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Friday, October 16, 2009

Syed Saleem Shahzad- EXCLUSIVE : Al-Qaeda's guerrilla chief lays out strategy

In these tense times, Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, an al-Qaeda leader who, according to American intelligence is al-Qaeda's head of military operations and whose death they wrongly confirmed in a recent US Predator drone attack in North Waziristan, spoke to Asia Times Online. He invited this correspondent to a secret hideout in the South Waziristan-Afghanistan border area, where drones regularly fly overhead.

"They are right in their pursuit. They know their enemy well. They know what I am really up to," Ilyas proudly replied. Born in Bimbur (old Mirpur) in the Samhani Valley of Pakistan-administered Kashmir on February 10, 1964, Ilyas passed the first year of a mass communication degree at Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad. He did not continue due to his heavy involvement in jihadi activities.

* "This was the illusion on which a great alliance of world powers came to Afghanistan, but due to their misplaced conceptions they gradually became trapped in Afghanistan. Today, NATO does not have any significance or relevance. They have lost the war in Afghanistan. Now, when they realized their defeat, they developed an emphasis that this entire battle is being fought from outside of Afghanistan, that is, the two Waziristans. To me, this military thesis is a mirage which has created a complex situation in the region and created reactions and counter-reactions. I would not like to go into the details, to me that was nothing but deviation. As a military commander, the reality is that the trap of Afghanistan is successful and the basic military targets on the ground have been achieved," Ilyas said.

* "However, I realized that decades of armed and political struggles could not help to inch forward a resolution of this issue. Nevertheless, East Timor's issue was resolved without losing much time. Why? Because the entire game was in the hands of the great Satan, the USA. Organs like the UN and countries like India and Israel were simply the extension of its resources and that's why there was a failure to resolve the Palestinian issue, the Kashmir issue and the plight of Afghanistan. So I and many people all across the world realized that analyzing the situation in any narrow regional political perspective was an incorrect approach. This is a different ball game altogether for which a unified strategy is compulsory. The defeat of American global hegemony is a must if I want the liberation of my homeland Kashmir, and therefore it provided the reasoning for my presence in this war theater."

*"When I came here I found my step justified; how the world regional powers operate under the umbrella of the great Satan and how they are supportive of its great plans. This can be seen here in Afghanistan." He added that al-Qaeda's regional war strategy, in which they have hit Indian targets, is actually to chop off American strength.

*"The RAW [India's Research and Analysis Wing] has detachment command centers in the Afghan provinces of Kunar, Jalalabad, Khost, Argun, Helmand and Kandahar. The cover operations are road construction companies. For instance, the road construction contract from Khost city to the Tanai tribe area is handled by a contractor who is actually a current Indian army colonel. In Gardez, telecommunication companies are the cover for Indian intelligence operations. Mostly, their men operate with Muslim names, but actually the employees are Hindus."

* "So should the world expect more Mumbai-like attacks?" I asked. "That was nothing compared to what has already been planned for the future," Ilyas replied. "Even against Israel and the USA?" I asked. "Saleem, I am not a traditional jihadi cleric who is involved in sloganeering. As a military commander, I would say every target has a specific time and reasons, and the responses will be forthcoming accordingly," Ilyas said.

AN ATol EXCLUSIVE : Al-Qaeda's guerrilla chief lays out strategy - Syed Saleem Shahzad

Hawks still link Taliban to al-Qaeda - The relationship between Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network and the Taliban has been a central issue in White House discussions on Afghanistan strategy that began last month, with security officials insisting that Afghan insurgent groups have "much closer ties to al-Qaeda now than they did before 9/11". - Gareth Porter

Obama beset by America's far right - Neo-conservative heavyweights are working overtime to paint United States President Barack Obama's foreign policy as designed to weaken and constrain American power by abandoning the more aggressive policies of his predecessor, George W Bush. The Nobel committee's decision to honor Obama, they say, only hastens America's decline. - Jim Lobe


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