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Thursday, July 06, 2006

The "Pakistanization" of the Taliban

By Douglas Farah

Terrorism experts in and out of the intelligence community are growing increasingly concerned about the "Pakistanization" of the resurgent Taliban in the tribal territories that border Afghanistan.

There is increasingly strong evidence that lower-level ISI officers not only tolerate the Taliban, but host training camps for them and provide logisitcal support, helping the Taliban to regain political and military footing that is taking an increasingly heavy toll on the the Afghan central government as well as the U.S. and NATO forces on the ground.

It also seems that senior ISI officials can get in contact with Osama bin Laden or Zawahiri when necessary, indicating that, if not necessarily aware of the exact location at all times of the two most wanted men in the world, there still exist channels of direct communication.

This is certainly troubling, given Pakistan's central role in the Bush strategy of fighting Islamists. The recent Bush policy of working with India on its nuclear projects seems to have convinced the Pakistani leadership that Pakistan is not getting a fair shake and can therefore does not need to pay the internal political price for tackling the Islamists in a serious fashion.

The Taliban remains in close contact with the "core" al Qaeda leaders, but the "Arab Afghans," that is, the foreign fighters, are mostly limited to acting as advisers and trainers for the Taliban troops, rather than fighting as independent units. Taliban units usually have severl Arabs when them when carrying out their increasingly sophisticated attacks on the NATO and U.S. forces. My full blog is here.
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