Al Qaeda & Taliban on the Move in Pakistan

Bill Roggio of the Fourth Rail reports that all but one Al Qaeda and Taliban camps in northern Pakistan are empty. There is concern over where they are, what they are planning and who is on the move as officials consider these terrorists seasoned and dangerous.

Mr. Shahzad reported there were 29 al Qaeda and Taliban camps in North and South Waziristan, and all but one “have been dismantled, apart from one run by hardline Islamist Mullah Abdul Khaliq.” [Note: on October 4, 2006, The Fourth Rail reported “there are over 20 al Qaeda and Taliban run training camps currently in operation in North and South Waziristan.”] While The Fourth Rail sources verify the camps’ existence, they noted the camps have not been dismantled and the infrastructure is still in place. “The physical infrastructure (camps and the like) still exist, they haven’t been dismantled. They’ve just been abandoned or are being operated by skeleton crews,” the senior military intelligence source said, while noting “the Khaliq camp is only churning out Taliban, not al Qaeda.”

The al Qaeda and Taliban personnel abandoned the 28 camps after “the US had presented Islamabad with a dossier detailing the location of the bases as advance information on likely US targets,” Mr. Shahzad reported. “All other leading Taliban commanders, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, Gul Bahadur, Baitullah Mehsud and Haji Omar, have disappeared,” said Mr. Shahzad.

“Similarly, the top echelons of the Arab community that was holed up in North Waziristan has also gone,” reported Mr. Shahzad. Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies are believed to have leaked information to the Taliban and al Qaeda in the past, and appears to have done so again.

The emptying of the camps is a cause for great concern in the military and intelligence communities. “We don’t know where they went to or who was in the camps,” the military officer told The Fourth Rail. “They are well trained, these aren’t your entry level jihadis. They are dangerous.”

“This is one of the reasons that we are worried about a major CONUS [Continental United States] attack,” the senior military intelligence source told The Fourth Rail, noting the recent influx of news of terror cells attempting to penetrate the US. “If they evacuated their bases, they almost certainly did so out of fear of more than just the Pakistani army.”

There is also concern amongst US officials, because a successful coupe on the part of the Taliban or Al Qaeda against President Musharraf would put Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in terrorists hands.

As the security situation in the Northwest Frontier Province continues to deteriorate and President Pervez Musharraf’s political stock continues to drop, the US military intelligence community is “urgently assessing how secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons would be in the event President Gen. Pervez Musharraf were replaced.” Meanwhile, the Taliban and al Qaeda have dispersed operatives from the training camps in the Northwest Frontier Province and are preparing to fight on their own terms.

With the Pakistani government facing a robust Taliban insurgency in the Northwest Frontier Province, a significant al Qaeda presence inside the country and a violent cadre of homegrown Islamist extremists, the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal has taken on an elevated importance. The US intelligence community believes it has a handle on the location of Pakistan’s nuclear warhead, but there are questions over who controls the launch codes in the event of Musharraf’s passing.

The US is also looking past the issue of the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. The loyalty of the conventional Pakistani military to President Musharraf is in question, according to CNN. “Musharraf controls the loyalty of the commanders and senior officials in charge of the nuclear program, but those loyalties could shift at any point,” CNN reported on August 10. “There is also a growing understanding according to the U.S. analysis that Musharraf’s control over the military remains limited to certain top commanders and units, raising worries about whether he can maintain control over the long term.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: