Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Genesis, Part 33

In this post, we review another document from a series of declassified US State Department documents that address the rise of the Taliban, and the role of the Government of Pakistan (GOP) in assisting the Taliban to seize power.

This document, dated August, 1996, is identifeid as MORI DocID: 1218415; the section that is reproduced is an article classified SECRET, entitled "Harakut ul-Ansar: Increasing Threat to Western and Pakistani Interests (C)", the very title of which, as indicated by the "C" in parentheses, was classified CONFIDENTIAL.

The Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA), an Islamic extremist organization that Pakistan supports in its proxy war against Indian forces in Kashmir, increasingly is using terrorist tactics against Westerners and random attacks on civilians that could involve Westerners to promote its pan-Islamic agenda:

Since early 1994, the HUA has kidnapped at least 13 individuals -- 12 of whom are Westerners.

Against the backdrop of possible declining support from Islamabad, the HUA is discussing financing with sponsors of international terrorism who are virulently anti-US and may encourage attacks on US targets. The HUA may be seeking this assistance from such sources -- including terrorist financier Usama Bin Ladin and Libyan leader Mu'ammar Qadhafi -- in an attempt to offset losses resulting from the drop in Pakistani support.

Islamabad also is at risk of being a target of HUA terrorism, particularly if it further reduces its support for the HUA or clamps down on the group's activities. Antigovernment sentiment among HUA leaders is already strong and could grow further.

The terrorist threat from the HUA is increasing as the group shifts from attacks on Indian security forces in Kashmir to Westerners and civilian targets -- which could involve Westerners -- outside of Kashmir. HUA leaders have expressed intense hatred of the West, and additional attacks against Western interests would be consisten with the group's philosophy of jihad against non-Muslims:

Since early 1994, the HUA has kidnapped a total of 13 people -- 12 of whome are Westerners -- in four separate incidents. The HUA has voluntarily released two of the victims, five were rescued or escaped, and at least two -- and probably six -- were murdered.

[redacted] the HUA may have assisted the Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front in carrying out the Lajpat Nagar market bombing in May 1996 in New Dehli that killed 13 persons, according to US Embassy reports.

The HUA may be preparing to begin attacking civilian or VIP aircraft in India. [redacted] HUA contacts of Embassy New Dehli have hinted that they might undertake terrorist actions against civilian airliners. [redacted] Attacks on civilian aircraft in India could well involve Western casualties, given the large numbers of Western tourists in that country.

This is typical of the situation. Pakistan at some point supports a jihadist organization as a proxy to fight India. The jihadist organization stops distinguishing among infidels, and begins to target not just Indians, but others as well.

The problem here is the Pakistani elite, who see support for jihadists as a legitimate course of action in Pakistan's ongoing troubles with India. Moreover, the troubles with India serve to keep the Pakistani people's focus on India, to the exclusion of paying attention to corruption among Pakistan's politicians.

Criticism of Islam becomes treasonous, and criticism of the GOP becomes un-Islamic.

Pakistan could have peace with India, if Pakistan's politico-military elite would stop fanning the flames of war with India.

Of course, the ramifications for the West are serious, as the jihadists begin to wage holy war against any infidel they come across. The situation is particularly dire for the US -- the "Great Satan -- and for the UK, with its large immigrant population of ethnic Pakistanis.

Reaching Out to International Terrorist Supporters

The HUA is attempting to expand its ties to foreign supporters of international terrorism that are virulently anti-US and may further encourage the group to attack US interests. Although the group has long had international connections, recent HUA requests for money from these terrorist supporters -- at least one of which coincided with declining Pakistani support -- suggests these new contacts are more than routine:

[heavily redacted]

Islamabad is Backing Away...

Islamabad appears to be scaling back its support for the HUA, probably out of concern that its ties to the group will prompt the United States to place Pakistan on the list of state sponsors of terrorism:

[heavily redacted] diplomatic reports indicate that ISID provides at least $30,000 -- and possibly as much as $60,000 -- per month to the HUA.

[heavily redacted]

In apparently related activity, a senior HUA leader complained about Islamabad's inconsistent policy toward the group. It is unclear if he was referring only [redacted] or whether the ISID has reduced its financial and other support as well.

...But Could Become a Target Itself

Islamabad's compliance with US and UK demands to cease its support for the HUA and crack down on the group's activities could be costly to Islamabad. Pakistan is unlike to accede fully, but any strong actions aimed at stopping the group's activities might prompt the HUA to retaliate. Although the HUA's operations are primarily targeted against India, some of the group's rhetoric and past actions demonstrate a hostility toward Islamabad that could be fueled by a loss of Islamabad's patronage:

Elements within the HUA participated in the coup of September 1995 against the Pakistan Army, according to press reporting. The coup's objective was the removal of the civilian government.

A senior HUA leader has publicly advocated an Afghan-style change of government in Pakistan that would remove the political, bureaucratic, and military hierarchies.

Implications for the United States

A cutoff of Pakistani support to the HUA would make the group more likely to accept money from anti-US international terrorist supporters such as Bin Ladin, even if accepting such funds required a shift in targeting strategy. The HUA's underlying hatred of the West and a probable desire for retaliation against the forces pushing Islamabad's efforts increase the likelihood of such a scenario following a crackdown.

My question: this was released with documents that address whether Pakistan supported the rise of the Taliban; why?

Also, the prediction was that, as Islamabad backed away from supporting the HUA, it would become a target of the HUA. Please keep this in mind as we continue with our series, The New Frontier, as The New Frontier, Part 7 deals with a similar kind of blowback.

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