Sources: Administration tried to recruit Taliban 5 members as informants, effort was ‘total failure’

5-taliban-traded-soldiers (1)Fox News, by Catherine Herridge, June 5, 2015:

The U.S. government tried to recruit members of the Taliban Five as assets, so they could gather intelligence and the U.S. could influence their future actions, Fox News has learned.

The effort to “flip” the five Taliban leaders into becoming informants, however, didn’t work. A source familiar with the strategy described it as a “total failure.”

Other sources, who discussed the option on the condition of anonymity, backed up the account.

The move was pursued to strengthen the Obama administration’s ability to prevent the ex-Guantanamo prisoners — traded more than a year ago for American Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — from returning to terrorism. The Taliban Five have been living in Qatar under a travel ban, which was set to expire earlier this week but was temporarily extended amid ongoing talks between the U.S. and Qatar.

Asked about the strategy of flipping Taliban Five members, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest offered little information at Friday’s press briefing.

“Even as a general matter, this is an intelligence matter that I won’t be able to discuss from here,” Earnest said.

The Taliban Five were held for 12 years at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, where military reviews concluded they were a likely security threat and had “high intelligence value.” For those reasons, among others, seasoned military officers believe the Taliban Five were obvious recruitment targets.

“We would definitely have tried to work that with these people because of who they are, and because of the relationships they have,” Fox News military analyst and retired Gen. Jack Keane said. “These are people that had significant senior positions inside this organization.”

A year ago, the men were greeted as heroes in the gulf nation of Qatar. They are now joined in the oil-rich nation by some 65 immediate family members and other relatives.

Asked by Fox News if their presence might “increase the men’s ability to re-engage with terrorist networks,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “I’m not sure why that would be the case. It seems like pure speculation to me.”

But a leading Republican on the House Intelligence Committee who receives regular briefings said otherwise.

“Without going into the details of the numbers, they have had access to outsiders who in turn have had access to the outside. And this can’t bode well for American national security,” Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo said. “I wish I could tell you that I thought the administration understood the threat [from] these five, frankly, as well as the threat from Al Qaeda and ISIS, but I think in the case of these five in particular the administration continues to underestimate what it means for them to come back.”

The wisdom of the administration’s decision to swap the five Taliban leaders for Bergdahl without the necessary congressional notification is the subject of an ongoing national security debate.

In a statement to Fox News, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said: “Although we cannot detail the measures the United States and our partners take to mitigate the potential threat posed by these former detainees, it is fair to say that we remain both vigilant and in close contact on these matters. We have relied on extensive monitoring measures and travel restrictions to prevent them from threatening our interests.”

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

As five Taliban officials walk free, Bergdahl deal stink grows

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and held as a prisoner of war from 2009 until his release in May 2014.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and held as a prisoner of war from 2009 until his release in May 2014.

New York Post, May 30 2015:

Come Monday, the five senior Taliban officials sprung from Guantanamo in the trade for accused Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, could all be walking free.

Free to rejoin their terrorist comrades in jihad against America — as at least three of them reportedly have already tried to do.

It’s a reminder of just how bad a deal President Obama struck to free Bergdahl, the man the White House then hailed as a hero but who now faces criminal charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy — charges that could keep him behind bars for life.

Indeed, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal revealed last week for the first time that he’d been informed almost immediately after Bergdahl’s 2009 capture that the soldier “walked off [his base] intentionally.”

Yet years later, in the runup to Obama’s trade, National Security Adviser Susan Rice claimed Berghdal had been “captured on the battlefield” after serving “with honor and distinction.” The State Department dismissed claims he’d deserted as “rumors.”

Under the terms of the deal, the five were shipped to Qatar, where they were banned from travel and subjected to monitoring. That arrangement expires today.

Privately, Obama officials say they’ve been trying to extend the original arrangement or possibly return them to Afghanistan, whose government would decide what — if anything — to do with them. Week’s end, though, brought no new deal.

The danger can’t be overemphasized: These were all senior commanders — one a deputy defense minister, another head of intelligence. At least one has been in touch with the Taliban and two others have met with the al Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani network in the past year.

Now these five terrorists, let go to bring an accused deserter home, may be free to once again target American soldiers. Some bargain, Mr. President.

saving-private-bergdahl

Also see:

***

Mullar Omar Bio Draws Subtle Distinctions with “Caliph” AbuBakr

2422558701CSP, by Kyle Shideler, April, 6, 2015:

The Taliban has published a new biography of Mullah Omar (link is to Taliban-controlled shahamat-english.com) which paints a hagiographic picture of the Taliban leader’s history and upbringing (H/T LongWarJournal).

The biography covers Mullah Mohammad Umar ‘Mujahid’ childhood, his Islamic studies up to the age of eighteen, before pointing out that his studies were “interrupted” by the invasion of Afghanistan, and going into detail on his history of jihad against the Russians.

While not expressly doing so, the biography establishes a number of key distinctions between Omar and his rival Amir al mu’minin (Leader of the Faithful) “Caliph” AbuBakr Al-Baghdadi, with whom it is currently in a struggle with over legitimacy regarding leadership of the Global Jihad Movement. While Mullah Omar has never formally been put forward as a candidate, both Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders have used the Leader of the Faithful title to refer to Mullah Omar, a title typically applied to a sitting caliph. Omar has been given the title since 1996, during a Taliban demonstration where he was filmed holding aloft the supposed relic of the Prophet Mohammed’s cloak.

These distinctions between Mullah Omar and Baghdadi are notable, and likely intentional, as Al Qaeda and the Taliban compete with Islamic State for jihadist legitimacy and preeminence.

Beginning from childhood the comparisons are immediately clear. While Islamic State’s Baghdadi claims a, certainly apocryphal, lineage going back to the Quraysh tribe of the Prophet, Omar’s biography highlights a tribal connection to  Mīrwais Khān Hotak (who led Afghanistan’s rebellion against the Safavid Persian dynasty), an elite but by no means as storied a parentage.

While Al-Baghdadi has a doctorate in Islamic Studies from a prominent Baghdad University, Mullah Omar’s formal Islamic studies were halted by the Soviet invasion. The biography goes into great detail regarding alleged “heroics” of Mullah Omar in fighting the Soviets from as early 1978. While it goes unstated, the Taliban is indicating that its leader was fighting jihad while the Islamic State’s “Caliph” was still a toddler. While much about Baghdadi’s history is not clear, It does not appear that he was a jihadist commander of any significant stature prior to his detention in Camp Bucca, Iraq.

The biography also defends Mullah Omar’s Islamic orthodox as a member of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence:

Ideologically, Mullah Mohammad Umar ‘Mujahid’ belongs to the main ‘Ahl-i-Sunna wal Jamma’a’ (the believers in Quran, traditions of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, and the consensus of Muslim Umma). He is the imitator of Hanafi school of thought. He is severely opposed to all heresy or heterodox opinions. He never likes sectional, ideological and factional differences among the Muslims.

Reference to factionalism may be an intended backhand to Islamic State, which is known for attacking other jihadist groups with whom they have disagreements.  As a whole, that the Taliban feels the need to defend Omar’s Islamic orthodox is a reflection on the success of Islamic State propagandists who have described Mullah Omar as Deobandi ( a sect popularized in India and Pakistan, which includes both Wahhabist and, reportedly Sufi elements) which the Islamic State considers heterodox.

Much of the rest of the biography focuses on personal traits ascribed to Mullah Omar, with the intent of depicting him as a particularly pious and overly humble individual, describing him as being reduced to tears at being named Leader of the Faithful, and naturally contrasts with the cult of personality Islamic State propaganda generates around the person of Al-Baghdadi as sitting Caliph. The biography also details the system of governance, and the commissions and deputies through which Mullah Omar purports to govern, intended to dismiss criticism by Islamic State supporters that Mullah Omar has not be seen in public.

The biography highlights both the age and experience gap between Al Qaeda and Islamic State supporters. Generally, Islamic State supporters are younger, and more familiar with the history of jihad against the United States beginning with Osama Bin Laden, through Zarqawi and now Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Islamic State attempts to highlight their control of territory as unprecedented and their establishment of Shariah over parts of Iraq and Syria as equally unprecedented. The Taliban on the other hand, represent the “wise old men” of jihad with a substantive history of establishing and running an Islamic emirate in spite of fierce opposition from the West.

That said, while it’s possible that this report may shore up support among Taliban and Al Qaeda loyalists, it’s unlikely to put a dent in the enthusiasm generated by the Islamic State’s Caliphate declaration.

Also see:

ISIS Eyes Iran in AF/PAK Expansion Effort, Targets Mullah Omar in IO Campaign

February 22, 2015 / /

Reporting over the last couple of weeks suggests that the Islamic State’s (IS) Khorasan Regional Command or “Khorasan Shura” has stepped up their efforts to further inflame internal divisions within the Taliban (TB) in the hopes it would lead to more defections. The IO campaign they’ve been waging in the AF/PAK region has called into question Mullah Omar’s fitness to be a leader in the global jihadist movement and whether he’s even alive. In early-JAN 15 TB Shura Chief Akhtar Muhammad Mansur and other Shura members are reported to have met with two IS representatives who threatened to increase their operations in two months if the TB couldn’t prove that Mullah Omar was still alive. Our sources have also informed us that Pakistani Taliban (TTP) Emir Maulawi Fazlullah remains loyal to Omar, but may defect to IS if his death is confirmed. Apparently the question of whether or not Omar is alive has been a big subject of debate, with other TTP commanders wondering if Fazlullah has even been in contact with him. As it stands right now, Omar’s current status remains a mystery. Having said that, IS directly challenging Omar’s legitimacy and suggesting that he’s dead appears to be having an effect in at least planting the seeds of further internal unrest among the ranks.

ISIS Reportedly Begins Targeting Taliban Commanders Loyal to al-Qaida
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4593

ISIS Formally Establishes an Affiliate for the AF/PAK Region
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4578

The terrifying rise of ISIS: Map that shows how terror group’s tentacles now reach from Algeria to Afghanistan
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2960463/The-terrifying-rise-ISIS-Map-shows-terror-group-s-tentacles-reach-Algeria-Afghanistan.html

How ISIS Has Expanded Beyond Its Syrian Stronghold
http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/02/18/387149112/how-isis-has-expanded-beyond-its-syrian-stronghold

ISIS vs. the Taliban: The Battle for Hearts and Minds
http://www.vocativ.com/world/afghanistan-world/isis-vs-taliban/

The Coming Fight for Khorasan: IS Gearing up Against the Taliban
https://news.siteintelgroup.com/blog/index.php/entry/362-the-coming-fight-for-khorasan-is-gearing-up-against-the-taliban

US Afghan commander: Reports of ISIS recruiting
http://thehill.com/policy/defense/229783-us-afghan-commander-reports-of-isis-recruiting

ISIS trying to expand its influence in Pakistan, distributes pamphlets
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/ISIS-trying-to-expand-its-influence-in-Pakistan-distributes-pamphlets/articleshow/41618755.cms

Taliban Supreme leader Mullah Omar has possibly died
http://www.khaama.com/taliban-supreme-leader-mullah-omar-has-possibly-died-8778

Mullah Omar’s whereabouts – and very existence – shrouded in mystery
http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/pakistan-articles/caii/features/pakistan/main/2014/09/30/feature-01

mullah Fazlullah

Mullah Fazlullah
Source: SITE Intelligence Group

mullah omar

Mullah Omar: Dead or Alive?
Source: tribune.com.pk

One of the figures who played a key role in establishing the IS foothold in the region is a former TB commander Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, who served as the Shadow Governor of Uruzgan Province from 2007 – 2009 and did a stint in Guantanamo Bay (GITMO). After his release from GITMO, he had a falling out with TB leadership that led to his marginalization within the terror organization and subsequent defection to IS. He was a key player in the IS expansion efforts currently underway in Helmand Province and led the charge in the red-on-red fight against the TB’s Helmand Shadow Governor Mullah Ahmed Shah. The US government claims to have killed Khadim in a drone strike earlier this month, but we have not yet seen confirmation either way. However, whether he’s dead or not is irrelevant as he wasn’t a member of the Khorasan Shura – which remains largely intact.

ISIS recruiter, once freed from Gitmo by U.S., killed in drone strike in Afghanistan
http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/09/world/afghanistan-violence/

Capture the Flag in Afghanistan
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/22/capture-the-flag-in-afghanistan/

Islamic State Appoints Leaders of “Khorasan Province,” Issues Veiled Threat to Afghan Taliban
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/01/islamic_state_appoin.php

khorasan shura

Breakdown of the Khorasan Shura
Source: The Long War Journal

In our Inside Iran’s Middle East Series piece titled, “Inside Iran’s Middle East: The Southeast Insurgency,” we stated that either al-Qaida (AQ) or IS may attempt to use the Afghanistan and Pakistan as support nodes for a new front opened up in Southeast Iran to force the regime into diverting resources from the Syrian war effort back to home. IS’ expansion efforts in Afghanistan’s Southern provinces adds weight to this assessment as those locations all fall within known routes used to smuggle opium and weapons between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Keep in mind that AQ’s Khorasan Group (KG) has a great deal of experience in fighting the IRGC inside Iran that resulted in forging relationships with Baloch groups such as Jundallah. More importantly, some of KG’s personnel that deployed to Syria are reported to have defected to IS.

We assess some of those personnel are part of the training support package that was sent to Afghanistan in the DEC 14/JAN 15 time frame or possibly earlier. The training cadre sent to the country are likely still in the assess-mode taking note of each loyal faction’s strength’s and weaknesses to draw up the training plan that will probably take effect by the end of this month. During this year’s fighting season Afghanistan’s Hazara Shia population may begin to experience the same level of targeting that they received prior to 9-11 as a means of getting Iran’s attention and building notoriety. Red on red violence will also pick up. By AUG the IS affiliates will be fully trained with recruits gaining much-needed experience. We could very well well see former KG members who defected to IS leading the engagement efforts reaching out to Jundallah (and other Baloch groups in Iran) by the end of the year. Jundallah – like everybody else in that part of the world – will likely flip to IS’ side after being offered money, weapons and manpower to accelerate their regenerative process. The leadership of the various Baloch groups may not approve of IS’ ideology or even the legitimacy of Baghdadi’s “Caliphate” – to them it would be a marriage of convenience. However, this will be a project that will take at least another year to fully manifest itself. If you think this will be easier for US troops stationed in Afghanistan, think again, because both IS and TB factions loyal to AQ will be competing for the title of who can launch the more high-profile attacks. Needless to say, this year’s fighting season looks to be one of the worst. Keep an eye on this one…

Inside Iran’s Middle East: The Southeast Insurgency
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2689

ISIS (Daesh) start operations in Helmand, residents claim
http://www.khaama.com/isis-daesh-start-operations-in-helmand-residents-claim

ISIS expansion map

The graphic above depicts IS’ expansion from the Maghreb to Afghanistan and Pakistan
Source: UK Daily Mail

Links to Other Related Articles:

Afghanistan Update – Yes, Things Are Getting Worse Contrary To US Government Claims

Afghanistan: A Case Against a Residual US Military Presence

The History and Capabilities of the Khorasan Group

The Khorasan Group: Threat to US Homeland?

US Government: Syria-Based al-Qaida Cell Bigger Threat Than ISIS

Lying Liars Lying Yet Again About the Taliban

xin_5020206100803500325412Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher Holton, Feb. 1, 2015:

Obama and his Obamanistas have told so many outright lies about the Taliban over the years that we can now devote a lengthy article to it.

It started way back in 2008 when Obama was campaigning for the presidency. Back in those days he was saying that Iraq was a sideshow and that President Bush had “taken his eye off the ball.” According to Obama, the good war was in Afghanistan and he was going to concentrate on Afghanistan, where the Taliban were fighting US forces, when he got to be president.

That turned out to be campaign rhetoric. Sure, he pulled out of Iraq first, but, let’s face it: Obama never really went hard in Afghanistan and now he’s abandoning that fight, just as he abandoned the fight in Iraq.

Pretty soon into his administration, the Obamanistas started the meme that the Taliban weren’t actually our enemy. This predates the latest supposition that the Taliban aren’t terrorists by several years.

Two lies there. The Taliban are America’s enemy and they are also terrorists.

A few months ago, the Taliban published the autumn edition of their magazine,Azan.

This is the fourth issue of the magazine and is significant in that it calls for Muslims in the West to launch attacks at home or fight in foreign battlefields, urging recruits to even leave behind their children or elderly parents:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/10503925/Taliban-magazine-urges-jihad-and-profiles-the-Honda-125.html

If calling on Jihadis to launch attacks in the West doesn’t amount to terrorism, nothing does.

Such calls to Jihad and propaganda are nothing new, so why was this particular publication worth mentioning here?

Because it has been released just a few days after the Obama administration was quoted saying that “the Taliban are not our enemies and we don’t want to fight them.”

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2013/11/27/karzai-will-sign-agreement-with-u-s-says-obama-administration-claimed-taliban-not-our-enemy/

Such statements about the Taliban were nothing new from the Obama administration. Vice President Joe Biden told Newsweek magazine the same thing almost exactly two years before:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/vp-biden-says-that-the-taliban-per-se-is-not-our-enemy/

Not only are these statements from the Obama administration disheartening because our troops have been fighting Taliban Jihadis for a decade, they also demonstrate a profound ignorance about Jihadist doctrine.

Jihadist doctrine does not regard nationalities or international borders as significant. Under their doctrine, Jihad is to be waged to make Allah’s law and religion supreme around the entire world. With their fall Azan magazine, the Taliban clearly demonstrate adherence to that doctrine with their call for Muslims in the West to launch attacks at home.

What’s more this is not something new from the Taliban. When they seized power in Afghanistan in 1996, they announced that Afghanistan was to be a launching pad for global Jihad and invited Jihadi fighters to come to their country. Jihadis from all over the Islamic world and even parts of the West and the Pacific Rim heeded that call and gravitated to the new Shariah-ruled outpost established by the Taliban regime.

Among those who relocated to Afghanistan was Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. We know the rest: Al Qaeda launched its attack on America from Afghanistan and the Taliban harbored Al Qaeda from the US when America sought to bring justice down on them.

How anyone can look at these facts and conclude that the Taliban are not our enemy is mind-boggling. The idea that the Taliban want to strictly limit their evil designs to Afghanistan is absurd. Yet that has been the policy of the Obama administration for years. It is a policy of lies.

And, yes, despite what the Obamanistas might claim, the Taliban are in fact terrorists.

Actually, we don’t believe that it makes sense to get too wrapped up in labeling them “terrorists.” Terrorism is a tactic, a method of warfare. The warfare that the Taliban–and the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Lashkar e Taiba, HAMAS, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram and a host of other groups–are waging is called Jihad. In Islamic law, Jihad is defined as warfare to establish the religion:

http://terrortrendsbulletin.com/2013/01/13/cairs-new-disinformation-campaign-on-jihad/

All of the groups mentioned above, including the Taliban, are Jihadis.

But it is still NOT true that the Taliban haven’t engaged in terrorism and they are not just “armed insurgents” like the bodyguards of lies in the Obama administration maintain.

Just 6 weeks ago, on December 16, the Taliban slaughtered 153 people–mostly young school children–in a terrorist attack on a school in Pakistan.

Taliban have also been involved in terrorist plots and activity on US soil:

• In May of 2011, six people, including two Imams at a Florida mosque, were indicted for providing material support to none other than the Taliban:

Irfan Khan of Florida, indicted for providing material support to the Taliban

Irfan Khan of Florida, indicted for providing material support to the Taliban

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/six-individuals-charged-providing-material-support-pakistani-taliban

• Faisal Shahzad, the Jihadist who attempted to detonate a Vehicle-Born Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) in New York’s Time Square in May 2010, was trained at a Taliban camp and, according to Attorney General Eric Holder himself, “the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack…We know they helped facilitate it. We know they probably helped finance it and that he was working at their direction.”

Faisal Shahzad. This Connecticut resident/Pakistani immigrant attempted to bomb Times Square in New York City

Faisal Shahzad. This Connecticut resident/Pakistani immigrant attempted to bomb Times Square in New York City

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LE12Df01.html

• Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-American who pled guilty in a plot to bomb the New York City subway in 2009, traveled to Afghanistan to join the Taliban when he was recruited by Al Qaeda to go back to America to attack targets in the US homeland. This shows the continued, close cooperation and collaboration between the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Najibullah Zazi. This Denver resident travelled to Afghanistan where he received terrorist training. Upon his return, he plotted to bomb New York subways.

Najibullah Zazi. This Denver resident travelled to Afghanistan where he received terrorist training. Upon his return, he plotted to bomb New York subways.

http://www.investigativeproject.org/case/345

Most recently, there are new reports from Leftist NBC News that hundreds of Taliban fighters have joined the Islamic State, which is becoming a greater factor in the southwest Asia region.

The Obamanistas try to make a distinction between the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Taliban in Pakistan. But not even NBC is subscribing to that nonsense. No one in the world outside the Obama administration believes that the Taliban in Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan have nothing to do with each other.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/isis-pakistan-afghanistan-taliban-fighters-sign-commanders-say-n296707

The Taliban are committed Jihadists. As such, they are undoubtedly an enemy of America. They have killed and wounded thousands of US GIs in combat over the past decade and they have, from the time they originally seized power in Afghanistan to today, involved themselves with other Jihadist organizations from around the world, all of which are classified as “terrorist” organizations. Jihadis do not limit their scope based on political borders; their stated goals are global. To say that the Taliban are not the enemy of the United States or are not terrorists is to demonstrate a profound ignorance of the doctrinal basis for the threat from Jihad. When that ignorance comes from the executive branch of the US government, it can only be described as frightening.

Judge Jeanine Pirro: “They Kill Americans? They’re Terrorists!”

Published on Jan 31, 2015 by Steven Laboe

Judge Jeanine Pirro’s Blistering Opening Statement on Barack Obama’s continued denial to refer to the Taliban as Terrorists

***

State Dept Won’t Label Taliban Attack that Killed Three American Civilians as Terrorism

 

BY:
January 30, 2015 

The White House has already doubled down this week saying that the Taliban is an armed insurgency and not a terrorist group. The State Department is now joining the White House in not saying whether the Taliban is a terrorist group.

The Taliban has taken credit for killing three American soldiers at the Kabul airport Thursday. At the State Department press briefing Friday, State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki danced around a the question if the attack on the American soldiers was an act of terrorism.

Psaki repeated the story back to the reporter who asked the question and mentioned that the Justice Department has already spoken on the subject and that there is an investigation into the situation.

“I’m not going to put new labels on the situation today,” Psaki said.

US Intel: Taliban Man Released From Gitmo in Bergdahl Deal is Back to Militant Activity

 

BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
January 29, 2015 

American fears may be realized. One of the five Taliban members released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is believed to have returned to militant activity in Qatar.

CNN’s Barbara Starr reported Thursday that one of the Taliban Five may have reverted back to terrorism. Over the last few months, one of the men released has reached out to militants. The administration now suspects that he may again be a threat.

The White House was already facing renewed criticism for the deal made this summer. Many experts criticized the plan, saying it set a precedent to negotiate and exchange prisoners with terrorist groups.

The government of Jordan has indicated that it is willing to trade attempted suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi for Jordanian fighter pilot Lt. Muath al-Kasaesbeh.

This week, NBC reported that the Pentagon will charge Bergdahl with desertion although no charges have been made yet.

Obama brought Bergdahl and his mother on June 1, 2014, to the Rose Garden to promote the deal that brought the soldier home. The slew of news surrounding the transfer vindicates those skeptical of the deal that the White House made without notifying Congress, as required by law.

At every turn, this decision has proven to be a bad deal for America’s security.

Also see:

Taliban claim insider attack at Kabul Airport that killed 3 US contractors

afghan_insider_attacks_mediumLWJ, by Bill Roggio, Jan. 30, 2015:

The Taliban claimed last evening’s attack at Kabul International Airport that killed three American contractors. The insider or green-on-blue attack, where a member of the Afghan security forces kills Coalition personnel, is the first of its kind recorded this year.

The attacker, who was dressed in an Afghan military uniform, killed the three contractors and wounded one, Major General Haq Nawaz Haqyar, the commander of Afghan police at the airport, told Pajhwok Afghan News. An Afghan was also killed in the shooting, Haqyar said. It is unclear if the Afghan who was killed was the shooter.

The US Department of Defense confirmed that three Americans and an Afghan were killed in the shooting.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Muhajid claimed the attack in two statements on his Twitter account, and said it was executed by Ihsanullah, an “infiltrator … from Laghman province working inside Kabul airport.”

“The attack killed 3 American terrorists and wounded 4 others before the infiltrator was martyred by return fire,” Muhajid claimed. The tweet included the hashtag “Khaibar,” a reference to the Taliban’s offensive that was announced in May 2014. The Taliban said it will continue to launch insider attacks, as well as encourage Afghan soldiers to execute such operations.

The Taliban have devoted significant effort into attempts to kill NATO troops and foreigners by infiltrating the ranks of Afghan security forces. Mullah Omar affirmed this in a statement released on Aug. 16, 2012, when he claimed that the group had “cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year [2011],” and he urged government officials and security personnel to defect to the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. Omar also noted that the Taliban had created the “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration” department, “with branches … now operational all over the country,” to encourage defections. [See Threat Matrix report, Mullah Omar addresses green-on-blue attacks.]

Overall number of insider attacks still unknown

The last known insider attack took place on Sept. 16, 2014 in the western province of Farah. In that attack, an Afghan soldier gunned down a Coalition trainer inside a military base.

The previous attack occurred on Aug. 5 at a training center in Kabul. An Afghan soldier killed a US major general and wounded 16 more military personnel, including a US brigadier general, a German general, five British troops, and at least one Afghan officer. The Taliban did not claim credit for the attack, but praised the Afghan soldier who executed it.

There were four insider attacks recorded in Afghanistan in 2014, according to The Long War Journal’s statistics. The number of reported green-on-blue attacks on Coalition personnel in Afghanistan has dropped steeply since a peak of 44 in 2012. In 2013, there were 13 such attacks. [For in-depth information, see LWJ special report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.]

The decline in attacks may be due to several factors, including the continuing drawdown of Coalition personnel, reduced partnering with Afghan forces, and the adoption of heightened security measures in interactions between Coalition and Afghan forces.

However, many insider attacks remain unreported. If an attack by Afghan personnel does not result in a death or injury, and it is not reported in the press, the Coalition will not release a statement on the incident.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which was disbanded at the end of 2014, told The Long War Journal in March 2012 that “these statistics,” the number of attacks that did not result in a casualty, are “classified.”

“[A]ttacks by ANSF on Coalition Forces … either resulting in non-injury, injury or death … these stats as a whole (the total # attacks) are what is classified and not releasable,” Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings, ISAF’s former Press Desk Chief, told The Long War Journal. Cummings said that ISAF is “looking to declassify this number.” The number was never declassified.

Islamic State appoints leaders of ‘Khorasan province,’ issues veiled threat to Afghan Taliban

Khorassan Shura_Org-thumb-560x420-5469

An organizational overview of the Khorasan Shura. The Islamic State has appointed Hafez Saeed Khan as the Governor of Khorasan province.

By

Abu Muhammad al Adnani, a spokesman for the Islamic State, announced the group’s “expansion” into the lands of “Khorasan” — modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of the surrounding countries — and declared former Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan or TTP) commander Hafez Saeed Khan as the “governor” of Khorasan province. Khan had previously served as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s emir for the tribal agency of Arakzai.

Adnani made his announcement in a nearly seven minute audio taped speech titled, “Say, Die in Your Rage!” which was published on Jan. 26 2015 by the Islamic State’s Al Furqan media outlet. [For a translation of the speech, by Pieter Van Ostaeyen, see ‘Audio Statement by IS Spokesman Abu Muhammad al-‘Adnani as-Shami.’]

The declaration comes only a few weeks after a conglomeration of former TTP officials formed the Khorasan Shura and pledged bayat, or allegiance, to the Islamic State. [See Long War Journal report, Pakistani Taliban splinter group again pledges allegiance to Islamic State.]

The Islamic State spokesman acknowledged Khan’s pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi as Commander of the Faithful and the Caliph of Muslims, and claimed that Baghdadi had accepted the pledge and appointed Khan as the province’s governor and Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim as the deputy governor. Khadim, a former Guantanamo detainee and former senior Taliban commander in southern Afghanistan, has reportedly been operating in Helmand province on behalf of the Islamic State. [See Long War Journal report, Ex-Gitmo detainee leads contingent of Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan.]

Adnani further urged the “mujahideen in Khorasan” to come forth and obey the commands of Khan and Khadim. Notably, Adnani also urged caution in his call to arms, noting that “the factions will assemble against you and the rifles and bayonets fixed against you will multiply.” He encouraged the mujahideen to stand firm against “factionalism and disunity” and to meet these challenges by “unsheathing your swords and spears.” Although not clearly stated, Adnani was issuing a veiled threat to the Taliban factions, both Afghan and Pakistani, that opposed the creation of the Khorasan Shura and who were opposed to the Islamic State.

The Afghan Taliban movement has been consistent in avoiding recognizing the Islamic State and its Caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi since the reclusive leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar, has previously held the title of Commander of the Faithful position since 1996.

Adnani’s declaration and Baghdadi’s reported approval for the Islamic State to expand into Afghanistan and Pakistan could incite divisions within the various Taliban factions operating in both countries. The cohesion of many Taliban factions has been compromised over the past few years, mostly due to attrition and leadership decapitations, as well as ideological differences and personal feuds.

Pakistan Massacre Organizer Vows More Killings

A screengrab from a Taliban video shows Khalifa Omar Mansoor, named by the Pakistani Taliban as the organizer of the attack on a Peshawar school attended by children of military personnel, promising more such attacks.

A screengrab from a Taliban video shows Khalifa Omar Mansoor, named by the Pakistani Taliban as the organizer of the attack on a Peshawar school attended by children of military personnel, promising more such attacks.

By SYED SHOAIB HASAN:

KARACHI, Pakistan—The self-proclaimed organizer of the assault that killed 132 schoolchildren this week in the Pakistani city of Peshawar vowed in a video Thursday that his fighters would attack more schools and other civilian targets.

Khalifa Omar Mansoor, named by the Pakistani Taliban as the man who organized the attack, appeared in a short video that was uploaded to a site used by the militants for distributing propaganda videos.

Mr. Mansoor said the group would continue to strike civilians in revenge for Pakistani military operations under way in the country’s North Waziristan tribal area to destroy al Qaeda and Taliban havens. He said that ordinary Pakistanis have disregarded the plight of residents there.

Pakistan’s security forces say they are focused on taking out the Taliban, but some civilian casualties are inevitable. They deny there have been large-scale civilian casualties

“This is something we cannot accept anymore, and if you continue to target our women and children, then your children will not be safe anymore,” he said Mr. Mansoor. “We announce that we will not discriminate in our attacks any longer, and will be as unconcerned as you are.”

The Pakistani military began its North Waziristan offensive in June. It is the last of the tribal areas being cleared by the Pakistani army, and the operation has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians.According to Pakistani security experts, Mr. Mansoor is the head of the Pakistani Taliban chapter that originates from the tribal region of Darra Adam Khel, in northwestern Pakistan. The group grabbed international headlines in 2009 when it beheaded a kidnapped Polish engineer.

The attack in Peshawar, which claimed 148 lives, was on the city’s Army Public School. The school served the children of army personnel as well as the children of civilians. Pakistan has 146 Army Public Schools around the country, and many other schools administered by other arms of the military.

Mr. Mansoor threatened to target similar institutions around the country.

“I want to tell the Pakistan government, and the directors, teachers and students of the army’s affiliated institutions, that you are the ones strengthening this un-Islamic democratic system,” he said. “It is these institutions that graduate future generals, brigadiers and majors, who then kill Taliban and innocent tribal people.”

Read more at WSJ

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Pakistani Taliban assault military high school in Peshawar

Pakistani army personnel patrol the streets following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. – AFP

Pakistani army personnel patrol the streets following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. – AFP

LWJ, By

A suicide assault team from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (or Pakistani Taliban) stormed a military high school in Peshawar today. It is one of the deadliest jihadist attacks in the country’s history. According to initial reporting, the attackers have killed more than 130 people, including dozens of children.

At least six Taliban fighters armed with assault weapons and suicide vests entered the Army Public School in Peshawar, the capital of the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, this morning. The fighters fanned out through the school and killed everyone in their path, according to press reports.

Shahrukh Khan, a child who survived the attack by feigning death after being shot in both legs, told Agence France Presse (AFP) that the Taliban fighters were instructed to kill the students. The terrorists deliberately executed students who were already wounded.

“There are so many children beneath the benches, go and get them,” one Taliban fighter told another, according to Khan.

“The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again,” Khan stated. The fighters shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or Allah is greatest, as they executed the children.

Pakistani officials have stated that 131 people have been killed, including more than 100 students, but warned that the death toll may rise.

At least 15 explosions were heard during the fighting, Dawn reported. Pakistani security forces surrounded the building and assaulted as the Taliban continued to execute students and staff. The military claimed it killed six Taliban fighters, but more may have been involved in the attack. Troops are still searching the building for Taliban fighters and survivors.

Muhammad Khurasani, the official spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, claimed the gruesome assault and admitted that his fighters intentionally targeted civilians.

“We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” Khurasani said, according to Reuters. “We want them to feel the pain.” Khurasani is referring to the current Pakistani military operation in the tribal agencies of North Waziristan and Khyber, which are adjacent to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Pakistani military is targeting the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and jihadist organizations such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, but is leaving groups such as the Haqqani Network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group alone.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has targeted military high school students in the past. In 2009, the jihadist group kidnapped hundreds of students as they fled their military school in Ramzak, North Waziristan. The Taliban ultimately released the students as part of a prisoner exchange.

The Taliban has also launched numerous attacks on soft targets such as churches, mosques, shrines, markets, hotels, and even hospitals. Thousands of civilians have been killed in those attacks since the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan was formed in late 2006.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has also targeted the US. In an email first sent to The Long War Journal, the group claimed responsibility for the May 2010 attempted bombing in New York City’s Times Square. [See LWJ report, Pakistani Taliban claim credit for failed NYC Times Square car bombing.]

The US has targeted the organization’s top commanders as part of its drone campaign. Baitullah Mehsud, the group’s founder and first leader, was killed by an American missile in August 2009. In late 2013, Baitullah’s successor, Hakeemullah Mehsud, was also killed in an American airstrike. Hakeemullah had gloated over the failed Times Square attack in the group’s propaganda prior to his demise.

Hakeemullah was replaced by Mullah Fazlullah, but his appointment as emir of the Pakistani Taliban proved to be unpopular within the terrorist group’s ranks. Earlier this year, key constituencies that were part of Baitullah’s original coalition began peeling away to go on their own. Much of the group founded by Baitullah no longer answers to Fazlullah. One of the larger blocs to break away from Fazlullah’s leadership has rebranded itself as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. Other commanders have reportedly pledged their allegiance to Islamic State emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.

[For more on the dissolution of the original Pakistani Taliban alliance, see LWJ report: Discord dissolves Pakistani Taliban coalition.]

Taliban flexing muscle with high-profile attacks ahead of US drawdown

120214_sr_taliFox News, By Justin Fishel, Jennifer Griffin, Dec. 2. 2014:

The Taliban are flexing their muscle with a series of high-profile attacks in recent weeks, showing they are far from defeated as the U.S. prepares to withdraw most of its forces from Afghanistan at year’s end.

The Taliban have staged at least 12 attacks targeting foreigners in the past three weeks, many of them inside Kabul.

Although the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Campbell, has said any talk of a Taliban resurgence is “absolutely false,” critics who have watched the Islamic State sweep over Iraq after the U.S. withdrawal are looking on nervously.

The Afghanistan attacks come as the U.S. prepares to pull out all but nearly 10,000 troops.

Retired Gen. Jack Keane, a Fox News military analyst, said the current problem in Kabul was avoidable.

“We predicted that we were going to have major problems around Kabul and to the east of Kabul to the Pakistan border with the Haqqani network,” Keane said, referencing the powerful Pakistan-based Taliban affiliate. “The president did not give us the full number of surge forces, and then over General Petraeus’ objections, he pulled them out early.”

Aid and charity groups in the region are urging their workers to leave the country over the Christmas holidays. Even the Canadian Embassy issued an advisory to its citizens cautioning all of them to leave immediately.

“If you choose to travel to Afghanistan despite this warning, you are taking a serious risk. … If you are already in Afghanistan, you should leave,” the message said.

On Saturday, a guest house of the California-based charity, Partnership in Academics and Development, was attacked by Taliban gunmen who killed a South African family – a father and his teenage son and daughter.

The family had lived there for 12 years. The Taliban accused them of being Christian missionaries. The mother, a South African doctor who had been working at a Kabul health clinic, has decided to remain in Kabul in defiance of the Taliban’s attempt to frighten international aid workers.

It was the third high-profile attack on western-occupied guest houses in the past 10 days. On Sunday, the Kabul police chief resigned.

So far this year, 36 aid workers have been killed and 95 wounded.

South of Kabul in the Helmand Province, it took the Afghan security forces three days to expel Taliban fighters who last Thursday overran Camp Bastion, the former British and American Marine base handed over to Afghan security forces four weeks ago.

The bulk of the U.S. and international forces will depart at the end of December and plan to hand over all combat missions to the Afghans. About 9,800 American forces will stay to “advise and assist” the Afghan Security Forces.

Many believe the attacks on foreigners are strategically timed by the Taliban to coincide with a two-day international aid conference in London and a NATO summit Tuesday in Brussels, where Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, urged the international community to stay.

“I pay tribute to more than 3,400 NATO personnel who did the ultimate sacrifice of losing their lives,” he said. “What brings us together is a compelling case of mutual interest.”

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby says the recent attacks by the Taliban are not a cause for major concern.

“I think what we’re seeing in Afghanistan in the last week or so was to be expected,” Kirby said at a Pentagon briefing Tuesday. “I would not consider what they’re doing a resurgence.

“It’s not atypical for them, around periods of transition in Afghanistan, whether it’s an election, or now, coming up in December, the end of the combat mission, for them to try to scare the local populace and try to terrorize people with sporadic attacks. But those attacks have had no strategic effect and I might add that the Afghan National Security Forces and police reacted bravely and quickly to each one of those attacks.”

Jennifer Griffin currently serves as a national security correspondent for FOX News Channel . She joined FNC in October 1999 as a Jerusalem-based correspondent. 

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Taliban claim freed ex-Gitmo prisoners visited by members of terror group

TalibanFox News, by Catherine Herridge, October 21, 2014:

The Taliban are claiming that two senior members of the Haqqani terror network recently visited the five former Guantanamo detainees who were traded for an American soldier, raising new questions about the terms of their one-year house arrest in Qatar and eventual release in the spring as U.S. forces leave Afghanistan.

The Taliban statement, first reported by the Long War Journal, claims that Qari Abdul Rasheed Omari, a military commander for southeastern Afghanistan, and associate Anas Haqqani were taken into Afghan custody after visiting the former Guantanamo detainees in Qatar earlier this month.

At least one of the visitors is said to be related to one of the five detainees under house arrest. Charles “Cully” Stimson, who oversaw detainee affairs under President George W. Bush and heads the Heritage National Security Law Program, told Fox News: “We know that family visits are allowed.”

He added: “I would expect that not only those two guys talked to the Taliban Five but others have already talked to them and they are in constant communications, preparing for their eventual return.”

While the Taliban’s claim of a visit has not been independently verified, the Taliban are not known to provide patently false statements. The release posted online alleges American involvement, saying the two visitors were captured afterward.

“While returning home on 12th October after spending about a week both were captured by the American forces in Bahrain from where they were sent back to Qatar and then handed over to Kabul via United Arab Emirates,” the statement says. “It must be mentioned that the above mentioned journey took place under the watchful eyes of America before both men were handed over to Kabul despite the freed Guantanamo detainees being assured that their relatives may visit them unharmed.”

Asked about the Taliban statement, and the reported meeting between known members of the Haqqani terror network and the former Guantanamo detainees, neither the government of Qatar nor the CIA provided comment. Significantly, no denial was issued.

The Pentagon, contacted about the report in advance of Tuesday’s briefing, appeared to be on the same talking points — also offering no denial, and no detail.

“I have nothing for you on that, right now. I’ll take it for the record and if I can get more information for you, I will but I have nothing for you on it right now,”Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said at Tuesday’s briefing. Asked if the Taliban claim was false, Kirby said, “I have nothing for you right now.I’ll see what I can do to get back to you.”

The Long War Journal’s Thomas Joscelyn describes Anas Haqqani as “the youngest son of veteran jihadist leader Jalaluddin Haqqani,” and Qari Omari as the younger brother of Mohammad Nabi Omari, a senior Taliban official and former Guantanamo detainee who is among the five held by Qatar.

“This provides an additional reason the ‘Taliban Five’ should not have been transferred as the younger Omari oversees suicide operations in south eastern Afghanistan,” Joscelyn said.

The five men in Qatar were part of the Obama administration’s controversial deal in May with the Taliban, to swap the Guantanamo detainees for American Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.Critics describe the five men as a kind of terror “dream team” because of their long-standing ties to the Taliban or Al Qaeda leadership.

“I don’t think we [the Bush administration] would have allowed the five to go to Qatar for a mere year under the conditions that we’ve read about,” Stimson said, adding: “I think we would have struck a much harder bargain than that and maybe forced them to stay in custody for five years or longer under house arrest conditions so that we had more assurances than the one-year deal.”

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.