[firstname.lastname@example.org: Allahu Akbar]
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From: nebukhadhnasar@... (Abdallah Tahhan)
Subject: Allahu Akbar
Date: Fri, 9 Aug 2002 20:31:00 -0700 (PDT)
Well, here's a nice report from the Christian Science
from the August 09, 2002 edition -
Al Qaeda massing for new fight
Afghan spies say the group has two new bases in
Pakistan and is acquiring missiles.
By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian
ASADABAD, AFGHANISTAN - Three separate clashes with Al
Qaeda fighters this week, including Wednesday's foiled
attack inside the city of Kabul, point to the
terrorist organization's resurgence in Afghanistan.
But there may be much more to come.
According to exclusive interviews with Afghan military
intelligence chiefs in the eastern Afghan province of
Kunar, Al Qaeda has established two main bases inside
Pakistan � hundreds of miles north of where US and
Pakistani troops are now hunting � and is preparing
for a massive strike against the Afghan government. To
blunt US air superiority, Al Qaeda forces are
attempting to acquire surface-to-air missiles in
"Al Qaeda has regrouped, together with the Taliban,
Kashmiri militants, and other radical Islamic parties,
and they are just waiting for the command to start
operations," says Brig. Rahmatullah Rawand, chief of
military intelligence for the Afghan Ministry of
Defense in Kunar Province. "Right now they are trying
to find anti-aircraft missiles that are capable of
hitting America's B-52 bombers. When they find those,
they will bring them here."
Spokesmen for the American military operations in
Afghanistan say they are able to confirm parts of the
Afghan intelligence reports, and add that they are
prepared for any possible Al Qaeda military offensive
in the next few weeks or months.
"I can't say I have never heard these reports before
about the areas you are mentioning," says Lt. Col.
Roger King, spokesman for the US-led Operation
Enduring Freedom at Bagram Air Base outside of Kabul.
"Some parts of the intelligence reports and the
locations you've described are similar to what we are
hearing ourselves, and other parts are different." He
declined to say which parts were similar and which
parts were different.
The US is currently making sure it has enough troop
strength in areas where Al Qaeda is deemed to be most
active, he says.
"If you look back over time, you find there are two
fighting seasons in this country," says Colonel King.
"We're at the beginning of one, and the other ended in
A US soldier on patrol near the Pakistan border in
Paktika Province was wounded by a sniper Wednesday
night, and airlifted to a medical facility in Germany
In Kunar Province, Afghan intelligence sources say
that their reports were compiled this week, after
Afghan spies, pretending to be Islamic radicals,
infiltrated the two Al Qaeda camps in Pakistan. The
report concludes that China itself may be involved in
supporting the camps, either by tacitly allowing
Islamic radicals of the ethnic Uighur minority in
China's western Xinjiang Province to cross into
Pakistan to join Al Qaeda, or overtly offering to
provide Al Qaeda with antiaircraft missiles.
"That area, even though it is in Pakistan, is
basically under the government of China," says Afghan
Brigadier Rawand. "There is a possibility that the
Chinese are also involved in this, and they may give
Al Qaeda the missiles."
Military experts agree that the ability of Al Qaeda to
shoot down American B-52 bombers would alter tactics
and undermine US efforts in the Afghan war. It was the
B-52s, together with precision-guided bombs and
munitions, rather than troops on the ground, that
destroyed the Taliban's defenses outside of Kabul and
other strongholds and forced the Taliban and Al Qaeda
to give up control of Afghanistan.
"The Americans are proud of their control of the air,
but they don't take care of the ground," says Brig.
Ghulam Haider Chatak, chief of military intelligence
for the eastern zone of Afghanistan, which includes
Kunar, Laghman, and Nangarhar provinces. "Now they
could lose both."
Here in Kunar Province, a lush green region of fertile
well watered valleys and tall forested mountains, US
special forces carry out joint operations with local
Afghan forces mainly along the major roads to Asadabad
and within the capital itself.
Local military commanders, who report to the Ministry
of Defense, complain that the Americans are working
only with one warlord, Commander Zarin, and not with
the official military units of President Hamid
"Unfortunately, in the last six months, the
international coalition forces haven't taken any bold
steps against Al Qaeda," says Commander Mohammad
Zaman, military chief of Kunar Province, under the
command of the Afghan Ministry of Defense. "That's why
Al Qaeda and the terrorists are all present here. They
have only changed their outfits, from turbans to
pukhols," floppy woolen hats favored by Afghan
fighters in the Northern Alliance.
Arab radicals and Taliban supporters walk the street
of the capital here, apparently without fear of
capture, preaching their harsh version of Islam and
calling for an uprising against American and other
foreign troops supporting the Karzai government.
Bin Laden alive?
Meanwhile, intelligence sources say that just over the
border in Pakistan, most of the top Taliban and Al
Qaeda leadership, including Osama bin Laden himself,
have been seen moving into northern Pakistan from the
tribal belt south of the Afghan town of Tora Bora. Mr.
bin Laden, the top Al Qaeda leader, was last seen
three weeks ago in the Pakistani tribal city of Dir,
about 45 miles east-northeast of Asadabad.
Osama's top lieutenant, Ayman Zawahiri, is now thought
to be directing operations from Al Qaeda's newly built
base in the village of Shah Salim, about 30 miles west
of the Pakistani city of Chitral, near the border of
Afghanistan's Kunar Province. The other base is in the
Pakistani village of Murkushi on the Chinese border,
about 90 miles north of the Pakistani city of Gilgit.
To fight a new war against American forces, Al Qaeda
is reportedly broadening its base of support to
include new like-minded members, including the Afghan
warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and his Pashtun-dominated
radical Islamist Hizb-I-Islami party.
Mr. Hekmatyar's party, which received substantial
Saudi funding, CIA training, and Pakistani military
support during the war against the Soviet occupation
of the 1980s, still enjoys support in Kunar and other
Pashtun-dominated provinces and is also the closest in
ideological terms to the Taliban.
From exile in Iran last fall, Mr. Hekmatyar called on
all Muslims to fight alongside the Taliban against any
invasion of American forces.
With its renewed mission, Al Qaeda has taken on a new
name, Fateh Islam, or Islamic Victory. Their battle
plan, Afghan intelligence sources say, is to launch a
massive attack on eastern Afghanistan, by crossing
along the poorly defended mountainous border of Kunar
Province, where opium and timber smugglers take their
products out of Afghanistan either undetected or with
the compliance of corrupt Afghan border officials.
On the streets of Asadabad itself, it's clear that Al
Qaeda already has established a network of informers
and preachers. In mosques and religious schools, Al
Qaeda members have begun whipping up local anger
against the US presence in Afghanistan, and the
house-to-house searches in Kunar.
One Arab man, dressed in Afghan salwar kameez, but
wearing the traditional white headdress of a Saudi
preacher, was seen this week standing in the center of
the main square of Asadabad, before being led away by
two young religious students toward a local mosque.
Another man, who teaches primary school in Asadabad,
told the Monitor there are plenty of Al Qaeda
supporters in Kunar.
"I'm proud to be Al Qaeda," says Abdur Rahim, a
soft-voiced man who studied Islam for 16 years at a
hard-line Islamic seminary in Peshawar, Pakistan. "I'm
100 percent sure they will come back here. It will be
very soon, and the Taliban were 100 times better than
these warlords who rob us on the streets."
"The jihad is compulsory against the kaffirs
[unbelievers], but we cannot fight against their
planes," he adds. Speaking of American special forces
based in Asadabad, he says, "These are infidels and
they have destroyed our religion. Jews and Christians,
all of them, we want Muslim forces, we don't want
As a crowd gathers, cautioning the Al Qaeda member to
be quiet, Mr. Rahim becomes even more outspoken.
"Everyone here feels like me, but some people have big
hearts and others have little faith. These people are
quiet because they have little faith."
Other Afghans seem more pragmatic. Mohammad Malang, a
timber merchant in Asadabad's massive lumber market,
says hundreds of Arabs came through Kunar late last
year, after the bombing campaign began on the mountain
hideout of Tora Bora, south of Jalalabad. Now, when he
carries wood to the border of Pakistan on his logging
truck, he sees plenty of Al Qaeda fighters coming and
going through the Afghan checkposts.
"The Americans pay us money and we give them Al
Qaeda," he says with a smile. "The Al Qaeda give us
money and we give them shelter. Nowadays we are not
giving them shelter because of the US troops here, but
up there on the border, they are there right now up in
the forests. They come and go and nobody stops them."
Even some border security officials admit that it
would be easy for Al Qaeda to enter Kunar Province.
"This is a long border, and we don't have enough
forces to patrol it," says Wazir Mohammad Sadiq,
deputy commander of checkpoints for the Kunar Border
Security Force. "We need the Americans there. They
only come once a month, and they never stay long. They
just have a cup of tea, chat, and leave."
Haji Said Amin Khan, commander of a checkpost on the
border, says that his men used to stop every car
coming from Pakistan, but was ordered to stop this
practice by Commander Jandad, the former governor of
"We were told not to stop certain people, like armed
men, and even now, people can come and go without
questions," says Mr. Khan.
"But the problem is that we need thousands of men to
patrol the border in Kunar. There are four main roads
into Kunar, and we have checkposts on those roads, but
there are lots of other smaller roads. Al Qaeda is not
stupid enough to come on the main roads, so they take
the other roads."
Commander Zaman, the military chief, says that his men
are preparing for a long war against Al Qaeda, even if
they have to continue fighting without any salaries or
coordination with US forces.
"You can't defeat an ideology with a gun, so the best
we can do is create a new ideology, and make people
feel that we are making the situation better than
before," he says. "If that works, that's great. But if
not, then we already have our enemy and their guns
here among us."
Afghan plea to US: 'Listen to us'
The vehicle was full of armed men who could have been
friends, foes, or just another group of Afghan men out
for a ride.
But what is certain is that when the vehicle
encountered a checkpoint manned by US special forces
soldiers on Tuesday night, a gunbattle broke out. US
forces say one of the Afghans aimed his Kalashnikov at
a US soldier and pulled the trigger. The Afghan's gun
jammed, but US soldiers opened fire, killing all four
of the Afghan fighters. None of the American soldiers
But the slain Afghans were friends, not foes. They
were soldiers working for the Afghan military chief,
the sons of a prominent tribal leader, and should
never have been told by US soldiers to disarm, say
local military commanders.
Even before the gunfight, tempers in Asadabad were on
edge. On Monday, soldiers killed two men who fired at
them from a hilltop.
And for the past two weeks, US special forces have
been conducting house-to-house searches in this dusty
frontier capital of Kunar Province near the Pakistan
border, looking for heavy weapons and Al Qaeda
supporters. According to top Afghan leaders here, the
invasive procedures violate strong Pashtun traditions,
which forbid outsiders to enter their homes and see
Afghan merchants, political leaders, and military
commanders say that local sentiments are turning
sharply against the US forces here.
"So far the relationship with US forces here is just
neutral, neither positive nor negative, but it's going
in the negative direction," says Acting Gov. Haji Ali
Rahman. "We hope the US forces will use their
cleverness and change their tactics. But if they
continue to search houses, even my own commanders will
not work for me."
He smiles through his long grey beard. "The first
revolt of the villagers will be against us, because we
are the ones who brought the US forces here."
Public anger over the house searches has grown so much
that Governor Rahman called an emergency meeting of
tribal elders this week in Asadabad, where dozens of
Pashtun leaders vented their anger at the Americans.
Some leaders called for Afghan forces to stop
cooperating with the US forces. This idea was quickly
squelched, when the Afghan military chief of the
province, Brig. Mohammad Zaman, pointed out that his
troops � including the four men killed on Tuesday
night � haven't even been asked to conduct joint
operations with US forces in anti-Al Qaeda operations.
"Right now they are working with just one warlord, and
they aren't getting any results except angering the
people," says Brigadier Zaman. "They don't have to pay
us, we will fight with our own guns, our own rations.
But at least they should listen to us."
Instead, the US forces are working with Commander
Zarin, a local warlord who was the first Afghan leader
to help the US forces in Kunar Province in the buildup
to the fall of the Taliban last November. US military
spokesmen at Bagram airfield in Kabul say it is up to
local US commanders to decide who to work with, and in
many cases the US special forces continue to work with
a local warlord they know rather than with leaders
deployed by the Kabul government.
"This is a common statement that you hear from local
military chiefs, 'Why aren't you working with us?'"
says Lt. Col. Roger King, spokesman for the US
military at Bagram. "In some cases, our forces have
been working with local commanders, or warlords, long
before the Ministry of Defense in Kabul was formed.
We're in a transitional phase, and you may see some of
that coordination shifting over to more official channels."
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