Sending more troops to Afghanistan is a good start

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio, Aug. 21, 2017:

Editors’ note: A version of this article was first published at The Weekly Standard

In a primetime speech Monday evening, President Trump is expected to announce the deployment of several thousand more American troops to Afghanistan. We doubt this will be enough to win the war, but it is better than the alternatives offered to the president. A complete withdrawal would have been disastrous.

The premature withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 paved the way for the rise of the Islamic State, which evolved into an international menace after overrunning much of Iraq and Syria. A similar scenario could have unfolded in Central and South Asia. The Taliban-led insurgency currently contests or controls more territory today than in years. And a withdrawal would have cleared the jihadists’ path to take even more ground, possibly leading to dire ramifications throughout the region.

Therefore, President Trump deserves credit for making a decision that went against his gut instinct, which told him to get out. In the process, America and its Afghan allies avoided the near-certain catastrophe that would have followed.

But if America is really going to put the Afghan government on the path to victory, then the Trump administration will have to learn from the mistakes of its predecessors. In particular, the US government needs to drastically reassess America’s jihadist enemies and avoid the policy pitfalls of the past.

With that in mind, the Trump administration has the opportunity to make the following course corrections.

Stop underestimating al Qaeda

President Trump can explain to the American people that al Qaeda is still a significant problem in South Asia—a potentially big one. President Barack Obama frequently claimed that al Qaeda was “decimated” and a “shadow of its former self” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That wasn’t true. The Obama administration’s counterterrorism campaign dealt significant blows to al Qaeda’s leadership, disrupting the organization’s chain-of-command and interrupting its communications. But al Qaeda took measures to outlast America’s drones and other tactics. The group survived the death of Osama bin Laden and, in many ways, grew.

Consider that from June 2010 until 2016—that is, most of the Obama administration—the US government repeatedly insisted that there were just 50 to 100 al Qaeda operatives in all of Afghanistan. This was clearly false at the time, and US officials were eventually forced to admit that this figure was far off.

From October 2015 until the first week of December 2016, the US and its allies killed or captured 400 al Qaeda members in Afghanistan—four times the longstanding high-end estimate. In October 2015, American and Afghan forces raided two large training camps in the Shorabak district of Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province. One of them was nearly 30 square miles in size. US officials described the camp as likely the largest al Qaeda training facility in the history of Afghanistan. Both of the Shorabak camps were supported by the Taliban.

Think about that: In October 2015—more than 14 years after the 9/11 hijackings —the US led a raid on what was probably the largest al Qaeda training camp in history. So much for being “decimated.”

Al Qaeda continues to fight under the Taliban’s banner as well. Its newest branch, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, is deeply embedded in the Taliban-led insurgency. And just days before the 2016 presidential election, the US killed a veteran al Qaeda leader in eastern Afghanistan who was both planning attacks against the American homeland and supporting the Taliban’s insurgency. Incredibly, al Qaeda is still able to plot attacks against the US from inside Afghanistan.

Some of the Americans newly deployed to Afghanistan will be called upon to perform counterterrorism missions. Similar efforts have disrupted anti-American plots in the past. But al Qaeda has used its broader role in the insurgency to regenerate its threats against the West. The American mission needs to root out al Qaeda, much more so than in the recent past. Are there other Shorabak-type training camps? How many fighters does al Qaeda really have in Afghanistan— taking into account its ethnically diverse membership? The Trump administration needs to focus on these types of questions. Otherwise, al Qaeda will keep coming back.

Forget about a grand bargain with the Taliban’s senior leadership

Many officials in the US government think the only way the Afghan war ends is by negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban. There’s just one problem: The Taliban has never shown any real interest in peace.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton oversaw negotiations with the Taliban during the Obama administration. The talks were a fiasco. The Taliban extracted various concessions and the US never got anything in return, other than Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an accused deserter. The current Taliban honcho is Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, whose son carried out a suicide bombing in July. Akhundzada is a jihadist ideologue, not a prospective peace partner. Negotiating with him would be sheer folly. The Obama administration also pursued talks with the Taliban under the theory that the group could forswear al Qaeda. See the details above—that idea was always a dangerous fantasy.

The US and the Afghan government can and should attempt to peel away mid- to low-level Taliban fighters and commanders. But the idea that a grand bargain can be had with the Taliban has never been rooted in reality.

Stop treating the Haqqani Network as a separate group

The US has long operated under the delusion that the powerful Haqqani family and its loyalists are somehow distinct from the Taliban. It was always a curious assumption given that Jalaluddin Haqqani, the network’s eponymous founder, formally joined the Taliban in the mid-1990s. His son, Sirajuddin (a key al Qaeda ally), has been the Taliban’s No. 2 leader since 2015 and oversees much of the Taliban’s military operations. Sirajuddin’s ascent within the Taliban’s ranks means that no one can pretend that the Haqqani Network and the Taliban are distinct entities any longer. The Haqqani Network has long been designated a terrorist organization by the US government. The Trump administration should extend the designation to cover the entire Taliban, thereby making it clear to anyone who does business with the Taliban that they are backing a terrorist group.

The Islamic State is a threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but not nearly as much of a threat as the Taliban-al Qaeda axis

The US has spent disproportionate resources fighting the Islamic State’s “province” in eastern Afghanistan. Earlier this year, for example, the US military dropped the “mother of all bombs” on the group’s stronghold in Nangarhar province. Several Americans have died during operations against Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s loyalists in country.

There’s no question that the Islamic State remains a serious problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but it still doesn’t threaten the Afghan government to the same degree that the Taliban-al Qaeda axis does. The Islamic State controls parts of perhaps several Afghan districts. But the Taliban and its allies contest or control approximately 40 percent of the country. Therefore, the US has focused a lot of resources on a, relatively speaking, smaller threat. The Trump administration will need to devise a more offensive approach to dealing with the Taliban-al Qaeda alliance, an effort that has been hampered by restrictive rules of engagement in the past.

Pakistan continues to be a big problem

It is no secret that Pakistan harbors much of the Taliban’s senior leadership. But the US has only occasionally targeted these figures inside Pakistan proper. If Pakistan won’t turn on the Taliban—and it won’t—then the Trump administration should take more aggressive action against the group’s Pakistani safe havens.

The drone campaign can be expanded to target known Taliban leaders operating inside Pakistan. For example, the organization’s leader, Mullah Mansour, was killed in a May 2016 airstrike in Pakistan after he returned from a visit to Iran. Mansour’s death was intended to open the door to possible peace talks, which didn’t materialize.

If the Taliban is allowed to continue operating unencumbered, then the administration will be repeating the mistakes of the past. For too long, the Taliban’s leaders have been able to direct the insurgency in Afghanistan from their cozy confines in Pakistan. American aid to Pakistan can and should be withheld until the country’s military and intelligence establishment proves willing to make meaningful changes in its behavior. No one should hold their breath waiting for this happen, however, and the Trump administration can’t afford to wait.

Iran remains a problem, too

The Iranian government has supported the Taliban’s insurgency since 2001. Although this assistance is not as pronounced as Pakistan’s, it is meaningful. The US government has also repeatedly noted that Iran hosts al Qaeda’s “core facilitation pipeline,” which moves fighters, funds, and communications to and from South Asia. Any successful strategy for turning the Afghan war around will have to deal with the Iranian government’s nefarious role.

The Russians are on the opposite side of the Afghan war. The Russians are, at a minimum, providing rhetorical support to the Taliban. There are reports that Russia has provided arms to Taliban insurgents as well. President Trump has made no secret of the fact that he seeks better relations with Vladimir Putin’s government. But Russia’s flirtations (and maybe more) with the Taliban are a stark reminder that this will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. In the meantime, the US will have to take steps to disrupt Putin’s relationship with his favorite jihadis in the Taliban.

The rural areas matter

US military officials often downplay the importance of rural areas, arguing that they need only bolster the Afghan government’s defenses in the more heavily populated areas. But this is a mistake. The Taliban’s insurgents have been using their advances in Afghanistan’s more rural territory to orchestrate sieges on several provincial capitals. If the US and Afghan forces don’t go on the offensive in these areas, then the jihadists will continue to squeeze the more populated terrain.

These are just some of the issues that confront the US on the road ahead.

With his decision, President Trump has ensured that the worst-case scenario won’t unfold. But that is a long way from victory. And to win, the US is going to have to get real about our jihadist enemies in Afghanistan.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal. Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.

Updated Ramadan Rage 2017 Final Death Count: 1,639 in About 30 Countries

REUTERS/Mohammad Shoib

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, July 1, 2017:

The final fatality tally for jihadi attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan increased to 1,639, primarily fueled by victims who succumbed to their injuries, reveals an updated Breitbart News count of terror incidents during the period.

With a total of 3,343 casualties, including 1,704 injuries, Ramadan 2017 is one of the bloodiest holy months in recent history. The number of deaths this year marked a nearly four-fold increase from the estimated 421 people killed by Islamic extremists last year.

There were nearly 160 terror incidents in about 30 predominantly Muslim countries this year, including one jihadi attack in the United States.

Soon after the holiest month for Muslims ended last Saturday, Breitbart News reported that jihadist organizations had killed 1,627 people during Ramadan.

However, after taking into account people who succumbed to their injuries throughout the month and government entities changing the casualty count after Breitbart News initially documented the attacks, this news outlet has determined the final updated tally to be 3,343 casualties (1,639 killed, 1,704 injured).

The Afghan government updating the casualty tally for the May 31 terror attack that killed at least 150 people and injured more than 300 others had the most significant impact on changing the final count.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani changed the number of people wounded from at least 460to more than 300, driving the total number of deaths up and injuries down. The May 31 incident, allegedly carried out by the Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, is the deadliest attack of Ramadan 2017.

The Pentagon has deemed the Haqqani Network to pose the “greatest threat” to the United States military and its allies in Afghanistan. U.S. officials have accused jihadi sanctuaryPakistan of sheltering the group.

Breitbart News’ primarily gleaned its count from the Religion of Peace website in coordination with news reports.

After analyzing every documented Ramadan terror incident, Breitbart News removed two events mentioned by Religion on Peace — May 31 assault in Sinjar and June 6 attack in Mosul, Iraq — because there were no credible news reports to back them.

Moreover, two attacks that occurred on the last day of Ramadan were added to the tally after Breitbart News published the article noting that Islamic terrorists had killed 1,627 people.

Breitbart News’ count excludes casualties directly linked to battles between U.S.-led coalition and Iranian- and Russian-backed troops loyal to dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Furthermore, it only includes some of the attacks in Iraq and Syria that involved the death of civilians, mainly women, and children, at the hands of jihadi groups.

News outlets and government officials may update some death tallies from individual attacks that occurred over the last few days of Ramadan as some of the injured victims succumb to their injuries after Breitbart News publishes this report.

The final Ramadan death toll could be higher. Most “Ramadan Rage 2017” victims are Muslims. As in previous years, the fatalities have included women, children, and members of the Christian minority.

In addition to Muslims, there are members of a wide variety of ethnic and religious groups among the victims: Westerners of all ethnicities, Christians, Asians, Sunnis, Shiites, and Arabs, among others.

The West, particularly London, has not been immune to the Ramadan carnage this year.

Most Muslims follow the Ramadan tradition of abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking, having sex, and other physical needs each day, starting from before the break of dawn until sunset.

However, Islamic extremists perceive Ramadan as a time when martyrdom and jihad are doubly rewarded in paradise, prompting a spike in the terrorist attacks during the period every year.

All the terrorist attacks during Ramadan 2017, as documented by Breitbart News, include:

May 27 — Uruzgan, Afghanistan — Suspected Taliban terrorists ambush checkpoint in the Charchino district, killing 11.
May 27 — Badghis, Afghanistan — Taliban kills 14, including eight civilians, injures 17 in Qadis district.
May 27 — Khost, Afghanistan — Taliban suicide bomber targets National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), killing 18, wounding six others, including children.
May 27 — Punjab, Pakistan — “Honor Killing” — Brother hacks his 18-year-old sister to death in the Khanewal district for denying to abide by pre-arrange marriage.
May 27 — Marawi, Philippines — Jihadists kill 19 including women and a child for “having betrayed their faith.”
May 28 — Bay, Somalia — Al-Shabaab jihadists bury man to his neck, stone to death for adultery in Ramo Adey village.
May 28 — Mosul, Iraq — ISIS sets hospital ablaze and kills a dozen people inside, including young people.
May 28 —Salahuddin, Iraq — ISIS rocket attack kills child and her parents in Shirqat district.
May 28 — Borno, Nigeria — Boko Haram kills at least seven villagers before returning the the next village two days later to kill 14 more.
May 28 — Paktika, Afghanistan — Suspected Taliban kill Shakhil Abad district governor and his son inside their home.
May 28 — Diyala, Iraq — Suicide bomber kills three, injures up to 16 others outside court in city of Baqubah.
May 28 — Borno, Nigeria — Boko Haram beheads five people in Nguro village.
May 29 — Ghat, Libya — Suspected Islamic terrorists kill one, injure four.
May 29 — Salahuddin, Iraq — Islamic shrapnel dismembers a child, injures seven in Shirqat district.
May 29 — Baghdad, Iraq — ISIS launches suicide attack against families breaking their Ramadan fast at ice cream parlor, killing at least 17, wounding 32.
May 29 — Baghdad, Iraq — Sunni ISIS attack targeting Shiites kills 14 killed, 37 injured. ISIS attacked Shiites.
May 30 — Peshawar, Pakistan — Suspected Islamists gun down four peace committee members in Mattani village.
May 30 — Peshawar, Pakistan — Suspected jihadist shoots senior member of Hezb-i-Islami terrorist group while he was leaving a mosque.
May 30 — Mosul, Iraq — ISIS shoots 60 civilians in the head, including women, elderly, buries them in mass grave in al-Shifa district.
May 30 — Deir Ezzor, Syria — ISIS mortar kills 14, wounds over 40, including woman and children, in government controlled  al-Joura district.
May 30 — Kirkuk, Iraq — ISIS kills two Iraqi guards, wounds one other at the Bai Hassan oil field.
May 30 — Baghdad, Iraq — Suspected ISIS jihadists kill seven, injure 19 in a blast.
May 30 — Diyala, Iraq — A bomb explosion at mosque kills seven, wounds six in the cit of Baqubah.
May 30 — Anbar, Iraq — Suspected ISIS suicide bomber kills 15, injures 23 in the town of Hit.
May 31 — Borno, Nigeria —Boko Haram kills 14 after killing seven in a nearby village two days earlier.
May 31 — Garissa, Kenya — Suspected al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab burns down school, kills one teacher, wounds three police officers in Fafi village.
May 31 — Mosul, Iraq — Suicide bombers kill seven members of the same family in Mashahda region.
May 31 — Mangai, Kenya — Al-Shabaab suspected on planting IED that killed eight, including seven police officers.
May 31 — Kabul, Afghanistan — Suspected Haqqani Network, linked to Taliban and al-Qaeda, kills at least 150, wounds more than 300, including 11 Americans .
June 01 — Abala, Niger — Suspected jihadists kill six guards.
June 01 — Al-Jaws Yemen — Islamic terrorists kill 10, wound 15 in al-Hazm.
June 01 — Nangarhar, Afghanistan — Suicide bomber kills one, wounds another near airport in Jalalabad.
June 01 — Nangarhar Afghanistan — Suicide bomber kills one, wounds five, including a security guard near the airbase in Behsud district.
June 01 — Oldenburg, Germany — Muslim kills one for smoking during Ramadan and refusing to fast.
June 01 — Mosul, Iraq — ISIS kills seven, wounds 23 in the Zanjili district for trying to flee caliphate.
June 02 — Kolofota, Cameroon — Islamist use two girls as suicide bombers: 11 killed, including two children, and 30 wounded.
June 02 — Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia — Jihadist beheads one man.
June 03 — Marawi, Philippines — Islamic sniper kills elderly woman.
June 03 — Baghdad, Iraq — Four suicide members kill one, injure three in al-Halabsah district.
June 03 —London, England — ISIS-linked jihadists plow into pedestrians, then stab people, killing seven, injuring 48.
June 03 — Mosul, Iraq — ISIS kills 50 in  Zanjili district for trying to flee caliphate.
June 03 — Kashmir, India — Hizb-ul-Mujahideen kill two security troops, injure four.
June 03 — Sindh, Pakistan — “Honor Killing:” Man kills sister-in-law and lover for alleged adultery in Nawabshah.
June 03 — Kabul, Afghanistan — Jihadi suicide bomber kills 20, injures 87.
June 03 — Ferkane, Algeria — Muslim extremists kill two local soldiers, injure four.
June 03 — Burkina Faso, Soum — Suspected jihadists kill five.
June 03 — Mosul, Iraq — United Nations reports ISIS killed 231 civilians between May 26 and June 3 in al-Shifa district alone, as they tried to escape the city.
June 04 — Bijapur, India — “Honor Killing” — pregnant Muslim woman burnt alive by her family for marrying Hindu man.
June 04 — Kandahar, Afghanistan — Afghan police insider attack leaves six dead, one injured.
June 04 — Balochistan, Pakistan — Two Shiites from Hazara minority group killed in Quetta.
June 04 — Singh, Pakistan — “Honor Killing” — Father kills 18-year-old daughter for allegedly “having an affair” in Tando Allahyar district.
June 04 — Mosul, Iraq — Suicide bombers kill 32, injure four in Zanjili district and  al-Shifa district.
June 04 — Punjab, Pakistan — Suspected Sunni terrorist kills one Shiite Hazara barber in Quaidabad.
June 05 — Melbourne, Australia — ISIS-linked migrant from Somalia kills man, takes woman hostage, an injures three.
June 05 — Baghdad, Iraq — Suspected ISIS terrorists fire mortar into family home, killing 10-year-old boy, injuring four of the same family.
June 05 — Kismayo, Somalia — al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab detonates bomb, killingthree, injuring 20.
June 06 — Sinai, Egypt — Suspected Islamic extremists kill two police officers.
June 06 — Paris, France — Jihadist wounds one cop with a hammer outside Notre Dame cathedral.
June 06 — Herat, Afghanistan — Terrorist kill seven, injure another 16 near the northern gate of the Great Mosque of Herat.
June 06 — Garissa, Kenya — Suspected al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab jihadists kill four aid workers with land mine.
June 06 — Mandera, Kenya — Unknown jihadist kill one woman, injure one.
June 06 — Kandahar, Afghanistan — Terrorists attacked refugee camp in Kandahar province, killing three, including two children and wounding eight, including women.
June 07 — Tehran, Iran — ISIS claims responsibility for attacking parliament, shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini , killing  12, injuring  up to 46, marking first time the Sunni extremist group carries out attack in Islamic Republic.
June 07 —Borno, Nigeria — Boko Haram kills 14, wounds 24 in Maiduguri.
June 08 — Puntland, Somalia — al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab kills 70, including some women who were decapitated, and wounds up to 20.
June 08 — Diyala, Iraq — ISIS, kills 13 civilians, wounds 4, including two Iraqi soldiers.
June 08 — Mosul, Iraq — ISIS fires chlorine-filled bombs at civilians, killing 13, mostly women and children.
June 08 — Baluchistan, Pakistan — ISIS claims to have killed two Chinese nationals kidnapped on May 24.
June 09 — Kerbala, Iraq — ISIS kills at least 30, wounds 35 in Shiite holy city.
June 09 — Kerbala, Iraq — ISIS attacks main bus station in Shiite city, killing three, wounding 15.
June 09 — Adamawa, Nigeria — Suspected Boko Haram jihadists kill two children, wound three others.
June 09 — Hambagda, Cameroon — Boko Haram slits throat of four villagers, kidnaps six.
June 09 — Paktia, Afghanistan — Suspected Taliban/Haqqani Network jihadists killthree civilians, wound nine others while praying in mosque.
June 10 — Salahuddin, Iraq — ISIS kills 38 civilians, Iraqi troops, wounds 40 others in Shirqat district.
June 10 — Mosul, Iraq — ISIS kills eight civilians, wounds five others.
June 10 — Kobane, Syria — ISIS landmine kills two children, wounds three other civilians.
June 10 — Far North Region, Cameroon — Three Boko Haram-recruited girls, between ages 11 and 15, killed as suicide bombers in Mayo-Sava border region.
June 10 — Nangarhar, Afghanistan — Taliban claims insider attack against U.S. troops, killing three, wounding one other.
June 11 — Baluchistan, Pakistan — Lashker-e-Jhangv jihadists kill three police officers, wound one civilian in “hit-and-run attack.”
June 11 — Borno, Nigeria — Boko Haram kills eight members of civilian militia in the Kayamla village.
June 11 —  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan — Suspected jihadists kill one journalist in Haripur district.
June 11 — Diyala, Iraq — Suspected ISIS suicide attacker kills two, wounds five others.
June 12 — Baddah, Yemen — Al-Qaeda kills two local soldiers.
June 14 — Far North Region, Cameroon — Suspected Boko Haram suicide attack killsone, injures nine in locality of Sandawadjiri.
June 14 — Far North Region, Cameroon — Suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber kills himself, but no one else in locality of Amchide.
June 14 — Mogadishu, Somalia — Al-Shabaab kills at least 31 people, including women, at the Posh Hotel and wounds 40 others.
June 14 — Borno State, Nigeria — Boko Haram kills five civilians, six others missing.
June 14 — Helmand, Afghanistan — Suspected Taliban kills five, wounds four from breakaway faction.
June 14 — Ghazni, Afghanistan — Taliban kills one civilian, wounds three others, including police officer.
June 14 — Paktika, Afghanistan — Jihadists kill five civilians, including women and children, wound seven others.
June 14 — Mosul, Iraq — ISIS launches wave of suicide attacks in Mosul, killing  at least 15, including 11 police officers and four civilians.
June 15 — Kabul, Afghanistan — Suspected jihadists kill four, wound eight in mosque suicide attack.
June 15 — Wardak, Afghanistan — Clash between Taliban and security forces leaves three children dead, one woman wounded.
June 15 — Kashmir, India — Jihadists kill Indian police officer.
June 15 — Kashmir, India — Islamic militants kill one police officer, wound another in Srinagar.
June 15 — Limani, Cameroon — Boko Haram female suicide bomber kills three, including three-year-old child wounds at least seven others.
June 15 — Yarang, Thailand — Suspected Islamic insurgents shoot 52-year-old Buddhist in the head.
June 15 — Balcad, Somalia — Al-Shabaab kills three soldiers, wounds seven others.
June 16 — Marawi, Philippines — Clashes between ISIS-linked Abu Sayyaf jihadists leaves an estimated 100 people dead.
June 16 — Kirkuk, Iraq — ISIS-linked female jihadi and her two sons, ages six and nine, found dead.
June 16 — Baghdad, Iraq — Jihadi detonated explosive device wounds  four people.
June 16 — Kurdistan, Iraq — Suspected ISIS jihadists wound five civilians at a mosque.
June 16 — Diyala, Iraq — Suspected jihadist shoots civilian in the head in Baquba.
June 16 — Baghdad, Iraq — Suspected terrorists kill one civilian, wound three others.
June 16 — Diyala, Iraq — Jihadi killed when bomb he was trying to plant exploded.
June 16 — Mandera, Kenya — Al-Shabaab kills four civilians, injures 11 others.
June 16 — Kashmir, India — Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) kills, mutilate faces of six Indian police officers with bullets. Two civilians caught in crossfire.
June 16 — Jerusalem, Israel — Palestinian jihadists, linked to ISIS, kill one policewoman, injure four others before security forces took them down.
June 16 — Laghman, Afghanistan — Suspected Taliban terrorists kill four civilian workers in explosion.
June 17 — Bakol, Somalia — Clashes between al-Shabaab and Somali army leaves at least five dead, 12 others injured.
June 17 — Kashmir, India — Jihadists kill civilian in Pulwama.
June 17 — Kashmir, India — Clashes between Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Indian security forces leave two civilians and three jihadists dead.
June 17 — Mosul, Iraq — Suspected ISIS suicide bomber kills seven local police officers.
June 17 — Bintagoungou, Mali — Jihadists kill five, injure eight others.
June 17 — Mosul, Iraq — Iran-backed Shiite militias kill family of five.
June 17 — Mudug, Somalia — Al-Shabaab kills cleric inside mosque in  Towfiq village.
June 17 — Cairo, Egypt — Suspected ISIS jihadists kill one, wound four in roadside bomb attack.
June 17 — Borno, Nigeria — Boko Haram kill five civilians in Gumsuri village.
June 18 — Paktia, Afghanistan — Taliban attacks police headquarters, killing six police officers, wounding 30 others, including 21 civilians.
June 18 — Bamako, Mali — Jihadists kill two, wound 14 at resort.
June 18 — Mosul, Iraq — Two ISIS suicide bombers killed.
June 18 — Mosul, Iraq — Five ISIS-linked suicide bombers, including killed in al-Farouk area.
June 18 — Diyala, Iraq — Police kill suspected ISIS suicide bomber in  Baqubah.
June 18 — Salahuddin, Iraq — Suspected ISIS jihadists fire rocket, killing one civilian, injuring another.
June 18 — Daraa, Syria — ISIS-linked militia kills five of its own fighters on charges of apostasy.
June 18 — Borno, Nigeria — Female suicide bombers, likely linked to Boko Haram, kill12 people, injure 11 others in the terrorist group’s birthplace.
June 18 — Kirkuk, Iraq — ISIS kills 34 civilians.
June 19 — Mosul, Iraq — ISIS IED kills three journalists, wounds one other.
June 19 — Baghdad, Iraq — Suspected ISIS terrorists kills one Sunni tribal fighter, wounds two others.
June 19 — Pattani, Thailand — Jihadists kill six soldiers, wound four others.
June 19 — Paris, France — Authorities take down “known extremist” who attempted to carry out terrorist attack at the Champs-Élysées.
June 19 — Parwan, Afghanistan — Taliban kills eight border guards near largest U.S. military base in Bagram, wounds two others.
June 19 — Adamawa State, Nigeria — Two female suicide bombers, likely linked to Boko Haram, blow themselves up, resulting in their death. No other casualties.
June 20 — Mogadishu, Somalia — Al-Shabaab kills at least 15 civilians, injures 18 others in suicide car bomb.
June 20 — Brussels, Belgium — Authorities kill ISIS-linked suicide bomber at train station.
June 20 — Nangarhar, Afghanistan — Terrorists kill judge, wound three other civilians.
June 21 — Michigan, United States — Canadian terrorist Amor Ftouhi, 49, stabs and wounds police officer in the neck while yelling praises to Allah.
June 21 — Deir Ezzor, Syria — ISIS kills two civilians, wounds eight others.
June 21 — Borno State, Nigeria — Suspected Boko Haram jihadists kill two civilians, wounds six others.
June 21 — Far North Region, Cameroon — Two suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers kill six civilians in Kolofata.
June 22 — Helmand, Afghanistan — Taliban kills an estimated 30, including soldiers and civilians, and wounds at least 60 others.
June 22 — Kashmir, India — Pakistani terrorists kill two Indian soldiers.
June 22 — Baghdad, Iraq — Suspected ISIS jihadists kill two, wound four others in car bomb attack.
June 23 — Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Pakistan — Lashkar-e-Jhangvi jihadists kill up to 67 and wound more than 261 in double bombing in the jihadi stronghold along the Afghanistan border.
June 23 — Mosul, Iraq — Suspected ISIS suicide bomber kills at least a dozen civilians, including women and children, and wounds 20 other civilians trying to flee the city.
June 23 — Baluchistan, Pakistan — ISIS and Pakistani Taliban linked jihadists from Jamaat ur Ahrar kill 13 people, including seven police officers, wound 19 others, including nine security guards, in car bomb attack.
June 23 — Mosul, Iraq — Suspected ISIS suicide bombers kill three people, including a police officer, and wound at least nine others.
June 23 — Anbar, Iraq — Suspected ISIS suicide bombers kill eight civilians, one soldier, wound 11 others.
June 23 — Mandera, Kenya — Suspected al-Shabaab jihadists kill five people, including two police others, wound an unknown number of others.
June 23 — Karachi, Pakistan — Jihadists kill four off-duty police officers, wound two others in drive by shooting.
June 23 — Mosul, Iraq — Suspected ISIS jihadists fire rocket into marketplace, killing10, wounding 40.
June 23 — Mosul, Iraq — Suspected ISIS suicide bombers blew themselves up inside mosque, killing four, injuring others.
June 24 — Aleppo, Syria — Suspected Sunni militants kill 12, including three children and four women, and wound dozens.
June 24 — Mecca, Saudi Arabia — Suicide bomber planning to attack Grand Mosque blows himself up, injuring six foreigners and five security force members.
June 24 — Kashmir, India —Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) jihadists kill one security officer, wounds another one and a civilian.
June 24 — Kirkuk, Iraq — Suspected ISIS jihadists kill ten civilians trying to flee homes, wound six others, including women and children.
June 24 — Herat, Afghanistan — Taliban jihadists kill 10 Afghan soldiers, wound four at Salma Dam ahead of Afghan president’s address holiday marking end of Ramadan.

***

House Panel Expert: U.S. ‘Losing in Afghanistan’ as Al-Qaeda Grows Stronger

Reuters

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, April 27, 2017:

WASHINGTON D.C. — Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is growing stronger with the resurgence of the Taliban in recent years and “remains a direct threat” to America more than a decade and a half after the United States began targeting both terrorist groups in response to 9/11, an expert tells House lawmakers.

In October 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan, and the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda has been raging since.

President Donald Trump inherited chaos and overall deteriorating security conditions in the war-devastated country.

Under former President Barack Obama’s watch, the Taliban seized more territory in Afghanistan than during any time since the U.S. military removed the jihadist group from power in 2001 and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) gained a foothold in the country.

The U.S. military “downplayed this problem of the Taliban” during Obama’s tenure, Bill Roggio, an expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and editor of the Long War Journal, told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism.

“If that’s the attitude of the U.S. military towards the Taliban inside Afghanistan, we will continue to lose this war,” he later added. “We need to reassess Afghanistan… our policy in Afghanistan is a mess frankly, and the Trump administration needs to decide what to do and how to do it quickly.”

“The Taliban—al-Qaeda relationship remains strong to this day. And with the Taliban gaining control of a significant percentage of Afghanistan’s territory, al-Qaeda has more areas to plant its flag,” also said Roggio in his written testimony.

Last Friday, the Taliban carried out its deadliest-ever attack on a major military base in northern Balkh province that left as many as 250 soldiers dead.

Although the U.S. military argues the Afghan conflict is at a “stalemate,” Roggio told the House panel that America is losing the war.

“We are losing in Afghanistan… and The Taliban controls or contests at least half of Afghanistan,” Roggio told lawmakers, adding in his written testimony:

Al-Qaeda’s footprint inside Afghanistan remains a direct threat to U.S. national security and, with the resurgence of the Taliban, it is a threat that is only growing stronger. Al-Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan has not occurred in a vacuum. It has maintained its strength in the country since the U.S. invasion, launched a new branch, AQIS [al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent], and established training camps with the help and support of the Taliban.

Roggio testified alongside Dr. Seth Jones from the RAND Corporation and Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown from the Brookings Institution.

Echoing the U.S. military, the experts told lawmakers that Russia and Afghanistan’s neighbor Iran are providing military assistance to the Taliban, adding that neighboring Pakistan provides sanctuary to the terrorist group as well as its al-Qaeda and Haqqani Network allies.

According to the Pentagon, the Haqqani Network poses the “primary threat” to the American military in Afghanistan.

The experts noted that a U.S. military withdrawal from the war-devastated country would spell trouble for America’s national security.

The United States has already invested nearly $120 billion in nation-building efforts in the country.

Despite the threat posed by the Afghan Taliban, the group is not officially listed as a terrorist group by the United States like its ally al-Qaeda and its rival ISIS.

Roggio pointed out that although ISIS’s presence in Afghanistan is a problem, the Taliban remains a bigger threat.

ISIS is considered an enemy by both the al-Qaeda and the Taliban, considered the strongest group in the country.

“The reason the Taliban matters is the Taliban and al-Qaeda, they remain tied at the hip,” testified Roggio. “The Taliban refuse to surrender al-Qaeda members — Osama Bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. They continued to fight side by side. Al-Qaeda serves as a force multiplier.”

“The Islamic State is on the fringe. It’s a small problem in Afghanistan compared to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other Pakistani jihadist groups that operate there (in ISIS’ Afghan stronghold Nangarhar province),” he added. They operate primarily in four districts in Nangarhar province and have a minimal presence in the north, and it certainly is a problem.

This week, ISIS in Nangarhar killed two U.S. troops and wounded another, the Pentagon revealed.

“Our efforts seemed to be focused on the Islamic State at this point in time while largely ignoring what the Taliban is doing throughout the country and that is directly challenging the Afghan military. They’re going toe to toe; They’re raiding their bases; They’re taking control of territory,” said Roggio.

***

Also see:

To Break the Stalemate in Afghanistan, America Must Break Pakistan’s Pathologies

National Interest, by Robert Cassidy, April 6, 2017: (h/t Anthony Shaffer)

“Twenty U.S.-designated terrorist organizations operate in the Afghanistan-Pakistan sub-region; seven of the 20 organizations are in Pakistan. So long as these groups maintain safe haven inside of Pakistan they will threaten long-term stability in Afghanistan. Of particular concern to us is the Haqqani Network (HQN) which poses the greatest threat to coalition forces operating in Afghanistan.”  General Joseph Votel, Posture Statement Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 2017.

“The Taliban and the Haqqani network are the greatest threats to security in Afghanistan. Their senior leaders remain insulated from pressure and enjoy freedom of action within Pakistan safe havens.  As long as they enjoy external enablement, they have no incentive to reconcile.  The primary factor that will enable our success is the elimination of external sanctuary and support to the insurgents.”  General John Nicholson, Statement Before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Situation in Afghanistan, February 2017.

After 15-plus years, the war in Afghanistan remains a strategic stalemate because defeating an enemy requires taking away its capacity and will.  The Coalition and Afghan forces have hit the enemy’s capacity year after year but the Taliban’s will—their senior leaders, support, resources, rest, regeneration, and arms—continue to benefit from sanctuary and support from Pakistan’s security establishment.  In his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) in February of this year, the theater commander, General John Nicholson, stated that he believed the war in Afghanistan was a stalemate.  It has been a strategic stalemate for at least the last ten years and arguably for the last 15 years.  As early as 2003 the then-top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General John Vines, stated publicly that the Taliban were benefiting from Pakistan’s sanctuaries to regroup.  So despite suffering many losses in leaders and capacity inside Afghanistan year after year, the Taliban have not quit, and are resilient in regenerative capacity.  Tactical and operational momentum have ebbed and flowed throughout the war.  The Coalition and its Afghan partners have made some errors, but they have improved and adapted during the course of the war.  The Afghan security forces have grown in quantity and improved in quality, and have led the fight for several years.  During the peak numbers of exogenous forces for the war in 2010-2011, the Coalition forces, along with their Afghan partners, achieved marked tactical gains and operational momentum.  To be sure, Coalition and Afghan forces have undertaken many counterterrorism and counterinsurgency actions that have punished, disrupted, and displaced the Taliban and the Haqqani leadership and infrastructure, year after year.

Yet these gains at the tactical and operational levels have been short-lived and have generally lacked meaning in the face of the most conspicuous impediment to strategic success: Pakistan’s sanctuary and support for the enemy.  Killing, capturing, disrupting, and displacing insurgent and terrorist enemies, fighting season after fighting season, absent genuine strategic momentum, have made this a perpetual war.  It is beginning to seem like a Groundhog-Day war where fulfilling the purpose remains elusive.  In theory, the purpose of war is to serve policy; in practice, if war is not linked to strategic rationale and momentum, the nature of war is to serve itself.  Fighting year after year within the context of a strategic stalemate is essentially violence and war serving themselves and not policy.

[…]

Conclusion

Pakistani strategic culture stems from pathological geopolitics infused with a Salafi-Deobandi jihadist ideology, suffused by paranoia and neurosis.  The principal but not exclusive reason that Afghanistan has seen discernibly improved quality and quantity in its forces as well as fighting capacity, yet continues to face a strategic stalemate, is the Pakistani security elites’ malign strategic calculus.  The Taliban would have been a marginal nuisance, without the full support that Pakistan’s security establishment bestowed to pursue Pakistan’s imaginary notion of strategic depth on its western flank by asserting control over Afghanistan through its zealous proxies.

Pakistan has nurtured and relied on a host of Islamist insurgents and terrorists.  It is home to the world’s highest concentration of terrorist groups.  Of the 98 U.S.-designated terrorist groups around the world, 20 operate in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The ISI has maintained links with Al Qaeda, its longtime Taliban allies, and a host of other extremist groups inside Pakistan. It is possible for Pakistan to become a genuine U.S. strategic partner only if it ceases its support of proxy terrorists and insurgents.  The fact that America has paid Pakistan in excess of $33 billion for Pakistan’s malice and treachery since 9/11 is repugnant and ridiculous.

The U.S and the Coalition must desist in the illusion that Pakistan, one of the foremost ideological and physical breeders of Islamist terrorists, is an ally or a friend.  It is neither.  Pretending that Pakistan is an ally in the war against Islamist militants, one that would act in ways to help defeat Islamist networks in the border tribal areas, has made the West complicit in and partly responsible for Pakistan’s machinations.

Since this war began, the U.S. has on a number of occasions stipulated that Pakistan must curb all domestic expression of support for terrorism against the U.S. and its allies; demonstrate a sustained commitment to, and make significant efforts towards, combating terrorist groups; cease support, including support by any elements within the Pakistan military or its intelligence agency, for extremist and terrorist groups; and dismantle terrorist bases of operations in other parts of the country.  Clearly, Pakistan has not complied with these stipulations and continues to do the converse, serving as the most significant supporter and employer of Islamist insurgents and terrorists.

The United States and its Coalition allies have not crafted a Pakistan strategy that uses their substantial resources to modify Pakistan’s strategic calculus.  An effective Pakistan strategy must use the full weight of the U.S. and other regional actors to compel Pakistan to alter its strategic conduct and to stop supporting terrorists.

Investing in and increasing the Afghan Special Security Forces and the Afghan Air Force to create overmatching offensive capacity, to then build tactical and operational momentum, will help assert influence over key population areas and take away Taliban capacity, but this will be ephemeral if not coupled with strategic momentum.  To break the strategic stalemate, the Coalition should cast off its illusions about Pakistan.  For far too long, Pakistan has been viewed and treated as an important non-NATO ally in the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban, but it is essentially an abysmal ally, a veritable foe, because it acts in ways inimical to Coalition troops, our and the aims of the Afghan state.  After 15-plus years of Pakistan’s perfidy, it is essential to go heavy on sticks and light on carrots to break Pakistan of its pathologies and their pernicious effects in Afghanistan.  Sticks and fear will work where carrots, cash, and cajoling have not.  The U.S. and the Coalition must consider tapping into the Pakistan establishment’s fear, honor, and interests.  U.S. fears that the Pakistani state will collapse, implode or fracture are overstated.  Pakistan is hard and resilient in deep and broad ways.

The following stipulations, steps, and ultimatums, in order of escalation, are the way to break Pakistan of its pathologies and break the stalemate: 1) stop paying for malice; 2) end major non-NATO ally status; 3) state intention to make the line of control in Kashmir permanent; 4) shut down ground lines of communications via Pakistan; 5) declare Pakistan the state sponsor of terrorism that it is; 6) issue one last ultimatum to Pakistan to end sanctuary for insurgents and not impede success; 7) invite the Indian Armed Forces into Afghanistan for security operations in the Pashtun eastern and southern regions; and 8) as a last resort, reciprocate Pakistan’s malice and perfidy.  Uncontested sanctuary contributed to the Soviet Union’s defeat in Afghanistan, and it continues be the single biggest obstacle to defeating the Taliban and the most significant cause of the stalemate.

It is difficult, if not impossible to win in counterinsurgency when the insurgents benefit from what is essentially unimpeded sanctuary.  What’s more, if the Taliban were to revive an Islamist emirate in Afghanistan, there is every reason to forecast a future with more attacks against the West, planned and orchestrated with increasing scope and intensity from Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Colonel Robert Cassidy, Ph.D., U.S. Army, is the author of three books and a host of articles about irregular warfare and Afghanistan.  He has served in Afghanistan four times.  The works of practitioners-scholars Fair, Gregory, Husain Haqqani, Zalmay Khalilzad, Ahmed Rashid, Rubin, and the Schaffers informed this article.  These views are from the author’s studies and service in the region and do not reflect the views of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Naval War College, or the U.S. Department of Defense.

Report: US Spends One Trillion Dollars, Gets Terrorist Safe Haven In Return

August-28-AFG-Partial-Threat-Assessment_4-1Daily Caller, by Saagar Enjeti, Aug. 29, 2016:

After spending a trillion dollars and deploying hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, Jihadi groups are likely to find safe haven in Afghanistan, a new report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) warns.

The entire purpose of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, was to topple the Taliban government and destroy the safe havens al-Qaida used to attack the U.S. on 9/11. Since President Barack Obama ended the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014, the Taliban have made historic battlefield gains throughout the country. The U.S. backed Afghan government has shown itself rife with corruption, and faces a pending political leadership crisis in September.

Noting these facts, ISW warns, “If Afghanistan remains on this course, global extremist organizations will reconstitute their sanctuaries in Afghanistan’s ungoverned spaces and pose enduring threats to U.S. national security.”

Taliban affiliated terrorists from the Haqqani Network seized Saturday a town on the Pakistani border. A local Afghan official told The New York Times the Haqqani Network had hundreds of fighters, and managed to seize dozens of vehicles and weapons. The vehicles and weapons are almost certainly provided or paid for by the U.S. government.

The Haqqani Network is responsible for a large share of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan, and provides the infrastructure for massive suicide attacks throughout the country. The group maintains a tacit alliance with al-Qaida, and has deep roots in the tribal territories in Pakistan.

The U.S. also dispatched 100 soldiers to the capital city of Helmand province on Tuesday. Helmand province is important strategic territory for the Taliban, and reports indicate they now control almost every major city in the province except for the capital. The Afghan defense forces have proven inept at battling back the Taliban in Helmand, despite dedicating almost their entire military arsenal to the effort.

The Taliban has also surrounded the major city of Kunduz, which it briefly seized in September 2015. Kunduz’s seizure in 2015, marked the first time the Taliban controlled a major city since 2001. ISW notes that the Taliban controls 98% of four key districts that surround Kunduz, which it used to launch its first offensive on the city a year ago.

Al-Qaida has capitalized on Taliban gains throughout Afghanistan, by reestablishing major training camps for the first time since before 9/11. In October 2015, the U.S. launched an operation against a massive al-Qaida training camp in Kandahar province on the Pakistani border. The commanding U.S> general at the time called it “probably the largest” al-Qaida camp the U.S. had seen in its 14 year tenure in Afghanistan.

al-Qaida’s affiliates, and leaders remain committed to launching major operations against U.S. allies and the U.S. homeland.

Follow Saagar Enjeti on Twitter

Also see:

Secret Cables Link Pakistan Intel Org to Deadly Attack on CIA

Jennifer Ehle plays Jennifer Lynne Matthew in the film Zero Dark Thirty about the killing of Osama Bin Laden, head of Al Qaeda.Matthews, a mother of three was described as “one of the CIA’s top experts on al-Qaeda.” She was head of Camp Chapman and killed in the attack on the base.

Jennifer Ehle plays Jennifer Lynne Matthew in the film Zero Dark Thirty about the killing of Osama Bin Laden, head of Al Qaeda.Matthews, a mother of three was described as “one of the CIA’s top experts on al-Qaeda.” She was head of Camp Chapman and killed in the attack on the base.

Clarion Project, April 17, 2016:

Pakistan’s intelligence agency paid a Taliban-affiliated terror group in Afghanistan to perpetrate one of the deadliest attacks on the CIA in the agency’s history, according to inferences made in recently-declassified U.S. government cables and documents.

On December 30, 2009, a Jordanian suicide bomber blew himself up in Camp Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, located near the border with Pakistan, killing seven CIA employees. The bomber, a Jordanian doctor and double agent, tricked the Americans, telling them he would lead them to Ayman al-Zawahri, now head of al-Qaeda and, at the time, second in command.

A document dated January 11, 2010 , issued less than two weeks after the bombing, reports how the head of the Haqqani network, a Taliban-allied organization designed as terrorist by the U.S., met twice with senior officials of Pakistan’s intelligence agency (the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI) the month of the bombing.

During the first meeting, funding for “operations in Khowst [Khost] province” were discussed. “Funds were later provided to tribal elders in Khowst province for their support of the Haqqani network,” according to the cable.

At the second meeting, ISI officials gave “direction to the Haqqanis to expedite attack preparations and lethality in Afghanistan.”

Although heavily redacted, a cable issued the following month specified the head of the Haqqani network as well as another individual were given $200,000 “to enable the attack on Chapman.” The cable specifically mentions a number of individuals involved in the operation, including an Afghan border commander who was given money “to enable a suicide mission by an unnamed Jordanian national.”

The Jordanian mentioned is assumed to be the suicide bomber, Humam al-Balawi, whom the CIA had cultivated as an al-Qaeda informant. Codenamed “Wolf,” al-Balawi turned out to be a double agent, perpetrating the deadliest attack against the CIA in the 15-year history of the war in Afghanistan.

Although each document states, “This is an information report not finally evaluated intelligence,” Admiral  Mike Mullen (former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) terms the Haqqani network a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s intelligence agency. The U.S. has long-documented the connection between the ISI and the Haqqani terrorist organization.

The documents were the first public disclosure connecting the attack on Camp Chapman to the Pakistani ISI. They were released in connection with a Freedom of Information Act request. The U.S. had previously blamed al-Qaeda for the attack.

Osama bin Laden’s Files: The Pakistani government wanted to negotiate

osama-bin-laden1-e1425067707264BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | March 9th, 2015:

Recently released files recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound show that parts of the Pakistani government made attempts to negotiate with al Qaeda in 2010. The letters were released as evidence in the trial of Abid Naseer, who was convicted on terrorism charges by a Brooklyn jury earlier this month.

One of the files is a letter written by Atiyah Abd al Rahman (“Mahmud”), who was then the general manager of al Qaeda, to Osama bin Laden (identified as Sheikh Abu Abdallah) in July 2010.  The letter reveals a complicated game involving al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the brother of Pakistan’s current prime minister, and Pakistan’s intelligence service.

“Regarding the negotiations, dear Sheikh, I will give you an overview, may God support me in this,” Rahman wrote. “The Pakistani enemy has been corresponding with us and with Tahreek-i-Taliban (Hakeemullah) for a very short time, since the days of Hafiz, may God have mercy on him.” Hakeemullah Mehsud was the head of the Pakistani Taliban at the time. The “Hafiz” mentioned is Mustafa Abu Yazid (Sheikh Saeed al Masri), who served as al Qaeda’s general manager prior to his deathin May 2010. Rahman succeeded Yazid in that role.

“We discussed the matter internally, then we talked with Abu-Muhammad later once we were able to resume correspondence with him,” Rahman explained. “Abu-Muhammad” is the nom de guerre of Ayman al Zawahiri. As a result of these discussions, al Qaeda was willing to broker a deal in which the jihadists’ would ease off the Pakistanis so long as the military and intelligence services stopped fighting al Qaeda and its allies.

“Our decision was this: We are prepared to leave you be. Our battle is primarily against the Americans. You became part of the battle when you sided with the Americans,” Rahman wrote, explaining al Qaeda’s position towards the Pakistani government. “If you were to leave us and our affairs alone, we would leave you alone. If not, we are men, and you will be surprised by what you see; God is with us.”

Al Qaeda’s negotiating tactic was simple. Either the Pakistanis leave them alone, or they would suffer more terrorist attacks. Rahman’s letter reveals how bin Laden’s men sought to convey their message. They relied on Siraj Haqqani, the senior leader of the Haqqani Network, which has long been supported by the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment.

Rahman summarized al Qaeda’s plan thusly: “We let slip (through Siraj Haqqani, with the help of the brothers in Mas’ud and others; through their communications) information indicating that al Qaeda and Tahreek-i-Taliban [the Pakistani Taliban] have big, earth shaking operations in Pakistan, but that their leaders had halted those operations in an attempt to calm things down and relieve the American pressure.”

“But if Pakistan does any harm to the Mujahidin in Waziristan, the operations will go forward, including enormous operations ready in the heart of the country,” Rahman explained. This is the message al Qaeda “leaked out through several outlets.”

In response, “they, the intelligence people…started reaching out to” al Qaeda through Pakistani jihadist groups they “approve of.”

Read more at Long War Journal