Taliban Spokesman Sees “Prescription of Democracy” As Part of U.S. Military Strategy

Andrew McGregor

March 3, 2011

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid gave an interview to the media service of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” on February 23 concerning the “current political and military situation” in Afghanistan. The interview was carried by a number of jihadi websites (Ansar1.info, February 24).

ZabiZabihullah Mujahid

Zabihullah begins by addressing the efforts in Kabul to launch a session of the new parliament five months after a vote that was marked by fraud and court challenges. Following an extended dispute, parliamentarians have finally agreed on Uzbek warlord Abdul Rahoof Ibrahimi as the new Speaker of Parliament, the last step in enabling the new parliament to begin work (Reuters, February 27). Zabihullah, however, views the parliament as “part of the invaders’ military strategy,” fulfilling a “strategic military need” for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Taliban spokesman explained the rationale of foreign support for the “fake parliament” – efforts of the invaders to “enforce their ‘prescription’ of democracy” have resulted in a “popular elected government and parliament; hence no one has the right to continue their struggle against the elected government.” By “purchasing” puppet MPs, the foreign invaders will succeed in obtaining a long-term strategic alliance with Afghanistan that will allow a continued foreign military presence. Zabihullah challenges the legitimacy of the new government, suggesting the parliamentarians “are accountable for crimes and corruption” and their work will be limited to “pocketing salaries.”

Claims by General David Petraeus that the Coalition is making progress in securing Afghanistan are also challenged by the Taliban spokesman, who responds that such statements are made under “great political pressure” given the enormous cost of the occupation in lives and public funds: It is a known fact that the invaders have been defeated in Afghanistan, but they continue their propaganda through which they want to compel the world to believe in their so-called progress in Afghanistan.” Zabihullah cites a report by an unnamed European security firm that claimed there was a 64% increase in Taliban attacks in 2010.

Responding to claims by Kabul’s National Directorate for Security that 1,500 Taliban militants have switched sides in northern Afghanistan, Zabihullah says the mujahideen are actually gaining momentum in the north and that Kabul is attempting to introduce various warlords as Taliban before claiming their defection to the government (Central Asia Online, February 11).

The Taliban see a direct connection between the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and the economic crisis in the West: “Fortunately, [the occupiers] were faced with distressing resistance and for ten long years they have been trapped in a ruinous war. As a result, the Coalition countries, particularly America, are suffering a terrible economic depression.”

However, Zabihullah believes public opposition to the war is growing in the West as politicians begin to waver in their support for the ongoing and unusually lengthy conflict. The Taliban spokesman concludes by raising the specter of the Vietnam War, where Americans “had dreadful experiences and even up until today every American has a particular sense of fear and terror about it; hence, in such a situation the invasion and overrunning of a war-torn, small Afghanistan, which seemed very easy and almost costless to them, turned out to be very difficult and enormously expensive.”

This article first appeared in the March 3, 2011 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor 

Security Failure Leads to Taliban Suicide Attack on Pakistan’s Strategic Kohat Tunnel

Andrew McGregor

February 10, 2011

A pair of suicide bombings on January 28 constituted the latest round in a bitter struggle between Taliban militants and government security forces for control of Pakistan’s strategic Kohat Tunnel, an important part of Pakistan’s N55 highway (popularly known as the “Indus Highway”), which is heavily used by NATO supply convoys headed for Afghanistan and Pakistani military convoys headed for volatile Waziristan.

KohatAftermath of the Kohat Tunnel Suicide Bombing

The first bombing was carried out by a Bedford truck full of explosives that entered the tunnel from the Darra Adamkhel side, apparently unchallenged by tunnel security units. The explosives were detonated some 600 meters inside as the driver crashed the truck into the wall of the tunnel. The blast damaged the electrical, drainage and exhaust systems and created a crater one meter deep and six meters wide. This forced a 24-hour closure of the tunnel, which was later reopened to small vehicles only (Express Tribune [Karachi], January 30; Daily Times [Lahore], February 2). Repairs enabling the passage of heavy vehicles are expected to take some time. Bomb disposal experts later estimated the truck-bomb contained roughly 500 kg of explosives (Pakistan Observer, February 4).

A second explosion followed as an oil tanker rigged with a similar charge of explosives crashed into a military checkpoint outside the tunnel. Normally manned by units of the regular army and the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC), the checkpoint was unmanned at the time of the attack, approximately 12:30 AM. The tunnel has only been open at night for the past two months after night-time use was banned following its brief seizure in January 2008 by Taliban forces who set off explosives inside the tunnel. A male civilian and two women were killed immediately in a car following the tanker to the tunnel. The death toll in the two attacks has now reached eight, as several wounded have succumbed to their injuries (Pakistan Observer, February 4). The owner of the oil tanker has appealed to the government for compensation for the destruction of the tanker (The News [Islamabad], February 5).

Responsibility for the blasts was claimed by the Darra Adamkhel Taliban under the leadership of Tariq Afridi (The News, January 30). Tariq Afridi took command of the Darra Adamkhel fighters in November 2009 after the group’s two principal leaders were killed in a military operation in 2008. Taliban fighters based in the hills around Darra Adamkhel (and its thriving arms bazaar) have made regular attacks on supply convoys passing through the region.  The Darra Adamkhel command is most notorious for the kidnapping and murder of Polish engineer Petr Stanczak in February 2009 (The News, February 15, 2009; Dawn [Karachi], April 26, 2009). Taliban fighters in the area have also been responsible for numerous attacks on the region’s substantial Shiite minority. Reports last December indicated that members of the local Taliban were shaving their beards and infiltrating the Darra Adamkhel area (Daily Times, December 6, 2010).

The strategic 1.9 km tunnel was built with Japanese assistance and completed in 2004. It connects the relatively isolated Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa district with Peshawar and the rest of Pakistan. The tunnel allows shipping by large trucks that was previously impossible due to the dangerous hairpin turns of the old 14 km Kohat Pass road. Control of the tunnel has been an important Taliban objective for several years. A major battle between militants and government troops over several days in January 2008 saw Taliban fighters led by Tariq Afridi take temporary control of the tunnel before being driven off by a massive military response (PakTribune, January 28, 2008; The Nation [Islamabad], January 31; Reuters, January 27, 2008).

This article first appeared in the February 10, 2011 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor.

Afghan Taliban Issue Guidelines for Establishment of Islamic Emirate

Andrew McGregor

February 3, 2011

One of the major weaknesses of most militant Islamist groups is their almost complete lack of a political program or consideration of how an Islamic State should be run beyond a general commitment to Shari’a and the creation of an Islamic caliphate. Details as to how this caliphate is to be administered or who is to be its leader are rarely considered by militants. The last Caliph, Abdul Mejid II, was deposed by Turkish secularist Mustafa Kemal “Ataturk” in 1924. A notable exception to this trend is Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, which actually has experience running a country, as it did in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The Afghan model as pursued by the Taliban is more realistic in seeking an Emirate (a regional command) rather than a Caliphate (the latter encompassing the entire Islamic world).

Last CaliphThe Last Caliph – Abdul Mejid II

Nevertheless, the Emirate is “based upon the principles of the Islamic Caliphate… in dividing the country into provinces, appointing pious and righteous governors, guiding workers to piety and justice, encouraging the establishment of a religious and worldly policy, tending to the needs of the people, instructing them in matters of religion and encouraging them to make the utmost effort in promoting virtue and preventing vice.”

Discussion of the Taliban’s administrative plans for Afghanistan has been stirred by a detailed outline of these plans in the movement’s Voice of Jihad website (January 27). The outline, written by Ikram Miyundi, was previously published in the movement’s al-Somood Magazine (Issue 55, December 25, 2010).

For guidance, the Islamic Emirate must draw on the Koran, the Sunnah (sayings and habits) of the Prophet Muhammad, the Sunnah of the Khulafa ur-Rashidun (The Caliphs of Righteousness, i.e. the first four caliphs after Muhammad), the sayings of the Companions (of the Prophet), as well as various fatwas (religious-based legal decisions) issued by respected scholars of Islam.

Administratively, the Emirate divides Afghanistan into 34 provinces, which are in turn divided into directorates and villages:

• The village is run by a leader appointed by the Emirate who is responsible for civilian and military affairs. In this he is assisted by a group of ten to 50 mujahideen.

• The directorate is administered by a governor “of known piety” who is assisted by a deputy familiar with the region. Under them are committees dealing with dispute resolution, education, development and local military affairs.

• Provincial administration is handled by a provincial governor, “a man of religion and morality who fears no one but Allah,” and a deputy. The governor directs the province’s military, civilian, financial and legal affairs and is responsible for the implementation of Shari’a laws and statutes. The governor is appointed and dismissed by the Supreme Commander after consultation with the High Shura Council.

Just below the High Shura Councils are the “Main Committees,” which in effect replace the existing ministries of the Afghan government. These include:

• The Military Committee – Overseeing the mujahideen and replacing the Ministry of Defense.

• Preaching and Guidance Committee – Senior scholars issuing fatwas and advice on matters of Islamic jurisprudence.

• Culture and Information Committee – Responsible for broadcasting statements of the Amir al-Mu’minin and other government directors. This committee is also responsible for news dissemination and refuting claims of enemies of the Emirate on internet websites.

• Political Committee – Replaces the Foreign Ministry.

• Education Committee – Responsible for spreading “Islamic and contemporary learning.”

• Financial Committee – Responsible for all financial affairs and resources.

• Committee for Prisoners and Orphans – Works for the release of mujahideen prisoners and provides resources for the upbringing of their children and the children of martyrs.

• Health Committee – Responsible for treating wounded and sick mujahideen.

• Committee for Foreign Establishments – This committee directs the operations of foreign relief and aid agencies and makes sure they do not do anything contrary to Islamic theology and beliefs.

Directing the committees is the High Shura Council, appointed by the Amir al-Mu’minin and responsible for drafting laws and regulations in accordance with Islamic principles.

At the peak of the administration is the Amir al-Mu’minin (Commander of the Faithful): “The leader is the axis around which matters pivot. He employs the community to achieve his goals and directs people to goodness and happiness. He warns them against evil and danger according to his lights.” The Amir must be male, of sound mind and emotion, and possess the qualities of knowledge, vision, strength, courage and wisdom. He must have excellent organizational skills as well as other qualities mentioned in the existing books of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and ‘aqidah (Islamic theology).

This title, first used by the second Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, has been used in various capacities by both the Sunni and Shiite communities. It became widely used by the leaders of the Sahelian sultanates in Africa (such as Darfur) and continues to be used by the Sultan of Morocco. Mullah Omar has used the title since founding the Taliban in 1994.

This article first appeared in the February 3, 2011 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor

Defeating the “Forces of Paganism”: Former Military Intelligence Chief Hamid Gul Blends Pakistani Nationalism and Islamic Revolution

Andrew McGregor

January 28, 2011

The retired former chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, is one of the most controversial political figures in Pakistan. Despite his once extremely close ties with the American Central Intelligence Agency during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Gul has since become one of Pakistan’s harshest critics of American foreign policy in South and Central Asia. Speaking at a recent Sufi ceremony in the northeastern Punjab town of Gujranwala, Gul, who was director of the ISI from 1987 to 1989, suggested that conflicts in Afghanistan have historically been a catalyst for massive change in South Asia and that “this change is knocking at our door… The forces of paganism have faced the worst defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq, but these forces are reluctant to accept their defeat. By 2012, these forces will be totally exhausted.” In Pakistan, however, Gul says what is needed is not a bloodbath, but rather a “soft Islamic revolution” (Nawa-i-Waqt, Rawalpindi, January 17).

Gul 1Hamid Gul and Taliban Friends

General Gul is certainly one of the most talkative former intelligence directors in the world, constantly seeking the spotlight through provocative remarks presented in a seemingly endless series of television and print interviews. While the United States has regularly claimed Gul is a supporter of al-Qaeda and Taliban forces, Gul counters that his activities are strictly based on morality, Pakistani sovereignty and the struggle of Muslims to free themselves from foreign occupation and manipulation:

The Americans sent my name to the UN Security Council to put me on a sanctions list and declare me an international terrorist. But they failed because the Chinese knew the truth well and blocked that move. Basically, the Americans have nothing against me. I saw the charges and I replied to them in the English-language press in Pakistan. I said if they have anything against me to bring it forward, put me on trial. Tell me what wrong I have done. I have been taking moral stands. The Americans talk of freedom of speech, but apparently my speech hurts them because it counters their excesses… I do not support terror at all, but jihad is our right when a nation is oppressed. According to the United Nations Charter, national resistance for liberation is a right. We call this a jihad (al-Jazeera, February 17, 2010).

Pakistan’s Relations with the United States

In his capacity as Director General of Military Intelligence (DGMI) under General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and later ISI director under Benazir Bhutto, Gul worked closely with American intelligence agencies in coordinating and supplying the Afghan mujahideen’s struggle against Soviet occupation. This relationship began to suffer when Gul observed that American funding and interest in Afghanistan declined rapidly after the expulsion of the Soviets in 1989.  Sanctions related to Pakistan’s secret nuclear program further inflamed Gul, who tried to rally Muslim opposition to the U.S. led “War on Terrorism.” According to Gul: “The Muslim world must stand united to confront the U.S. in its so-called war against terror which is in reality a war against Muslims. Let us destroy America wherever its troops are trapped” (Daily Times [Lahore], August 30, 2003).

Gul continues to view the United States as the adversary of the Islamic world, telling a Rawalpindi daily that America will never be Pakistan’s friend – in fact, it is an even greater enemy than India (Nawa-i-Waqt [Rawalpindi], January 17). The former ISI chief claims U.S. military contractors (read Blackwater/XE) and CIA-directed drone attacks are actively working to destabilize Pakistan from within.

The former ISI chief continues to maintain the 9/11 attacks were part of an American plot to seize the resource-rich Muslim states, a plot that later instigated the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) siege in 2007 as a means of bringing the Muslim mujahideen and the Pakistan Army into confrontation (South Asian News Agency, January 19). He cites as proof of American intentions the fact that U.S. forces did not quickly withdraw from Afghanistan after dispersing al-Qaeda elements in late 2001 and claims the Obama administration is now working to replace U.S. government troops with American mercenaries as a means of deflecting negative public opinion: “This is a very dangerous trend if we are to believe that mercenaries can win wars and carry forward the political objectives of the country. This means that whoever has more money can employ more mercenaries, win wars, win territories, etc.” (al-Jazeera, February 18, 2010).

Gul was consistent in his response to recent news of the death of his long-time associate and former ISI Colonel (retd) Sultan Amir Tarar (a.k.a. Colonel Imam) while in the hands of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Colonel Imam was kidnapped in March 2010 while on a mysterious mission to North Waziristan along with two other men, one of whom was murdered last year. Though the Taliban’s demands for the release of prisoners in government prisons were never met, the group is claiming Colonel Imam died of heart failure. Gul insists that his former colleague did not suffer from heart problems, but was instead killed by Indian intelligence and agents of private military contractor Blackwater/XE under a U.S. contract (Express Tribune [Karachi], January 23; The News [Islamabad], January 27).

Wikileaks Controversy

General Gul’s name appears in 92,000 of the U.S. diplomatic cables leaked to Wikileaks, most often in connection to his alleged ties with the Taliban, the Haqqani Network and al-Qaeda operatives. While the cables represent only raw, unanalyzed intelligence reports, the sheer volume of those mentioning Gul in connection with militant groups is nevertheless alarming. Included in the documents are reports of Gul obtaining arms and munitions for the Taliban, orchestrating the abduction of United Nations personnel in Afghanistan and bragging about his role in ordering suicide bombings, all of which remain unverified.

Gul’s response to the allegations contained in the cables was emphatic: “These documents are nonsense. They are ironic, wrong and stupid. I deny every single word in them… It is all rubbish.” For once, Gul did not blame the United States, saying the allegations were more likely the work of Afghan and Indian intelligence services (Der Spiegel, July 26, 2010).

Despite his alleged connections to Afghanistan’s Taliban, Gul sees a different motivation behind the activities of Pakistan’s own Taliban: “The Pakistani Taliban are being sponsored by the Indian intelligence and the Mossad, by the way, to carry out their attacks in Pakistan. Mossad is very active in Pakistan and they are providing all the guidance and technical support to the Indian intelligence. So, Pakistan has to have its back covered – no country can fight on two fronts.”  These remarks run contrary to the belief of Western governments that Pakistan’s ISI has close ties to the Pakistani Taliban.

Gul 2General Ahmed Shuga Pasha

Dueling Court Cases

This month a Brooklyn-based U.S. court summoned current ISI Director Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, his predecessor, Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj (current Adjutant-General of the Pakistan Army), and two other Pakistan Army officers in connection with a suit brought by two Israeli-Americans who lost relatives in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

The summons threatens to be another major blow to American-Pakistani relations, with the Islamabad government promising to resist all attempts to make serving officers of its military appear before an American court. Just in case the government’s will falters, Islamist political parties have been issuing threats of insurrection if the government fails to resist. According to Jamaat-ud-Dawah official Professor Hafiz Abdur Rehman Makki: “The Americans are the most foolish people in the world. They think that Pakistan is like an article in a cupboard and they will order it the way they like. It is due to our rulers only” (Nawa-i-Waqt, January 19). Many of the Islamists view the court case as a conspiracy engineered by Indian and Israeli intelligence agencies.

The case seems ready made for one of Gul’s appeals to Pakistani nationalism. The former ISI chief told an American periodical, “The United States [doesn’t] care about any international law or the sovereignty and dignity of any country. [The] United States of America is the violator of all the international rules and laws.” Gul further claimed the court might give a biased verdict that would slander Pakistan in the eyes of the international community (New American, January 24).

The case appears to have already had repercussions after the name of the CIA’s Islamabad station chief was leaked to a Pakistani journalist who has filed a murder case against CIA station chief Jonathan Banks, with other notices being served on CIA director Leon Panetta and U.S. secretary of defense Robert Gates in relation to the death of journalist Karim Khan’s brother and son in a December 2009 drone attack in North Waziristan. Gul suggests the ISI may have leaked Banks’ name as revenge for the summons issued on its director, General Shuja Pasha, in the Brooklyn Mumbai trial (Newsweek Pakistan, January 10).

The Benazir Bhutto Assassination

Though Gul was frequently named as a suspect in Bhutto’s assassination, he was largely cleared of involvement by the Pakistan government in April 2010. It was Bhutto who replaced Gul as ISI director in 1987. The rift between Bhutto and Gul reached a critical point when Bhutto named Gul as one of four prominent Pakistanis she claimed were behind the October 18, 2007, bombing of her motorcade in Karachi, which killed 139 people and left hundreds injured.

Gul has frequently claimed Washington was behind Bhutto’s murder, but more recently has set his sights on former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf as a main suspect, saying Musharraf was responsible for Bhutto’s death and should be subject to investigation and questioning (The Nation [Islamabad], December 27, 2010; The News [Islamabad], January 5; Times of India, December 27, 2010).


It is difficult to assess Gul’s importance in the ongoing struggle for Pakistan’s future. There seems little doubt that Gul maintains extensive contacts within the shadowy and dangerous world of covert operations in South Asia. However, the seriousness of the Western allegations leveled at the former ISI chief seem incompatible with his accessibility to the press, leading some to dismiss his importance. Nevertheless, General Gul presents an attractive mix of Islamic revolution and Pakistani nationalism that finds a ready audience inside Pakistan. His claims that allegations of ties to terrorism are an American/Israeli/Indian conspiracy to deny him his role as a “credible critic” of Western intervention in the region likewise reverberate favorably with the Pakistani public. Gul’s importance stands primarily in the extent to which he represents a pro-Islamist, anti-American trend in Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies, organizations which will ultimately have far more to do with the future direction of Pakistan than Taliban gunmen.

Hizb-I-Islami Leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar Claims Civil War that Followed Russian Withdrawal Will Not Be Repeated

Andrew McGregor

September 23, 2010

Engineer Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of Afghanistan’s Hizb-i-Islami and a former prime minister of the country, recently outlined his views on the future of the Afghan conflict, the jihad in Pakistan, the role of al-Qaeda, the legitimacy of suicide attacks and other issues (Geo News TV, September 15). [1]

Hekmatyar PakistanGulbuddin Hekmatyar on an Official Visit to Pakistan

The fate of Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Masood at the hands of al-Qaeda assassins posing as Algerian journalists in 2001 is never far from the minds of Afghan political leaders, so to protect Hekmatyar’s security the interview with Pakistan’s Geo News TV was carried out by sending Hekmatyar a videotape containing questions and receiving a videotape carrying replies in return.

Hekmatyar sees most parties to the current conflict in Afghanistan coming out weaker as a result of the war. Iran and Pakistan have become embroiled in their own difficulties, while even al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban are not in a position to aid the Afghan mujahideen as they did in the past. Afghanistan’s own Northern Alliance has “disintegrated,” while other proxy groups used by Russia and the United States have become “diluted”. “The United States and its allies will have to face a similar fate after the evacuation from Afghanistan as the Soviet Union did. They will neither be able to do what they did after the 9/11 incident, nor what they did after Soviet Union’s withdrawal [when] they created the Northern Alliance in collaboration with Russia, which blocked the establishment of an Islamic government by the mujahideen.” Iran, however, is accused by Hekmatyar of cooperating with the United States while pretending to be its opponent. As a result, “Iran never had the level of influence in Afghanistan’s internal affairs as it has now.”

Surprisingly, Hekmatyar appealed to the Taliban of Pakistan to abandon their fight against the government of Asif Ali Zardari and devote their energies to driving out the foreign troops based in Afghanistan. Should the current situation change in Pakistan, the direction of its mujahideen could be refocused. “If the occupying forces attack Pakistan or any other Muslim country, it will become obligatory on all Muslims to support the Pakistani mujahideen. No doubt, the supporters of infidels [i.e. the Islamabad government] are also violating the teachings of Islam, but we need to differentiate between the bigger and smaller enemies and adopt different approaches in dealing with them.” Hekmatyar claims Afghan president Hamid Karzai does not have the authority to negotiate a withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign forces from Afghanistan. Instead, he offers a plan prepared by his party entitled Milli Meesaq (the National Charter), which he claims is supported by a majority of Afghan politicians.

The veteran Islamist warlord claims there is little chance of al-Qaeda re-establishing itself in Afghanistan, though he says their presence has been exaggerated to justify the aggression of the Western nations. “There are no al-Qaeda centers or warriors in Afghanistan anymore. The Western countries themselves have accepted that the number of al-Qaeda warriors in Afghanistan is less than 100. Is it possible that 150,000 troops equipped with modern weapons have been fighting for nine years to kill 100 warriors?”

Nevertheless, Hekmatyar advocates tactics closely associated with al-Qaeda, including attacking religious scholars who oppose suicide attacks as “pro-government opportunists.” Other than those who carry out strikes against mosques, those who give their lives in suicide attacks will be “well rewarded by God.” When asked if responsibility for 9/11 lay with al-Qaeda, the Jews or the Americans, Hekmatyar said he believed al-Qaeda was responsible, “because the Jews cannot prepare such committed people who can sacrifice their lives in suicide attacks.”

This article first appeared in the September 23, 2010 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor

New Book by Former Jihad Ideologue Dr. Fadl Claims Taliban Victory in Afghanistan Is Inevitable

Andrew McGregor

August 19, 2010

FadlSayyid Imam Abd al-Aziz al-Sharif (Dr. Fadl)

A former leading jihadi ideologue and long-time colleague of al-Qaeda’s Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri has published a new book that examines the future of the conflict in Afghanistan. Egyptian native Dr. Fadl (a.k.a. Sayyid Imam Abd al-Aziz al-Sharif) was a founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization (aljarida.com, November 27, 2007; see also Terrorism Monitor, December 10, 2007). After a falling out with al-Zawahiri in Pakistan, Dr. Fadl moved to Yemen, where he remained until he was deported to Egypt after 9/11 to begin a lifetime prison sentence. While in prison, Dr. Fadl published a seminal document on the re-examination of al-Qaeda’s global jihad, entitled Tarshid al-amal al-jihadi fi misr wa al-alam (Rationalizing the Jihadi Action in Egypt and the World). Known popularly as the “Revisions,” Dr. Fadl’s work became the first in a series of similar “revisions” to emerge from imprisoned militants in the Muslim world. Previously, Dr. Fadl had been best known as the author of an important jihadi manual, 1988’s Al-omda fi i’dad al-udda (The Master in Making Preparation [for Jihad]), which he initially published under the name Abdul Qadir bin Abdulaziz.

Dr. Fadl’s new book is entitled Future of the War between America and Taliban in Afghanistan and has been carried in excerpts by the pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat. The new work is highly critical of Osama bin Laden, whom Dr. Fadl accuses of manipulating the Taliban in his own interest before 9/11, eventually causing their downfall through his treachery.

Nevertheless, Dr. Fadl predicts a Taliban victory in the present struggle to retake Afghanistan from Coalition forces and the corrupt government of President Hamid Karzai. The author offers 12 reasons why a Taliban victory is inevitable:

1. A successful jihad must be accompanied by a religious reform movement. The religious motivation of the Taliban (as opposed to tribal loyalties or the pursuit of wealth) meets this criterion.

2. The Taliban cause is just, as it seeks to repel foreign occupation. Dr. Fadl points to the examples of the American Revolution, French resistance to Vichy and Nazi rule and the anti-Japanese resistance movements in Asia during World War Two.

3. Cross-border tribal bonds with Pakistani Pashtun tribesmen are vital to the jihad’s success; “Loyalty of the Pashtu in Pakistan to the Pashtu in Afghanistan is stronger than their loyalty to their government in Islamabad.”

4. Jihad has popular support from the people of Afghanistan, who provide fighters with support, shelter and intelligence.

5. The nature of the terrain in Afghanistan and the inaccessibility of Taliban refugees make it eminently suitable for guerrilla warfare; “He who fights geography is a loser.”

6. The backwardness of Afghanistan favors the success of jihad. The Russian experience proved that even a scorched-earth policy has little effect on people who are tolerant, patient and have little to lose in the first place. There is little in the way of cultural establishments to be destroyed – Afghanistan’s monuments are its mountains and “even atomic bombs do not affect them.”

7. As the battlefield widens beyond the Taliban strongholds in the south, occupation forces must face increasing financial and personnel losses.

8. Both time and the capacity to endure losses are on the side of the Taliban, who “do not have a ceiling to their losses, especially with regard to lives…”

9. Suicide operations make up for the shortage of modern weapons.

10. After three decades of nearly continuous warfare, Taliban fighters and leaders have the necessary experience to prevail against the occupation.

11. History is also on the Taliban’s side. Despite being world powers, both the British Empire and the Soviet Union failed to conquer Afghanistan.

12. Pakistan’s support of the Taliban provides the necessary third-party refuge and supplies to any successful guerrilla struggle.

This article first appeared in the August 19, 2010 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor

Afghan Mujahideen Determined to Close Kabul to Kandahar Corridor

Andrew McGregor

August 5, 2010

Shaykh Nur ul-Haqq Mujahid bin Mohamed, the Taliban military commander in the Maydan Shahr district of Wardak province, stated in a recent interview that Taliban forces are trying to block a major supply corridor south of Kabul and “close it permanently.” One of Afghanistan’s most important highways passes through Maydan Shahr, connecting Kabul with the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. The interview appeared in the 44th issue of al-Somood, the monthly magazine of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (posted to jihadi websites on July 22).

WardakIn the prologue to the interview, Shaykh Nur ul-Haqq is described as a high-standing graduate of a Peshawar theological school who joined the Taliban movement in its early stages in the mid-1990s, eventually becoming head of military security in Nangarhar province. He has been in charge of military operations in Maydan Shahr since 2002.

According to the Taliban commander, the “Crusader” forces in Maydan Wardak have military positions in the provincial capital of Maydan Shahr as well as at various points along the Kabul-Kandahar highway. “Battles between the mujahideen and the Crusaders occur to control the corridor and the two sides will swap control of it during the day, but at night the mujahideen will take complete control of it and all the roads leading to the district,” stated the shaykh.

Shaykh Nur ul-Haqq insists the growing number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is not as important as their morale, which he claims is in a state of decline, saying, “This ailment cannot be evaded by increasing the number of troops.”

Fighting in Maydan Wardak can be difficult, the Taliban commander admits. The “huge capabilities of the enemy” are posed against the limited resources of local fighters, and the district’s close proximity to Kabul makes it easy for the Coalition to move troops quickly to Maydan Wardak in response to any Taliban attack. Despite this, the shaykh affirms that successful attacks on military and supply convoys continue in the district.

Shaykh Nur ul-Haqq also described the various Taliban strategies and tactics used throughout Afghanistan, noting that what works in one province will not necessarily work in another:

For example, in Kunar and Nuristan provinces, the most suitable military method is a military clash because those two provinces possess a geographic situation suitable for this military strategy. Meanwhile, in Helmand and the southwest of Afghanistan the preferred method is to plant mines and use explosives because the terrain of those areas is desert terrain, which does not afford the mujahideen secure places to hide. As for Kabul, martyrdom operations and surprise attacks are best because the open concentration of large numbers of invaders there gives the mujahideen an opportunity to launch those kinds of campaigns against their bases and barracks.

For now, however, Shaykh Nur ul-Haqq’s focus on closing the highway through Maydan Wardak may be disrupted by an outbreak of fighting between the Taliban and their former ally, the Hizb-i-Islam militia of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (Weesa [Kabul], July 26). Mullah Zabiullah, a Maydan Wardak Taliban commander, was reportedly killed in separate fighting with Afghan security and intelligence forces on July 31 (Bakhtar News Agency, July 31).

This article first appeared in the August 5, 2010 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor

Former Taliban Commander Alleges UK Supports Taliban, Regrets Joining Government

Andrew McGregor

July 1, 2010

A former Taliban commander who, after his defection, was appointed Governor of the Musa Qala district of Helmand Province told an independent Afghan TV station that he now regrets his choice and foresees at least another five years of warfare in Afghanistan (Tolo TV, June 22). Mullah Abdul Salam Hanafi, a chieftain in the Alizai tribe, has been speaking openly lately of his distaste for the Karzai government and his conviction that the UK is behind all the problems experienced by the people of Helmand Province. Since his defection to the government, Mullah Abdul Salam has survived several assassination attempts, including a concentrated attack on his house and a rocket fired at a British Chinook helicopter in which he was flying (The Nation [Islamabad], May 18, 2006).

MaiwandBattle of Maiwand, 1880

Last March, Abdul Salam complained that UK troops had urged Afghan police to abandon their post in the Mullah’s nearby hometown of Shah Karez during a battle with the Taliban rather than come to their aid (Afghan Islamic Press, March 17; Geo TV, March 17). The 50 officers, mostly drawn from the Mullah’s private militia, were eventually forced to withdraw from their post with losses (The Scotsman, March 24, 2010). In his latest interview, the Mullah now claims that British forces landed helicopters with Taliban troops and provided military support to the Taliban during the battle.

Mullah Abdul Salam cites several reasons for “British duplicity” in Helmand Province:

•    The British are seeking revenge for their defeat at the 1880 Battle of Maiwand during the Second Afghan War. The 66th Berkshire Regiment and a number of Indian native regiments were virtually destroyed in a Pashtun victory that also cost thousands of Afghan lives.
•    The British are “probably involved” in opium production, based on what the Mullah describes as UK opposition to his attempts to eradicate the drug trade and insistence that drug producers be released after having been arrested by the Mullah. He says he has heard that opium is being flown out of the military airport.
•    The British are also interested in possessing potential mineral riches in the province.

The Mullah’s relations with Britain appear to have declined rapidly during the posting of the 5th Battalion (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) of the Royal Regiment of Scotland in Musa Qala. He was gravely offended by the arrest of his 15-year-old son (one of 27 children by five wives) by a Scottish officer in July 2008 and also complained loudly that the British had failed to fill his “war chest,” intended, he says, to be used for bribing Taliban commanders. In turn, British forces have accused the Mullah of taxing opium producers and permitting his militia to be engaged in criminal activities (Sunday Times, July 9, 2008; Independent, November 12, 2008).

Mullah Abdul Salam mocked ISAF efforts to take control of the Marjah district of Helmand in a large offensive involving 15,000 troops last February, saying that the Afghan troops left there were surrounded in the bazaar (see Terrorism Monitor, June 17). “If they give me 600 policemen today, I will capture Kajaki District in Helmand and ensure security there immediately.”

The Mullah also had harsh words for Pakistani authorities, claiming they are the Taliban’s “main support” in what he alleges is a larger plan to “kill Pashtuns.” The Mullah says that all insurgent operations in Afghanistan are organized and authorized by the movement’s Quetta-based leadership, adding that Pakistani intelligence devises the plans and implements them through Mullah Omar in Quetta. He describes Mullah Omar as being like a “prisoner of the intelligence networks in Pakistan.” Since Islamabad believes Afghan president Hamid Karzai is close to India, Mullah Abdul Salam predicts at least another five years of warfare.

At almost the same time as the Mullah made his statement, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said they have observed British security services cooperating with terrorist groups in Afghanistan (Islamic Republic of Iran News Network, June 22). Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmad also suggested that the heroism of British troops in Afghanistan has not benefitted their country and that the UK should expect more casualties as it marks the death of 300 troops in Afghanistan (Afghan Islamic Press, June 21).


This article first appeared in the July 1, 2010 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor


Tajik-Uzbek Railway Dispute Underlines Fragility of NATO’s Afghan Supply Lines

Andrew McGregor

June 4, 2010

Developing supply lines to NATO forces in land-locked Afghanistan has required both logistical and diplomatic creativity. The shortest and technically easiest supply line runs from the port of Karachi through the Khyber Pass, but this is also the most insecure. One of several supply lines currently in use brings supplies by rail through Uzbekistan and Tajikistan into Afghanistan.

According to the deputy head of Tajik Railways, over 300 rail cars containing aviation fuel, oil and lubricants destined for NATO forces are parked on sidings in Uzbekistan (Eurasianet.org, May 26; Central Asia Online, May 26). They are among some 2,200 to 2,500 freight cars bound for Tajikistan that are being held on Uzbek territory (RFE/RL, May 26; Ferghana.ru, May 25). Tajik Railways say the delays began in February and are now preventing Tajikistan from exporting its fruit and vegetables (Daily Times [Lahore], May 26).

Unlike other disruptions to NATO’s Afghanistan supply lines, this latest difficulty has little to do with militant attacks or political disapproval of the NATO or American mission in Afghanistan. The basis of the current dispute is Tajikistan’s plans to construct a major hydroelectric power plant in Roghun, a measure that Uzbekistan claims would worsen regional water shortages. Many of the rail cars being held in Uzbekistan hold construction supplies for the power plant. Others hold much-needed reconstruction materials destined for Khatlon Province, which suffered heavy floods in early May. Rail wagons headed for Khatlon have been held up since May 18 (Ferghana.ru, May 25). Uzbekistan has said only that the delays are “technical.”

On May 7, Uzbekistan imposed temporary restrictions on passenger and cargo transport to Tajikistan due to an outbreak of polio in Tajikistan (RFE/RL Tajik, May 25).  In addition, floods along the Uzbekistan line to Termiz (the Uzbek rail terminus at the Afghan border where NATO supplies are offloaded for road transport into Afghanistan) were reported to have wiped out 11 kilometers of track. Uzbekistan says it does not have sufficient funds for repairs but has refused Tajik Railroad offers to rebuild that section at its own expense (RFE/RL Tajik, May 25).

Lieutenant-Colonel Goetz Hasske, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) brushed off the impact of the delay, saying it was “not affecting logistics in the area. We have several border crossing points that we can use and we may have to reroute some shipments” (Moscow Times, May 26).

Fuel is the most vital of the NATO supplies being shipped into Afghanistan. As such, fuel tankers are the most targeted vehicles crossing into Afghanistan. Units of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) conduct regular attacks on tankers passing through Pakistan. While NATO is downplaying the impact of the supply obstruction in Uzbekistan, the delays raise further questions as to the reliability of Uzbekistan as a supply-chain partner beyond the immediate problem of replacing 300 tankers of fuel. On the bright side, the expected September completion of a connection between Afghanistan’s limited rail network at Marzar-i-Sharif and the Uzbek line at the border town of Termiz will enable some shipments to bypass Tajikistan (AFP, May 29).

This article first appeared in the June 4, 2010 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor

“The Way of War Is Not Paved With Flowers” – Sirajuddin Haqqani on the War in Afghanistan

Andrew McGregor

May 13, 2010

Thirty-year-old Sirajuddin Haqqani controls a powerful insurgent group known as the Haqqani Network along Afghanistan’s southeastern border with the Tribal Areas of north-west Pakistan, particularly in the provinces of Khost, Paktika and Paktia (Al-Balagh Media Center, April 13).  Operating with apparent autonomy under the broader structure of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” (the Taliban-dominated political structure of the Islamic resistance), Sirajuddin’s network has earned a reputation for deadly efficiency in its attacks on local and international forces in the region.

Sirajuddin HaqqaniSirajuddin Haqqani

Sirajuddin recently answered questions from forum members on a jihadi website, part of an effort to create a public profile for the once reclusive mujahid (ansar1.info; see also Terrorism Monitor, January 28).

On the impact of attacks by CIA-directed unmanned aerial vehicles, Sirajuddin did not hesitate to acknowledge their effectiveness, but warned setbacks are part of the longer struggle:

While you sometimes hear some news on the martyrdom of some mujahideen by an unmanned aerial vehicle, you should also know that the mujahideen do weaken their enemies and make them suffer heavy casualties and financial losses. In addition, you should know that the way of war is not paved with flowers. Hardships and sacrifices are what bring victory.

With regard to the devastating Khost suicide bombing that targeted CIA personnel last December, Sirajuddin claimed this operation had helped reduce the CIA’s operational accuracy by 60%. He noted elite personnel and the “smartest CIA officers” had been killed, while spies (such as Khost bomber Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi) became mistrusted, leading to a disruption of CIA intelligence gathering and delays in the process of recruiting new spies.

When asked about February’s joint NATO/Afghan Operation Moshtarak in the Marjah region of Helmand province, Sirajuddin described it as nothing more than “a media stunt… The enemies were defeated in Marjah. They achieved nothing.”

The mujahideen commander sees the hand of Israel behind Coalition activities in Afghanistan:

The Crusaders’ assaults against Afghanistan aim primarily to establish Greater Israel. The current Crusade plan, which is designed by Greater Israel, aims to remove the obstacles that hinder the establishment of Greater Israel. We believe that defeating the United States in Afghanistan will help to hinder this Crusade against the Muslim world. In addition, we believe that their defeat will pave our way for liberating Jerusalem..

Elsewhere, the mujahideen commander claimed the United States and its agents were encouraging the production of opium, while the mujahideen had no connection with the crop and did not use it for financial support. Sirajuddin also denied reports the Taliban were burning girls’ schools, claiming, “This is a blatant lie. It is a weird game played by the Crusaders. They build schools for girls to win over the public and then burn them to harm the reputation of the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” He added that peace talks would be impossible so long as the occupation continued.

This article first appeared in the May 13, 2010 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor