December 28, 2010

IF HAQQANICIDE WILL WIN THE WAR, THEN PRACTICE IT:

Taliban Fighters Appear Blunted in Afghanistan (ERIC SCHMITT, 12/26/10, NY Times)

In many ways, much of the war in Afghanistan, particularly in the rugged eastern part, is a war against the Haqqani family, whose patriarch, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was a legendary guerrilla fighter in the Central Intelligence Agency-backed campaign to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan in the 1980s. His son Sirajuddin now runs the group’s daily operations from his haven in Pakistan, and he has made aggressive efforts to recruit foreign fighters from the Persian Gulf and elsewhere in Central Asia.

The Haqqani network is considered a part of the Afghan Taliban, and is a key ally and protector of Al Qaeda’s top leadership, whose members are believed to be hiding in Pakistan’s remote border regions. American and other Western intelligence officials believe that Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, shields the Haqqanis in exchange for the network’s attacks against Pakistan’s archrival, India, in Afghanistan.

American intelligence officials say that the Haqqani network planned the attacks in 2008 in Kabul against the Serena Hotel and the Indian Embassy. It has also been linked to the suicide bombing of a C.I.A. outpost in Khost last December, and has held an American soldier, Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, since he was kidnapped after walking off his Army base in Paktika Province in June 2009. The Haqqanis finance their operations with timber smuggling, kidnapping ransoms and donations from wealthy Persian Gulf individuals, intelligence officials say.

NATO commanders and senior Obama administration officials take heart in the fact that the Haqqanis have not conducted a complicated attack in Kabul since a suicide bomber steered his explosives-laden Toyota minibus into an American convoy on May 18. The attack killed 18 people, including 5 American soldiers and an officer from Canada, and wounded at least 47 civilians.

Allied officials attribute the tactical success to several factors. A sixfold increase in the past year in the number of Special Operations raids against insurgents, including the Haqqanis, has disrupted the militants’ operations. In the past three months alone, commandos have carried out 1,784 missions across Afghanistan, killing or capturing 880 insurgent leaders.

About one-third of those operations were directed against the Haqqani network, a senior NATO official said. He and two other NATO officials agreed to speak candidly about current operations if they weren’t quoted by name.

At the same time, 5,400 additional American ground forces have been deployed to eastern Afghanistan, bringing the total there to nearly 37,000. Combined with increased Afghan army, police and intelligence service operations in and around Kabul, the troop surge has hampered the Haqqani network’s ability to run suicide bombers in a crucial corridor between Kabul and Khost, adjacent to the group’s Pakistan sanctuary, allied commanders and independent counterinsurgency specialists say.

“We’re going after their networks — the I.E.D. suppliers and bomb makers, and lead fighters,” said the senior NATO official in Kabul.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted by Orrin Judd at December 28, 2010 5:38 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« THE AMBITIOUS POET: | Main | IF YOU WANT TO BE A HISTORIC FIGURE, JUST HASTEN THE END OF HISTORY: »