May 21, 2006


The new power behind Osama's throne (Syed Saleem Shahzad , 5/18/06, Asia Times)

On the least in the rugged Hindu Kush mountains that span Pakistan and Afghanistan, the reality is that bin Laden, while remaining a source of inspiration in the anti-West struggle, is acknowledged as no longer being in command of al-Qaeda's operations.

In that role, he has been superseded by Taliban leader Mullah Omar, according to investigations and interviews conducted by Asia Times Online in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. [...]

Another man, whom Asia Times Online had met in the northern mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and who just called himself a mujahid, said, "The al-Qaeda command structure, as it was known at the time of September 11, which carried out specific missions to target US interests, has largely been abandoned, but it has quickly been replaced.

"Nowadays, Arabs go straight into Afghanistan and join various Taliban commanders. At the same time, the Pakistani Taliban have formed bases in North and South Waziristan. All of them pledge their allegiance to Mullah Omar," the mujahid said.

"All global operations have been shunned for now. Sheikh [bin Laden] is inactive. Actually, Sheikh does not have any money left," a colleague of the mujahid said. Introducing himself as Abdullah ("Servant of Allah"), he was from the Afghan province of Nuristan and said he was part of the Taliban-led resistance. He also described himself as a "host", a term generally used for those who provide shelter to Arab-Afghans - those Arabs who have joined the insurgency and spent time in Afghanistan.

"He [bin Laden] kept changing his location; he spent a lot of money on his people and associates, and of course for his survival. The channels of money kept choking one by one and finally dried up," said Abdullah with a forlorn look on his face.

"This was a strange situation in which everybody [Arab-Afghan] was striving for survival, and once Osama's shelter [money] was off, they were scattered," Abdullah explained.

The most significant result of this was a sharp turn by al-Qaeda toward mainstream jihadist activity, mainly against allied forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And the blunt truth is that tribal warfare just doesn't matter much outside the region.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 21, 2006 11:07 AM

So, Bush's GWOT has been a failure? "All global operations have been shunned for now. " The theory of taking the fight to the enemy was wrong? I think not!

Posted by: morry at May 21, 2006 11:24 AM