan is now a one-stop shop," says Tariq Pervez who recently retired as the Director General of the Federal Investigation Agency. He told The Guardian in an interview, "ideas, logistics, cash from the Gulf. Arab guys, mainly Egyptians and Saudis, are on hand to provide the chemistry. Veteran Punjabi extremists plot the attacks, while the Pakistan Taliban provide the martyrs. And it all came together in the Marriott case."
In fact, so pervasive is the phenomenon of suicide attacks that suicide bombers are also now available for a price to settle personal scores. This was revealed during Police investigations into a suicide attack in Bhakkar on October 6, 2008, in which 25 persons were killed and 60 wounded. According to Crime Investigation Department of the Lahore Police, accused Waqas Hussain and his four accomplices had hired a suicide bomber and explosives expert from Wana in South Waziristan to kill a former friend with whom they had a monetary dispute.
Need to hire a martyr/hitman? Waziristan is the place to go!
Just so you know, that would be an ISI supported concept - using a government run school to train child suicide bombers. Someone in the government must have known what was going on, and the finger would point to the ISI not only subverting the school, but then intimidating those inside the government who would try to report it. Now this gives us the flow of the overall project: Money, materials and skilled operatives from KSA and Egypt, local Islamic Radicals as trainers/brainwashers, construction of devices locally, and then the recruited boys and others picked up in the area sent on their missions. This has worked so well that they have a surplus of martyrs to help settle your local disputes: pay the money and have a suicide child bomber blow up your target.
Remember when you criticize the US for 'barbaric activities' you are glossing over what the hell is actually going on in the world and that US soldiers are accountable for their actions. But then children as suicide bombers have never bothered the Left in America - they try to say that the US causes them and not blame those doing the funding, training, brainwashing, equipping and sending of them. Always the US, never the actual people using children like this. Of course that attitude is, itself, barbaric.
Now over to FATA and the Khyber Pass area, and from that same report:
Within FATA, violence is reported from all the seven Agencies - Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan, and South Waziristan - in varying degrees. The continuing instability in neighbouring Afghanistan and the rapid fading of the Government's writ in FATA in 2008 has only intensified the conflict in the region. After Waziristan, Bajaur is arguably the most significant stronghold of the militants, who have entrenched themselves in the area, transforming the Agency into a nerve centre of the Taliban - al Qaeda network. Sources indicate that foreign al Qaeda militants - including Chechens, Uzbek, Tajik, Sudanese and Afghans - are converging on Bajaur to bolster the ranks of the jihadis. These foreigners are reportedly leading counter-attacks, since local militants alone were having difficulties confronting the Army action.
The Taliban, led by 'commander' Abdul Wali alias Omar Khalid, has near-complete control in the Mohmand Agency. Khalid, in his early 40s, was the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) chief in the agency before becoming a Taliban commander. One of the most influential Taliban leaders after Baitullah Mehsud and Maulvi Faqir, sources indicate that Khalid, who claims to have more than 3,000 fighters with him, has strong links with some Kashmiri militant groups. It is during 2008 that the Pakistani Taliban made a surge in the Mohmand Agency, where they now run a parallel state, implementing the Sharia (Islamic law), largely under duress.
Throughout 2008, attempts at regaining territory by the armed forces in FATA proved to be unsuccessful, with the militants swiftly recovering lost spaces. In essence, the state does not have a civil administrative system worth its name in FATA and, indeed, across the NWFP and Balochistan, and efforts to hold and sustain territorial gains rely almost exclusively on the presence of the Armed Forces.
During 2008, the Taliban-al Qaeda combine, notwithstanding sustained military operations, also consolidated their sway on the Khyber Agency. In fact, strengthening their presence in the Jamrud and Landikotal sub-divisions of Khyber Agency by the end of the year, the Taliban from Khyber began to extend support to their brethren in the NWFP and to threaten the supply lines of NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan. Baitullah Mehsud's fighters have now established at least nine centres in Jamrud and Landikotal, with at least one of these centres located no more than 10 kilometers from the NWFP capital, Peshawar.
The state's withdrawal is tangible. While senior officials seldom venture into any of the Agencies, the administration virtually lives at the mercy of the militants and is unable to exercise any real authority. The SFs in FATA are also faced with the dangerous scenario of their Pashtun elements demonstrating reluctance to fight their fellow Pashtuns. Apart from the "high" casualty rate there is also an "unprecedented" level of desertions and discharge applications being reported from FATA (numbers for which are presently unavailable), an unambiguous sign that multiple insurgencies are bleeding the Pakistan Army.
In case you missed it: Pakistan is now fighting a massive insurgency that is draining its Army and limiting the operations of the Nation. I haven't added in the Balochistan problems, but they are also doing a number on the Army and National forces. Now on to the NWFP area:
During 2008, the Taliban-al Qaeda was able to unambiguously demonstrate their supremacy to the extent that the NWFP, a region where the state's presence has historically been relatively strong, is almost as ungovernable as FATA. While the Government has declared eight Districts out of the Province's 24 as 'high security zones', all the Districts are presently affected by various levels of militant mobilisation and violence. The extent of state collapse is visible in the fact that only six Districts were declared 'normal' for elections on February 18, 2008. A parallel system of governance now exists under the command of the Taliban in Swat District and the militants have announced the enforcement of Sharia in the Shakai, Sheikhan and Mulakhel areas of Hangu District as well.
Peshawar, the NWFP capital, is under siege and is vulnerable to collapse. There were three suicide attacks among 71 terrorism-related incidents in Peshawar during 2008. In December 2008, the Taliban in Peshawar, facing little resistance, blew up at least 261 vehicles carrying logistics and supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan. Earlier, in June 2008, as the Taliban advanced towards the city, NWFP Police Chief and top administrators warned that, unless the Government took decisive action, Peshawar would fall. Peshawar is home to the headquarters of the Army's 11th Corps, the paramilitary Frontier Corps, the Frontier Constabulary and the Police. The Taliban have always had a significant presence in the capital and adjacent regions, including the Khyber Agency, Darra Adamkhel, Mohmand Agency, Shabqadar, Michni and Mardan.
Even as violence continues unabated across the Swat District, where Daily Times reported on January 19, 2009, after a year of military operations, the territory controlled by militants has increased from 25 per cent to 75 per cent, the provincial Government has, time and again, stated that it was ready for a dialogue with the Taliban - an offer that has been contemptuously ignored. While the dialogue process failed repeatedly in 2008, temporary cease-fires, in fact, allowed the Taliban-al Qaeda combine to regroup and rearm, while the state capacity has gradually diminished in the region. Worse still, continuous military operations in Swat, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Peshawar, Bannu, Hangu, Malakand, and other areas have failed to establish the state's dominance in any of the territories temporarily 'regained'.
One of the fundamental reasons for the state's inability to hold territory in the Frontier is the absence of an effective mechanism for governance on the ground. This is compounded further by severe deficiencies in fighting capacities. While the Army is a relatively well-equipped force, the hamstrung Police forces face a grim challenge of constituting the first line of defence against urban militancy. According to the National Police Bureau's Annual Report, 2006, the Police operate under significant constraints, including the paucity of funds (only 12 per cent of the annual budget is available to meet Police development requirements) and shortage of Police strength (50 per cent deficit against sanctioned strength). In attempting to make amends, the Awami National Party-led provincial Government has proposed the creation of an elite police force of 7,500 personnel, which could be deployed on short notice in militancy-affected areas. However, reports on January 13, 2009, indicate that approximately 600 specially-trained commandoes of the newly established Elite Police Force have refused to get posted in the besieged Swat Valley, saying they would prefer dismissal to being made "scapegoats". "The services of around 600 commandoes of Platoon No-1 to Platoon No-13 were placed at the disposal of the District Police Officer of Swat. They were supposed to join duty during the first week of January. However, none of them left for the troubled town," The News reported. Parents of the newly trained commandoes had also reportedly refused to send their sons to Swat, where Policemen have been slaughtered and strangulated publicly on various occasions in 2008. Large-scale desertion is being reported from the Frontier. "Many cops had to place advertisements in local newspapers to assure the militants that they were no more part of security forces," said a local from Swat. A November 13, 2008, report said that approximately 350 Policemen had resigned from their posts, subsequent to a Taliban threat to either leave their jobs or get ready for "dire consequences".
This is what the beginning of a civil war looks like: insurgency strengthens, takes over the control of local government, then unifies against the National authority structure. Pakistan isn't trying to 'negotiate' with the Taliban-al Qaeda and various groups that now follow them, it is trying to 'appease them'. That is a sure sign of weakness, as the offers are now REFUSED. That is not a good sign for the Pakistani regular forces, nor are the desertions, unwillingness to deploy in those areas, and the fact that highly trained commando police are unwilling to go there.
If these areas are falling from government control and to the Taliban/al Qaeda, we would expect to see their operations spread as success breeds success. This from Punjab:
While the progressive collapse in NWFP and FATA is well documented, it is Punjab that is, in many ways, emerging as a jihadi hub. While 304 persons, including 257 SF personnel and 34 civilians, were killed in 78 terrorism-related incidents in Punjab in 2008, it is the presence of many militant groups in the province that is alarming. Data indicates, further, that more SF personnel and civilians were killed in Punjab than militants. While this is a clear indication that the Taliban-al Qaeda network is securing the upper hand, it is also evident that the extremists are bringing the conflict to Pakistan's urban heartland, including the national capital Islamabad, the provincial capital Lahore and the garrison town of Rawalpindi. In fact, out of the approximately 78 incidents in 2008, 21 were reported from Islamabad and 22 from Lahore. Apart from the fact that some of the terrorist attacks in Punjab have been carried out by the Taliban-al Qaeda network, suspects arrested in places like Faisalabad, Sargodha, Islamabad and Lahore, among others, in 2008, included persons from the FATA and NWFP. Militants from across the country and outside easily find safe havens in places like Islamabad and Lahore. With Peshawar, the NWFP capital which is just 150 kilometers away from Islamabad, already under militant siege, it is not surprising that Islamabad and Rawalpindi are being targeted. A senior Punjab Police officer has claimed that all cases of suicide bombings in the province had links to Baitullah Mehsud and his sub-groups operating in the NWFP: "The bombers and their accomplices have close links with Baitullah Mehsud and his sub-group leaders like Kali Zafar, Maulvi Rabbani and others who all belonged to Waziristan."
What the Taliban/al Qaeda now lack to make this a full civil war is a declaring of independence, uniforms, and an identification of the actors in charge. This is now a full throated insurgency beginning to tremble the heart of Pakistan, and little is being done to stop it. Indeed, it is now serving as a safe haven and recruiting ground:
While the lone terrorist arrested during the Mumbai attacks of November 26, 2008, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman alias Kasab, hails from Faridkot village in the Okara District of Punjab province, eight of the nine who were killed during the attack were also from Punjab. Both the LeT and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) draw a majority of their cadres from south Punjab, including Multan and Bahawalpur, which is also the JeM headquarters. The LeT and its recently banned front, Jama'at-ud-Da'awa, have long maintained an open presence in places like the provincial capital Lahore and Muridke (approximately 40 kms from Lahore), where the group is headquartered. Qudsia Mosque in Chauburji Chowk in Lahore is the Jama'at-ud-Da'awa headquarters. On December 11 and 12, under relentless international pressure, authorities sealed 34 offices of the Jama'at-ud-Da'awa across Punjab, Police sealed the group's offices in south Punjab cities of Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur, Arifwala, Bahawalnagar, Khanewal, Arifwala and Rajanpur. These sealed offices, however, represent no more than a tiny fraction of the large LeT presence across Punjab. The Punjab Government has appointed administrators in 10 Jama'at-ud-Da'awa schools after intelligence agencies reported that these institutions were promoting extremism. At least 26 educational institutions of the outfit operate in various parts of the province. Before the recent crackdown, LeT leaders like Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, Abdur Rehman Makki, Abu Hashim and Ameer Hamza were openly seen in Lahore. And despite the recent ban on the Jama'at-ud-Da'awa/LeT and the house arrest of its chief, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the group continues to function quite openly.
Groups like the LeT, with considerable state support, have, over the years built an elaborate socio-economic infrastructure in Punjab, functioning as an alternative to the state, since the latter is unable to provide the needed social capital for an overwhelming proportion of the population. The worldview of groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa / LeT thus enjoys wide acceptability. Given the quantum of popular acceptance, the Punjabi dominated armed forces - themselves deeply ambivalent on this count - may find it difficult to engage with the jihadis in Punjab, if subversion in the Province become unmanageable in the proximate future.
When folks talked of a 'civil war' in Iraq, they did not know what they were talking about. This is the beginning of a long, hard and deep one in Pakistan. By being unable to provide protection and services to the entire population, Pakistan has been playing a 'pay off A to plague B, B to plague C, and C to plague A' sort of deal, using Kashmir and Afghanistan as 'B' and 'C'. Now the 'C' part in Afghanistan comes home to roost, finds support, makes friends with 'A' (the local radicals) and then both utilize contacts to 'B' to start bringing their organizations into the fold.
Next up is Sindh:
Levels of violence in Sindh province were relatively low with some 42 incidents reported during 2008, in which 52 persons, including 29 civilians, were killed and 109 injured. There is, however, growing evidence to suggest that militant groups maintain a significant presence in the Province, notably in capital Karachi, Sukkur, Khairpur, Jacobabad, Badin, Larkana, Mirpur Khas and Hyderabad. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain stated, on August 9, 2008, that Taliban activities were visible in the interior of Sindh in areas like Badin and that an unspecified number of people were coming from FATA and Northern Areas to Karachi and the interiors of Sindh, on a daily basis.
Karachi, Pakistan's commercial capital, has seldom been out of the headlines for all the wrong reasons. While sectarian strife between the majority Sunni and minority Shia Muslims persists, the city is also a safe haven for Islamist extremists linked to Taliban - al Qaeda combine. The Taliban are present in Karachi and have links with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and other banned religious organisations, but have no intention of carrying out attacks in the provincial capital, unless provoked by a political party or the Government, a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman, Mullah Omer, clarified on November 23, 2008. Earlier, on February 15, 2008, Karachi Police arrested 10 members of a militant group linked to the Taliban, who were planning massive terrorist attacks in the city during elections. The Inspector General of Police Azhar Ali Farooqi said the group, Tehrik-i-Islami Lashkar-i-Muhammadi, had ties with Mullah Dadullah, and with Taliban commander Tahir and Sirajul Haq Haqqani. Farooqi disclosed that the arrested men were formerly members of other banned outfits, such as the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, but after the Lal Masjid operation they formed a group of their own because their former organisations had 'deviated' from their mission.
Sources indicate that the LeT maintains a training camp in Azizabad in Karachi. The ten LeT militants who carried out the multiple terrorist attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, set sail from Karachi. Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman alias Kasab, the lone militant arrested during the Mumbai attacks, stated during his interrogation, that Zaki-ur-Rehman-Lakhvi, the LeT 'operations chief' and one of the masterminds of the Mumbai carnage, had briefed them in Azizabad. The Jama'at-ud-Da'awa reportedly has offices in all major cities of Sindh where recruitment drives are conducted every year. It is from the metropolis, with a population of approximately 16 million, that many al Qaeda operatives, including Ramzi Binalshibh - the "20th hijacker" of the 9/11 attacks - have been arrested. The city also houses the Binoria mosque complex, which has long been the nerve centre of the Military-Jihadi enterprise.
Police indicated in August 2008 that the Taliban, in order to accelerate the funding process, has hired youngsters belonging to the JeM, HuM, Harkat ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) and other militant groups, from Karachi. Intelligence agencies have indicated that Baitullah Mehsud, the LeJ and other outlawed jihadi groups have joined hands to pursue terrorist acts in Karachi. Daily Times reported on September 4, 2008, that this new grouping is headed by Raheemullah alias Naeem alias Ali Hassan, a 35-year old resident of Orangi Town. Adviser on the Interior, Rehman Malik, warned on November 21, 2008, that the LeJ may launch terrorist attacks in Karachi and "we need to discourage them and increase the vigil."
And there is the name Haqqani associated with the Lal Masjid mosque/training center. While Haqqani left the previous organization, he kept many ties and started forming up a support organization to supply the Taliban and al Qaeda. So when the Shadow Army indicates ties with two organizations, strongly, those organizations are, themselves, deeply tied into other organizations that stretch throughout Pakistan.
The Mehsud organization, itself, ties directly into a large number of places outside of FATA and NWFP, and into Sindh and Punjab. Starting from a tribal based Pashtun organization it has now spread in influence and size as it garners funds from Saudi and Egyptian backers. Mind you the heads of al Qaeda are Saudi and Egyptian, so this is not surprising, that these individuals have deep ties into the radical pockets in their home countries.
Now we can go on in Bill Roggio's piece, oriented on what the background and support of the Shadow Army represents:
The presence of the Shadow Army has been evident for some time, as there have been numerous reports of joint operations between the Taliban, al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, Hizb-i-Islami, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami, and other terror groups. In January 2008, The Long War Journal noted that the various terror groups were cycling through the numerous camps in the tribal areas and have organized under a military structure.
While the Shadow Army has been active, there has been little visual evidence of its existence until now. The Long War Journal has obtained a photograph of a unit from the Shadow Army operating in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled district of Swat.
A look at the clothing of the fighters gives a good indication of the identity of the fighters, an expert on al Qaeda told The Long War Journal. The length of the pants of pictured fighters is described as being at "al Qaeda height" -- meaning only al Qaeda and allied "Wahhabi/Salafi-jihadis" wear their pant legs this high.
"The extremists who follow al Qaeda's religious beliefs think that pants must be at least six inches above the ground because there's a hadith [a saying of the Prophet Mohammed] that says clothes that touch the ground are a sign of pride and vanity," the expert said. "This, along with the new dyeing of men's beards red or yellow is a sure sign of al Qaeda-ization."
The type of masks worn and the tennis shoes are also strong indicators that these fighters "are non-Afghan fighters," an expert on the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan said. "Those types of masks I have seen, and they are always on the Pakistani side of the border," the expert said. "The tennis shoes and socks are a big indicator that they are non-Afghan fighters, probably Pakistanis or Arab/Central Asian fighters."
The re-formed Brigade 055 is but one of an estimated three to four brigades in the Shadow Army. Several other Arab brigades have been formed, some consisting of former members of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guards as well as Iraqis, Saudis, Yemenis, Egyptians, North Africans, and others.
During the reign of the Taliban in Afghanistan prior to the US invasion in 2001, the 055 Brigade served as "the shock troops of the Taliban and functioned as an integral part of the latter's military apparatus," al Qaeda expert Rohan Gunaratna wrote in Inside al Qaeda. At its peak in 2001, the 055 Brigade had an estimated 2,000 soldiers and officers in the ranks. The brigade was comprised of Arabs, Central Asians, and South Asians, as well as Chechens, Bosnians, and Uighurs from Western China.
The 055 Brigade has "completely reformed and is surpassing pre-2001 standards," an official said. The other brigades are also considered well trained.
One official said the mixing of the various Taliban and al Qaeda units has made distinctions between the groups somewhat meaningless.
"The line between the Taliban and al Qaeda is increasingly blurred, especially from a command and control perspective," the official said. "Are Faqir Mohammed, Baitullah Mehsud, Hakeemullah Mehsud, Ilyas Kashmiri, Siraj Haqqani, and all the rest 'al Qaeda'?" the official asked, listing senior Taliban commanders in Pakistan that operate closely with al Qaeda. "Probably not in the sense that they maintain their own independent organizations, but the alliance is essentially indistinguishable at this point except at a very abstract level."
The Taliban have begun an ideological conversion to Wahhabism, the radical form of Sunni Islam practiced by al Qaeda. "The radicalization of the Taliban and their conversion away from Deobandism to Wahhabism under Sheikh Issa al Masri and other al Qaeda leaders is a clear sign of the al Qaeda's preeminence," the official noted. Sheikh Issa is the spiritual adviser for Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Ayman al Zawahiri's organization that merged into al Qaeda, and the leader of al Jihad fi Waziristan, an al Qaeda branch in North Waziristan.
The money, expertise, and supplies that al Qaeda can bring in has won converts amongst the Taliban. The only good note out of this is that the Ba'athist Iraqi Republican Guards have, by and large, abandoned Iraq. They do not serve as a lynch pin, however, that is what the Saudis are for: the ideological motivators and bagmen. Outside of that, the longer reach of pre-existing terror groups, like that of Hekmatyar's, who could actually reach into China for insurgents, is still seen: he is the one man who has had a coherent organization to draw across the southern swath of ex-Soviet Republics in the region, and continues to do so.
What this demonstrates is that the Shadow Army organization is now one of the leading groups in the Taliban/al Qaeda sphere:
The Shadow Army has distinguished itself during multiple battles over the past several years, particularly in Pakistan's tribal areas and in the Northwest Frontier Province. Taliban forces under the command of Baitullah Mehsud defeated the Pakistani Army in South Waziristan during fighting in 2005-2006, and again fended off the Pakistani Army in 2008 after fighting pitched battles and overrunning a series of forts.
In Swat, the Pakistani military was twice defeated by forces under the command of Mullah Fazlullah during 2007 and 2008. Earlier this year, the military launched its third attempt to secure Swat, which has been solidly under the control of the Taliban. The most recent operation was initiated after Fazlullah issued an amnesty to certain government officials and called for others to be tried in a sharia court. The military regained control of a small region last week, but fighting has been heavy. A few days ago, Taliban forces overran a police station and captured 30 members of the police and paramilitary Frontier Corps.
In Bajaur, the hidden hand of the Shadow Army has been seen in multiple reports from the region. Taliban forces dug a series of sophisticated trench and tunnel networks as well as bunkers and pillboxes. The Pakistani military took more than a month to clear a six-mile stretch of road in the Loisam region. Pakistani military officials also said the Taliban "have good weaponry and a better communication system (than ours)."
"Even the sniper rifles they use are better than some of ours," the Pakistani official told Dawn "Their tactics are mind-boggling and they have defenses that would take us days to build. It does not look as though we are fighting a rag-tag militia; they are fighting like an organized force."
To those who have always wailed about how 'Iraq was distracting us' and 'allowing al Qaeda to rebuild' you have never, not once, offered a SOLUTION to this problem. If it was to invade Pakistan than you should SAY SO and stop whining about things and just being a complainer. This is, fully, the problem of the Pakistan, a sovereign nation, that is now unravelling and NOTHING offered by those opposing the war in Iraq would have done a damned thing about this problem as there is very little we can do with it. By offering no concrete way forward, and there is no way to win in Afghanistan without solving this problem in another Nation, you have criticized to no good end. Worse, by offering no hard evidence, complaining about Gitmo and otherwise publicizing every event that al Qaeda and the Taliban have wanted you to publicize, you are complicit in making them grow stronger.
You want to *not* attack them? Then they grow stronger because we are weak.
You complain about 'civilian casualties' when they hide amongst civilians? Then that is the blame of those doing the hiding like that - they are cowards.
Pacifism is appeasement to such as these, and look where that has gotten Pakistan. By not supporting harsh reprisals, understanding that our enemies are barbarians and by accepting that they will cause innocents to be killed by their own actions, you have given them much strength and weakened our resolve to bring them to heel.
And with Pakistan releasing AQ Khan, we now have the one man that Baitullah Mehsud has sought for help for years.
Pakistan is trying appeasement once more, and getting attacked for it and its people killed.
The Shadow Army is about to unleash pure chaos in Pakistan.
The goal is the nuclear weapons there: the most unstable State to have them outside of the deranged Mr. Kim in NoKo. They want to use AQ Khan to get at them... the man who ran the nuclear black market to Iran, Iraq, Syria, NoKo and others. Once that happens we will see the firestorms begin.
Those that are left alive will either fight or submit.
No thanks to those who have been complaining for years and offering nothing better.
Part of the blame will be theirs for the deaths that will come from their dissolution of will by America. As the world is not so small as it was during Vietnam, this time it is likely to come home and bring the firestorm directly to the critics as well as the innocents they castigated. That is what you get for being nice and considerate to barbarians: killed or enslaved.
Or you can fight.
Only you can make that decision and when you don't fight, you are stuck with the other alternatives, of which 'peace' is not an option to those you empower.