LeT involvement in Afghanistan to improve their "street cred":NATO

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by ejazr, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Foreigners Boost Insurgency in Eastern Afghanistan-Asharq Alawsat

    JALALABAD, (AP) – As the spotlight of the Afghan war focuses on the south, insurgent activity is increasing in parts of the east, with Arab and other foreign fighters linked to al-Qaida infiltrating across the rugged mountains with the help of Pakistani militants, Afghan and U.S. officials say.

    Security in eastern Afghanistan is critical because the region includes the capital, Kabul, which the insurgents have sought to surround and isolate from the rest of the country. The east also borders Pakistan, where al-Qaida’s leaders fled after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion drove the Taliban from power.

    Gen. Mohammed Zaman Mahmoodzai, head of Afghanistan’s border security force, told The Associated Press that infiltration by al-Qaida-linked militants has been increasing in his area since March.

    “One out of three are Arabs,” he said, coming mostly from Pakistan’s Bajaur and Mohmand tribal areas where the Pakistan military is battling Pakistani Taliban insurgents.

    The advent of spring makes it easier to move through mountain passes into Afghanistan, though Mahmoodzai believes the influx of Arabs has been greater than can be explained by seasonal trends.

    A NATO official said he thought Mahmooodzai’s estimate of Arab infiltration was high but acknowledged that activity by foreign fighters was running “a little more than average” in the east. He said most of them were believed to be Pakistanis, Chechens and Tajiks although it was difficult to determine their origins.

    He spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is sensitive.

    In some cases, militants enter the country through legal crossing points such as Torkham, 35 miles east of Jalalabad. Mahmoodzai said the infiltrators carry fake passports and visas provided by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based group that India blames for the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that left 166 people dead.

    “We know it is Lashkar-e-Taiba because we have sources inside the Afghan Taliban,” Mahmoodzai said. “They said the Arabs are coming here through Lashkar-e-Taiba.”

    Last month, the NATO-led command announced the capture of two Taliban commanders it said were helping Lashkar-e-Taiba (LASH-kar-e-TOY-bah) members slip into Afghanistan. In reporting the second arrest, a NATO statement referred to a “recent influx” of Lashkar-e-Taiba members into the eastern province of Nangarhar.

    The mixture of insurgent groups adds to the complexity of the war in the east, often fought in terrain much more rugged and challenging than in the north or south.

    In eastern Afghanistan last year, the U.S. Army pulled out of two outposts in the mountains of Nuristan province after insurgents nearly overran the bases in two battles that claimed a total of 17 American lives. Insurgents operating from bases in the eastern part of Nuristan are believed to have killed the 10 members of a medical team, including six Americans, gunned down last week in a northern province.

    Longtime smuggling routes through the east link militant sanctuaries in Pakistan with northern provinces such as Kunduz and Baghlan, where insurgent attacks are increasing. Al-Qaida’s links to a Taliban faction led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin are believed stronger than with Taliban groups in the south.

    The Haqqani group was believed to have played a major role in the Dec. 30 suicide bombing at a CIA base in the eastern province of Khost that killed seven agency employees.

    A NATO official said that if al-Qaida is in Afghanistan, it’s probably in Kunar, the eastern Afghan province along the Pakistani border where Osama bin Laden maintained bases in the 1990s. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not supposed to release the information to the media.

    Gen. Mohammed Afzal, the Afghan army’s commander in the east, said the insurgents were focusing their eastern operations in the provinces of Kunar and Nuristan — which also borders Pakistan — and the area south of Jalalabad, the region’s main commercial center.

    “The enemy changed their tactics this year, and al-Qaida has started to become even stronger this year,” he said.

    He cited greater use of suicide attacks and roadside bombs — many against NATO supply convoys coming in from Pakistan. Such tactics had not been used as frequently in the mountainous east as in the south.

    “The government is there by day, but by night it is the Taliban who are in control,” said Malik Naseer, who is running for parliament in next month’s election from a district of Nangarhar. “Residents say there are some foreigners among them.”

    The NATO official said the Taliban were accelerating a campaign of intimidation in Nangarhar, including letters left in front of homes warning residents against dealing with foreigners and government officials or listening to music.

    The role of Lashkar-e-Taiba is especially disturbing because of the group’s extensive network throughout South Asia and its purported links to Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.

    The Pakistani agency helped organize Lashkar-e-Taiba, or Army of the Pure, two decades ago to launch attacks in Indian-controlled Kashmir, the disputed mountain region that lies at the heart of the rivalry between the two nuclear-armed nations.

    Lashkar-e-Taiba, which the U.S. military refers to as LeT, is believed to have played a role in the Feb. 26, 2010 car bombing and suicide attack on two guesthouses in Kabul frequented by Indians, and in the October 2008 car bombing at the gates of the Indian Embassy that killed more than 60 people.

    Pakistan says it broke ties with the group after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States. Nevertheless, it is widely believed that some factions within Lashkar are still close to the Pakistani military, which has not pursued the organization as vigorously as it has other Islamic militant groups that have staged attacks inside Pakistan.

    “I’ve watched them since 2008 … move to the West, become more active in other countries and more active throughout the region and more engaged with other terrorist groups,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, told Pakistani reporters in Islamabad last month. “So there is an increased level of concern with respect to where LeT is and where it appears to be headed.”

    Christine Fair, assistant professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies, says Lashkar-e-Taiba has been attacking coalition soldiers in Afghanistan since 2004. Fair said she has tracked Lashkar-e-Taiba operations in several eastern Afghan provinces, including Kunar, Baghlan, Nangarhar, Logar and Nuristan.

    The NATO official speculated that Lashkar-e-Taiba is using Afghanistan to “get up their jihadi street credentials” among the militants’ support base.
     
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  3. neo29

    neo29 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Street Cred ??? Since when did Let get into African American culture of gangsters trying to hold territories by building Street Cred ( Muscle Flexing ).
     
  4. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Well streed cred is just trying to put a label on what they are trying to do.


    Keeping in mind the assumption that LeT is not attacking PA/ISI interests because it has close links with some sections among them; other similar extremist/terrorists groups like Al-Qaeda, TTP affiliated groups consider LeT as a pawn of the PA/ISI(read western) powers. This comes from the logic that has been drilled into their foot soldiers that attacking head of states of muslim countries is acceptable even if the head of the state is muslims because he is a puppet.

    Hence even though there is a muslim head of state in Afghanistan or similarly a muslim CM in Kashmir, the logic is that because both are "puppets" of western and Indian govt.s it is legitimate to attack them. This ofcourse is a flawed logic under traditional Islamic school of thoughts but is popular among the politcal-Islamists ideologues. This logic is now being used by the TTP to attack PA/ISI because Zardari and the PA/ISI are considered puppets of the west for collaborating with them. And since they are "puppets" then it is legitimate to fight them. However, LeT turns itself into knots trying to disprove this connection and STILL apply it to Afghanistan and Kashmir. This resulted in a backlash of sorts to the LeT where AQ ideologues and TTP accused LeT to be Munafiqs and puppets of western interests for not staying "true to the cause".

    These operations in Afghanistan is their way of showing that we are still committed "Jihadis" and are not under the control of anyone. Hence the reference of trying to build up street cred
     
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Pakistan: Lack of terror convictions hurts fight


    ISLAMABAD – Pakistani courts have yet to convict a single person in any of the country's biggest terrorist attacks of the past three years, a symptom of a dysfunctional legal system that's hurting the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida at a critical time.
    Police without basic investigative skills such as the ability to lift fingerprints, and prosecutors who lack training to try terror cases, are some of the main reasons cited. Another daunting challenge: Judges and witnesses often are subject to intimidation that affects the ability to convict.

    The legal system's failure to attack terrorism is critical because it robs Pakistan of a chance to enforce a sense of law and order, which militants have set out to destroy.
    It has "caused a sense of terror and insecurity amongst the members of society," said one of the country's top judges, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif.
    The legal failures also call into question the government's ability to fight terrorism in any way except by using the army in military offensives or — human rights groups alleged — through targeted extra-judicial killings.
    The United States has said repeatedly that its success in Afghanistan and throughout the troubled region depends on strong help from Pakistan against militants.

    Pakistani army offensives and U.S. missile strikes have killed some suspected terrorist suspects in recent years in the rugged northwest near the Afghan border, where militant leaders and senior operatives are based. The head of the Pakistani Taliban, the group blamed for many of the 20 biggest attacks, was killed in a drone strike last August, for example.
    Indeed, human rights groups have accused security forces of carrying out hundreds of assassinations of suspected extremists or sympathizers in the Swat Valley, which the army reclaimed from the Taliban last year, rather than even trying to prosecute suspects in court.
    Authorities deny the allegations, saying they do try to use the legal courts.
    But their record is dismal.
    An Associated Press review found no convictions in the 20 largest and most high-profile terror attacks of the last three years.
    Many of the Pakistani court cases connected to those attacks — which have killed nearly 1,100 people_ have dragged on for years, or have yet to make it even past the investigation stage and into the courts.
    The handful of cases that have been decided have all resulted in acquittals — though many of these defendants remain in custody while they are investigated in other cases, court officials said.
    By contrast, 89 percent of terrorism cases in the United States have resulted in convictions since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, according to a report this year by the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law.
    The recent acquittals of suspects in two of the most high-profile attacks — the 2008 truck bombing outside the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and last year's commando-style raid on a police academy in Lahore_ have highlighted the problems plaguing the system.
    The verdict in the Lahore police academy attack seemed to defy explanation.
    The only person captured during the eight-hour siege in March 2009 was caught on the academy grounds — in possession of a hand grenade — allegedly trying to blow up a helicopter. Other militants attacked the main building with automatic weapons and grenades, killing 12 people and wounding dozens.
    But the man claimed he was an innocent garbage collector picking up trash, and was convicted in June only of weapons possession for carrying a hand grenade and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was acquitted of involvement in the attack for lack of sufficient evidence.

    Lack of evidence was also the reason given for the acquittal in May of four men on trial in connection with the suicide truck bombing that killed 54 people at the Marriott Hotel in September 2008.
    Pakistani lawyers and law enforcement officials said weak investigations conducted by poorly trained and resourced police officers made it very difficult for prosecutors and judges to convict.
    "I think the man who really plays the most critical role is neither the judge nor the prosecutor, but it is the investigating officer who is in charge of the case who sits in the police station in a pretty shabby environment," said Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a Supreme Court lawyer and legal commentator.
    "Everyone has ignored him consistently," Soofi said.
    The U.S. has provided some training and equipment for police in Pakistan, mainly in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where security forces staged a massive offensive against Taliban militants last spring, according to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.
    But even when policemen receive training in skills like lifting fingerprints or gathering other forensic evidence, those skill are rarely used in practice, said Akbar Nasir Khan. He recently served as the police chief in the central Pakistani city of Mianwali and is now pursuing a master's degree in public policy at Harvard University.
    "If there is no fingerprint provided to the court, no bloodstained clothing, no ballistics provided, no firearms or other things, how can the court convict?" Khan said. "The courts will always say there is no proper evidence collection by the police authorities that helps us convict, which is right."
    The police also can by stymied by Pakistan's most powerful spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, which often detains suspects and conducts parallel investigations without notifying the police or presenting evidence at court. That was the case after the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007, according to a U.N. report.
    The lack of collected evidence forces prosecutors to rely heavily on witnesses, a problem in a country where there is no witness protection program. People who are asked to testify in terror trials are often threatened or killed by militants.
    "This system relies on witnesses, and in the incidents that take place there are no witnesses normally or they don't want to come forward," Khan said.
    "If people are not confident that state institutions can protect them, then why should they come forward?"
    These threats often extend to others involved in terror cases, including policemen, prosecutors and judges, leaving them to decide whether to pursue convictions against suspected militants or protect themselves and their families.
    In June, three men showed up at the house of antiterror judge Asim Imam in the northwestern city of Peshawar and threatened him and his family if he didn't "behave" during the coming trial of Sufi Mohammed, a hard-line cleric with close ties to the Taliban, said the judge's father-in-law, Javed Nawaz Gandapur. That trial has been delayed.
    Prosecutors not only face similar threats, they lack the training needed to take on terror cases, are poorly paid and do not have the resources to carry out their jobs successfully, said Mohammad Jahangir, the chief prosecutor in Punjab province. That province has been hit by a rising number of attacks in the last two years.
    "They do not have proper offices ... staff or transport facilities," Jahangir said.
    Judges and prosecutors are also grappling with an antiterror court system that has become bloated with cases that often have nothing to do with terrorism. That is ironic because the courts were established in 1997 to expedite terrorism cases that could otherwise get stuck in the quagmire of Pakistan's traditional legal system.
    The Lahore judge, Sharif, called the state of affairs "alarming."
    "The accused have been acquitted by trial courts due to defective investigation, lack of sufficient evidence and, as such, failure of the prosecution to prove the cases against the culprits," he said.
     

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