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Toward a radical middle

a time for fear
Wednesday, February 04, 2004  
Anyway, the reason that the US/Pakistan offensives in South Waziristan have been so unsuccessful - uneventful, even - is because the Afghanistan resistance is based, it turns out, somewhere else entirely. The Americans had believed the Waziristan Agency to be a crucial centre for Taliban and Mujahideen fighters, granting ample protection because of its rough, mountainous terrain and the hardline Islamist sympathies of the local population.

Now Pakistani Intelligence has located the resistance base in a remote area called the Khyber Agency in the North West Frontier Province, already known to be an al-Qaeda heartland, with almost blanket support from the local population. Years ago bin Laden cultivated the Tero and Moro mountains - located directly along the Afghan-Pakistan border, near Jalamabad and Tora Bora, site of the original US and Taliban/al-Qaeda showdowns in 2001-2 - as a subterranean base for his network. He built undergound tunnels and bunkers to use as hideouts and storage space for weapons, ammunition, and supplies. The resistance is now using this system as a supply line into Afghanistan. Under the new leadership of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar - head of Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) and until (very) recently recipient of Pakistani aid - the Afghan resistance is using the Khyber as an Islamist enclave where they can regroup in safety. The formidable terrain and the hostile population prevent the Pakistani military from planning any major offensive in the area, particularly as direct US military involvement in Pakistan (i.e. air cover or missile strikes) is a political impossibility.

12:12 PM

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