Two Recent Success in WOT You Didn’t Hear About in the Media
By: Warner Todd Huston
The Taliban suffered a big loss in Pakistan/Afghanistan this month and so did al Qaeda in Iraq, but the MSM has been practically silent on these great successes. It only goes to show that the media is so completely sold on the claim that the war is lost that they aren’t interested in doing any real reporting on the war.
Not only has Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki headed up a brilliantly successful attack on rebel leader and Iranian backed Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army in Basra, but it seems that Maliki’s hard-line against Sadr has convinced Iraq’s main Sunni block to return to their places in the Iraqi government. Sadr has called for a ceasefire between forces loyal to him and the Iraqi government. At this point, al-Maliki seems poised on a breakthrough in Iraqi affairs that could lead to more involvement and less bloodshed. This is all something that few expect possible only a few months ago.
The western press has reported the information above widely, if not enthusiastically, but that isn’t the only good news in Iraq. What seems to have been given short shrift is the fact that al Qaeda has been severely hurt in Iraq, even “decapitated.”
April 22, 2008: Between mid-March and mid-April, al Qaeda suffered major losses in Iraq. American and Iraqi troops killed or captured 53 al Qaeda leaders. These include men in charge of entire cities (or portions of large cities like Mosul or Baghdad), as well as men in charge of various aspects of terror operations (making bombs, placing them or minding the bombers). Most important, nine of the ten most senior men involved, were captured, and interrogated. This led to locating more al Qaeda staff, and assets. Hundreds of weapons and explosives caches have been discovered this year, as a result of interrogating captured terrorists. The result has been a sharp fall in suicide bomber attacks, and the ones still carried out are against soft targets (civilians), including the recent funeral of two men earlier killed by terrorists. This was part of an al Qaeda campaign to force Sunni Arabs to switch sides again and support terrorism. But these attacks have the opposite effect, causing more hatred for al Qaeda.
Of course that first bit of Iraq news is certainly good to hear about and the western news media has done some reporting on the matter. But, seeing as how al Qaeda is America’s chief concern, one would think that its decapitation in Iraq would be something that at least the news media in the U.S.A. would be highly interested in. But we’ve heard practically nothing about this good news from our media. And what holds for the unreported good news in Iraq is repeated in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the efforts against the resurgent Taliban there.
At the end of April the Taliban was handed a major set back in the Khyber Agency area of Pakistan, but little of this has been reported in the western media about it.
For the better part of the year thus far, al Qaeda and the Taliban have been reaching out of their strongholds in the tribal Warzistan area of Pakistan and seeking to extend their influence deeper into Pakistan. Up until recently they seemed to be having great success, but they have at last overreached themselves. Recently, theyâ€™ve suffered a major defeat.
One of the Taliban’s focuses has been in attacking the Western alliance’s supply lines that run through Pakistan into Afghanistan. On March 20th, for instance, the Taliban really shook up NATO when they destroyed 40 gas tankers at Torkham — the border crossing in Khyber Agency into Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. This and a smattering of successful smaller attacks gave the Taliban/al Qaeda a measure of success emboldening them to further efforts and a major push.
That major push came in the form of a campaign to gain influence in the Khyber Agency. Since the Taliban and al Qaeda work through tribal alliances and influence, a major stumbling block for them had been a lack of sympathetic tribes in the Khyber Agency. However, the Taliban had imagined that with a recent agreement with a leader in the Khyber Agency they had, at last, found their way into the area.
The Taliban hit on one of the few Salafis in the area, Haji Namdar, as their point man. Namdar is not a traditional tribal, he’s a trader who has worked in Saudi Arabia. His Salafi ideology and the fact that he is a practicing Muslim lent him credibility – and trustworthiness – in the eyes of the Taliban.
Namdar came on board, offering to provide the Taliban with sanctuary for their men, arms and supplies along the main road leading to the border area. He gave these assurances to Taliban leaders in his own home.
With this new alliance in place, the Taliban planned and launched several military attacks on western convoys until last Monday they captured some workers of the World Food Program.
But here is where things began to go awry for the Taliban and their al Qaeda associates. Instead of letting the Taliban retreat to regroup and plan their next moves, the local paramilitary forces kept up the chase. The Taliban stopped to fight and killed five soldiers, but they had no re-supply of ammunition and so ran out. Both the paramilitary forces and the Taliban called in reinforcements and the battle ground to a stalemate. Eventually, though, the Taliban forces captured a local political agent (representing the central government in Karachi) and they used this hostage as a shield to escape the stalemate.
They tried to disperse to safe houses in the area arranged for by their new ally Haji Namdar to rest and refit. But to the Taliban’s shock they found that every safe house had government troops inside waiting to gobble up those Taliban members attempting to seek safety there.
It turns out that Haji Namdar sold his Taliban associates out for $150,000 in local currency provided by the CIA and Pakistani intelligence services.
Their worst suspicions were confirmed when Namdar broke his cover and announced on a local radio station that Taliban commanders, including Ustad Yasir, should surrender or face a “massacre”, as happened when local tribes turned against Uzbek fighters in South Waziristan in January 2007.
Namdar said that he had the full weight of the security forces behind him, and he did not fear any suicide attack.
This is all good news, off course. It shows that all the people in the Afghanistan/Warzistan/Pakistan triangle aren’t sold out to al Qaeda and the Taliban. This was a major setback for the Taliban and has sent them running back to their Warzistan strong holds.
But, it is a story that the western media are not doing much to cover, sadly. And it’s all because it is a success in the War On Terror, something that the western media does not want to advertise.