The Federally Administered Tribal Area of Pakistan and the War on Terror
What affect does the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Pakistan (FATA) have on the stabilization, of Afghanistan? With the Taliban able to recruit, re-organize, and train unmolested in, the tribal areas, a constant cycle of insurgency can go on in Afghanistan. It is estimated that the Taliban could take 10,000 plus casualties a year for 20 years with little impact on their ability to fight. The Pakistan military is engaging in all out combat against the so called Pakistani Taliban. The Islamist militant group Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM) located in the Swat valley where just the beginning between 2004 – 2007, the TNSM killed over 1,000 Pakistani security service forces before being driven from the area. Pakistan has a good Taliban (which launch attacks inside of Afghanistan) and bad Taliban (which launch attacks inside of Pakistan) the Pakistan military will not move against good Taliban groups. In 2009 in response to the Taliban moving to within 60 miles of Islamabad the Pakistan military against launched offensives against the Taliban in which the Pakistani military claimed victory however, the Taliban are re-infiltrating these areas and launching attacks against Pakistani security services.
Al-Qaeda has also succeeded in reestablishing itself by exploiting the weaknesses of the Pakistan military in the tribal area and their already close relationship with the Taliban. It has been estimated that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have established over 150 training camps in the FATA In the words of one western military commander "Until we transform the tribal belt the U.S. is at risk." This should be expanded to other countries are at risk such as India, Spain, and Great Britain which has suffered at the hands of terrorists that shelter in the FATA. Affiliated groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba are allowed safe sanctuary to plan and launch attacks on regional and international targets.
II Literature Review:
The literature reviewed included policy statements, newspaper articles, and journal articles for public and military publication, as well as books written about past and current wars in Afghanistan. These articles have all come to the same conclusion, the Afghan insurgency and the war on terror cannot be won until something is done about the FATA. The authors have different methodology in dealing with the tribal belt ranging from the use of more direct U.S. and NATO military force, to enforcing more diplomatic pressure on Pakistan and increasing economic assistance for the tribal areas. Current President Barack Obama, then a leading Democrat candidate in the US presidential race, provoked anger on August 1st, 2007 saying "that as president he would be prepared to order U.S. troops into that country unilaterally if it failed to act on its own against Islamic extremists ." Some authors blame the Bush administration directly, while others see this area as a problem dating back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Rubin suggests that while Pakistan's tribal area substantially aided in the rebirth of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, it is failed U.S. policy that is the main contributor to the Taliban's resurgence. While clear in his bias against U.S. policy, Rubin suggests that the illegal use of Guantanamo Bay and Bagram airfield as illegal detention facilities helps fuel the continued Taliban insurgency . Despite Rubin's dislike of current U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan he discusses several very good points. Shortly after the Taliban's ouster from Afghanistan, the Pakistan Inter-Service Intelligence Agency (ISI) set the Taliban up with a new headquarters in Quetta, Pakistan. This city is important because Quetta is only 150 miles from Kandahar, Afghanistan which is the Afghan home of the Taliban. Al-Qaeda also used this new sanctuary to reestablish its global reach. Prior to the Iraq surge which appears to have all but defeated Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the sanctuary was used in the sharing of information from AQI to the Taliban in tactics and techniques. It is also believed that several key members of AQI have fled Iraq and gone to the safety of the FATA.
Steven Coll in Ghost Wars suggests that the ISI, which started the Taliban and some believe still support it, believe that it is in Pakistan's best interest that a proxy Jihad be fought in Kashmir and Afghanistan with fighters trained in the FATA. Pakistan does not want the traditional close ties of Afghanistan and India to be reestablished as this will weaken Pakistan's position in the region. Coll also speaks on the shortsightedness of U.S. policy in Afghanistan as a reason for the rise of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. During the Soviet invasion, the U.S. policy was to turn Afghanistan into the Soviet Union's Vietnam. After the war was over, the only concern the U.S. had was getting its stinger missiles back. When Osama bin Laden, who had reached legendary status during the Afghan war began preaching against the evils of the Great Satan and how Islam had a duty to fight the Dar el Harb, he had an avid audience and a lot of money to throw around which helped his cause a great deal.
Grant, 2007 argues that the United States, while winning the tactical battles is losing the strategic ones. In this scholarly social science article, the author uses empirical data such as troop level, the number of Taliban killed, and the number of attacks to show the resurgence of the Taliban. The bias is from the U.S. and NATO militaries using the wrong tactics to fight this war. The Taliban have 3 million Afghan refugees living in the FATA of Pakistan to recruit from. These refuges are pushed towards the madrassas and from there into the training camps of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The FATA acts as a sanctuary for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda just as Laos and Cambodia did for the Viet Cong and NVA during the Vietnam War. This is a lesson learned the hard way by the Soviets in the 1980's and the U.S. and NATO, that no insurgency has ever been defeated that had safe base of operations to deploy from.
Also understood is the Pakistani's inability or unwillingness to control the tribal areas. This lack of control has created a virtual warzone inside the tribal areas between rival tribal factions, the Taliban against the Pakistani security services. This is a battle the Taliban appear to be winning.
Roggio, who writes extensively on Afghanistan and Pakistan argues that Pakistan's refusal or unwillingness to deal with the situation in the FATA is worrisome in that it does hinder U.S. and NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan but could also bring about the downfall of Pakistan itself. His many articles are written in a journalistic manner with data collected from attack records, anecdotal evidence, intuition, extensive interviews of commanders in theatre, and intelligence specialists.
Roggio's articles are very pointed in declaring how the fight in the FATA will reflect not only the fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan but also the threat of greater global terrorism. One of his articles quotes Lt. General Eikenberry as saying, "a steady, direct attack against the command and control in sanctuary areas of Pakistan is needed or attacks from the tribal areas into Afghanistan will continue." Senator Carl Levin is also quoted as saying, "Long term prospects for eliminating the Taliban threat appear dim so long as the sanctuary remains in Pakistan, and there are no encouraging signs that Pakistan is eliminating it." Roggio also tracks and analyzes the effectiveness of Predator attacks inside of FATA.
The FATA of Pakistan is the key to stability, not only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also to the global reach of Al-Qaeda. The most important battle against the war on terror may not be fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, but in an area U.S. and NATO forces cannot invade, which is Pakistan one of our allies in the war on terror.
Rotberg argues that by 2006 the Taliban had won the initiative from the U.S. and NATO forces. After the initial invasion in 2001, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban slipped away to Pakistan and Iran. Now in the south and southeast of Afghanistan, groups such as the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and Hizb-e Islami are using tactics similar to those carried out by AQI so there was information sharing between these groups. These militant groups are headquartered in the FATA and this is where they are conducting their training and equipping. Also mentioned is the fact that "outside" factors namely Pakistan is working to destabilize Afghanistan. The work contains a great deal of how to stabilize Afghanistan through economic measures and using a softer touch in military operations, but does not mention what should be done about the FATA.
Griffin argues that the Taliban is a product of Pakistan and that Pakistan has done and will do nothing to interfere with the Taliban as long as they serve their interests. Also, that the US and NATO forces did not put enough troops on the ground to prevent the Taliban and Al-Qaeda from escaping after they were ejected from Afghanistan. Griffin also goes on to say, how the battle of Shah-I Kot valley was not a high point for the battle against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. This battle did allow the U.S. to press and receive permission to cross into Pakistan in hot pursuit which has led to several captures. The author is very critical of western efforts relating to how the war has been conducted. He also points out the obvious that whenever the Taliban or Al-Qaeda need to retreat or re-organize it is done in the FATA.
Riedel, concludes that the U.S. invasion of Iraq gave Al-Qaeda a chance to rest, regroup and come back stronger than before 9/11. Riedel is very critical of not finishing off Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden when we had the chance after the invasion of Afghanistan. Riedel also concludes that forcing Al-Qaeda into Pakistan has helped its global reach with a large Pakistani population living in England and the easy travel back and forth between the two countries, recruitment and training can be facilitated. Also a Pakistani who is a British citizen can travel to Europe and the United States with much less suspicions that someone traveling on a Pakistani passport. Riedel offers suggestions such as a stronger military and economic commitment in Afghanistan as well as encouraging dialogue to settle Pakistan and India's differences, which is the main reason for the ISI support of the Jihad in Kashmir. Riedel while very critical of past U.S. policy in Afghanistan offers very good positional solutions that would include a framework for regional conferences on stability in the entire Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India region. These include the aforementioned talks, but also including U.S. Muslim allies and other such as Egypt, Morocco, and Iran contribute to the stabilization of Afghanistan. Riedel also points out Al-Qaeda's losses such as the Saudi Arabian crack down in 2006 which killed or captured 260 terrorists and Egypt's so far successful fight against Al-Qaeda after the hotel and tourist site bombings in 2004 and 205. Riedel provides a very good study on the failures and opportunities against Al-Qaeda. However Riedel has no plan about a solution in the FATA, except encouraging Pakistan and India to make peace.
III Theoretical Framework:
Throughout the literature that I have reviewed, there are differing opinions on how the war is and was being fought in Afghanistan. It ranges from the U.S. forgetting about Afghanistan due to the war in Iraq, to an insurgency that will be almost impossible to defeat because of the sanctuary offered by the FATA. It is not only the insurgency in Afghanistan that the FATA fuels but Islamic group's world wide receive their inspiration from al-Qaeda still alive and well inside there.
What is unknown is how to treat the FATA as it is part of a sovereign country that is an ally in the war on terror. The Pakistan government complains mildly about the current Predator strikes. What is unknown is what would Pakistan's reaction be to the U.S. and NATO directly attacking the tribal areas under Taliban control? Pakistan has a large Army of approximately one million active and reserve troops mostly concentrated and equipped to fight the Indian army. Any invader would also have to fight the Taliban and Al-Qaeda who have pledged to fight to maintain Pakistani sovereignty. Yet another gap is would the cost benefit be worth a full on invasion of the FATA or would containment of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the FATA be enough? Any land assault will be costly in terms of lives and money and not be a sure victory due to the difficulty in getting supplies into the area. Since the invasion of Afghanistan the U.S. and our allies have been attempting to contain the Taliban and other groups in the FATA with no real success. The terrain does not allow for complete coverage of the Afghan Pakistan border and there are just not enough troops on the ground to guard every pass and doing so would leave small outposts easily over run. This is also the issue for the Pakistanis who believe they have to maintain as large a force as possible on the border with India therefore leaving limited troops to operate inside the FATA.
The gaps about the FATA need to filled, because while there is agreement among writers, that the FATA is a problem, there few authors that offer possible solutions. I propose to try to the fill gaps, because the FATA is the nexus of the Islamic terrorist movement. With a secure base of operations, Al-Qaeda is able to support ongoing Islamic terrorist movement's world wide. Not only is Al-Qaeda able to inspire these groups with their propaganda machine they are also able to provide financing, trained fighters and moral support. The Taliban will also be able to use the FATA to rest, recruit, re-fit and carry on its wars in Afghanistan and Kashmir. While opening another front against Pakistan proper as it moves to take over the entire country.
IV Analytical Model:
The FATA acts as a sanctuary and headquarters both for the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and the growing Pakistani Taliban movement.
The FATA is the current nexus for the exportation of militant Islam.
VI Research Design
The purpose of this study is to explain the role the FATA is having on the insurgencies in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and worldwide terrorism. This study will use predictive and forecasting models. This study will use multi-method case studies on the state of the Afghan and Pakistan insurgencies, and what the continued presence of Al-Qaeda leadership is having on world wide Islamic terrorism.
Dependent and Independent Variables
The Dependent Variable: The Federally Administrated Tribal Area continues to feed the insurgency in not only Afghanistan but in also destabilizing Pakistan as well. Also, the FATA serves as the base or in Arabic (Al-Qaeda) for the growth and support of worldwide militant Islam. This is a nominal measurement.
Independent Variable 1: The Sovereignty of Pakistan prevents effective military actions against the terrorist groups located in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas. This is an ordinal measurement because of some the U.S. military action does take place in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas. These attacks come in the form of Predator/Reaper drone attacks against potential high value targets (HVT) and hot pursuit crossings of the Pakistan border during engagements with the Taliban or other militant forces.
Independent Variable 2: That Pakistani Taliban is increasing their attacks in Pakistan to gain more autonomy, power, and to destabilize Pakistan so that it cannot act in a meaningful manner in the FATA. There is also the chance the Pakistani Taliban have the goal of creating a new Talibanized Pakistan and take over the entire country.
Independent Variable 3: That attacks inside of Afghanistan are controlled by groups with safe havens within Pakistan. Taliban commanders like Siraj Haqqani send suicide bombers into Afghanistan from the FATA. This is operationalized through ratio measures and will allow me to distinguish among persons by adding or subtracting by rank.
Independent Variable 4: The Taliban currently possess all of the necessary ingredients to escalate their campaign and to continue an insurgency inside Afghanistan for the foreseeable future. They have a geographic sanctuary, recruits willing to die for their cause and a steady source of funds from the growing and profitable opium trade-terrain, people and money. This will be a ratio measurement.
Independent Variable 5: The Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence agency actually feeds and encourages the Jihad from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to attempt to strengthen Pakistan's influence in southwest Asia. Intelligence collected during Western military offensives in mid-2006 confirmed that Pakistan's ISI was continuing to actively support the Taliban leadership. This is operationalized as an ordinal measure.
This study will attempt to explain the effects of the FATA on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and international Islamic terrorism. This information will be collected from previous and current studies of attacks, action plans, and data on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the FATA. I will use peer reviewed articles, studies, and books by people considered experts in the area as well as news articles by Pakistani and other news papers.
This study will include studies that have varying opinions on U.S., western and Pakistani operations and combine them into an explanatory study. Content analysis combining quantitative and qualitative methods will determine the data analysis.
Limitations and Biases in Study: Is the actual lack of reporting from the Federally Administered Tribal Area due to the danger of reporting there. Most studies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas have to be done with accumulated data from outside of the area and are subject to second hand knowledge. Recent studies in the FATA have had to be done in a covert manner as access to the FATA since the start of the Global War on Terror has been limited. The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan remarked that embassy officers "have little or no access to the field their teams have not been able to move freely in the FATA for at least a year." I have a personal bias towards this topic as I feel the Federally Administered Tribal Areas are the nexus for regional instability and for global Islamic terrorism. The studies I have read for this project also have strong feelings on the topic either for or against U.S. policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan. These biases range from increasing more military power in the area or applying more pressure on Pakistan. For every study written on the subject the author has their own bias on the issue.
Ethical Issues Raised by Study: The ethical issues deal with the international rule of law regarding the sanctity of Pakistan's national borders. This has to be weighed against the need to combat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda that are resurgent in the tribal area. Also at stake would be the actions that would need to be taken if the Taliban obtained Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.
Plan to Reduce Bias in the Study: I will use studies from different authors with differing biases to counteract each other. I will attempt to limit my own bias even in my conclusion and use the data presented in the study.
Particular Challenges Study Presents: The situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan is a very complex and challenging issue not only for the world but for study as there are very many opinions on how to fight in Afghanistan. There are very few studies on how to tackle the tangled situation of tribal loyalty and independence mixed with religious extremism that is infused in the FATA. There is also the subject of Pakistan's public opinion as the people of Pakistan do not want attacks by the Pakistan military against the Taliban. Then the Pakistani people are subjected to attacks from the Taliban in an attempt to break their will even further and may force the Pakistan government to agree to a truce with the Taliban with the FATA making them immune from the Pakistani army. This has changed somewhat after the assassination of Banazir Bhutto in 2007 and a constant campaign of suicide bombings by the bad Taliban inside of Pakistan.
The FATA has been a source of sanctuary for fighters resisting occupiers of Afghanistan since the Soviet invasion in 1979. The FATA now serves as the headquarters for not just insurgents fighting against the U.S., Afghan and NATO forces in Afghanistan but also al-Qaeda. Now the Pakistani Taliban are pushing their power base from the FATA into the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) with a series of Shai'ra -for-Peace deals. The continued sanctuary that the FATA provides the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and their allies will be a destabilizing factor in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and perhaps the world with the presence of al-Qaeda and the influence that organization still has over world wide global Islamic terrorism.
Hypothesis 1The FATA acts as a sanctuary for both the Taliban insurgency and the growing Pakistani Taliban movement as well.
In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to prop up the failing communist government that was falling to an Islamic led revolution. This revolution was begun by and Afghan army Captain named Ismail Khan who called for jihad against the communist usurpers. Former Soviet Premier Kosygin told the Afghan leader Taraki in a moment of alarming piece of fortune telling "you are of course, oversimplifying the issue" of Afghanistan's rising Islamic rebellion, when he said this would present "a complex political and international issue. After the Soviet invasion, the Afghan's, particularly the Pashtuns, fled towards the Pastun homelands located on the Pakistan, Afghan border in and around the FATA of Pakistan.
The Hindu Kush which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan where the FATA is located is a natural fortress with mountainous peaks and valleys which are honeycombed with caves. From this area the CIA, Saudi Arabian intelligence (GID), and the ISI funded, armed, and trained the Afghan resistance, known collectively as the mujahedeen. After the Afghan victory over the Soviet Union, Afghanistan fell into political and social chaos. This was partially caused because of the end of the cold war. The United States no longer cared about the fortunes of Afghan people, because they were no longer needed to fight the Soviet Union. To fill this void the Pakistani ISI organized and backed a group called the Taliban. The Taliban whose ranks were filled with students from madrassas or religious schools from the FATA backed by Arab Afghan war veterans swooped into Afghanistan. This army took over all but the northern most part of Afghanistan. As the Taliban's grip over Afghanistan tightened, the Taliban instituted harsh Islamic law and increasingly allied with Osama bin Laden, who was an Afghan war hero and who had recently been kicked out of the Sudan for sponsoring terrorism. From Afghanistan and the FATA, Osama bin Laden declared war against the west and created al-Qaeda (the base) to battle the infidels and fight against the dar al harb (house of war). The dar al harb is what Osama bi Laden and his followers consider any non-Islamic country. Al-Qaeda began launching attacks against the United States culminating with the September 11, 2001 attack against the World Trade center in New York and the Pentagon. The United States response was swift as by October the U.S. and its allies were attacking the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and in a lighting campaign quickly ejected the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The Taliban, being predominantly Pashtu and the al-Qaeda allies fell back to their base of support in the FATA.
The Taliban is so important to Pakistan that President Musharraf considered going to war with the United States rather than abandon their allies following 9/11. Pakistan has proven to be a reluctant ally in the global war on terror. The question remains how effective allies can the Pakistani's actually be when their first national reaction was to go to war against the United States? The ISI, after the ejection of the Taliban from Afghanistan, established the Taliban a new headquarters in the Pakistan city of Quetta. In Quetta, the Taliban leadership has rebuilt its command, control, and communication. From there, they can communicate with their fighters and continue to make attacks into Afghanistan. The FATA provides a springboard for attacks in Afghanistan and just as importantly provides a place to retreat, re-arm, and recruit. An important element to the Taliban is being able to quickly refill their ranks after attacks in Afghanistan. The recruiting pool in the FATA is huge as there are 3 million Afghan refugees in the FATA living in extreme poverty.
Sanctuaries are vital to the success of an insurgency, and as the Viet Cong had in Laos and Cambodia, the Taliban have in the lawless tribal regions of western Pakistan (Grant 2007). This sanctuary has allowed the Taliban to step up their attacks. In 2006 the Taliban launched a record number of attacks and some 4,000 people, mostly militants, died in insurgency related violence. Suicide attacks in 2006 totaled 136 up from 27 in 2005, according to U.S. Military numbers. NATO has said suicide attacks killed 206 Afghan civilians, 54 Afghan security personnel, and 18 soldiers from NATO's International Security Assistance Force . By June of 2008, attacks were up 40% in eastern Afghanistan that borders the FATA compared to the same time period in 2007. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are also known to be operating 157 training camps in the FATA. From these camps the Taliban and al-Qaeda train insurgents for fight in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Pakistan, and possibly overseas in terror attacks. Containing the Taliban and eleminating these camps in the FATA is the part of the War on Terror the Pakistani army is supposed to be fighting. While the Pakistani army has launched some attacks into the FATA the army seems to prefer negotiation to fighting. This has allowed the Taliban to consolidate their power in the FATA and beyond.
In February 2009 in response to a proposed United States surge into Afghanistan, Mullar Omar the nominal head of the Taliban urged three rival Taliban leaders to agree to form a unified alliance against the United States. The three leaders Baitullah Meshed leader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), a coalition of militant groups in the FATA, Hafiz Gul and Maulwi Nazir have agreed to combine forceses to battle the United States in Afghanistan and abroad. The three leaders created the Shura Ittihad al-Mujahideen, a 13 member advisory body tasked with coordinating insurgent operations.
On March 27, 2009 The United States outlined its new strategy for Afghanistan which included amoung other things, bolstering the Pakistani army, so it could better combat the Taliban and al-Qaeda networks inside the FATA. This had been something that the Pakistani army has been reluctant to do in the past. Less than a month later Abdullah Sa'id the commander of the Lashkar al-Zil or the shadow army which is a combined al-Qaeda and Taliban force released the insurgents new Afghan strategy. This force combined with the other Taliban groups plan on attacking NATO supply lines in Pakistan, out wait the United States and NATO allies, commit terrorist attacks in the west, continue the propaganda campaign taking advantage of civilian deaths caused by air strikes, and to use the porus Afghan, Pakistan border to flood Afghanistan with foreign fighters. This type of announcement made so soon after the United States announcment shows a level of media sophistication and military planning that comes from a confident enemy. Eight years of war with the United States, NATO, Afghan, and Pakistan militaries plus a protected area to train and plan has given the Taliba and al-Qaeda time to strengthen its forces and review lessons learned. Today's enemy represents the third generation of the Taliban. Today's Taliban are an extremely proficient, well- organized, well-equipped insurgent force. They combine cynical, experienced, hard bitten leaders, with extremely well motivated disciplined fighters and a new capacity for terrorist attacks.
The FATA in 2001 allowed the Taliban and al-Qaeda to survive. Today the FATA serves as the launch point for attacks not only in Afghanistan but increasingly into Pakistan. The Taliban have been able to negotiate peace deals with the Pakistani military which use the truces to buy time to re-group and re-arm and then begin launching new attacks. The latest known as the Shari'a for Peace Deals which give the Taliban full authority to enforce Shai'a law in the Malakand Division, an administrative region that encompasses more than one third of the NWFP and includes the districts of Malakand, Swat, Shangla, Bunes, Dir, Chitran, and Kohistan. This peace deal now gives the Taliban effective control of a large area outside of the FATA. This peace deal was signed after the Taliban defeated the Pakistani military twice first in October of 2008 and again in January of 2009. With the United States plan to bolster the Pakistani army, will the army be able or willing to go back into these areas and re-establish government control over this area that was just signed over to the Taliban.
The Taliban is the creation of Pakistan's army and ISI to first control Afghanistan which provided Pakistan with strategic depth against India and to also fight the jihad in Kashmir. This forces the Indian military to committ forces to fight and insurgency in Kashmir. There seems to be no consent to the extent to which Pakistan's aid to the Taliban is ordered by or tolerated at the highest levels of the Pakistan's military. There is a concensus, in the words of a senior Western military leader, that Pakistan's leaders "could disrupt senior levels of Taliban command and control" but have chosen not to. The FATA and the haven it provides to al-Qaeda and a host of Taliban groups is a destablizing factor not just for Afghanistan but now greater Pakistan itself. What the Pakistani's, United States and NATO do is a matter of conjecture. There is no doubt that without a resolution to the FATA issue the Aghan insurgency will continue and that Pakistan may lose more territory until the entire country, nuclear weapons and all, will fall to the Taliban. This would destabilize the entire region and could possibly draw several countries into a regional war.
Hypothesis 2 with the expulsion of Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan the world wide headquarters of Islamic terrorists has moved and is thriving in the FATA.
The al-Qaeda attacks on September 11, 2001, have to date, been the single most deadly terrorist strike in history. After 9/11, the international community gave the United States license to remove the Taliban as retribution for the massacres in New York and Washington. Under international law, retaliation in self defense is permissible. Washington's leadership got an opportunity to strike back with full force against jihadist terror under the full extent of international law.
Al-Qaeda's foreign fighters unable to just drop their weapons and blend in with the population were forced to fight their way out of Afghanistan. In the Tora Bora area on the Afghan-Pakistan border the chance to destroy the nucleus of al-Qaeda was missed. Under massive airstrikes bin Laden was heard over the radio addressing his men in Arabic "forgive me" he said. He went on to apologize for getting them trapped in the White Mountains and pounded by American airstrikes. Then he gathered them together in prayer. Next the sound of mules and a large group of people moving about was heard bin Laden and Al-Qaeda had survived.
The end of 2001 found al-Qaeda weakened but safe in the FATA. Osama bin Laden's legend had grown again because he had struck the United States then escaped their wrath. Al-Qaeda's new found home in the FATA gave them a place to rebuild, reorganize, recruit, and begin planning. In 2002, it was clear the United States was going to invade Iraq. Al-Qaeda moved quickly to develop a capability in Iraq. Thousands of Arab volunteers, many of them inspired by bin Laden's words, went to Iraq in the run up to the U.S. invasion. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who had fled Afghanistan went to Iraq sometime in 2002 to begin preparations against the invasion. This is important because al-Qaeda felt strong enough to engage the United States again and if victorious would give al-Qaeda another safe area in which to operate out of. In 2004 Zarqawi proclaimed his allegiance to bin Laden, and bin Laden anointed him the prince of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Qaeda was now engaging the United States directly on two fronts Iraq and Afghanistan.
From the safe haven of the FATA al-Qaeda was able to still launch attacks directly against the west. On July 7, 2005, a group of British citizens of Pakistani origin attacked London, England. These men had traveled to Pakistan in 2003 with the aim of fighting in Afghanistan instead al-Qaeda trained them and persuaded these men to operate in the United Kingdom. Al-Qaeda had now re-established its ability to strike internationally and that it had not been destroyed.
The relocation of Al-Qaeda to Pakistan provides al-Qaeda with new opportunities for the group to expand in the West, especially the United Kingdom. By one estimate Pakistan received 400,000 visits from British residents in 2004. This can aid in training, recruitment, and communication for al-Qaeda.
After its near destruction in 2001, al-Qaeda had proved that it again had global reach and was fighting on two fronts Pakistan and Iraq. al-Qaeda began venturing into new ground recruiting via propaganda and looking for allies. al-Qaeda propaganda via, DVD and CD is available across the Middle East and Asia. The internet also began to play a pivotal roll in expanding al-Qaeda and its ideals. The internet provides jihadists with a virtual hub and while the importance of the al-Qaeda's leader's statements remain debatable, the internet is clearly connecting like minded individuals and propagating jihadims in Western countries. An investigative judge said the perpetrators of the March 11, 2004 attacks in Madrid were inspired by a document published by the Global Islamic council. al-Qaeda is able to get their message to a worldwide audience through media outlets such as al-Jazeera, Reuters, and Associated Press International and their regional affiliates in Pakistan. While this may not appear to be a direct military threat al-Qaeda has been able to comment on the recent war between Hamas and Israel, and mock the west for the economic downturn that has effected a great deal of the global economy. While al-Qaeda has become more media savy, they have also gained more allies such as the Jemaah Islamiah in Indonesia, which carried out the 2005 bombings of Bali night clubs and al-Shabaab in Somalia. The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) also an al-Qaeda ally has launched attacks inside of India, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Al-Shabaab is currently fighting to take over the country of Somalia and has also sworn their allegience to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. This gives al-Qaeda a foothold in Africa which is considered a shatter belt between Islam and other religions.
However computer and propaganda savy al-Qaeda gets it still needs territory. In the Bajaur province of the FATA, Faqir Mohammad is the Taliban leader of this area the Pakistani military will not take action against him because he is part of the good Taliban. Al-Qaeda takes refuges in the provience and Bajaur has become a command and control center for launching operations into the eastern Afghanistan province of Kunar, this province is adjacent to Bajaur and is one of the most violent in Afghanistan. This again shows Pakistan's lack of will to confront the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Apart from a few years in Saudi Arabia and the Sudan in the 1990s, al Qaeda leadership has been on the Afghan-Pakistan border for a generation. During the same period, the Taliban originating in Afghan refugee camps in or near the FATA and growing through a network of tribal connection, as well as support from ISI under sucessive Pakistani regimes has established a strong al-Qaeda presence in the same area (Kilcullen 2009). It can be said there is now no difference between the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Because there is no pressure being exerted on Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in the FATA, they are able to thrive and grow. Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry a former U.S. commander in Afghanistan called "for a steady, direct, attack against the command and control in the sancuary areas inside of Pakistan" Senator Carl Levin stated, " long term prospects for eliminating the Taliban threat appear dim so long as the sanctuary remains in Pakistan and there are no encouraging signs that Pakistan is eliminating it ." As the FATA goes so do the fortunes of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Pakistan has shown no willingness to confront the Taliban and al-Qaeda and due to the soveriegnty of Pakistan effective intervention by Western forces is not permitted.
It is not just the Taliban and al-Qaeda but other terrorist groups that thrive in the FATA the LeT which primarilly fights against the Indian occupation of Kashmir has shown itself to be a particularlly vicious group. Pakistan's Inter-Services-Intelligence agency (ISI) is a known supporter of the LeT during its creation and even after the banning of the group by Pakistan. The jihad waged and supported by the ISI serves a strategic purpose in tying down Indian military and security assets that could be facing Pakistan across the line of control that separates the two countries. After the 2008 Mumbai, India attack Pakistan arrested LeT's leader Hafiz Saeed but he was released in June of 2009. This shows further that Pakistan has no intention of trying to stop LeT or JUD activities. Funding for the group comes from a variety of sources donations from Pakistani, and Muslim Kashmiries, the Persian Gulf, and it is reported from the ISI as well.
This study has shown that both the Taliban and al-Qaeda have since 2001 used the FATA to rebuild themselves. The Taliban are now able to lauch attacks into Afghanistan and increasingly Pakistan as well and retreat back to the FATA with relative impunity. Al-Qaeda has been able to launch attacks abroad and act in conjunction with Taliban forces. There is now no distinction between the Taliban and al-Qaeda the groups have become blurred.
The United States and their allies have responded to the threat of the FATA by launching Predator drone attacks against selected high value targets in the FATA with some success and are now following this up in 2009 with a surge into Afghanitan simular to the one 2006-2007 in Iraq. While this may defeat the Taliban-al-Qaeda forces in the field in Afghanistan it will do nothing to roll back the forces in the FATA. Nor will the U.S. surge doing anything about the other terrorist groups that are in the FATA. The Pakistani's have launched attacks into the FATA but have not been able to take control of the area. Pakistan has now moved to negotiating with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. These peace accords have only resulted in more territory loss and more attacks in Afghanistan and increasingly inside of Pakistan. The United States has stated it will as part of its new Afghan strategy move to support, equip, and train the Pakistani army to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda. This is the same army that has been reluctant to fight decisevly against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the past and there are no indications that this trend will change.
With the FATA and now part of the NWFP in control of the Taliban, any victories won in Afghanistan are negated. As these defeated forces will just fall back and re-equip, reinforce, re-arm, and attack again. This will test the resolve of the United States and its allies. This is part of the stated strategy of the Taliban and al-Qaeda to see who is willing to be the most patient and see this war through to the end.
The Pakistani government has shown a reluctance to engage the Taliban head on. A realistic assessment of Pakistan's role requires not moving Pakistan from the "with us" to "against us" column in the War on Terror but recognizing that Pakistan's policy derives from the perceptions and capabilities of its leaders, not from those of the U.S. Government. However with an increasingly unstable Pakistan and its nuclear weapons there is going to have to be a new United States policy towards Pakistan. Pumping additional assistance into Pakistan without a fundamental rethinking of political strategy is therefore likely to be highly counter productive in the long run.
The United States will need to strategically rethink its entire strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A cost benefit analysis about the war in Afghanistan needs to be done. Is this war winnable and if so how much will it cost? Is it worth the risk of direct United States military and economic intervention in the FATA and a potential war with Pakistan? Another option is a containment strategy in Afghanistan for the time being. What beyond the Predator/Reaper drone sniping can the U.S. accomplish in the FATA and is this strategy helpful or harmful in the effort to reduce terrorism. Then getting Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan to the negotiating table and work to resolve the issue of the Durand Line which divides the Pastun homeland and causes friction between Afghanistan and Pakistan. India and Pakistan must resolve the Kasmir issue. If Pakistan can get assurances of its security it may be more willing to act as a more active partner in the War on Terror.
In May of 2010, the Taliban after repeated threats sponsored an attempted bombing at Times Square in New York City. The Taliban have gone international and with the melding of the Taliban and al-Qaeda and the potentially large recruiting pool this could pose a threat to the West it is only a matter of time before the attacks become deadly. This and other attempted attacks show what al-Qaeda's media arm safe in Pakistan can accomplish among the Muslim Disporia.
Predator / Reaper Drone 1
Terrorist Groups Operating in PakistanU.S. State Department Foreign Terrorist Organizations that Operate in Pakistan
Harakat – ul-Mujuhideen
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
Of the 44 State Department designated terrorist group Pakistan is home to 13 percent of the total. Of the 28 listed Islamic terrorist groups, Pakistan is host to 21 percent of these.
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