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Sunday, July 02, 2006


Karachi(AKI) - (by Syed Saleem Shahzad) - Al-Qaeda's number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri is the real spin doctor behind the terrorist network, developing it's ideology and terror strategies against the United States. Videos illustrating current Taliban activities in Afghanistan recently obtained by Adnkronos International (AKI), detail Taliban operations to lure members of the Afghan National Army and the coalition troops out of their bases and target them in the narrow valleys of Afghanistan. Sources say al-Zawahiri is behind this strategy and suggest that he is deep inside the Afghan provinces as US-led forces continue to track him down.


Considered Osama bin Laden's mentor, Egyptian doctor al-Zawahiri is at the heart of the al-Qaeda leadership, with Washington offering a 25 million dollar bounty for his capture.

In the early 1990s, Osama bin Laden’s call for foreign forces to "leave the Arabian peninsula" had a muted response from the Americans. The reaction to bin Laden did not change until May 1998 when al-Zawahiri appeared on the scene and changed the al-Qaeda leader's strategy, according to Saudi dissident Saad al-Faqih, who runs the UK-based Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (MIRA)

The strategy was to firstly organize a Muslim backlash by sharpening the focus of the conflict and secondly, as Saad al-Faqih has previously analysed, Zawahiri impressed upon bin Laden the importance of understanding the American 'cowboy mentality', which implied that the best way to confront the Americans was to use extreme measures.

The al-Qaeda attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and the subsequent 09/11 terrorist attacks in the United States served both these objectives. It brought the Americans into the battlefield (Afghanistan) on their own and as a result of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, a powerful Muslim backlash was generated around the world.

Al-Zawahiri's strategy of bringing the Americans into Afghanistan, also has its roots in popular Islamic beliefs among mujahadeen groups, that in the promised battle to defeat the forces fighting against God, warriors in the area known as Bilad-i-Khurasan would regroup, with the final showdown taking place in the Palestinian territories. Khurasan is the ancient name of a geographical area that stretches from Peshawar (in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province) through the Pashtun belt of Pakistan's south-western province of Baluchistan, into some parts of Afghanistan, Tajikistan and also Iran.

Religious considerations aside there were also solid strategic reasons for wanting to bring the Americans to fight on the merciless Afghan terrain.

However, when the Americans did attack Afghanistan, they did so cautiously, carrying out air raids against the Taliban and helping the Northern Alliance and anti-Taliban warlords defeat the hardline regime.

Once the Taliban were ousted, the US-led force trained and built up the Afghan National Army and the Afghan police and ensured that they were posted throughout the country. The coalition troops instead remained within their heavily-fortified bases.

After a major battle in April 2002 in Shahikot near Gardez, some two hours drive south of the capital Kabul, in which 18 US soldiers were killed in a Taliban offensive led by commander Saifullah Mansoor, the Americans decided to stay in the urban centres and not enter the country's more dangerous narrow terrain.

So while in 2004 and 2005, the Taliban had the same plans for a bloody spring offensive against the US-led forces they were unable to implement that until this year, as the coalition forces simply refused to be lured. Taliban fighters carried out many attacks on American bases in Khost, Paktia and Paktika but they had very little impact on the strength of the force. The Americans could always carry out air strikes or call on the Afghan forces to conduct ground attacks.

The period from 2005 to 2006 allowed the Taliban-led Afghan insurgents to regroup and in particular to receive training in urban guerrilla warfare techniques from fellow fighters who had been blooded in the Iraqi insurgency. This involved learning how to conduct intelligence gathering operations, developing sharp-shooting skills, creating suicide squads as well as refining skills in building Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), the roadside bombs that have claimed to many American soldiers' lives.

The 2006 spring and summer offensive had finally been implemented with more than 30 foreign soldiers killed in action so far, most of them American.

The US military has stepped up operations in recent weeks to stem what's been described as the worst Taliban violence since the hardline regime were ousted in 2001 for refusing to give up al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Al-Zawahiri also used the period from 2005 to 2006 to hone a strategy to lure the Americans out of their bases and bring their battle into the region of Balad-i-Khurasan, which would be the beginning of the Osama bin Laden's call for the liberation of the “Arabian Penunsula”.
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