Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Informed Comment: Mullah Baradar, No. 2 Man in Old Taliban, Captured by ISI in Karachi

Informed Comment: Mullah Baradar, No. 2 Man in Old Taliban, Captured by ISI in Karachi

Juan Cole provides some great background on Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. As usual his analysis makes a lot of sense

Cole explains the cooperation of Pakistan on this operation:
"My own suspicion is that Mullah Baradar was behind the violence against Shiites in Karachi this winter. Provoking Sunni-Shiite violence so as to destabilize Pakistan's financial and industrial hub would be a typical al-Qaeda tactic. The bombings succeeded in provoking major riots and property damage. But when you hurt stock prices and harm government revenues, you rather draw the attention to yourself of the country's elite and their security forces, since you have mightily inconvenienced them. As long as the Old Taliban were mainly bothering the government of Hamid Karzai over the border in Afghanistan, the ISI might have been able to turn a blind eye to them. But if they were going to cause billions of dollars of damage to Karachi, which they did this winter, that is intolerable."

He describes the groups operating under the AL Qaeda as follows:

"(There are four groups typically but inaccurately referred to as Taliban among Pashtun dissidents. They include Mulla Umar's original Taliban; the Haqqani Network founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, based in North Waziristan, which is now led by his son Siraj; the Islamic Party or Hizb-i Islami of Gulbaddin Hikmatyar based in Eastern Afghanistan; and the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, whose leader, Hakimullah Mahsud, was reported recently killed by a US drone strike). For Mullah Omar's organization, based in Karachi and Quetta, to suffer a severe setback would probably not have a huge impact on the other three, which operate relatively independently. None of the others is actually Taliban in the sense of seminary students or graduates of madrasahs among the Afghan Pashtun refugees in Pakistan)."

And the result:

"I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that Mullah Baradar's capture will destroy the Old Taliban. And even if that organization is weakened, there are at least three other major insurgent groups only loosely connected to them, which have the operational autonomy and resources to go on fighting.

But it is true that with the loss of the $200,000 a month the drug trade in Marjah was generating, and with the loss of some important commanders to drone strikes, the Old Taliban may be in a weakened posture compared to a year ago."

more details at the link above

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