Friday, September 19, 2003

What happened to al-Qaeda?

The September 11, 2001 attack was horrendous by any measure. We were told by the U.S. administration that it was launched by Osama bin Laden in cahoots with his group, al Qaeda, and the Taliban, who was hosting him in Afghanistan. A war was launched, invading Afghanistan, toppling the ruling power there, etc.

Yet, in the middle of that effort statements were being made about Iraq. At first it was vague claims of dangers Iraq presented, but those statements grew stronger over the following year, more specific, calling for Regime Change in Iraq, and culminating in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and toppling of that government. We now know that a certain very hawkish faction in the administration had been planning an invasion of Iraq for over 10 years, and that the very day of the attack (Sep 11, 2001) they were immediately calling for an invasion of Iraq.

On no evidence of cooperation between al Qaeda or the Taliban with the government in Iraq, we were told that Iraq was the enemy and that their leader must be toppled. How "1984" of them.

The job in Afghanistan was not finished, Osama bin Laden was never captured, the invading forces in Afghanistan still control little more than Kabul, the President of Afghanistan who was installed (Hamid Karzai) is little more than the Mayor of Kabul, etc. The war in Iraq distracted us from finishing this job in Afghanistan.

So, what's going to happen as a result? Read on...

[Sep 23, 2003; Financial Times; ft.com/servlet/ContentServer] Taliban's shoots start to sprout from roots that the US failed to eradicate First there were warnings: two men on motorcycles who threatened a water supply team from the Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees for working with the infidels, and gunmen at a roadblock who torched a Dacaar vehicle. ... "You were warned about working for NGOs," they told five bound, kneeling Afghans who worked for Dacaar. They opened fire, killing four and seriously wounding one. ... Through the arid plains and the mountains of Ghazni in central Afghanistan and across the south of the country, the resurgent Taliban is attempting to undermine reconstruction efforts and government authority, and trying to win local support through intimidation and political promotion ... "The Americans were unable to eradicate the Taliban, to cut out their roots," says Mr Aolya. "Now they are growing back." ... Ali Ahmad Jalali, interior minister, says the Taliban is using southern Afghanistan as its main base while al-Qaeda remnants are hiding in south Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal area close to the Afghan border. Mr Hekmatyar, he adds, is based in the region straddling Kunar province, in the east, and northern Pakistan. ... "What we're seeing is an effective force behind which there's a strong movement," says Nick Downie, security co-ordinator for the Afghanistan NGO Security Office ... "Afghanistan needs more co-operation from Pakistan. Pakistan has been very effective in arresting al-Qaeda members but not Taliban," Mr Jalali says. ... "We're talking about tens of thousands of Taliban who are very angry and committed," says the western diplomat. "It's going to be a long fight."

[Sep 19, 2003; Asia Times; atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/EI19Df04.html] Al-Qaeda turns against Pakistan, Saudi Arabia