India-Pakistan: The Taliban Embraces Terror


March 5,2008: The Taliban in Pakistan have lost a lot of grassroots support over the last year. The accumulated Taliban defeats have eroded popular support. This could be seen in the recent elections, where 90 percent of the radical candidates that got elected five years ago, lost. Recruiting is more difficult, and more tribes are turning on the Islamic radicals. This has given the more radical Taliban more power, and made al Qaeda tactics more popular. That means more suicide bombings. But that also means more terrorists are getting arrested, Pakistan has rounded up 442 in the past three months, most in the Pushtun (northwest) and Baluchi (southwest) tribal areas. Al Qaeda and the Taliban radicals have responded in the last two weeks with half a dozen suicide bomb attacks meant to terrorize the police and military leadership. Thus a policeman's funeral in the Swat valley was attacked, killing over three dozen mourners. The chief medical officer of the army was killed, and the Naval War College attacked. But these attacks are not widespread or violent enough to force the police and military to back off. Rather, the attacks cause the soldiers and police to want revenge. While many tribal policemen (recruited for work in the tribal areas because of their knowledge of the language, customs and usual suspects) will resign, or be dismissed, for refusing to fight the tribes, the vast majority of police and troops keep at it. Some of the al Qaeda bombings have been directed at pro-government tribal leaders. This simply causes more hatred of al Qaeda, which is seen as a "foreign" organization. Arabs in general are not as popular as they used to be, in the tribal areas.

So far this year, nearly 500 people have died from Islamic radical violence in Pakistan. The army says it has the radicals on the run, and that all the enemy can do is make individual terror attacks. Some Islamic radical violence is appreciated, as when the radicals go after drug dealers. Cheap opium and heroin from Afghanistan has created over a million addicts in Pakistan. The families of the addicts will support just about any measures that will cut access to the drugs.

March 2, 2008: The Pakistani government formally accused Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban leader based in South Waziristan, near the Afghan border, with masterminding the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Mehsud is of the new generation of more ruthless, gangster and murderous Taliban leaders. Mehsud is also close with al Qaeda, and apparently used those contacts to arrange the Bhutto hit. Mehsud denies all this, but was apparently caught on the phone boasting of his involvement.

February 27, 2008: India tested its first SLBM (sea launched ballistic missile), the K-15, using an improvised underwater silo. The test was a success. India is planning the construction of subs that can use the K-15, and hopes to have them in service within a decade.

February 26, 2008: Ayman al Zawahri, al Qaeda's number 2 guy, and the real brains behind the operation, released his first video of the year (he released 15 video and audio messages last year.) Zawahri vowed revenge for the recent death of al Qaeda number 3 guy, Abu Laith al Libi, who had a fatal encounter with a U.S. missile in Pakistan. Having lost in Iraq, and not made much progress anywhere else, al Qaeda is under a lot of pressure to accomplish something, anything, to escape being tagged as a loser and irrelevant. Islamic radicalism is still popular with the young, unemployed and unmarried Moslem guys, but al Qaeda is slipping in the polls.

February 23, 2008: Over 500 armed Maoists launched several attacks on police facilities in the Indian state of Orissa, and stole over a thousand weapons, plus radios and other equipment. While less than five percent of Indian police stations have to worry about Maoist rebels, those that do are facing a well armed and violent opponent (who is dedicated to turning India into a communist dictatorship.)


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