Sunday, August 8, 2010

The District Next Door

Anyone following the news is aware of the Taliban's killing of some international aid workers in Karan Wa Munjan district of Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan.

First, we consider excerpts from International Assistance Mission slayings: part of Taliban war strategy by Patrik Jonsson, August 7, 2010:

The execution-style killings of 10 people working for a Christian medical team in a remote region of northern Afghanistan fit into Taliban insurgents' stated shift in tactics: Target Western civilians, especially Christians, as "foreign invaders."

The Taliban took credit for one of the deadliest attacks yet on aid workers in Afghanistan, saying the Christian charity workers were proselytizing to poor villagers – a charge that the International Assistance Mission, which dispatched the team, denies.


Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in conversations with Western reporters. "One of our patrols confronted a group of foreigners," Mr. Mujahid was quoted as saying. "They were Christian missionaries and we killed them all." In the past, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for attacks carried out in actuality by bandits and independent warlords.

But the Los Angeles Times quoted Gen. Agha Nur Kamtuz, police chief in Badakhshan, saying the area had become dangerous in the past month, with intense fighting taking place between Taliban and Western-backed Afghan security forces.

Notice the name of the Taliban spokesman: Mr. Mujahid - in English, Mr. Holy Warrior. That's another story altogether... or perhaps it is the same story?

The article points out that the Taliban claim credit for any kind of attack on Westerners, which makes sense: any street gang wants to claim credit for any drive-by done on its rivals within the boundaries of its turf.

However, notice also that they are stating Badakhshan Province has become dangerous lately. Badakhshan is along the extreme easternmost frontier of Afghanistan bordering both Pakistan and China.

From Afghanistan war: Deadly ambush of medical mission roils one of safest provinces, by Ben Arnoldy, August 7, 2010:

In one of Afghanistan's safest provinces, 10 members of a medical mission - including six Americans - were killed by militants. The attack highlights the trouble coalition forces have had containing the reach of insurgent activity in the Afghanistan war.


Some reports suggested the attack might stem from criminal activity, but a Taliban spokesman claimed the killings, telling the Associated Press that the group was "spying for the Americans" and "preaching Christianity." The group, International Assistance Mission (IAM), is a Christian organization, but on its website the group says it does not use aid to further a religious view.


Badakhshan is located in the far northeast of Afghanistan and is home to few ethnic Pashtuns, the group from which the Taliban draws its membership.

However, "dry tinder" for militancy remains: The province lies on a major opium smuggling route and some former commanders are searching for work. Meanwhile, the Taliban have recently overrun several bordering districts in Pakistan and Afghanistan, imperiling the stability of one of the country's calmest provinces.

"I believe we have this risk of losing some areas of Badakhshan, either through the criminal groups, former commanders who are allied with insurgents, and some who are part of the insurgency," says Waliullah Rahmani, head of the Kabul Center for Strategic Studies.

In the second quarter of this year, Badakhshan ranked 5th safest out of 34 provinces in terms of attacks initiated by armed opposition groups, according to the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office.


The attack on the international medical team took place in Badakhshan's southernmost district, Kuran wa Munjan. The group had been performing medical work in neighboring Nuristan Province. The head of the IAM told the Associated Press that the group decided to drive back to Kabul via Badakhshan because they thought that was the safest route.


An aid worker based in Badakhshan says that Kuran wa Munjan borders two districts in Pakistan that had been taken by the Taliban two months back.

And another bordering district, Nuristan's Barg-e-Matal, has switched hands four times this year between insurgents and coalition forces. Last month, several hundred Taliban seized control of the district before being pushed back by NATO and Afghan troops.

So actually, much of the trouble is from the Barg-e-Matal District (also Bargi Matal) from neighboring Nuristan Province:

(To download your own copy of this map, which will allow you to see it much better, click here.)

But, the trouble really begins in Pakistan. The Taliban have a safe haven there. Among my many related posts, may I suggest The Colonel Imam Situation?

Meanwhile, we review excerpts from Paths of terrorism lead but to Pakistan by Ardeshir Cowasjee May 9, 2010:

Many of our neo-terrorists are schooled and brainwashed beings, with a grudge, or several grudges, imbued with bravado, intent on disrupting what is left of civilised life, with nary a care as to how many complete strangers they either blow to smithereens or maim, or how much they destroy.


What is it about Pakistan that it manages to produce so many young men who are violence prone, caring neither for their own or other people's lives? We seriously need to ask ourselves this question.

It was asked and partially answered in the Wall Street Journal of May 3 by Sadanand Dhume under the heading 'Why Pakistan Produces Jihadists'. He firstly asks: "Why do Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora churn out such a high proportion of the world's terrorists?" He cites Mir Aimal Kasi, the CIA shooter, Ramzi Yousef, the 1993 World Trade Centre bomber, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed of 9/11 fame, Omar Saeed Sheikh, the Daniel Pearl kidnapper, and three of the four July 2005 London train bombers as being 'made in Pakistan'.

He goes on to list a few "whose passage to jihadism passes through" Pakistan — Osama bin Laden himself, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mohamed Atta, Richard Reid and his shoe, and John Walker Lindh of the so-called American Taliban. These are not lists to be proud of. Something is radically wrong and heaven alone knows how long it will take to even start to put it right. With the governments and leadership we have suffered and still suffer it is not likely that in the foreseeable future our production line will decrease, let alone cease.


No one, not even the most nationalistic Pakistani, can deny that the country is used as a training ground for terrorists or jihadists or whatever.

It is open knowledge that both the ignorant poor and deprived and the university-educated youth, and even adult men, can come to Pakistan and learn how to make bombs to blow up themselves, if they so wish, and as many others that they can either take with them or leave dead and maimed while they flee.

Karan Wa Munjan district of Badakhshan is now unstable because of a nearby district, Barg-e-Matal in Nuristan. But the real trouble lies across the international boundary in Pakistan.

Islam's borders are bloody, but Islam's interior is bloodier still, and Pakistan was founded in an environment promoting Islam as a reason to divide the subcontinent upon independence from Britain. Now, however, that promotion of militant and political Islam has joined Wahabbism from Saudi Arabia, developing into a powerful jihadist conflagration that threatens the whole world.

But, the most threatened are those who live in among the burning fuel, and those who live nearby - in this case, in the district next door.

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