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October 7, 2007
Report: Taliban Preparing an "End of Ramadan" Offensive
This disturbing report in the usually reliable Asia Times paints a picture of renewed activity of the Taliban along the border with Afghanistan with as many as 20,000 armed fighters - many of them suicide bombers - preparing to enter the country:
The Taliban and their supporters now have the breathing space to replenish stocks and prepare for their new push into Afghanistan. It is envisaged that at least 20,000 fully trained fresh men from at least 16 entry points along the Durand Line that separates Pakistan and Afghanistan will be sent into Afghanistan. The Taliban is taking advantage of a political hiatus in Pakistan as President Musharraf is concentrating on bringing civilian rule to that country. In the last 10 days, the terrorists have carried out at least 9 operations against the Pakistani army designed to take pressure off of border crossings so as to allow the Taliban fighters to enter Afghanistan.
According to people who spoke to Asia Times Online and who are familiar with the planning, the main points will be Noshki (in Balochistan province), Ghulam Khan (North Waziristan), Angur Ada (South Waziristan), Shawal (North Waziristan), and Chitral and Bajuar agencies.
The new forces will go to the front lines in Afghanistan in the southeastern provinces of Ghazni, Khost, Gardez, Paktia and Paktika, and many of them will be trained suicide bombers.
The action has already picked up in Ghazni. On Wednesday, hundreds of Taliban occupied the remote district of Ajristan, killing at least two policemen and forcing the rest to flee. The Taliban have occupied numerous other remote areas. Wednesday's attack came a day after a suicide attack on a police bus in the capital, Kabul, killed 13 people.
Even more disturbing is this report that has been given credence by NATO sources in Afghanistan:
The strategy to attack the Pakistani Army is being orchestrated by a cabal of former army officers who have joined up with the militants in Waziristan. (See Military brains plot Pakistan's downfall Asia Times Online, September 26). They draw inspiration from the guerrilla strategy used by Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap against the French and the Americans. Given the backoff by the Pakistani military, their plans are working, at least for now. How this will all play out at the end of the month is uncertain. In the past, NATO has had great success by pre-empting these attacks using pinpoint air strikes on masses of Taliban fighters and employing quick response forces to trouble spots. The Taliban has proven vastly inferior when trying to stand up to NATO troops in open combat so it would seem that this strategy is a mistake. But if they employ hundreds of suicide bombers to hit urban centers, they might be able to destablize the government of Afghanistan and make progress in the provinces.
Let's hope we can interdict most of them before they can cause too much trouble.