Pakistani Taliban Videos Posted On Mainstream News Site

[Chipotle Mystery] One of the difficulties in studying militant groups in Pakistan is that there aren’t a lot, if any, forums dedicated to these groups that are affiliated with the Taliban. Most Taliban-related information that is available in forums comes through Al-Qaeda clearinghouses like Al-Sahab, though smaller studios occasionally have videos that make it to the Internet (these were more common in the past). News about the activities of the Pakistani Taliban generally comes from the media and we have very few “primary sources” from such groups.  Although it is well known that they do produce and distribute tapes in Pakistan, I must admit from personal experience that I was unable to locate any when I was in Pakistan a few months ago. Asia Times Online has posted two videos from the Pakistani Taliban today. Syed Saleem Shahzad has alluded to these in his recent posts. They’re both interesting videos

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Pakistan Preparing All-Out Confrontation of Militants?

[Chipotle Mystery] Since late July a number of suicide attacks have struck Pakistan, reminiscent of the spate of violence that ringed in the New Year and witnessed the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The rise in violence comes as the Pakistani military appears to be engaging in a large-scale offensive in Bajaur, one of the seven agencies that make up the semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and also follow the visit of Yusuf Raza Gillani to Washington in July (It appears that the U.S. Government gave its approval for the removal of Musharraf during this meeting – but this is just speculation). Quick background: The FATA serves as a sanctuary for various Taliban-affiliated groups, notably the “Pakistani Taliban” led by Baitullah Mehsud who has been blamed for Ms. Bhutto’s assassination. The FATA may also house Al-Qaeda leaders, and Bajaur in particular has often been speculated as serving as a hiding

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Sahab Releases Full Zawahiri Message in English

A few days ago, ARY (a Pakistani network) ran an extremely truncated version of a lengthy audio tape of Zawahiri addressing Pakistanis in English.  Yesterday, Sahab (the media production arm of al-Qaeda) released the full audio recording online (open the .pdf below for links).  Here are the interesting bits: Zawahiri says at the beginning that he wants to address Pakistanis in Urdu, but he can’t speak the language.  He is speaking English to communicate with them, even though it is the language of the enemy. Zawahiri’s attachment to Pakistan began in his childhood.  His grandfather was the first to translate the poetry of Muhammad Iqbal into Arabic. Musharraf is a tool of the U.S. Pakistan made a “strategic blunder’ when it allowed the U.S. to install Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan since Karzai is friendly to India.  Now, Pakistan has no “strategic depth” in the mountains of Afghanistan, which would be

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Map of Recent Strikes on al-Qaeda Leadership in Pakistan

Reuters reports, on the authority of a Pakistani security official, that an “Abu Saeed al-Masri” was killed.  The official said Masri is “among the top leadership of al Qaeda.”  The identity of Masri is unknown, but the news media is claiming that it’s Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, a close Egyptian friend of Zawahiri’s from the Sadat assassination days (Long War and CT Blog have good summaries of the news). If true, it is horrible news for al-Qaeda.  Abu al-Yazid is the head of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and one of the few public faces of the organization (he sometimes gets the job of announcing the death of AQ operatives killed in Afghanistan).  Moreover, it comes after a string of successful strikes on high-profile al-Qaeda leaders this year: Abu Layth al-Libi, Abu Sulayman al-Jaza’iri, and Abu Khabab.  Of course, there are other capable leaders waiting in the wings, but don’t underestimate the damage

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Al-Qaeda Cleric Linked to Chinese Terrorist Group

In the past week, there have been a spate of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, the Muslim-majority province in China. On Aug. 4, militants killed 16 police in Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, which is near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. On Sunday, bombers attacked 17 sites in Kuqa, west-central Xianjiang. Although I haven’t seen any claim of responsibility for the attacks, a good candidate is the Islamic Party of Turkistan (IPT), which in recent weeks has been threatening terrorist attacks in China during the Olympic Games.  They have also claimed other recent attacks. Although little is known about the IPT, Aaron Weisburd has done some amazing cyber sleuthing and discovered that the IPT hosted the website of `Abd al-Hakim Hassan. Aaron did not know who Hassan was and neither did the Jihadi ideologues on the elite Hesbah forum. But he knew that Hassan was someone important because al-Qaeda’s media distribution organization,

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Abu Khabab Killed in Missile Strike

This morning Reuters reported that U.S. missiles had struck a madrasa in Wana, South Waziristan and killed six people. At that time, the reporters did not know who had been killed. On the forums this afternoon, there were several rumors that Abu Khabab, a senior al-Qaeda bomb maker and chemical weapons expert, had died in the strike. Now Taliban officials have confirmed it. Abu Khabab was supposedly killed in 2006, but he survived. If you’ve read Omar Nasiri’s Inside the Jihad, you’ll remember Abu Khabab’s ominous appearance at a training camp in Afghanistan (hat tip: AC). The fact that the U.S. has killed so many high-profile al-Qaeda members recently suggests greater penetration of the militant network in Pakistan or greater cooperation of some tribes in the region.

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