Pakistan's New Generation of Terrorists



Introduction
As an increasing number of suicide attacks rock Pakistan's major cities, concerns for the country's security are rising. In recent years, many new terrorist groups have emerged, several existing groups have reconstituted themselves, and a new crop of militants has emerged, more violent and less conducive to political solutions than their predecessors. Links between many of these new and existing groups have strengthened, say experts, giving rise to fresh concerns for stability. A failed bombing attempt in New York's Times Square in May 2010 with links to Pakistan also exposes the growing ambitions of many of these groups that had previously focused only on the region. The Pakistan-born U.S. citizen Faisal Shahzad who confessed to the bombing attempt was sentenced to life imprisonment by a U.S. court in October 2010.
                                                            " a Taliban tank"

Pakistani authorities have long had ties to militant groups based on their soil that largely focused their efforts in Afghanistan and India. But with Pakistan joining the United States as an ally in its "war on terrorism" since 9/11, experts say Islamabad has seen harsh blowback on its policy of backing militants operating abroad. Leadership elements of al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, along with other terrorist groups, have made Pakistan'stribal areas (the semi-autonomous region along the Afghan border) their home and now work closely with a wide variety of Pakistani militant groups. On May 1, 2011, al-Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed by a U.S. raid in Abbottabad, a military town not far from Islamabad, raising questions about the Pakistani government and intelligence services' knowledge of his whereabouts.

Many experts say it is difficult to determine how many terrorist groups are operating out of Pakistan. Most of these groups have tended to fall into one of the five distinct categories laid out by Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in January 2008 testimony (PDF) before a U.S. House Foreign Affairs subcommittee.
  • Sectarian: Groups such as the Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and the Shia Tehrik-e-Jafria, which are engaged in violence within Pakistan;
  • Anti-Indian: Terrorist groups that operate with the alleged support of the Pakistani military and the intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), and the Harakat ul-Mujahadeen (HuM). This Backgrounder profiles these organizations, which have been active in Kashmir;
  • Afghan Taliban: The original Taliban movement and especially its Kandahari leadership centered around Mullah Mohammad Omar, believed to be now living in Quetta;
  • Al-Qaeda and its affiliates: The organization led by Osama bin Laden and other non-South Asian terrorists believed to be ensconced in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Rohan Gunaratna of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore says other foreign militant groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Jihad group, the Libyan Islamic Fighters Group and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are also located in FATA;
  • The Pakistani Taliban: Groups consisting of extremist outfits in the FATA, led by individuals such as Hakimullah Mehsud, of the Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan, Maulana Faqir Muhammad of Bajaur, and Maulana Qazi Fazlullah of the Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM).
Crisis Guide: PakistanThere are some other militant groups that do not fit into any of the above categories. For instance, secessionist groups such as the Balochistan Liberation Army in the southwest province of Balochistan. BLA was declared a terrorist organization by Pakistan in 2006. Also, a new militant network, often labeled the Punjabi Taliban, has gained prominence after the major 2008 and 2009 attacks in the Punjabi cities of Lahore, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi.
Hassan Abbas, a professor of international security studies at the Washington-based National Defense University, wrote in 2009 that the Punjabi Taliban network is a loose conglomeration of members of banned militant groups of Punjabi origin--sectarian as well as those focused on Kashmir--that have developed strong connections with the Pakistani Taliban, Afghan Taliban, and other militant groups based in FATA and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The Punjabi Taliban provides logistical support for attacks on cities in Punjab province and include individuals or factions of groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed, Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and their various splinter groups, along with small cells unaffiliated with any large group. Abbas writes that many of these militants "directly benefited from state patronage in the 1990s and were professionally trained in asymmetrical warfare, guerrilla tactics, and sabotage." The Punjabi Taliban is distinct from the traditional Pashtun Taliban, experts say. They are usually more educated and more technologically savvy.
In recent years, many new terrorist groups have emerged in Pakistan, several existing groups have reconstituted themselves, and a new crop of militants has emerged, more violent and less conducive to political solutions than their predecessors.
Since there is also greater coordination between all these groups, say experts, lines have blurred regarding which category a militant group fits in. For instance, the Pakistani Taliban, which was committed to fighting against the Pakistani state, is now increasingly joining insurgents fighting U.S. and international troops across the border in Afghanistan. In a 2010 CFR interview, General David H. Petraeus, who has had a leading role in U.S. security efforts in the region, says the groups have long shared a symbiotic relationship. "They support each other, they coordinate with each other, sometimes they compete with each other, [and] sometimes they even fight each other," making it difficult to distinguish between them.

The Pakistani Taliban
Supporters of the Afghan Taliban in the tribal areas transitioned into a mainstream Taliban force of their own as a reaction to the Pakistani army's incursion into the tribal areas, which began in 2002, to hunt down the militants. In December 2007, about thirteen disparate militant groups coalesced under the umbrella of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, with militant commander Baitullah Mehsud from South Waziristan as the leader. After Mehsud was killed in August 2009 in a U.S. missile strike, his cousin and deputy Hakimullah Mehsud took over as leader of the TTP. Experts say most adult men in Pakistan's tribal areas grew up carrying arms, but it is only in the last few years that they have begun to organize themselves around a Taliban-style Islamic ideology, pursuing an agenda much similar to that of the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan. Abbaswrites in a January 2008 paper that the Pakistani Taliban killed approximately two hundred tribal leaders and effectively established themselves as an alternative.
TTP not only has representation from all of FATA's seven agencies (see this interactive map of the area) but also from several settled districts of the NWFP. According to some estimates, the Pakistani Taliban collectively have around thirty thousand to thirty-five thousand members. Among their other objectives, the TTP has announced a defensive jihad against the Pakistani army, enforcement of sharia, and a plan to unite against NATO forces in Afghanistan. Pakistani authorities accused the group's former leader, Baitullah Mehsud, of assassinating former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007. Some experts have questioned the ability of the different groups working under the Pakistani Taliban umbrella to stay united, given the rivalries between the various tribes. However, the group has proved since its inception, through a string of suicide attacks, that it poses a serious threat to the country's stability. On May 12, 2011, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for bombing a paramilitary academy that killed eighty people and injured over one hundred (BBC). A Taliban spokesman said the suicide assault "was the first revenge for Osama's martyrdom" (al-Jazeera). TTP also expressed transnational ambitions when it claimed responsibility for a failed bomb attack in New York in May 2010.

Changing Face of Terrorism
Violence in Pakistan has been on the rise as more militant groups target the state. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), a terrorism database, 2,654 civilians were killed interrorist violence from January 2010 to May 2011, as compared to around 1,600 civilian deaths from 2003 to 2006. This new generation of terrorists is also more willing to engage in suicide attacks; journalist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, in a 2009 documentary (CBC), reports that the Taliban are recruiting increasingly younger children to carry out suicide attacks. According to SATP, there were seventy-six suicide attacks in Pakistan in 2009 as compared to only two in 2003. Gunaratna attributes this to the influence of al-Qaeda. He says bin Laden's group is training most of the terrorist groups in FATA.
Besides providing militant groups in Pakistan with technical expertise and capabilities, al-Qaeda is also promoting cooperation among a variety of them, say some experts. Don Rassler, an associate at the Combating Terrorism Center, an independent research institution based at the U.S. military academy at West Point, writes al-Qaeda "has assumed a role asmediator and coalition builder among various Pakistani militant group factions by promoting the unification of entities that have opposed one another or had conflicting ideas about whether to target the Pakistani state." Al-Qaeda's greatest strength today, says counterterrorism expert Brian Fishman, is its "ability to infiltrate and co-opt other militant groups that have existing operational capability."
Bruce Riedel, the original coordinator of President Obama's policy on the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, in an interview with CFR also stressed al-Qaeda's growing cooperation with groups like the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and others. "The notion that you can somehow selectively resolve the al-Qaeda problem while ignoring the larger jihadist sea in which [al-Qaeda] swims has failed in the past and will fail in the future," he said.
"Al-Qaeda has assumed a role as mediator and coalition builder among various Pakistani militant group factions by promoting the unification of entities that have opposed one another or had conflicting ideas about whether to target the Pakistani state." – Don Rassler
In December 2011, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi-al-Alami --a splinter of the sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi --claimed responsibility for deadly attacks on Shias in Afghanistan. But some experts raised doubts over the group's capacity to carry out such an attack on its own, pointing to possible support from al-Qaeda, Pakistani Taliban, or "rogue elements inside Afghanistan" (AFP). Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid writes "al-Qaeda and its attendant Pakistani extremists" are usingsectarian warfare as a tool (Spectator) to divide Afghanistan and thwart any U.S. effort to reconcile with the Taliban.
Experts say militants have also expanded their control over other parts of Pakistan such as in South Punjab, some settled areas of NWFP, and as far south as Karachi. Military analyst Ayesha Siddiqa writes, "South Punjab has become the hub of jihadism" (Newsline). She argues South Punjabi jihadists have been connected with the Afghan jihad since the 1980s and the majority is still engaged in fighting in Afghanistan. Some estimates put between five thousand and nine thousand youth from South Punjab fighting in Afghanistan and Waziristan. According to some experts, the Karachi wing of TTP provides logistics support and recruits new members.

Counterterrorism Challenges
Pakistan's security forces are struggling to confront these domestic militants. As thisBackgrounder points out, efforts are underway to reform the forces, but challenges remain both in terms of willingness to fight some of these militant groups as well as capabilities. Security forces, especially the army and the police, have increasingly become the target for the militant groups. In October 2009, militants attacked the army headquarters in Rawalpindi and held around forty people hostage for over twenty hours, much to the army's embarrassment.
These attacks have heralded a new period in army and ISI relations with many of these militant groups, say analysts. Steve Coll, president of the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, says since the bloody encounter between Pakistan's security forces and militant Islamic students in Islamabad's Red Mosque in 2007, there has been a pattern of some of these groups previously under state patronage, breaking away from the state. He says Pakistan's security establishment is now trying to figure out how to control them.
Most analysts believe that even though the Pakistani army and the ISI are now more willing to go after militant groups, they continue some form of alliance with groups they want to use as a strategic hedge against India and Afghanistan. But Pakistan's security establishment denies these charges. In October 2009, ISI Chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha said: "The ISI is a professional agency and does not have links (DailyTimes) with any militant outfit including the Taliban."
The revelation that Osama bin Laden had been hiding in a compound around the corner from the Pakistan military academy at Kakul--Pakistan's version of West Point--raised new questions about the ISI's committment to counterterrorism. CIA Chief Leon Panetta says the agency ruled out partnering with Pakistan out of concern that Pakistanis "might alert the targets" (TIME), highlighting the deep distrust in the relationship. Both President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani defended Pakistan's military and intelligence services, declaring claims of support for terrorists to be "baseless speculation" (WashPost).
The prospect of further deteriorating relations is concerning to both countries, but it remains to be seen whether mutual need will be enough to keep the relationship alive. "Pakistan needs the U.S. for its economic aid, and Washington needs Islamabad to continue its fight against terrorism and because it is home to the most important routes supplying the war in Afghanistan," writes Susanne Koelbl in Germany's Der Spiegel.


Weaker al-Qaida still plots payback for US raid



A year after the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida is hobbled and hunted, too busy surviving for the moment to carry out another Sept. 11-style attack on U.S. soil.
But the terrorist network dreams still of payback, and U.S. counterterrorist officials warn that, in time, its offshoots may deliver.
A decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that has cost the U.S. about $1.28 trillion and 6,300 U.S. troops lives has forced al-Qaida's affiliates to regroup, from Yemen to Iraq. Bin Laden's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, is thought to be hiding, out of U.S. reach, in Pakistan's mountains, just as bin Laden was for so many years.

U.S. officials say bin Laden's old team is all but dismantled. But they say new branches are hitting Western targets and U.S. allies overseas, and still aspire to match their parent organization's milestone of Sept. 11, 2001.
The deadliest is in Yemen.
"They are continuing to try to again, carry out an attack against U.S. persons inside of Yemen, as well as against the homeland," White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
"We're working very closely with our Yemeni partners to track down all these leads," he said.
Brennan says there's no sign of an active revenge plot against U.S. targets, but U.S. citizens in Pakistan and beyond are being warned to be vigilant ahead of the May 2 anniversary of the night raid. U.S. helicopters swooped down on bin Laden's compound in the Pakistani army town of Abbottabad, killing him, one of his sons, two couriers and their wives.
The last view for Americans of the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks was that of a wizened old man sitting in front of an old television, wrapped in a blanket.
The world may never see photographic proof of his death. U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg in Washington ruled last week that the Obama administration, under the Freedom of Information Act, would not have to turn over images of bin Laden during or after the raid.
"Verbal descriptions of the death and burial of Osama Bin Laden will have to suffice," Boasberg wrote in his ruling on the lawsuit by the public interest group Judicial Watch.
Bin Laden's killing and al-Qaida's stumbling efforts to regroup are now the national security centerpiece of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
The White House frequently cites the president's decision to approve the raid, with only a 50-50 chance that bin Laden was even at the compound. Obama could have gone down in history as the man who put the Navy SEALs and the relationship with Pakistan in jeopardy, while failing to catch the al-Qaida leader.
"Al-Qaida was and is our No. 1 enemy," White House spokesman Jay Carney said last week. "So it's a part of his foreign policy record, obviously, but it's also part of a very serious endeavor to keep our country safe."
How safe remains in question.
U.S. officials say al-Qaida is less able to carry out a complex attack like Sept. 11 and they rule out al-Qaida's ability to attack with weapons of mass destruction in the coming year. These officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they say publicly identifying themselves could make them a target of the terrorist group.
U.S. counterterrorist forces have killed roughly half of al-Qaida's top 20 leaders since the raid. That includes U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by a drone in Yemen last September, less than six months after bin Laden's death.
Only a few of the original al-Qaida team remain, and most of the new names on the U.S. target lists are relative unknowns, officials say.
"The last terror attack (in the West) was seven years ago in London and they haven't had any major attacks in the U.S." says Peter Bergen, an al-Qaida expert who once met bin Laden. "They are recruiting no-hopers and dead-enders."
Yet Zawahri is still out there. Though constantly hunted, he has managed to release 13 audio and video messages to followers since bin Laden's death, a near record-rate of release according to the IntelCenter, a private intelligence firm. He has urged followers to seize on the unrest left by the Arab Spring to build organizations and influence in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, and back rebels in Syria - a call that U.S. intelligence officials say is being heeded.
U.S. attempts to deliver a "knockout punch" to Zawahri and his followers in Pakistan have been hamstrung by a breakdown in relations with Pakistan's government over the bin Laden raid.
Pakistani officials saw the raid as a violation of their sovereignty, made worse by a U.S. friendly fire attack that killed almost two dozen Pakistani troops on the border with Afghanistan last fall. Pakistan's parliament called for a redrafting of what the U.S. is allowed to do, and where.
CIA drone strikes in Pakistan's border area continue, but are limited to a relatively small area of the tribal region.
"Our efforts are focused on one small kill box and, we've hit them hard, but they still maintain a vital network throughout Pakistan" says Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal, which tracks U.S. counterterrorism efforts worldwide.
Al-Qaida also takes shelter in Pakistan's urban areas, as shown by the bin Laden raid, and the CIA's efforts to search those areas is often blocked by the Pakistani intelligence service.
U.S. officials say they believe factions within the agency shelter and even fund al-Qaida's senior leaders and related militant groups such as the Haqqani network, which attacks U.S. troops in Afghanistan, from their Pakistani safe haven. Pakistan denies the charge.
Afghanistan is the temporary home to up to 100 al-Qaida fighters at any single time, U.S. officials say, adding that a steady series of U.S. special operations raids is essential to keeping them out. With the withdrawal of U.S. forces, U.S. counterterrorism officials fear al-Qaida could return.
By the numbers, al-Qaida's greatest presence is still greatest in Iraq, where intelligence officials estimate up to a 1,000 fighters have refocused their campaign from striking now-absent U.S. troops to hitting the country's Shiite-dominated government.
Yemen's al-Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is becoming a major draw for foreign fighters as it carves out a stronghold in the south of the country, easily defeating Yemeni forces preoccupied battling tribal and political unrest. The White House recently agreed to expanded drone strikes to give the CIA and the military greater leeway to target militant leaders.
This al-Qaida group has been a major threat since 2009, when one of its adherents tried to bring down a jetliner over Detroit.
Al-Qaida affiliates such as al-Shabab in Somalia are struggling to carry out attacks in the face of a stepped up CIA-U.S. military campaign, and a loss of popular support after blocking U.N. food aid to some 4 million starving Somalis, officials say.
But the group is kept afloat by a stream of cash, partly from piracy and kidnapping of the Somali coast. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief, told an audience of CIA officers that total ransom payments paid to Somali pirates increased from approximately $80 million in 2010 to $140 million in 2011, according to remarks obtained by The Associated Press.
Cutting off those finances by persuading companies and U.S. to stop paying up is now central to the terrorism-fighting effort.
So, too, is the strategy of fighting small, smartly and covertly, avoiding land invasions such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan that caused Muslim outrage and helped draw fresh recruits, says Rand's Jones, in his new book "Hunting in the Shadows," a comprehensive history of the counterterror search since Sept. 11.
Many U.S. officials cite the Yemen model as the way ahead: a small network of U.S. intelligence and military forces working with local forces to selectively target militants.
"The key challenge will be balancing aggressive counterterrorism operations with the risk of exacerbating the anti-Western global agenda" of al-Qaida and its affiliates, says Robert Cardillo, a senior official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
In other words, adds Jones, "it is a war in which the side that kills the most civilians loses.

source:

'Osama dead but Al Qaeda still dangerous'




Washington/Islamabad, April 30: Al Qaeda's top leaders, including its new chief Ayman al-Zawahri, continue to "burrow" in Pakistan's tribal areas, said a top US official as a Pakistani journalist warned that a dead Osama bin Laden is as dangerous as a living one.
Egyptian cleric al-Zawahri, who took over the organization, after Osama's killing last year by US Navy SEALs, "as well as other Al Qaeda leaders continue to burrow into areas of the FATA, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan", deputy national security adviser John Brennan told CNN Sunday.
Just days before the first anniversary of Osama's killing in Abbottabad May 2, an article by Hamid Mir in Geo News Monday, warned that the man was dead "but Al-Qaeda is still determined to make some new history". 
Osama was gunned down by US commandos who mounted a daring operation at the elusive Al Qaeda chief's high-walled compound in Abbottabad town. The commandos flew in on board stealth helicopters, without tipping off Pakistan's military, and flew out with Osama's body and a huge cache of documents.
John Brennan said: "...we're working very closely with our Pakistani partners. So we're not going to relent until we've brought them to justice one way or the other." 
The US, Brennan said, was continuing to work with its regional partners, Pakistanis, Afghans, and others to get al-Zawahri, who has "absolutely" become the number one US target after the killing of bin Laden.
"We demonstrated the ability to do that with bin Laden. And we are in constant consultation with our Pakistani counterterrorism partners on a regular basis about how we can do this as soon as possible," he said.
"Absolutely. They have to go," the official said. "It's an organization that's dedicated to murder and mayhem and we as well as other countries of the world are determined to make sure that that happens."
Asked if the US had strategically defeated Al Qaeda, Brennan said: "We're on a path to Al Qaeda's destruction. And the president is committed that we're not going to rest until Al Qaeda is destroyed as an organization in the Afghan/Pak area as well as in other regions of the world."
"It's a murderous organization that has killed many Americans as well as many other nationalities over the course of the past decade and more," he said. "And so we're determining to make sure that that organization is destroyed."
Hamid Mir too sounded a warning note on the Al Qaeda when he wrote: "US officials have rightly claimed many times that Al Qaeda has become weaker after the death of Osama bin Laden but they cannot deny the fact that bin Ladenism is still a source of inspiration for the militants fighting from Afghanistan to Yemen and from Iraq to Palestine. Dead Osama is as dangerous as living Osama." 
He said that Osama got the death of his own choice. "It was his old dream not to be captured by enemy but to be killed by enemy and no burial in any grave."
The article by the popular talk show host went on to say that "Pakistan never gave CIA full access to interrogate Osama bin Laden's family. The big family was handed over to the Saudi authorities a few days back. Pakistanis were careful because they feared a serious backlash from Al Qaeda".
"They knew many Al Qaeda leaders were hiding quietly in big cities like Karachi and they can become a big danger anytime. Why Pakistanis are not ready to underestimate Al Qaeda? They know that Al Qaeda operators started moving from Karachi to Afghanistan after the attack on Mehran base in Karachi last year."
Terrorists had destroyed two P3C Orion aircraft during a 15-hour siege that began on the night of May 22 last year at the PNS Mehran base and led to the death of 14 people, including four terrorists. 
"The US prevented more than 50 terror attacks on its soil since 9/11 but Afghanistan and Pakistan are not America. These two countries are the biggest victims of US war against terrorism since 9/11 and are still unsafe even after the death of Osama bin Laden," said Mir said.

source:
IANS Live


Pakistan Navy plans to set up base near Gwadar



Gwadar is a rising harbor metropolitan on the southwestern Arabian Sea shore of Pakistan. It is the district headquarters of Gwadar District in Balochistan province and has a population of about 50,000.
Gwadar is tactically situated at the apex of the Arabian Sea and at the mouth of the Gulf of Oman. The harbor is sited on the eastern bay of a natural hammerhead-shaped peninsula jutting out into the Arabian Sea from the shoreline. The city’s tactical, warm-water, deep-sea Gwadar Port was finished in 2007. The harbor is 47 feet deep and handles the biggest freight ships to Pakistan. The city is rising as a trade center and a passage for Chinese oil imports. Gwadar has also been taking a growing position in China’s String of Pearls.
Gwadar is one of the few premeditated cities in Pakistan (others being Islamabad, Faisalabad, and Jauharabad), which have been developed from scratch under an urban master plan. Before development, the town was nothing more than a fishing village.
Admiral Asif Sandila, chief of staff of the Pakistani Navy, said Pakistan plans to establish a naval base around Gwadar, where China is helping build the Gwadar port, in southwest Pakistan.
“It takes a long time to build a navy base, and now the navy is only doing feasibility studies,” said Sandila, who is on his first visit to China as the Navy chief of staff.
He emphasized that Gwadar port remains an economic port and the Pakistani navy has been tasked to provide security for foreigners working at the port and the port infrastructure against terrorist attacks.
Sandila also said he believes the rise of China will have a positive spill-over effect on the entire region.
Pakistan is willing to intensify cooperation with China over a wide spectrum of areas, including defense, science and technology, telecommunications, infrastructure, education, banking, trade and commerce, and cultural exchange.

Pakistan army uses bullets, and classrooms to fight militancy



Men learn how to fix a vehicle engine in a classroom at the Mashal de-radicalisation centre run by the Pakistani army in Gulibagh, Pakistan's Swat Valley April 13, 2012. REUTERS-Mian Khursheed                                                   
Hazrat Gul spent two years in detention for allegedly aiding the Pakistani Taliban when they publicly flogged and beheaded people during a reign of terror in the scenic Swat Valley.
Now he wiles away his time in pristine classrooms, a Pakistani flag pin on his crisp uniform, learning about word processing, carpentry and car repairs at the Mashal de-radicalisation centre run by the army.
Part of a carrot and stick approach to battling militancy in the strategic U.S. ally, the aim is to cleanse minds of extremist thoughts through vocational training, and turn men like Gul into productive citizens who support the state.
The success of the programme will ultimately hinge, however, on the the ability of the government, widely seen as incompetent and corrupt, to help the de-radicalisation graduates find jobs.
"If a sincere leadership comes to this country, that will solve the problems," said Gul, 42, one of the Mashal students. "Today the leadership is not sincere. The same problems will be there."
Pakistan's military drove militants out of Swat in 2009. Mashal is in the building which used to be the headquarters of the militants from where they imposed there austere version of Islam.
Eventually, the army realised it couldn't secure long-term peace with bullets alone.
So military officers, trainers, moderate clerics and psychologists were chosen to run three-month courses designed to erase "radical thoughts" of those accused of aiding the Taliban.
Students like Mohammad Inam, 28, a former assistant engineer, give the school a good report card.
"The environment is very good. Our teachers work very hard with us. They talk to us about peace, about terrorism and how that is not right," said Inam, in the presence of a military officer. "God willing, we will go out and serve our country and our nation."
School officials say about 1,000 people have graduated since the initiative began two years ago, and that only 10 percent were not cleared for release.
Officials concede that their "students" are not hardened militants who killed. Mostly, they provided the Taliban with water, food or shelter, or beat people.
That was enough for a two-year detention, and some say abuse, in a country where the Taliban stage suicide bombings at will and have launched brazen attacks, including one on the army headquarters near the capital.
Even if the Mashal institute instills a new mindset and discipline in the students, graduates face an uncertain future.
The South Asian nation always seems to be on the verge of collapse and is often described as a failed state unable to cope with power cuts, widespread poverty and violence.
"The problem is the deprivation being faced by these individuals. There is no electricity. There are price hikes. There is no law and order or justice which prevails in the country," said Major Khurram Bajwa, one of Mashal's directors.
He pointed out how easy it is for the Taliban to recruit people. "It takes about two years to train an army officer, and one month to train a suicide bomber."
ISLAMIST LEADER HELPING
Pakistan joined the U.S. global war on militancy after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, but critics accuse Islamabad of actually fostering the security nightmare in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region by supporting militant groups it values as strategic assets. Pakistan denies the allegations.
The confusion was highlighted this month, when the United States put a $10 million bounty on an Islamist leader who Pakistani officials say has in fact been helping them turn militants away from a life as radicals.
Hafiz Saeed, suspected of masterminding an attack by Pakistan-based gunmen on India's financial capital, Mumbai, in 2008 that killed 166 people, met government officials and pledged his support for the de-radicalisation drive, the officials said. Saeed's organisation denied this.
PUBLIC BEHEADINGS
Pakistan's military presents the Swat offensive and the campaign to root out extremism as a showcase of its success against militancy.
On the surface, the valley looks far more stable than it did in the Taliban days when Fazlullah, known as FM Mullah for his fiery radio sermons, was ordering his men to take to the streets and punish the "immoral", or anyone who disagreed with his violent philosophy.
Residents of Swat, 160 km (100 miles) from Islamabad, crowd street markets. Girls schools that were blown up by the Taliban have reopened. A ski resort burned down by the Taliban has re-opened.
That is due in large part to a sense of security created by the thousands of Pakistani soldiers still stationed there.
But the army's successes have been tarnished by allegations of human rights abuses.
Human Rights Watch says it has received credible reports of extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by soldiers or police in Swat. The army counters that it takes human rights seriously and has launched an investigation into the matter.
Sitting beside an officer in a classroom at the Mashal school, Gul said he was subjected to torture at prisons run by the military or its intelligence agency merely because, out of fear, he had chanted pro-Taliban slogans.
"Every time they were talking to us, (they were) beating us," said Gul, who has a masters in political science. Asked to elaborate, he said: "From A to Z, all kinds of problems."
Minutes later, the officer, who sleeps in a room with a commanding view he said was once occupied by Fazlullah, leaned over to this reporter and said: "What do you expect in prison, massage girls?".
The accounts of ill treatment were echoed by others.
Rehman Shah, a former school teacher, says he was only detained because his son was accused of joining the Taliban.
Nine weeks into the course, he praises the de-radicalisation concept but says the army made a big mistake by detaining innocent people.
"When Pashtuns are treated unfairly, it never leaves their hearts and they take revenge," Shah said of the dominant ethnic group in Swat and other parts of northwest Pakistan, where most of the military offensives against militants are mounted.
"I urge the government and security not to do this and not increase resentment and anger in the people."
A senior Pakistani intelligence official denied abuses take place.
"That's not our strategy at all. They are our own people and we do not believe in these things," he said.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL
Outside Mashal's classroom, there are signs that not everyone is embracing the new approach.
Soldiers led a hooded man into a truck while three others looked on through the barred windows of what appeared to be a cell at the compound.
Conditions still seem ripe for Fazlulah and his lieutenants, who have vowed to make a comeback, to recruit people.
Pakistani officials estimated after the army operation expelled the Taliban that over $1 billion would be needed to revive the local economy and rebuild infrastructure.
Residents like Ajab Noor, 61, who sent two of his sons abroad to work, doubt the population of about 1.3 million will ever benefit from those funds.
"People have no options. They either go outside the country to work, or they join militants who promise them many things," he said at a street market in Swat's capital, Mingora.
A member of a state-backed anti-Taliban militia believes two boys in his village had graduated from a de-radicalisation centre and ran away to rejoin the Taliban.
"I told the military, 'you are nurturing the offspring of snakes'. But they did not listen," he said.
report by:

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pakistan's New Generation of Terrorists


Introduction
As an increasing number of suicide attacks rock Pakistan's major cities, concerns for the country's security are rising. In recent years, many new terrorist groups have emerged, several existing groups have reconstituted themselves, and a new crop of militants has emerged, more violent and less conducive to political solutions than their predecessors. Links between many of these new and existing groups have strengthened, say experts, giving rise to fresh concerns for stability. A failed bombing attempt in New York's Times Square in May 2010 with links to Pakistan also exposes the growing ambitions of many of these groups that had previously focused only on the region. The Pakistan-born U.S. citizen Faisal Shahzad who confessed to the bombing attempt was sentenced to life imprisonment by a U.S. court in October 2010.
                                                            " a Taliban tank"

Pakistani authorities have long had ties to militant groups based on their soil that largely focused their efforts in Afghanistan and India. But with Pakistan joining the United States as an ally in its "war on terrorism" since 9/11, experts say Islamabad has seen harsh blowback on its policy of backing militants operating abroad. Leadership elements of al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, along with other terrorist groups, have made Pakistan'stribal areas (the semi-autonomous region along the Afghan border) their home and now work closely with a wide variety of Pakistani militant groups. On May 1, 2011, al-Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed by a U.S. raid in Abbottabad, a military town not far from Islamabad, raising questions about the Pakistani government and intelligence services' knowledge of his whereabouts.

Many experts say it is difficult to determine how many terrorist groups are operating out of Pakistan. Most of these groups have tended to fall into one of the five distinct categories laid out by Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in January 2008 testimony (PDF) before a U.S. House Foreign Affairs subcommittee.
  • Sectarian: Groups such as the Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and the Shia Tehrik-e-Jafria, which are engaged in violence within Pakistan;
  • Anti-Indian: Terrorist groups that operate with the alleged support of the Pakistani military and the intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), and the Harakat ul-Mujahadeen (HuM). This Backgrounder profiles these organizations, which have been active in Kashmir;
  • Afghan Taliban: The original Taliban movement and especially its Kandahari leadership centered around Mullah Mohammad Omar, believed to be now living in Quetta;
  • Al-Qaeda and its affiliates: The organization led by Osama bin Laden and other non-South Asian terrorists believed to be ensconced in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Rohan Gunaratna of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore says other foreign militant groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Jihad group, the Libyan Islamic Fighters Group and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are also located in FATA;
  • The Pakistani Taliban: Groups consisting of extremist outfits in the FATA, led by individuals such as Hakimullah Mehsud, of the Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan, Maulana Faqir Muhammad of Bajaur, and Maulana Qazi Fazlullah of the Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM).
Crisis Guide: PakistanThere are some other militant groups that do not fit into any of the above categories. For instance, secessionist groups such as the Balochistan Liberation Army in the southwest province of Balochistan. BLA was declared a terrorist organization by Pakistan in 2006. Also, a new militant network, often labeled the Punjabi Taliban, has gained prominence after the major 2008 and 2009 attacks in the Punjabi cities of Lahore, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi.
Hassan Abbas, a professor of international security studies at the Washington-based National Defense University, wrote in 2009 that the Punjabi Taliban network is a loose conglomeration of members of banned militant groups of Punjabi origin--sectarian as well as those focused on Kashmir--that have developed strong connections with the Pakistani Taliban, Afghan Taliban, and other militant groups based in FATA and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The Punjabi Taliban provides logistical support for attacks on cities in Punjab province and include individuals or factions of groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed, Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and their various splinter groups, along with small cells unaffiliated with any large group. Abbas writes that many of these militants "directly benefited from state patronage in the 1990s and were professionally trained in asymmetrical warfare, guerrilla tactics, and sabotage." The Punjabi Taliban is distinct from the traditional Pashtun Taliban, experts say. They are usually more educated and more technologically savvy.
In recent years, many new terrorist groups have emerged in Pakistan, several existing groups have reconstituted themselves, and a new crop of militants has emerged, more violent and less conducive to political solutions than their predecessors.
Since there is also greater coordination between all these groups, say experts, lines have blurred regarding which category a militant group fits in. For instance, the Pakistani Taliban, which was committed to fighting against the Pakistani state, is now increasingly joining insurgents fighting U.S. and international troops across the border in Afghanistan. In a 2010 CFR interview, General David H. Petraeus, who has had a leading role in U.S. security efforts in the region, says the groups have long shared a symbiotic relationship. "They support each other, they coordinate with each other, sometimes they compete with each other, [and] sometimes they even fight each other," making it difficult to distinguish between them.

The Pakistani Taliban
Supporters of the Afghan Taliban in the tribal areas transitioned into a mainstream Taliban force of their own as a reaction to the Pakistani army's incursion into the tribal areas, which began in 2002, to hunt down the militants. In December 2007, about thirteen disparate militant groups coalesced under the umbrella of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, with militant commander Baitullah Mehsud from South Waziristan as the leader. After Mehsud was killed in August 2009 in a U.S. missile strike, his cousin and deputy Hakimullah Mehsud took over as leader of the TTP. Experts say most adult men in Pakistan's tribal areas grew up carrying arms, but it is only in the last few years that they have begun to organize themselves around a Taliban-style Islamic ideology, pursuing an agenda much similar to that of the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan. Abbaswrites in a January 2008 paper that the Pakistani Taliban killed approximately two hundred tribal leaders and effectively established themselves as an alternative.
TTP not only has representation from all of FATA's seven agencies (see this interactive map of the area) but also from several settled districts of the NWFP. According to some estimates, the Pakistani Taliban collectively have around thirty thousand to thirty-five thousand members. Among their other objectives, the TTP has announced a defensive jihad against the Pakistani army, enforcement of sharia, and a plan to unite against NATO forces in Afghanistan. Pakistani authorities accused the group's former leader, Baitullah Mehsud, of assassinating former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007. Some experts have questioned the ability of the different groups working under the Pakistani Taliban umbrella to stay united, given the rivalries between the various tribes. However, the group has proved since its inception, through a string of suicide attacks, that it poses a serious threat to the country's stability. On May 12, 2011, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for bombing a paramilitary academy that killed eighty people and injured over one hundred (BBC). A Taliban spokesman said the suicide assault "was the first revenge for Osama's martyrdom" (al-Jazeera). TTP also expressed transnational ambitions when it claimed responsibility for a failed bomb attack in New York in May 2010.

Changing Face of Terrorism
Violence in Pakistan has been on the rise as more militant groups target the state. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), a terrorism database, 2,654 civilians were killed interrorist violence from January 2010 to May 2011, as compared to around 1,600 civilian deaths from 2003 to 2006. This new generation of terrorists is also more willing to engage in suicide attacks; journalist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, in a 2009 documentary (CBC), reports that the Taliban are recruiting increasingly younger children to carry out suicide attacks. According to SATP, there were seventy-six suicide attacks in Pakistan in 2009 as compared to only two in 2003. Gunaratna attributes this to the influence of al-Qaeda. He says bin Laden's group is training most of the terrorist groups in FATA.
Besides providing militant groups in Pakistan with technical expertise and capabilities, al-Qaeda is also promoting cooperation among a variety of them, say some experts. Don Rassler, an associate at the Combating Terrorism Center, an independent research institution based at the U.S. military academy at West Point, writes al-Qaeda "has assumed a role asmediator and coalition builder among various Pakistani militant group factions by promoting the unification of entities that have opposed one another or had conflicting ideas about whether to target the Pakistani state." Al-Qaeda's greatest strength today, says counterterrorism expert Brian Fishman, is its "ability to infiltrate and co-opt other militant groups that have existing operational capability."
Bruce Riedel, the original coordinator of President Obama's policy on the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, in an interview with CFR also stressed al-Qaeda's growing cooperation with groups like the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and others. "The notion that you can somehow selectively resolve the al-Qaeda problem while ignoring the larger jihadist sea in which [al-Qaeda] swims has failed in the past and will fail in the future," he said.
"Al-Qaeda has assumed a role as mediator and coalition builder among various Pakistani militant group factions by promoting the unification of entities that have opposed one another or had conflicting ideas about whether to target the Pakistani state." – Don Rassler
In December 2011, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi-al-Alami --a splinter of the sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi --claimed responsibility for deadly attacks on Shias in Afghanistan. But some experts raised doubts over the group's capacity to carry out such an attack on its own, pointing to possible support from al-Qaeda, Pakistani Taliban, or "rogue elements inside Afghanistan" (AFP). Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid writes "al-Qaeda and its attendant Pakistani extremists" are usingsectarian warfare as a tool (Spectator) to divide Afghanistan and thwart any U.S. effort to reconcile with the Taliban.
Experts say militants have also expanded their control over other parts of Pakistan such as in South Punjab, some settled areas of NWFP, and as far south as Karachi. Military analyst Ayesha Siddiqa writes, "South Punjab has become the hub of jihadism" (Newsline). She argues South Punjabi jihadists have been connected with the Afghan jihad since the 1980s and the majority is still engaged in fighting in Afghanistan. Some estimates put between five thousand and nine thousand youth from South Punjab fighting in Afghanistan and Waziristan. According to some experts, the Karachi wing of TTP provides logistics support and recruits new members.

Counterterrorism Challenges
Pakistan's security forces are struggling to confront these domestic militants. As thisBackgrounder points out, efforts are underway to reform the forces, but challenges remain both in terms of willingness to fight some of these militant groups as well as capabilities. Security forces, especially the army and the police, have increasingly become the target for the militant groups. In October 2009, militants attacked the army headquarters in Rawalpindi and held around forty people hostage for over twenty hours, much to the army's embarrassment.
These attacks have heralded a new period in army and ISI relations with many of these militant groups, say analysts. Steve Coll, president of the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, says since the bloody encounter between Pakistan's security forces and militant Islamic students in Islamabad's Red Mosque in 2007, there has been a pattern of some of these groups previously under state patronage, breaking away from the state. He says Pakistan's security establishment is now trying to figure out how to control them.
Most analysts believe that even though the Pakistani army and the ISI are now more willing to go after militant groups, they continue some form of alliance with groups they want to use as a strategic hedge against India and Afghanistan. But Pakistan's security establishment denies these charges. In October 2009, ISI Chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha said: "The ISI is a professional agency and does not have links (DailyTimes) with any militant outfit including the Taliban."
The revelation that Osama bin Laden had been hiding in a compound around the corner from the Pakistan military academy at Kakul--Pakistan's version of West Point--raised new questions about the ISI's committment to counterterrorism. CIA Chief Leon Panetta says the agency ruled out partnering with Pakistan out of concern that Pakistanis "might alert the targets" (TIME), highlighting the deep distrust in the relationship. Both President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani defended Pakistan's military and intelligence services, declaring claims of support for terrorists to be "baseless speculation" (WashPost).
The prospect of further deteriorating relations is concerning to both countries, but it remains to be seen whether mutual need will be enough to keep the relationship alive. "Pakistan needs the U.S. for its economic aid, and Washington needs Islamabad to continue its fight against terrorism and because it is home to the most important routes supplying the war in Afghanistan," writes Susanne Koelbl in Germany's Der Spiegel.


Weaker al-Qaida still plots payback for US raid


A year after the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida is hobbled and hunted, too busy surviving for the moment to carry out another Sept. 11-style attack on U.S. soil.
But the terrorist network dreams still of payback, and U.S. counterterrorist officials warn that, in time, its offshoots may deliver.
A decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that has cost the U.S. about $1.28 trillion and 6,300 U.S. troops lives has forced al-Qaida's affiliates to regroup, from Yemen to Iraq. Bin Laden's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, is thought to be hiding, out of U.S. reach, in Pakistan's mountains, just as bin Laden was for so many years.

U.S. officials say bin Laden's old team is all but dismantled. But they say new branches are hitting Western targets and U.S. allies overseas, and still aspire to match their parent organization's milestone of Sept. 11, 2001.
The deadliest is in Yemen.
"They are continuing to try to again, carry out an attack against U.S. persons inside of Yemen, as well as against the homeland," White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
"We're working very closely with our Yemeni partners to track down all these leads," he said.
Brennan says there's no sign of an active revenge plot against U.S. targets, but U.S. citizens in Pakistan and beyond are being warned to be vigilant ahead of the May 2 anniversary of the night raid. U.S. helicopters swooped down on bin Laden's compound in the Pakistani army town of Abbottabad, killing him, one of his sons, two couriers and their wives.
The last view for Americans of the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks was that of a wizened old man sitting in front of an old television, wrapped in a blanket.
The world may never see photographic proof of his death. U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg in Washington ruled last week that the Obama administration, under the Freedom of Information Act, would not have to turn over images of bin Laden during or after the raid.
"Verbal descriptions of the death and burial of Osama Bin Laden will have to suffice," Boasberg wrote in his ruling on the lawsuit by the public interest group Judicial Watch.
Bin Laden's killing and al-Qaida's stumbling efforts to regroup are now the national security centerpiece of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
The White House frequently cites the president's decision to approve the raid, with only a 50-50 chance that bin Laden was even at the compound. Obama could have gone down in history as the man who put the Navy SEALs and the relationship with Pakistan in jeopardy, while failing to catch the al-Qaida leader.
"Al-Qaida was and is our No. 1 enemy," White House spokesman Jay Carney said last week. "So it's a part of his foreign policy record, obviously, but it's also part of a very serious endeavor to keep our country safe."
How safe remains in question.
U.S. officials say al-Qaida is less able to carry out a complex attack like Sept. 11 and they rule out al-Qaida's ability to attack with weapons of mass destruction in the coming year. These officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they say publicly identifying themselves could make them a target of the terrorist group.
U.S. counterterrorist forces have killed roughly half of al-Qaida's top 20 leaders since the raid. That includes U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by a drone in Yemen last September, less than six months after bin Laden's death.
Only a few of the original al-Qaida team remain, and most of the new names on the U.S. target lists are relative unknowns, officials say.
"The last terror attack (in the West) was seven years ago in London and they haven't had any major attacks in the U.S." says Peter Bergen, an al-Qaida expert who once met bin Laden. "They are recruiting no-hopers and dead-enders."
Yet Zawahri is still out there. Though constantly hunted, he has managed to release 13 audio and video messages to followers since bin Laden's death, a near record-rate of release according to the IntelCenter, a private intelligence firm. He has urged followers to seize on the unrest left by the Arab Spring to build organizations and influence in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, and back rebels in Syria - a call that U.S. intelligence officials say is being heeded.
U.S. attempts to deliver a "knockout punch" to Zawahri and his followers in Pakistan have been hamstrung by a breakdown in relations with Pakistan's government over the bin Laden raid.
Pakistani officials saw the raid as a violation of their sovereignty, made worse by a U.S. friendly fire attack that killed almost two dozen Pakistani troops on the border with Afghanistan last fall. Pakistan's parliament called for a redrafting of what the U.S. is allowed to do, and where.
CIA drone strikes in Pakistan's border area continue, but are limited to a relatively small area of the tribal region.
"Our efforts are focused on one small kill box and, we've hit them hard, but they still maintain a vital network throughout Pakistan" says Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal, which tracks U.S. counterterrorism efforts worldwide.
Al-Qaida also takes shelter in Pakistan's urban areas, as shown by the bin Laden raid, and the CIA's efforts to search those areas is often blocked by the Pakistani intelligence service.
U.S. officials say they believe factions within the agency shelter and even fund al-Qaida's senior leaders and related militant groups such as the Haqqani network, which attacks U.S. troops in Afghanistan, from their Pakistani safe haven. Pakistan denies the charge.
Afghanistan is the temporary home to up to 100 al-Qaida fighters at any single time, U.S. officials say, adding that a steady series of U.S. special operations raids is essential to keeping them out. With the withdrawal of U.S. forces, U.S. counterterrorism officials fear al-Qaida could return.
By the numbers, al-Qaida's greatest presence is still greatest in Iraq, where intelligence officials estimate up to a 1,000 fighters have refocused their campaign from striking now-absent U.S. troops to hitting the country's Shiite-dominated government.
Yemen's al-Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is becoming a major draw for foreign fighters as it carves out a stronghold in the south of the country, easily defeating Yemeni forces preoccupied battling tribal and political unrest. The White House recently agreed to expanded drone strikes to give the CIA and the military greater leeway to target militant leaders.
This al-Qaida group has been a major threat since 2009, when one of its adherents tried to bring down a jetliner over Detroit.
Al-Qaida affiliates such as al-Shabab in Somalia are struggling to carry out attacks in the face of a stepped up CIA-U.S. military campaign, and a loss of popular support after blocking U.N. food aid to some 4 million starving Somalis, officials say.
But the group is kept afloat by a stream of cash, partly from piracy and kidnapping of the Somali coast. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief, told an audience of CIA officers that total ransom payments paid to Somali pirates increased from approximately $80 million in 2010 to $140 million in 2011, according to remarks obtained by The Associated Press.
Cutting off those finances by persuading companies and U.S. to stop paying up is now central to the terrorism-fighting effort.
So, too, is the strategy of fighting small, smartly and covertly, avoiding land invasions such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan that caused Muslim outrage and helped draw fresh recruits, says Rand's Jones, in his new book "Hunting in the Shadows," a comprehensive history of the counterterror search since Sept. 11.
Many U.S. officials cite the Yemen model as the way ahead: a small network of U.S. intelligence and military forces working with local forces to selectively target militants.
"The key challenge will be balancing aggressive counterterrorism operations with the risk of exacerbating the anti-Western global agenda" of al-Qaida and its affiliates, says Robert Cardillo, a senior official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
In other words, adds Jones, "it is a war in which the side that kills the most civilians loses.

source:

'Osama dead but Al Qaeda still dangerous'



Washington/Islamabad, April 30: Al Qaeda's top leaders, including its new chief Ayman al-Zawahri, continue to "burrow" in Pakistan's tribal areas, said a top US official as a Pakistani journalist warned that a dead Osama bin Laden is as dangerous as a living one.
Egyptian cleric al-Zawahri, who took over the organization, after Osama's killing last year by US Navy SEALs, "as well as other Al Qaeda leaders continue to burrow into areas of the FATA, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan", deputy national security adviser John Brennan told CNN Sunday.
Just days before the first anniversary of Osama's killing in Abbottabad May 2, an article by Hamid Mir in Geo News Monday, warned that the man was dead "but Al-Qaeda is still determined to make some new history". 
Osama was gunned down by US commandos who mounted a daring operation at the elusive Al Qaeda chief's high-walled compound in Abbottabad town. The commandos flew in on board stealth helicopters, without tipping off Pakistan's military, and flew out with Osama's body and a huge cache of documents.
John Brennan said: "...we're working very closely with our Pakistani partners. So we're not going to relent until we've brought them to justice one way or the other." 
The US, Brennan said, was continuing to work with its regional partners, Pakistanis, Afghans, and others to get al-Zawahri, who has "absolutely" become the number one US target after the killing of bin Laden.
"We demonstrated the ability to do that with bin Laden. And we are in constant consultation with our Pakistani counterterrorism partners on a regular basis about how we can do this as soon as possible," he said.
"Absolutely. They have to go," the official said. "It's an organization that's dedicated to murder and mayhem and we as well as other countries of the world are determined to make sure that that happens."
Asked if the US had strategically defeated Al Qaeda, Brennan said: "We're on a path to Al Qaeda's destruction. And the president is committed that we're not going to rest until Al Qaeda is destroyed as an organization in the Afghan/Pak area as well as in other regions of the world."
"It's a murderous organization that has killed many Americans as well as many other nationalities over the course of the past decade and more," he said. "And so we're determining to make sure that that organization is destroyed."
Hamid Mir too sounded a warning note on the Al Qaeda when he wrote: "US officials have rightly claimed many times that Al Qaeda has become weaker after the death of Osama bin Laden but they cannot deny the fact that bin Ladenism is still a source of inspiration for the militants fighting from Afghanistan to Yemen and from Iraq to Palestine. Dead Osama is as dangerous as living Osama." 
He said that Osama got the death of his own choice. "It was his old dream not to be captured by enemy but to be killed by enemy and no burial in any grave."
The article by the popular talk show host went on to say that "Pakistan never gave CIA full access to interrogate Osama bin Laden's family. The big family was handed over to the Saudi authorities a few days back. Pakistanis were careful because they feared a serious backlash from Al Qaeda".
"They knew many Al Qaeda leaders were hiding quietly in big cities like Karachi and they can become a big danger anytime. Why Pakistanis are not ready to underestimate Al Qaeda? They know that Al Qaeda operators started moving from Karachi to Afghanistan after the attack on Mehran base in Karachi last year."
Terrorists had destroyed two P3C Orion aircraft during a 15-hour siege that began on the night of May 22 last year at the PNS Mehran base and led to the death of 14 people, including four terrorists. 
"The US prevented more than 50 terror attacks on its soil since 9/11 but Afghanistan and Pakistan are not America. These two countries are the biggest victims of US war against terrorism since 9/11 and are still unsafe even after the death of Osama bin Laden," said Mir said.

source:
IANS Live


Pakistan Navy plans to set up base near Gwadar


Gwadar is a rising harbor metropolitan on the southwestern Arabian Sea shore of Pakistan. It is the district headquarters of Gwadar District in Balochistan province and has a population of about 50,000.
Gwadar is tactically situated at the apex of the Arabian Sea and at the mouth of the Gulf of Oman. The harbor is sited on the eastern bay of a natural hammerhead-shaped peninsula jutting out into the Arabian Sea from the shoreline. The city’s tactical, warm-water, deep-sea Gwadar Port was finished in 2007. The harbor is 47 feet deep and handles the biggest freight ships to Pakistan. The city is rising as a trade center and a passage for Chinese oil imports. Gwadar has also been taking a growing position in China’s String of Pearls.
Gwadar is one of the few premeditated cities in Pakistan (others being Islamabad, Faisalabad, and Jauharabad), which have been developed from scratch under an urban master plan. Before development, the town was nothing more than a fishing village.
Admiral Asif Sandila, chief of staff of the Pakistani Navy, said Pakistan plans to establish a naval base around Gwadar, where China is helping build the Gwadar port, in southwest Pakistan.
“It takes a long time to build a navy base, and now the navy is only doing feasibility studies,” said Sandila, who is on his first visit to China as the Navy chief of staff.
He emphasized that Gwadar port remains an economic port and the Pakistani navy has been tasked to provide security for foreigners working at the port and the port infrastructure against terrorist attacks.
Sandila also said he believes the rise of China will have a positive spill-over effect on the entire region.
Pakistan is willing to intensify cooperation with China over a wide spectrum of areas, including defense, science and technology, telecommunications, infrastructure, education, banking, trade and commerce, and cultural exchange.

Pakistan army uses bullets, and classrooms to fight militancy


Men learn how to fix a vehicle engine in a classroom at the Mashal de-radicalisation centre run by the Pakistani army in Gulibagh, Pakistan's Swat Valley April 13, 2012. REUTERS-Mian Khursheed                                                   
Hazrat Gul spent two years in detention for allegedly aiding the Pakistani Taliban when they publicly flogged and beheaded people during a reign of terror in the scenic Swat Valley.
Now he wiles away his time in pristine classrooms, a Pakistani flag pin on his crisp uniform, learning about word processing, carpentry and car repairs at the Mashal de-radicalisation centre run by the army.
Part of a carrot and stick approach to battling militancy in the strategic U.S. ally, the aim is to cleanse minds of extremist thoughts through vocational training, and turn men like Gul into productive citizens who support the state.
The success of the programme will ultimately hinge, however, on the the ability of the government, widely seen as incompetent and corrupt, to help the de-radicalisation graduates find jobs.
"If a sincere leadership comes to this country, that will solve the problems," said Gul, 42, one of the Mashal students. "Today the leadership is not sincere. The same problems will be there."
Pakistan's military drove militants out of Swat in 2009. Mashal is in the building which used to be the headquarters of the militants from where they imposed there austere version of Islam.
Eventually, the army realised it couldn't secure long-term peace with bullets alone.
So military officers, trainers, moderate clerics and psychologists were chosen to run three-month courses designed to erase "radical thoughts" of those accused of aiding the Taliban.
Students like Mohammad Inam, 28, a former assistant engineer, give the school a good report card.
"The environment is very good. Our teachers work very hard with us. They talk to us about peace, about terrorism and how that is not right," said Inam, in the presence of a military officer. "God willing, we will go out and serve our country and our nation."
School officials say about 1,000 people have graduated since the initiative began two years ago, and that only 10 percent were not cleared for release.
Officials concede that their "students" are not hardened militants who killed. Mostly, they provided the Taliban with water, food or shelter, or beat people.
That was enough for a two-year detention, and some say abuse, in a country where the Taliban stage suicide bombings at will and have launched brazen attacks, including one on the army headquarters near the capital.
Even if the Mashal institute instills a new mindset and discipline in the students, graduates face an uncertain future.
The South Asian nation always seems to be on the verge of collapse and is often described as a failed state unable to cope with power cuts, widespread poverty and violence.
"The problem is the deprivation being faced by these individuals. There is no electricity. There are price hikes. There is no law and order or justice which prevails in the country," said Major Khurram Bajwa, one of Mashal's directors.
He pointed out how easy it is for the Taliban to recruit people. "It takes about two years to train an army officer, and one month to train a suicide bomber."
ISLAMIST LEADER HELPING
Pakistan joined the U.S. global war on militancy after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, but critics accuse Islamabad of actually fostering the security nightmare in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region by supporting militant groups it values as strategic assets. Pakistan denies the allegations.
The confusion was highlighted this month, when the United States put a $10 million bounty on an Islamist leader who Pakistani officials say has in fact been helping them turn militants away from a life as radicals.
Hafiz Saeed, suspected of masterminding an attack by Pakistan-based gunmen on India's financial capital, Mumbai, in 2008 that killed 166 people, met government officials and pledged his support for the de-radicalisation drive, the officials said. Saeed's organisation denied this.
PUBLIC BEHEADINGS
Pakistan's military presents the Swat offensive and the campaign to root out extremism as a showcase of its success against militancy.
On the surface, the valley looks far more stable than it did in the Taliban days when Fazlullah, known as FM Mullah for his fiery radio sermons, was ordering his men to take to the streets and punish the "immoral", or anyone who disagreed with his violent philosophy.
Residents of Swat, 160 km (100 miles) from Islamabad, crowd street markets. Girls schools that were blown up by the Taliban have reopened. A ski resort burned down by the Taliban has re-opened.
That is due in large part to a sense of security created by the thousands of Pakistani soldiers still stationed there.
But the army's successes have been tarnished by allegations of human rights abuses.
Human Rights Watch says it has received credible reports of extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by soldiers or police in Swat. The army counters that it takes human rights seriously and has launched an investigation into the matter.
Sitting beside an officer in a classroom at the Mashal school, Gul said he was subjected to torture at prisons run by the military or its intelligence agency merely because, out of fear, he had chanted pro-Taliban slogans.
"Every time they were talking to us, (they were) beating us," said Gul, who has a masters in political science. Asked to elaborate, he said: "From A to Z, all kinds of problems."
Minutes later, the officer, who sleeps in a room with a commanding view he said was once occupied by Fazlullah, leaned over to this reporter and said: "What do you expect in prison, massage girls?".
The accounts of ill treatment were echoed by others.
Rehman Shah, a former school teacher, says he was only detained because his son was accused of joining the Taliban.
Nine weeks into the course, he praises the de-radicalisation concept but says the army made a big mistake by detaining innocent people.
"When Pashtuns are treated unfairly, it never leaves their hearts and they take revenge," Shah said of the dominant ethnic group in Swat and other parts of northwest Pakistan, where most of the military offensives against militants are mounted.
"I urge the government and security not to do this and not increase resentment and anger in the people."
A senior Pakistani intelligence official denied abuses take place.
"That's not our strategy at all. They are our own people and we do not believe in these things," he said.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL
Outside Mashal's classroom, there are signs that not everyone is embracing the new approach.
Soldiers led a hooded man into a truck while three others looked on through the barred windows of what appeared to be a cell at the compound.
Conditions still seem ripe for Fazlulah and his lieutenants, who have vowed to make a comeback, to recruit people.
Pakistani officials estimated after the army operation expelled the Taliban that over $1 billion would be needed to revive the local economy and rebuild infrastructure.
Residents like Ajab Noor, 61, who sent two of his sons abroad to work, doubt the population of about 1.3 million will ever benefit from those funds.
"People have no options. They either go outside the country to work, or they join militants who promise them many things," he said at a street market in Swat's capital, Mingora.
A member of a state-backed anti-Taliban militia believes two boys in his village had graduated from a de-radicalisation centre and ran away to rejoin the Taliban.
"I told the military, 'you are nurturing the offspring of snakes'. But they did not listen," he said.
report by:

back to top