Al Qaeda, Taliban, Musharraf and Pakistan

An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 22 May 2006


India’s neighbourhood is in unrest. Nepal is going through turmoil, Bangladesh has been cocking a snook at India as it Islamises and harbours jehadis. Bangaldesh has refused a pipeline for India’s gas so we are wooing Myanmar, but a visit to Myanmar will show you that the Junta of Generals ensconced in their new capital is under Chinese influence. Several years ago Sun Tzu had taught the Chinese ‘to use neighbours to fight your enemy’ and that is what China is doing by arming Pakistan and helping Bangladesh and Myanmar. So its time India looked to its neighbourhood and took proactive steps. How much can India trust Myanmar’s military regime?

The Government sent Raja Karan Singh to see Raja Gyananedra in Nepal, but it is said it was Sitaram Yechury who made sure there were no killings. Now the King is in siege. There could be surprises.

The Sri Lankan ceasefire has broken down and UK has called LTTE ‘a banned and black listed’ organization. This is prodding the LTTE to take up arms against the Sri Lankan army. It is surprising how they allowed the LTTE’s Balasingham a have a residence in UK for all these years but that is the way the West works. He is married to an Australian.

In that connection we came across an excellent piece on Mulla Dadullah, the Chief of Army of the Taliban by B Raman an ex-RAW man, who has done a thorough piece on the Taliban, Al Queda and Pakistan’s ISI. This tells us that President Musharraf is either playing the game of ‘teen patti’ bluff or is clever by half, because he keeps telling India he has little control over the Jehadis and this could be true. He may be a puppet in the hands of the Mullahs to remain in power. He has once again refused to hand over AQ Khan to USA for interrogation. AQ was responsible for much of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cruise missiles and money making and handing him over may open a Pandora’s box.

Pakistan is due elections next year and both Nawaz Shariff and Benazir Bhutto are rearing their heads to come back and contest. There will be surprises. One wonders how Benazir gets a visa to live in style in UK, when she and Shariff contributed to the Taliban and Al Queda’s birth and growth. Both UK and USA are losing lives because of that. We also came across the phrase that India must study C3I with China i.e. Cooperation, Competition, Confrontation and Interference!


International Terrorism Monitor: Paper No. 59

By B.Raman

1. Quoting Afghan Government sources, the BBC reported on May 19, 2006, that the Western forces in Afghanistan had captured Mulla Dadullah of the Taliban in the Kandahar area. There has been no official announcement so far confirming his capture. It is not known when and under what circumstances he was captured. The Taliban has denied the report of his capture. If true, his capture is an important gain for the Afghan army and the Western forces operating from Afghanistan in their attempts to quell the activities of a resurgent Taliban, which is referred to by some analysts as the Neo Taliban.

2. The 38-year-old Mulla Dadullah is a Pakistani national belonging to the Kakar tribe of Balochistan. It is the same tribe to which Gen. Abdul Waheed Kakar, who was Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff during the second tenure of Mrs. Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister (1993–96), belonged. A product of one of the madrasas of Balochistan, he joined one of the Afghan Mujahideen groups as a teenager in the 1980s and distinguished himself in the jihad against the Soviet troops sponsored by the USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with the assistance of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He distinguished himself in the fight against the Soviet troops, despite losing a leg.

3. When Mulla Mohammad Omar formed the Taliban in 1994 at the instance of Maj. Gen.. Naserullah Babar, the Interior Minister of Benazir, to escort the cotton convoys of Mr. Asif Zirdari, her husband, from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through the Herat area of Afghanistan, Mulla Dadullah joined it and rose to be the Chief Military Commander of the Taliban's army. He held this post at the time of the launching of the US military strike against the Taliban and Al Qaeda on October 7, 2001. He and Mulla Omar crossed over into Balochistan and took shelter with the Kakar tribe.

4. In 2003, at the instance of the ISI, Mulla Omar, the Amir of the Taliban, reconstituted the Taliban army to launch a new jihad in Afghanistan –– this time against the Western forces. He asked Mulla Dadullah, who continued to enjoy the confidence of the ISI, to act as the chief military commander of the new Taliban army, which consisted of experienced jihadi fighters of the pre-October 7, 2001, vintage as well as new recruits from the madrasas and Afghan refugee camps of Pakistan. The new Taliban army was trained by the ISI and started operating in the Pashtun majority areas of Southern and Eastern Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Balochistan and in the Waziristan area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Within a short period of time, Dadullah raised not only a well-motivated army, but also constituted a suicide squad of Afghan and Pakistani nationals for undertaking suicide missions against the Afghan army and the Western forces.

5. The total strength of the Neo Taliban army raised by him with the help of the ISI is estimated by reliable sources as about 5,000, but Dadullah himself has been claiming that it has a strength of about 20,000.

6. Dadullah himself has repeatedly denied any Pakistani role in the activities of the Neo Taliban. In an interview over the Al Jazeera TV channel on July 20, 2005, Mulla Dadullah stated as follows:

  • “Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders have already stated that attacks against the infidels and the apostate government of Afghanistan would escalate as soon as the harsh winter weather gives way to warmer one. There have also been significant changes in tactics, types of weapons, financial support, and support of the Afghan people."

  • "All Afghan people are Muslims; they all have weapons and know how to use their weapons. The majority of them are supporters of Taliban and their Jihad against the enemies of Islam. Few have been drawn to the dollars. There are also Arab Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Faithful Muslims will always join the fight to eradicate the enemies of Allah."

  • “The current government (of Mr. Hamid Karzai) was forced on the Afghan people by the Americans. Afghan people now see the crimes committed by this government and their American protectors. People do not hold us responsible for destruction of infrastructure and homes. People know that the enemies of Allah always resort to carpet bombing of everything whenever they are not able to fight and defeat the Mujahideen. Furthermore, preserving the religion is far more important than preserving hospitals, homes, mosques, etc. All world powers became united and came to Afghanistan to dismantle Islam. Therefore, it is the duty of Muslims to defend their religion first and foremost. We do not target innocent civilians, hospitals, market places, etc. The offices or buildings we have targeted and burnt are those used by mercenaries to convert young Afghans to Christianity under the guise “social services”.

  • "We currently have advanced weapon systems and we are getting even more advanced weapons, logistic and high tech support systems in the next few months."

  • "One must remember that the goal of the Kafir is not limited to Afghanistan. They want to uproot Islam altogether and they will go to any length to accomplish that. We do not operate out of Pakistan, Iran, or any other neighboring country. The Americans are lying and they always do to cover up their failure to eradicate Jihad and defeat the Mujahideen. Every now and then they let their media machine spread lies about our presence in Pakistan and the need for Pakistan government to do more to track down, kill or capture Mujahideen. They do that to avoid questions at home about lack of progress in their war against us."

  • "Taking cities is not part of our present tactics. Our tactics now are hit and run; we attack certain locations, kill the enemies of Allah there, and retreat to safe bases in the mountains to preserve our Mujahideen. This tactic disrupts and weakens the enemies of Allah and at the same time, allows us to be on the offensive. We decide the time and place for our attacks, in this way the enemy is always guessing. We have attacked and occupied certain locations for a short period of time. This was done only to achieve the objectives of the operation. But we will always retreat to our safe bases."

  • "We do not see or meet with Mullah Omar. His orders reach us and they are implemented as ordered. That is the Grace of Allah, He bestows on whomever He wishes. But you must understand that our fight is for the purpose of preserving and protecting this great religion, Islam, and we do not base our fight on a particular person."

  • "Pakistan has turned its back on us and has helped the Americans in their fight against us. Pakistan allowed its territories to be used as launch pads from which Americans attack Mujahideen in many places. Iran is a sworn enemy of us, so are other neighboring countries. If Mullah Omar was within the territory of a country that is an enemy of us, he would have been detained by now. I do not know where he is, it is possible that he is in a mountain area that is not under the control of any country. It is reasonable to assume that he is in a safe place with only 5–10 of his top trusted lieutenants while the rest of Mujahideen do not know his location."

  • "Cooperation between us and Al Qaeda is very strong. Many of our Arab mujahideen brothers are fighting alongside of us to establish the religion of Allah. We will accompany Al Qaeda anywhere to fight the enemies of Allah."

  • "Great numbers of Muslims support us in spite of Bush’s wish. Bush claims to have cut off all financial support channels to Mujahideen, but we have continued to receive support from our Muslim brothers across the globe. Jihad requires large sums of money and Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah), we are getting what we need."

  • "We have been approached by the Americans more than once to negotiate a settlement to the situation in Afghanistan. We have always refused. Our message to them was to unconditionally withdraw their forces from the country as a first step. Negotiation can then follow, but the only item that would be up for negotiation is their crimes against Afghanistan and its people and how they are expected to compensate for that."

7. In an interview on December 27, 2005, Dadullah ruled out any reconciliation with Karzai's government. He said that the Karzai Government "owed its existence" to non-Muslims, and to hold talks with it would amount to "joining Christianity and working for Christians."

8. On February 10, 2006, the Afghan Islamic Press quoted him as claiming that the anger in Afghanistan over the Danish cartoons has made a large number of Afghans volunteer for suicide missions against Western troops. As a result, he claimed, the number of suicide volunteers available with the Taliban has increased from 200 to 1200. He added: "We have links with the Mujahideen in Iraq and we have also been planning to send our fighters from Afghanistan to Iraq and Iraqi fighters will come here." He asserted that both Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammad Omar were alive, but denied knowledge of their whereabouts. He announced a reward of five kilos of gold for anyone killing a soldier from Denmark, Norway and Germany deployed in Afghanistan and 100 kilos of gold to anyone killing the Danish cartoonist and the publishers of the newspaper which carried the cartoons.

9. In December 2005 a court in Pakistan sentenced Dadullah to life in prison for trying to kill conservative Islamic politician Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani in 2004. Mr Sherani escaped unhurt.

10. In its issue of October, 2003, the "Newsline", the reliable and well-informed monthly of Karachi, gave the following account of the re-constitution of the Neo Taliban army and the role of Dadullah in it:

"Hundreds, possibly thousands, of youths from religious schools across Pakistan have joined the ranks of Taliban cadres that have regrouped in Afghanistan in the last few months. According to one estimate, at least 5,000 youths including former Taliban soldiers who went underground after the fall of their regime in December 2001, and students from religious seminaries from Balochistan, have joined their compatriots in Afghanistan. Many of these young men are known in the ranks as 'sarbaz' (those who have given their lives to the cause and readily sacrifice them in suicide missions). Regrouped, reorganised and rearmed, these warriors are now all set to launch a new guerrilla war for as long as it takes to expel what they call the 'infidel forces' from Afghanistan.

"According to sources, there have been sporadic attacks against coalition forces since the war began in Afghanistan, but earlier these were on a limited scale. However, after the Taliban supremo Mullah Omar gave a call a few months ago to some of his trusted commanders who have so far escaped the coalition dragnet to reorganise the movement and to launch fresh attacks against Afghan and US forces, the limited strikes have acquired the dimensions of an uprising that is creating serious problems for the new Afghan government and the international troops.
"Credible reports reveal that some months ago Mullah Omar despatched the one-legged Afghan war veteran, Mullah Dadullah Kakar and Maulvi Sadiq Hameed to Balochistan to launch a recruitment campaign for jihad in the seminaries in the province, while Hafiz Majeed was asked to garner the support of the tribal chieftains and elders in southern Afghanistan. "Hafiz Majeed was chosen to approach the tribal leaders because of his contacts in southern Afghanistan, while Mullah Dadullah was sent to Pakistan because he is not only widely respected by members of the Kakar tribe to which he belongs, but also by many Pashtun youths because of his bravery and fighting spirit," says a Taliban insider. According to him, Mullah Dadullah, the most trusted of Mullah Omar's lieutenants and one of the Taliban's chief training and recruiting officers, is a living legend, because despite losing a leg during the war with the Russians and being grievously wounded on several occasions, with the scars to show for it, he retains the same zeal and vigour that he did as a young man.

"In the recent conflict, Dadullah continued to fight the international forces in the country's southern Kunduz province even after the Taliban government had fallen in December 2001. Thereafter however, he escaped to Pakistan, where the Kakar tribesmen living in southern Balochistan province gave him shelter.

"During this period he moved from one place to another, including the Kuchlak refugee camp, and Pasheeen and Kila Saifullah districts in Balochistan. The tribesmen not only provided him shelter, but also collected donations which amounted to a sizeable sum, which they handed over to him and, in addition, bought him a Land Cruiser," says a source. Subsequently, when there was intimation that he might be arrested from one of his safe houses in Balochistan, they reportedly shifted him to a house in Karachi's PIB colony –– an area largely populated by affluent Pathan businessmen.

"In the last few months, accompanied by a few comrades from Afghanistan, Dadullah has reportedly visited dozens of religious schools in Pakistan's tribal areas and in some districts of Balochistan with a mission to ignite religious fervour among the students and induct them in the cause of jihad. Those who are convinced by his argument and volunteer to join are provided information about how to proceed to Afghanistan, whom to contact and the modus operandi of the resistance. A Taliban insider disclosed, "In the past two years Mullah Dadullah has made repeated trips to and from Afghanistan. However, he has not been here since June because after the Taliban stepped up their activities, Dadullah has personally been engaged in fierce battles with Afghan forces in the Zabul province."

"The Taliban militia emerged on the national scene in the mid '90s from southern Afghanistan. Their main strength was young students called 'talibs,' most of whom were the products of religious seminaries run by fundamentalist clergymen. After two years of keeping a relatively low profile, Mullah Omar has apparently decided to tap this source once again to constitute a new Taliban force. Judging by the numbers, it seems he has struck pay dirt. Hundreds of youths have already crossed the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan, and many others are raring to follow.

"According to reports, Mullah Omar has asked his 'recruiting agents' to apply a new strategy for enlistment this time. His lieutenants have been directed to personally meet students and directly exhort them to join the mission. They have been emphatically told not to enlist the services of either the principals of the madrassas or the leaders of Pakistani religious parties for this purpose. "Mullah Omar believes that most of these leaders are cowards, or have been bought by US dollars and so cannot be trusted," says one of his associates, who carried Mullah Omar's inspirational messages to the students.

"According to Mullah Omar's uncle Akhwand, Omar, an extremely pious and fiercely honest man, engenders respect in every Afghan mujahid. "Over the past two decades jihad has become a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and during the Russsian invasion many religious leaders and so-called mujahideen cashed in and became billionaires. Omar on the other hand made not a single penny either during his fight with the Russians, or later when he was made Amir-ul-Momineen (Leader of the faithful)," says Akhwand. Mohammed Riaz, a former Taliban warrior, corroborates Akhwand's contention, and further contends, "Everyone talks about Osama bin Laden, but I can tell you that Mullah Omar was the only person who could give him orders, and argue with bin Laden."

"Hundreds of elder tribesmen have volunteered their youths to us," says 30-year-old Mohammed Amin, who is currently heading a group of Taliban in the Pashmol district of Kandahar province. "They include small children, some even under 12. Who will suspect them of being informers? Many of them work as our lookouts, and supply us important information. The transporters who ply the highways are main source of information. They tell us about the movement of government and foreign troops. Once we obtain these details, we devise our strategy accordingly," he says.

"Amin also discloses that many former Taliban soldiers and their supporters have infiltrated the ranks of the present Afghan army. "For us, they are like our 'moving bugging devices.' They not merely provide information about troop movement, but also attack and kill the troops whenever they get a chance," he maintains. Amin refers to an incident three months ago at Mail Pull check-post near Spin Boldak, in which six soldiers loyal to former Kandahar governor, Gul Agha, were gunned down by a Taliban soldier who had managed to enlist in the Afghan army.

"According to Amin, at the moment the Taliban have a fighting strength of over 30,000 and many more are joining the ranks each day. However, for security purposes, Amin discloses, the fighters do not move in packs, or assemble in large concentrations at a time, being dispersed in diferent provinces from Paktika to Paktia, Nangarhar to Kandahar and from Helmand to Zabul to Uruzgan. "Usually about 20 of them, each led by a commander, stay at one place," he says, adding that the commander of each group is always in touch with the chief commander of the area and constantly receives instructions from him.

"The fighters' modus operandi is simple. They emerge from their hideouts after sunset and either wait along highways for the jeep patrols of Afghan soldiers or ambush their outposts once the soldiers are asleep. "We are always well-prepared before we attack because our informants in the Afghan army have given us all the necessary data, such as the number of soldiers at the outpost, the amount of weaponry they possess, even their sleeping habits," says Amin. Most attacks are conducted at night. "Only suicide missions are conducted by daylight," he discloses.

"Interestingly, even this still relatively rag-tag assortment of soldiers is impressively equipped with satellite phones and wireless sets. Amin shows me his equipment and a hand-written letter bearing Mullah Omar's signature addressed to the Taliban, referring to them as 'brothers' and 'true soldiers of Islam.' The letter exhorts the men to fight and release their people from the 'slavery of the infidel US.' Amin says Mullah Omar writes two kinds of letters. "Some of them are confidential, only for the eyes of the Taliban commanders; the others are for the general cadres, which are read out to every one," he says.

"Twenty-eight-year-old Habibullah, who spent many years in refugee camps in Pakistan and has now joined the militia, adds that the Taliban have now devised a secret code to communicate. "The code has helped immeasurably in securing us and our operations," he says. However, he is realistic about the Taliban's position. "We have passion and guts, but know that we don't have the technology available to withstand air strikes like the B-52 bombings. We could probably even take Kabul, but we recognise our limitations, and the fact that we probably wouldn't be able to hold it," he acknowledges.

"He adds, "What we are trying to do is to inflict maximum damage on US troops and their allies so that they get fed up and leave our country like the Russians, who only quit because of the long and unyielding resistance by the Afghans. Once the Americans leave, we will easily be able to take over." (20-5-06)

(The writer is the Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai .He retired as Additional Secretary, in the Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India. He may be contacted at

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