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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Syed Saleem Shahzad: The rise and rise of the neo-Taliban

This year, though, the 70,000 troops - 38,000 of them American - face a new and ominous challenge in the form of the neo-Taliban, a new generation of Pakistani, Afghan, al-Qaeda and Kashmiri fighters who have adopted al-Qaeda's ideology, and who plan new tactics, according to Asia Times Online investigations.

The neo-Taliban's efforts will complement the traditional guerrilla war of the Kandahari clan in southwestern Afghanistan and suicide operations in and around Kabul and in southeastern Afghanistan.

The Arab and former Kashmiri fighters that make up the bulk of the neo-Taliban have in the past years fought in Afghanistan under the command and strategy of the Taliban, but they have now effectively peeled off into a separate entity.

The key man in this is the anti-Pakistan Baitullah Mehsud, chief of the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan), based in the South Waziristan tribal area - the same man who claimed responsibility for the attack on a police training center in Lahore on Monday.

He provides base camps for fighters and also raises money. It is estimated that in the past six months in the southern port city of Karachi alone, he has generated at least 250 million rupees (US$3.1 million) through various operations. These include extortion of fuel contractors for coalition troops in Afghanistan and ransom money from kidnappings and threats. The proceeds have been used to launch new guerrilla camps in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.


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