Cultural Sensitivity As A Weapon

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March 1, 2012: As foreign troops reduce their numbers in Afghanistan over the next two years, American Special Operations Forces (commandos and Special Forces) will increase their activity because these troops will advise Afghan soldiers, and be available to carry especially tricky missions.   The U.S. Army Special Forces will be particularly effective because they know the languages and cultures in Afghanistan.

The effort to train the new Afghan soldiers and police required that thousands of troops and civilians (usually former military) be brought in. These have been of limited effectiveness because of language and cultural barriers. Normally, the U.S. Army Special Forces handles training of foreign armies, and they are expert at it. Special Forces troops have the advantage of knowing the language and culture of the foreign troops they train. One lesson that was quickly learned was that, while you can teach these foreign recruits through an interpreter, it helps a lot if you get up to speed on the local culture. The Special Forces provided some of their people to help train the American trainers on that point, but over the past seven years, a body of information and “lessons learned” has been collected, and used to help train the trainers. One of the more important lesson learned was that, even if you don’t speak the language, spend as much time as possible with your trainees. That means eating with them, and living very close to their barracks. Be available at all hours, and keep a good translator handy at all times.

The cultural awareness picked up in Iraq has not always proved useful in Afghanistan. For example, in Iraq a knowledge of the history of the Iraqi army, and respect for that, proved very useful. The Iraqis were particularly proud of how they held off the Iranians during the 1980s, and making positive references to that paid off. No mention of the two wars they had with the Americans. They already knew all about that, and don’t want to hear any more. The Afghans, on the other hand, have no sense of their army having been defeated by the United States, since everyone looks on the defeat of the Taliban as a group effort by the Afghan people and Americans to chase out some religious fanatics. But at the same time, Afghans have no particular pride in any “Afghan Army.” The only military organizations Afghans admire are tribal or warlord militias that won some battles in the past (often against another Afghan tribe). Read the rest of this entry »

SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW Weekly Assessments & Briefings

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Volume 10, No. 27, January 9, 2012

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal



Blind Spot in FATA
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

Pakistani authorities had been flaunting their success in forging a ‘peace accord’ among various factions of the Taliban at a Shura-e-Muraqba (Council for Protection), a joint five-member council formed by the Afghan Taliban and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), along with other Pakistani militant outfits, on January 2, 2012. The establishment claimed that the TTP had agreed to end attacks against Pakistani Security Forces (SFs). Afghan Taliban ‘commander’ Mullah Mohammad Omar had put pressure on militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan to form the new grouping to end targeting of Pakistani SFs and, instead, to focus attention on United States (US)-led troops in Afghanistan.  Later, all Jihadi (holy war) groups, in consultation with Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the shadow Taliban Government for Afghanistan) decided to set up a committee to resolve differences among various factions and step up support for the war against Western forces in Afghanistan. A statement issued in the form of a pamphlet to the media in Waziristan after the meeting declared, “All Mujahideen — local and foreigners — are informed that all jihadi forces, in consultation with Islamic Emirate Afghanistan, have unanimously decided to form a five-member commission. It will be known as Shura-e-Muraqba.”


English: Map of Federally Administered Tribal ...
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Dissent was, however, quickly in evidence, as the TTP declared that, while it would end attacks against civilian targets in Pakistan, its campaign against the Pakistani SFs would continue. The day after the Shura-e-Muraqba deal, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told the media, “Yes, we signed an accord with three other major Taliban groups of Maulvi Nazeer, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and an Afghan Taliban faction, to avoid killing of innocent people and kidnapping for ransom, but we did not agree with them to stop suicide attacks and our fight against Pakistani Security Forces.” He added, further, “for us, Pakistan is as important as Afghanistan and, therefore, we cannot stop our activities here.”

Lest any ambiguity remained regarding their intentions, on January 5, 2012, TTP militants executed 15 Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan Agency (NWA) in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on January 5, 2012. The bullet-ridden bodies, thrown on a hill in the Mir Ali Sub-district, were spotted by tribesmen in the morning. The victims, who had been guarding the boundary between FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), had been taken hostage on December 23, 2011, in a pre-dawn attack by TTP militants on their post in Mullazai area of Tank District in KP.

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Profile: Tehreek-E-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – Analysis

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Written by:

December 27, 2011

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), famously known as Pakistani Taliban, is the deadliest among all indigenous militant outfits. The inceptions leading to the formation of TTP went back to the days of NATO operations in Afghanistan after 9/11. After the American intervention in Afghanistan, a section of radicals started a movement inside Pakistan to support the Taliban. They remained just sympathiser till Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) incident happened in July 2007.

In December 2007 the existence of the TTP was officially announced under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud. 13 groups united under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud to form the TTP in an undisclosed place in South Waziristan Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The sole objective of the Shura meeting was to unite the small militant fractions under the leadership of TTP against NATO forces in Afghanistan and to wage a defensive jihad against Pakistani forces.




  • Enforce Shari’ah, unite against NATO forces in Afghanistan and perform “defensive jihad” against the Pakistan Army.
  • React strongly if military operations are not stopped in Swat District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and North Waziristan Agency of FATA.
  • Demand the abolishment of all military checkpoints in the FATA area.
  • Demand the release of Lal Masjid Imam Abdul Aziz. Read the rest of this entry »

Pakistan Security Brief – December 7, 2011

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Northern Pakistan
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President Zardari receives medical treatment in Dubai; Pakistan continues to block NATO supply routes; Obama administration defends aid to Pakistan; Pakistan-based militant group claims responsibility for Tuesday Kabul attack; Malik thanks Taliban and security forces for role in Ashura peace; Pakistan’s “militant violence” in decline; Washington Post reports on security situation in Kashmir; Peace militias clash with militants in Khyber agency, killing three.

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

Ashura Attacks

Militant Activity

  • The Associated Press reports that Pakistan’s “militant violence” has declined over the past year, pointing to “a combination of military operations against the Pakistani Taliban…U.S. drone attacks…and better law enforcement in Pakistan’s main cities,” as well as a rumored peace agreement between the Pakistani military and Pakistani Taliban, as possible explanations for the decline. Nonetheless, AP reports that Pakistanis remain fearful of “terrorist” and “insurgent” attacks, which have claimed the lives of over 1,700 Pakistanis already this year.[6]

Kashmir Violence


Fact Sheet: Combating the Financing of Terrorism, Disrupting Terrorism at its Core

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Monday, September 26, 2011 at 19:40

Terrorist organizations rely on financing and support networks to sustain operations and launch attacks. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) has developed a sophisticated and comprehensive approach – including intelligence analysis, sanctions administration and enforcement, financial regulatory action, policy expertise, and outreach to the international community and financial sector – to aggressively identify, disrupt and deter the funding networks of terrorist organizations.  The U.S. Treasury Department is the only finance ministry in the world to develop such an office, and TFI continues to play a leading role within the United States Government and the international community in combating terrorist Read the rest of this entry »

Q+A – Pakistan’s Taliban – who are they what can they do?

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By Robert Birsel

ISLAMABAD | Fri May 13, 2011 4:40pm IST

(Reuters) – Pakistani Taliban militants claimed responsibility on Friday for a double bomb attack on paramilitary force academy in the town of Charsadda that killed 80 people, saying it was their first revenge strike for the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2.

A militant spokesman vowed more such attacks.

Following are some questions and answers about the Pakistani Taliban, their motives and capabilities.


The militants are mostly ethnic Pashtuns from the semi-autonomous tribal belt along the Afghan border where Pakistan and the United States poured in weapons in the 1980s to support Islamist fighters, including bin Laden, battling Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

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Scottish aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan

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private security

Search for hostages after firefight

Published: 27/09/2010

AN URGENT search is under way to find a female British aid worker abducted in Afghanistan.

The woman, who is reported to be Scottish and in her 30s, was kidnapped in Kunar province, alongside three Afghans with whom she is thought to have been working. Read the rest of this entry »