"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Monday, 6 July 2009

Ex-Guantanamo Detainee Fighting in Afghanistan

As if coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan don't face enough dangers already, it has been revealed that one of the Taliban leaders fighting in Helmand province was released from Guantanamo Bay - after telling a review board it would be fine to fight Jihad against Americans and Jews - if they 'were invading his country'.

From the New York Post:

KABUL, Afghanistan -- As Marine Corps forces roll into southern Afghanistan, they face an enemy familiar to US officials -- Mullah Zakir, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who now leads a reconstituted Taliban.

Abdul Qayum Zakir, also known as Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, is from Helmand Province and has taken a circuitous route to become head of the radical Islamic group.

Zakir was a senior fighter during the Taliban regime in the 1990s. In a memorandum prepared for his administrative review board at Guantanamo, Zakir apparently "felt it would be fine to wage jihad against Americans, Jews, or Israelis if they were invading his country."

And he acknowledged that he was "called to fight jihad in approximately 1997," when he joined the Taliban.

In 2001, he surrendered to US and Afghan forces in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif as the regime was collapsing. He spent the next several years in custody, was transferred to Guantanamo around 2006, then to Afghanistan government custody in late 2007, and was eventually released around May 2008. American officials won't say why he was let go and have not released a photograph of him.

Zakir wasted little time rekindling his relationship with the Taliban, especially its inner shura, or leadership council, based in Pakistan. According to some accounts, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar appointed Zakir as a senior military commander in mid-2008. He quickly developed a reputation as a charismatic leader.

By this time, the Taliban had established a system of shadow-government structures in parts of Afghanistan: provincial governors, military commanders, and mullahs who served on Islamic courts.

The Taliban's goal, as with many insurgent groups, has been to provide more effective law and order than the Afghan government. But it has been one of the most oppressive governments in modern history, banning many forms of entertainment, prohibiting women from working, and conducting public executions of suspected collaborators.

It was in this context that Zakir made his defining contribution to the southern insurgency -- and created an opportunity for US forces to exploit. Early this year, he began to reorganize the Taliban. He helped create an "accountability commission" to monitor and evaluate the performance of key Taliban leaders and track spending.

In some ways, Zakir's efforts paralleled those of the United States, which was laying out a new Afghanistan strategy under the Obama administration at about the same time. The Taliban, apparently concerned that some governors and military commanders had become ineffective and bracing for the growing US military presence, announced its own new strategy in April.

They called it Operation Nasrat ("victory") and pledged to use "ambushes, offensives, explosions, martyrdom-seeking attacks, and surprise attacks." The Taliban also warned that they would attack "military units of the invading forces, diplomatic centers, mobile convoys and high-ranking officials" of the Afghan government.

As Marines move through Helmand, they will be on the lookout for Zakir and his support network. But like many senior Taliban leaders, Zakir spends a lot of time in Pakistani cities like Quetta and Karachi, frightened he'll be killed in an attack.

Zakir's restructuring presents an opportunity for NATO and Afghan forces. As in any business reorganization, firing senior leaders is bound to create a contingent of disgruntled individuals who may be co-opted to turn against the Taliban. A number of fired Taliban commanders have apparently refused to give up their jobs.

As part of the current US military offensive, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson stated that "where we go, we will stay and where we stay, we will hold, build, and work toward transition of all security responsibilities to Afghan forces."

The allies will need the support, or at least acquiescence, of local Afghans -- including tribes and subtribes that oppose the Taliban but have been intimidated because Afghan and NATO forces have failed to protect them.

The face of the Taliban may not be new, but defeating the Taliban and other insurgent groups requires taking advantage of their vulnerabilities and better understanding local politics in Afghanistan.

I thought the point of fighting this war was to destroy the Taliban; how can we do that when we can't even neutralise a dangerous fanatic who was held in our custody for several years?

This weekend saw three British soldiers die within 24 hours. I think real questions need to be asked about what this war has achieved and can achieve.


Dr.D said...

Isn't it great that the whole world clamored to have Gitmo closed, and the Won did just that? What a deal! There was a good reason people like this were in Gitmo. It was so that nobody would have to be fighting them. But no. Gitmo was declared to be eviiiiil. Every body said so. They only had one of the most plush prisons on earth, but it was still eviiiil. So, now, we are back to fighting this one, and no doubt many more. What a deal! Accomplished with the help of the Won!

DP111 said...

We may be ighting the Taleban in Afghanistan, but NuLabour hgas let in tens of thousands, if not more, Taleban into Britain,wher in the fullness of time they will fight the Infide.

Nice article by Baron at GoV

Drawing the Line


OhTheHumanity said...

Dr. D, in case you haven't noticed, the Guantanamo detention facility is not closed. Mr Obama has said it should be closed, but has not figured out how to. Also, in case you can't comprehend English, I will point out to you that the posting indicates that Mr. Zakir was released to the custody of the Afghan government (sic) in 2007, when the Bush clique held power.

Dr.D said...

OTH, it is kind of you to offer to help me with the English language.

That is a problem, you know, when dealing with people that you think are allies and then they double cross you. He was turned over to the Afgans to be held, and it was they who released him, not the US. So much for allies.

On your other point, it has not escaped my notice that Zero has not managed to close Gitmo. I do recall, however, that this was one of the many fervent promises he made during the presidential campaign, one that won him much support around the world. Now that he is (fraudulently) in office, he is discovering that the office is not quite as simple as he imagined it to be, and he cannot simply snap his fingers and accomplish all. I do worry that he continues to make efforts to move towards its closure by some of the most asinine means.

Now, when can we arrange of the English language tutoring that you were offering me?