Monday, April 2, 2007

The Taliban and their al Qaeda allies have set up shop in Waziristan

Pakistan treads carefully in kingdom of the Taliban

The Taliban have been in control of North Waziristan for more than a year and have established a militant Islamic “emirate” where political opponents are beheaded, girls are banned from schools, video shops have been closed and barbers are forced to display signs stating they will not shave beards.

Nowhere will this hurt more than in Washington, where intelligence officials have identified the remote and backward province as Al-Qaeda’s new headquarters. Bin Laden is believed to have regrouped his lieutenants and rebuilt his training camps there.

They allied themselves with local militants and began a battle with the Pakistani army for control. Since 2002 they have killed more than 750 Pakistani soldiers, executed 200 pro-government tribal elders and imposed sharia (Islamic law).

According to a number of Waziris opposed to Taliban rule, Musharraf’s deal effectively handed them over to Islamic militants and their Al-Qaeda allies, and turned the province into a terror-state.

Critics of “Talibanisation” have been murdered in a series of motorcycle drive-by shootings, lynched or beheaded, with warning notes pinned to their torsos.

[F]ighting erupted after men loyal to Tahir Yuldashev, the Uzbek commander who is believed to have up to 2,000 gunmen under his command, refused an order to disarm by local Taliban chiefs in North and South Waziristan who are under intense pressure from Islamabad to keep their side of the peace deals.

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