Hundreds of Taliban escape in attack on Kandahar prison: a background of the story

lunes, junio 16, 2008

(post sólo en inglés: es muy largo y no me da tiempo a traducirlo. Quien no entienda inglés, puede traducirlo usando Altavista Babelfish).

Jihad Watch: Hundreds of Taliban escape in attack on Kandahar prison

Canadian soldiers joined other ISAF and Afghan national security forces in a sweeping door-to-door hunt for hundreds of escaped prisoners after the Taliban staged a daring mass breakout at Kandahar City’s Sarpoza Prison late Friday.

A suicide bomber drove up to the prison’s main entrance and detonated his vehicle at about 9:30 p.m. local time. After the massive explosion, which was heard across the city and destroyed the gate and a police checkpoint, reports say up to 30 motorcycles raced forward, carrying armed men firing rocket-propelled grenades, machine-guns and AK-47s. During the ensuing 20-minute battle in the city’s west side, hundreds of prisoners were able to flee. It was still unclear how many escaped from the prison, which houses almost 1,200 inmates, including about 400 Taliban.

A Taliban spokesman said the group is claiming responsibility. [...]

One official told Reuters between 750 and 800 prisoners had managed to escape, adding some prisoners were killed in a gun battle between police and Taliban fighters inside the jail.

"I think scores of others are caught up inside," he said, adding he suspected the gate was blown up by a suicide bomber driving a truck. Several Taliban fighters entered the prison and started freeing the inmates, he said.
I have been trying to link a magnificent post by Bill Roggio in his blog The Long War Journal about the so-called Pakistan taliban and why it's impossible to see what is happening in Afganistan without considering the influence of Pakistan IN the Afghan situation. Even Afghan Taliban are nothing more than a copy of Pakistani Taliban, who were their ideological inspiration: Pakistan releases Taliban leader, signs peace deal with outlawed Taliban group - The Long War Journal:
Within weeks after the new central and provincial governments signaled it would revive negotiations with the Taliban in the Northwest Frontier Province and the lawless tribal areas, Pakistan has freed a senior Taliban leader jailed since 2002. After signing a six-point agreement with the Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammadi, the government released Sufi Mohammed, the leader of the radical Taliban group.

Sufi Mohammed is one of the most dangerous Taliban leaders in the Northwest Frontier Province. As the ideological leader of the outlawed Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammadi (the TNSM, or the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad's Sharia Law), he has close links with the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban as well as senior al Qaeda leaders.

The TNSM is known as the "Pakistani Taliban" and is the group behind the ideological inspiration for the Afghan Taliban. The TNSM sent over 10,000 fighters into Afghanistan to fight US forces during the opening stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in late 2001 and 2002. Sufi was jailed by the Pakistani government after the TNSM was banned.

After Sufi’s arrest, Faqir Mohammed assumed control of the TNSM in Sufi’s absence, and the Bajaur tribal agency became al Qaeda’s command and control hub for operations in northeastern Afghanistan. Faqir rolled the TNSM under the banner of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which is led by South Waziristan Taliban command Baitullah Mehsud. Faqir is second in commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.
They reached an agreement to "achieve" peace, or, at least, that's what it looked like:
The Taliban have called for the release of Sufi along with Maulana Abdul Aziz, the radical leader of the Red Mosque, and “five Afghan Taliban and the three men arrested on charges of allegedly plotting Benazir Bhutto’s assassination — Aitzaz Shah, Hussnain and Rafaqat,” the Daily Times reported. The Taliban are demanding their release in exchange for Tariq Azizuddin, Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan.
And now, what is happening now? A new clash in the Pakistani-Afghan border was with the Taliban (June 12th). This clash was reported to have been caused by US, with an aerial strike which could have killed several Pakistani soldiers. But it appears the story is a little bit different as can be seen in this video filmed by an aerial drone:

The US military has released footage from a unmanned aerial vehicle detailing the controversial June 10 battle against Taliban forces right on the Afghan-Pakistani border. The US military maintains it fired at Taliban forces, while the Pakistani government continues to maintain US airstrikes targeted an outpost manned by the Frontier Corps and killed Pakistani paramilitary troops.

The US military said the clash began in Kunar province, less than 200 yards from the Pakistani border near the Garparai checkpoint. The fighting, which lasted for three hours, moved across the border as US warplanes pursued the Taliban as they retreated into Pakistan's Mohmand tribal agency.

The video details a squad of Taliban fighters occupying a fighting position on a ridgeline right across the border from Pakistan's Mohmand tribal agency. Coalition forces, likely a Special Forces team operating to interdict Taliban fighters crossing the border, were on a “reconnaissance mission” on the border when they took fire from the Taliban position.

(...) This year, the government signed peace deals in Swat, Bajaur, Malakand, and Mohmand. Negotiations are under way in Kohat and Mardan. The Taliban are not required to halt cross-border attacks, and Taliban leaders have stated they would continue to conduct strikes in Afghanistan. Also, in the case of the North Waziristan agreement, al Qaeda fighters are allowed to remain in the region "as long as they pledge to remain peaceful."

The loyalty of the Pakistani security forces has also come into question. A recent study by the RAND Corporation said Pakistan security forces, particularly the paramilitary Frontier Corps, and its intelligence services are aiding the Taliban in conducting attacks inside Afghanistan.
The problem here is that the "Pakistani Frontier Corps" does not really defend the Frontier as there have been countless Taliban incursions into Aghan territory from Pakistan without the Pakistani soldiers doing really anything to prevent it:
While the governments involved sort out who fired at whom, it’s worth noting that U.S. troops fighting along the border have long contended that the Frontier Corps - an almost exclusively Pashtun tribal militia overseen by Islamabad - has been viewed as often aiding or abetting Islamic insurgents. Pakistan defends the force by saying they have suffered hundreds of casualties fighting extremists.

One U.S. veteran involved in the border fight recently told me about an ambush in which a Special Forces operator was killed. U.S. troops following a blood trail leading to a wounded attacker found he was a Frontier Guard officer carrying a map that identified multiple U.S. "hide sites" used to maintain covert surveillance of cross-border incursions.

When I visited Camp Tillman near Lwara, Afghanistan three years ago for the New York Daily News, U.S. commanders complained bitterly about a number of incidents in which Frontier Corps troops looked the other way when Al Qaeda-led insurgents ambushed U.S. troops and never warned their American counterparts of interlopers they could plainly see from their rocky outposts.

Last April, a Washington Post reporter visited the same area and was told by one soldier: "The Frontier Corps might as well be Taliban .... They are active facilitators of infiltration."
We have also to consider the importance of the drug-trafficking in the area (specially heroin). Latest there has been several reports in which Pakistani Intelligence Services's representatives said they were interested in funding Kahsmir jihadists (Kashmir is the frontier province which is disputed between India and Pakistan). last Jihadist ambush in the zone has killed five Indian soldiers.

As Thanos linked, Afghan President Karzai has menaced with sending troops to the frontier to penetrate Pakistan and capture Taliban "fighters", including Mullah Omar, who has been based in Pakistan since fleeing from Afghanistan in 2001. The problem with this statement is that Karzai has come to terms with Talibans in the past (or at least has tried to), and that Pakistan has nukes, a powerful point to any country before considering any attack. Baitullah Mehsud, one of the main Taliban leaders has already called to use them is case of "attack of Pakistani ennemies".

But there is more:
An international smuggling ring that sold bomb-related parts to Libya, Iran and North Korea also managed to acquire blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon, according to a draft report by a former top U.N. arms inspector that suggests the plans could have been shared secretly with any number of countries or rogue groups.

The drawings, discovered in 2006 on computers owned by Swiss businessmen, included essential details for building a compact nuclear device that could be fitted on a type of ballistic missile used by Iran and more than a dozen developing countries, the report states.

(...) The A.Q. Khan smuggling ring was previously known to have provided Libya with design information for a nuclear bomb. But the blueprints found in 2006 are far more troubling, Albright said in his report. While Libya was given plans for an older and relatively unsophisticated weapon that was bulky and difficult to deliver, the newly discovered blueprints offered instructions for building a compact device, the report said. The lethality of such a bomb would be little enhanced, but its smaller size might allow for delivery by ballistic missile.

(...) "These would have been ideal for two of Khan's other major customers, Iran and North Korea," wrote Albright, now president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. "They both faced struggles in building a nuclear warhead small enough to fit atop their ballistic missiles, and these designs were for a warhead that would fit."

(...) The Pakistani government did not rebut the findings in the report but said it had cooperated extensively with U.N. investigators.
Hmm, what about selling them to Al-Qaeda? Or the Taliban? Or Kashmir Talibans? Or Hizbullah, using Iran as an intermediary?

In the meantime, Pakistan has already protested to Afghan envoy. Pakistani Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi has made it absolutely clear that "his country would defend its territorial sovereignty".

To complicate even more the situation, former Pakistani PM, Sharif (now the leader of the smallest party in the governing coalition), is asking Musharraf to resign and to be held accountable for passed deeds. In a demonstration he asked for Musharraf to be hanged.