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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

ABC: Al Qaeda and Taliban Being Helped By Global Warming

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By Noel Sheppard (Bio | Archive)

October 10, 2009 – 13:24 ET

Global warming is helping America’s sworn enemies al Qaeda as well as the Taliban in Afghanistan.

So claimed ABCNews.com’s “World News Webcast” Friday in a segment not only designed to increase America’s fear of Al Gore‘s money-making bogeyman, but also give cover to President Obama as things in Afghanistan continue to spiral out of control.

Talk about your amazingly convenient, two-fisted, win-win situations.

“World News” anchor Charles Gibson ominously began (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Shrugtastic):


We don’t usually think of the Taliban and global warming in the same sentence, but U.S. intelligence studies are showing a connection. For this week’s “Nature’s Edge” notebook, Bill Blakemore explains how climate change may be giving a boost to the Taliban and to al Qaeda.

Blakemore began his report: This study by eleven U.S. generals and admirals shows how global warming is playing into the hands of terrorist groups like the Taliban in many countries often because of worsening drought.

After some background from one of the CNA study’s supervisors, former Army chief of staff Gen. Gordon R. Smith, Blakemore continued:

BLAKEMORE: Afghanistan, eleven years into a drought with no end in sight. Snows vanishing from mountains that used to pour melt water down into orchards and fields now leaving young men with no money or work. Arian Sharifi worked with ABC News there, and recently in the Afghan government.

ARIAN SHARIFI, GRADUATE STUDENT AT PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: A lot of more people — young male — who are unemployed with nothing to do, and so the Taliban basically seems an attractive thing for them to join. The Taliban pays most of the fighters. In other ways they are protecting the poppy crops.

BLAKEMORE: And the poppy crops, which the Taliban encourage and tax, are making them and their al Qaeda allies very rich, an estimated half a billion dollars a year. Many farmers say they are now growing opium poppies because they need little water, good in the lengthening drought. So the rising temperatures are helping both heroin traffickers and their Taliban and al Qaeda supporters.

So, according to Blakemore, the problems in Afghanistan — drought, heroin production and trafficking, unemployment, AND the growth in the Taliban and al Qaeda — are directly linked to global warming.

Exit question: What HASN’T been blamed on climate change since Nobel Laureate Al Gore figured he could become rich spreading this as yet unproven theory?

—Noel Sheppard is the Associate Editor of NewsBusters.


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Terrorists Shift To A Media Battle

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Terrorists Shift To A Media Battle

November 25, 2008: Despite the popularity of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, the recent replacement of the military government of general Musharraf, by an elected one, has focused public ire on Islamic radicalism (Taliban and al Qaeda). In addition, the Taliban are looked down on as the product of the poor, ignorant and violent Pushtun border tribes. Al Qaeda is seen as a bunch of homicidal foreigners. The Islamic radicals have a serious image problem. They also have a tribal problem. Declaring oneself “Taliban” is a political, religious and tribal decision. The Taliban are dedicated to establishing a religious dictatorship, with religious police enforcing a very restrictive lifestyle. As dissatisfied as most Pakistanis are with their government, the Taliban is seen as worse. Al Qaeda want to impose their own form of religious dictatorship, but are seen as attempting to impose foreign clerical tyrants on Pakistan. That doesn’t fly with most Pakistanis either. Pakistanis are still unhappy. As they should be, given how corrupt and inefficient their government is. But at the moment, the Islamic militants are sliding in the popularity polls. Suicide bombing are not numerous enough to overthrow the government, and make more Pakistanis hostile to Islamic radicalism.

In the Pakistani tribal areas, the war against the Taliban has become more and more a tribal conflict between pro and anti-Taliban tribes. With over 100,000 soldiers siding with the anti-Taliban tribes, the Taliban are fighting a losing battle, in the Winter, against their enemies. The anti-Taliban furor is increased with tribesmen telling reporters about encounters with Chechen, Uzbek, Tajik, Sudanese and Afghan terrorists fighting alongside the Taliban tribesmen. Only about a third of Pakistanis have a favorable attitude towards al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism, and most of these live in areas where there is no Islamic terrorism or pro-Taliban tribes.

In the Bajaur district of Pakistan, which is right on the Afghan border, NATO and Afghan troops on the Afghan side are coordinating operations with Pakistani troops on the other side. Taliban and al Qaeda fighters are trying to cross the border to find sanctuary in Afghanistan, but the Afghans are attacking them.

Unable to cope with the Pakistani army and police, Islamic radicals are devoting more effort to terror attacks. Many of these are being directed at local anti-Taliban leaders. But this results in suicide bomb attacks on mosques and funerals, which just enflames anti-Taliban anger. The battle against the Taliban is getting very personal, with anti-Taliban tribal groups going for the homes of Taliban leaders, burning them down and driving the families out.

In Indian Kashmir, the decline in terrorist activity has led to an increase in political activity by separatist Moslems. The Moslem majority in Kashmir now wants peace, but many also want the Hindus (both soldiers and remaining civilians) out. The Indians will not go, so the street demonstrations continue. The political struggle in Kashmir is between separatists (the minority, and prone to violence) and the moderates (who are tired after more than a decade of separatist violence.)

India’s Hindu radical BJP party is on the defensive as more revelations show Hindu terrorists have been bombing both Hindu and Moslem targets in an attempt to start a religious war. Since Moslems are only 14 percent of the population, they would lose such a war, and most would die or be driven out of the country. That possibility has kept most Moslems from supporting terrorism, thus the Hindu nationalists use of attacks on Hindu targets in an attempt to get the hate going.

In northwest Pakistan, there was another breakout of religious violence between Shia (20 percent of the population) and Sunni (most of the rest) radicals. At least half a dozen people have died. There are dozens of Islamic terror groups in Pakistan, many of them more intent on fighting other Moslems than in going after infidels (non-Moslems).

November 24, 2008: Army and police operations around Peshawar (the largest city in the Pakistani tribal zone) resulted in several dozen terrorists dead or arrested. Large weapons stores were discovered and seized. The police also extended the city boundaries to include another 25 villages, putting these under police, not tribal, rule. This provides less area for terrorists to hide out in, close to the city.

November 20, 2008: The Pakistani government staged an event for the media, where troops “practiced” shooting down UAVs. In practice, these aircraft are difficult to detect, especially at night, much less hit. But the media event was mainly to show the Pakistani people that the government was serious about stopping the American UAV missile attacks on Taliban and al Qaeda leaders. In fact, the government benefits greatly from these attacks, but nationalist politicians are more interested in scoring political and media points. Some politicians blame the increasing use of suicide bombs on the UAV attacks. But the Islamic terrorists are interested mainly in terrorizing the population into allowing the militants to take over, not just as retaliation for Hellfire missiles killing terrorist leaders.

November 18, 2008: For the first time, an American UAV fired a Hellfire missile at a Pakistani target outside the tribal territories along the Afghan border. This attack killed six foreign terrorists. The attack, at Bannu, is just across the border of the tribal territories. However, it enraged Pakistani nationalists, who now threaten demonstrations to block truck traffic into Pakistan. This is how NATO and U.S. forces get 75 percent of their supplies. Such demonstrations could get bloody, as lots of people depend on that truck traffic for their livelihood. The tribes that straddle the border are paid to keep the routes safe, and may use violence against any demonstrators. The trucks must traverse several hundred kilometers of tribal territory on their way to military bases in Kabul and throughout southern Afghanistan.