Connect with us

Intelligence

How ISIS has legitimized the Taliban

Luis Durani

Published

on

Reports have surfaced indicating that long time regional adversaries Russia and the Taliban are exchanging intelligence on the presence of ISIS in Afghanistan . Even though the Taliban deny sharing intelligence on ISIS, they have been in communication with Russia . The presence of ISIS in Afghanistan has changed the political dynamics that govern the region. Ironically, ISIS has helped legitimize the Taliban insurgency to many in the region.

ISIS in Afghanistan

After the announcement of the death of the Taliban founder and spiritual leader Mullah Omar, an internal struggle over succession was fought. In the wake of the leadership struggle, some Taliban members became disaffected and joined ranks with foreign fighters, mainly from Central Asia, to pledge their allegiance to ISIS . The bulk concentration of the Afghan or Khorasan (as referred to the region by ISIS) branch of ISIS is concentrated in the eastern part of Afghanistan, mainly around the province of Nangarhar. The Pashtun tribesmen of this region are more wont to switch allegiance depending on the opportunities available as recent and ancient history of Afghanistan has shown. The appeal of ISIS is more the availability of weapons and finance rather than ideological. But more disturbing than the Afghan members of ISIS are the Central Asian fighters who comprise the Khorasan branch. They tend to be more ideologically zealous than their Afghan counterparts. Their apocalyptic vision is not only limited to Afghanistan but view Central Asia, India and Pakistan as the eventual ISIS province of Khorasan. Similar to the brutality exhibited in Syria and Iraq, the ISIS branch in Afghanistan has carried out abhorrent actions against local civilians. Ironically, the emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan has made the Taliban more palatable not only for Afghans but the international community to an extent.

Taliban vs. ISIS vs. Afghan Government – The lesser of evils

Shortly after the Taliban were toppled from power in early 2002, Afghans were optimistic and hoped for a bright future in their country free from extremism and oppression. This dream was short-lived unfortunately due to the international community’s compliance in allowing the former warlords to partake in the newly inaugurated Afghan government led by Hamid Karzai. The warlords in turn created their own fiefdom throughout the country and corruption ran rampant. As a result, the Taliban are becoming more popular once again throughout the country.

Yet, people are still fearful of their misogynistic and repressive past. When ISIS entered the scene, everything changed. In one of their callous act, ISIS stopped a bus carrying workers and singled out those who were Hazaras, a minority in Afghanistan who tend to be Shiites, which ISIS views as heretics . The initial reaction was that the kidnapping was an act of the Taliban, who promptly denied any association. It turned out to be Uzbek members of ISIS, who wanted to use the hostages as leverage to free their families imprisoned by the Afghan government. As described by the hostages, torture was a daily occurrence and some were beheaded. In an interesting twist of events, the Taliban mounted a rescue mission and freed the captives. The Afghan government despite their extensive training failed to do anything to retrieve those kidnapped. Acts like this have made the Taliban more popular than the authorities in Kabul.

Recent military gains by the Taliban have displayed that they are a cohesive insurgency that can provide government functions in areas under their control while the Afghan government has failed to provide the most basic functions as a government.

All this has made the Russians keener in negotiating with the Taliban. While the two have been at odds due to their different intentions for Afghanistan, Russia is fully aware that ISIS will pose a longer term threat to Russia itself than the Taliban. While ISIS’s vision is transnational, the Taliban remain a native insurgency with designs for Afghanistan. The presence of ISIS has actually helped the Taliban gain more legitimacy in the international community as a partner to fight this extreme group that threatens the international community as a whole. Surprisingly, the Taliban may be the only force in the region to do so. The Afghan government has proven its inability on many occasions to stand up to ISIS. As the US and NATO withdraw, they may see some benefit in negotiating with the Taliban and using them as a counter force to prevent ISIS establishing any kind of foothold in the region. This type of recognition by the international community has granted the Taliban a type of legitimacy it has been seeking.

Unfortunately for the people of Afghanistan the future is bleak. On one end of the spectrum is a newly emerge group with loyalties that transcends the nation-state concept and whose atrocities pale in comparison to the Taliban. On the other end is a government that is filled with corrupt warlords whose allegiances are more with regional fiefdoms and ethnic groups rather than the central government. In the middle of these two choices exists a group with an abhorrent history while in power but yet somehow less extreme than ISIS and yet more functional to the needs of the people than the dilapidated coalition of warlords known as the Afghan government. The people of Afghanistan will regrettably have to suffer the pain of being under the authority of any of these three groups.

Luis Durani is currently employed in the oil and gas industry. He previously worked in the nuclear energy industry. He has a M.A. in international affairs with a focus on Chinese foreign policy and the South China Sea, MBA, M.S. in nuclear engineering, B.S. in mechanical engineering and B.A. in political science. He is also author of "Afghanistan: It’s No Nebraska – How to do Deal with a Tribal State" and "China and the South China Sea: The Emergence of the Huaqing Doctrine." Follow him for other articles on Instagram: @Luis_Durani

Continue Reading
Comments

Intelligence

The relations between Malta and Libya and economic crimes inside Libya

Giancarlo Elia Valori

Published

on

Since the beginning of hostilities against Gaddafi, operations – carried out mainly by the French intelligence services -started from Malta to send weapons, intelligence, instructors and trainers to the “rebel” forces in Cyrenaica who were fighting the Rais.

The French military reached the coast of Benghazi with two nuclear submarines and the Brigade Action of the intelligence services, while the links had already been established abroad, and sometimes just outside Rome – even with the help of the United States.

I also watched the first internal documentaries of the anti-Gaddafi rebel forces, trained with materials and means which were usually available to the best hit squads of the Western intelligence services.

It was hard to believe how the Libyan “rebels” were so able to use very refined weapons.

The French agents also used “covert” flights to monitor the arrival and distribution of weapons, especially to avoid they could end up in the hands of the wrong people. Since the first attacks in Tripoli, the French agents had also provided to their “rebels” as many as 9.1 billion US dollars of weapons and had later continued to supply other weapons to their local champions, for large sums of money and always using Malta as a base.

The preferred channel of the French agents was General Abdul Fatah Younis Al Obeidi, who had been the Head of the Libyan National Liberation Army, a force of Cyrenaica made up of approximately 13,000 soldiers originated from a tribal rebellion within Gaddafi’s army.

Yunis Al-Obeidi, however, had been murdered on July 28, 2011 near Benghazi.

As reported at the time, he had probably been killed by jihadists, who had already penetrated the pro-Western “rebel” armies – a 1968-style stupid terminology that immediately reveals what the operational and intelligence culture of Western politicians is.

Nevertheless, according to Wikileaks data, the United States also knew that Yunis was a very secret contact with Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, while it was very likely that the 9 billion US dollars for the French weapons sold to Malta came from Gaddafi’s frozen accounts in Belgian banks – accounts not yet fully investigated.

On the one hand, France was afraid that – after the fall of Gaddafi’s regime, the various Libyan “revolutionaries” could carry out a series of terrorist actions directly in France, but hence why promoting the anti-Gaddafi insurgency? We will never know.As Ennio Flaiano used to say, also stupidity has its mysteries and unfathomable depths.

On the other hand, France heavily controlled the migrant networks, already active at the time, and finally selected their forces of reference mainly to avoid the US hegemony in the fight against Gaddafi.

Nevertheless, everything started from Malta, which always acted as a support base and a remote intelligence and economic control area.

In fact, since its establishment, the Government of National Accord (GNA) secretly granted to France 35% of Libyan oil to thank it for its support in the “liberation” struggle. A 35% which added to the already used 15% of oil processed regularly by Total, much more linked to the French intelligence services than ENI is to the Italian ones.

France officially supports the National Transitional Council of Libya (NTC) (as well as Khalifa Haftarin Cyrenaica) and, in fact, believes that the issue of migrants – which financially also takes place in Malta – shall be central to Libya’s future economy: in fact, France believes that the issue must be solved only on the spot, namely in Libya.

This means that the refugees present on the Libyan territory, who possibly passed through the areas controlled by the French Armed Forces to Agadez and elsewhere between Chad, Niger and Mali, can be divided as it still happens today: since 2011 as many as 696,000 migrants have fled to neighbouring countries, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Niger, Chad, Algeria and Sudan, while other 30,000 ones have left, by sea, to Italy or to Malta.

The migration issue that is solved on its own and to Italy’s detriment – this is the French strategic idea.

Many other migrants have reached Italy through other ways, often certainly not unknown to many of its traditional allies in Europe.

Great Britain, the other actor of the anti-Gaddafi conflict besides France, carried out a set of military actions between Zilla and Southern Libya – starting from Malta and with a series of forward bases along the coast – to collect and expatriate mainly non-British oil workers – the imaginary core of some hit squads active in the anti-Gaddafi “revolution”.

Coincidentally, the airlift – useful for 150 foreign operators in the Libyan desert – was always based in Malta.

The Libyan oil smuggling from the coast of Tripolitania and Sirte to many small ports in Malta continues – a trafficking that, under the cover of the Sicilian Mafia and of some Maltese politicians and members of Parliament, has permitted annual earnings of over 82 million euros.

This was exactly what the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia had been dealing with before being killed in a car bomb attack – a technique well known to the Sicilian Mafia clans.

The oil is supposed to come from the port of Zuwara, mainly with the support of Ben Khalifa’s Libyan militia, but the oil hidden in vessels suitable for fishing and later sent off Malta’s coast – with ship-to-ship transfers – arrives at the ports controlled by the same Maltese company and is distributed throughout Europe in a traditional way.

The Maltese fishermen of Marsaxlokk have often noted how the ship-to-ship exchange of oil cargoes has never been stopped by the Maltese maritime police authorities, while the (fake) certificates held by the oil traffickers refer to products originating from “Saudi Arabia”.

Moreover, the Italian law enforcement agencies have well-grounded reasons to believe that the fake certificates have been regularized by a Maltese notary public and also signed by a Director of the Maltese Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

All this in favour of well-known Mafia families and clans from Catania.

According to local insurance experts, oil smuggling costs Libya at least 750 million US dollars a year, which is equivalent to the commercial tampering of 35-40% of the Libyan oil extracted every year.

Another issue to be analyzed in depth at the next conference on Libya.

Furthermore, the Italian and non-Italian investigators report that the Maltese smugglers, jointly with many Libyan ringleaders, always devise new traffic routes and new methods to conceal their trafficking, with a route that currently prefers the small ports in Southern Spain so as to later head for Cyprus.

Initially, until 2011 hashish left mainly from the Moroccan coast, with small ships (as is currently the case for migrant trafficking) and arrived directly on the Southern or Eastern-Southern coasts of Spain.

After the famous “revolution” against Gaddafi, currently all hashish leaves from Tobruk, where the big stacks of hashish for smoking are stored and protected by local militiamen.

Then the Sicilian Mafia clans distribute these loads in Italy and in the rest of Europe.

Nowadays, however, there is still something new: while, in the past,drugs were brought to Europe by large ships, often owned by Syria, now the small loads of drugs are transferred from the Libyan to the European coasts by Italian or Maltese fishing vessels, which later leave their royalties in the Maltese banks.

The mechanism is always the same: on the high seas, hashish is transferred from smaller to larger ships.

The same holds true for the illegal trafficking of cigarettes- an old Mafia business which, however, is always a source of excellent profits.

In this case, the third port used by smugglers is still the port of Bar in Montenegro.

It was the area where Slobodan Milosevic was hidden, while everyone was looking for him elsewhere, although NATO knew where he was.

In the past, smuggling – somehow permitted by Gaddafi for his most trusted friends – was mainly related to lawful goods, but rare on the Libyan market, while – after 2011 – smuggling has been no longer focused only on goods not available on the Libyan market, but rather on clearly illegal goods (weapons, drugs) and migrants.

The Libyan economy, however, is still a war economy, where the predatory and violent actions prevail over all the others.

Nevertheless, it is above all the smuggling of migrants that is still essential for Libya’s internal economy, regardless of the area considered.

In fact, in 2017 the Libyan factions obtained almost one billion US dollars from migrant trafficking, while in the current year they have already gained 985,000 dollars of net income, by using other routes and other methods.

According to the Libyan offices, 30% of the oil used for transport is traded illegally, with as many as 105 phantom distributors, while the oil for other types of consumption is traded illegally via Darfur or South Sudan to the sub-Saharan rich marketnot covered by large distributors.

Diesel is usually stolen at sea and later sold to Italian and other European distributors by people in contact with the Libyan gangs.

Every year 18% of the proceeds from Libyan oil is hence left in the hands of smugglers.

With specific reference to drugs, after 2011 Libya has become a point of transit, but also of consumption (as is currently the case with Afghanistan), particularly for heroin and cocaine, while there are signs that the internal market for methamphetamines is spreading, which are widely traded also towards Italy and the Spanish ports.

Moreover, the executives of the Central Bank of Libya in the Tobruk Parliament have accused as many as 24 foreign companies and 44 Libyan companies of being involved in currency trafficking from the areas for cash collection in Libya to the Maltese banks and, sometimes, to Cypriot and Spanish banks.

Hence this is the link between the EU illegal economies and the criminal economies of Libya, divided into factions fighting one another at military, but above all at economic levels, while the State disappears or is divided into two parts.

Continue Reading

Intelligence

Cyber Terrorism and its Securitization in Pakistan

Published

on

One of the biggest threat of 21st century is terrorism, all states whether developing or underdeveloped are equally getting affected by it.  The alarming new component of terrorism is its spread in cyber space. Cyber space is a virtual world where all essential sectors of national life of state have presence and thus, it makes it an attractive target for terrorist groups which are driven by political agenda. The common difficulty in identification of terrorist is that they blend in with general population and are thus harder to identify. This benefit of anonymity is also present in cyber space that terrorist are utilizing all over the world to spread their ideology, carry out their recruitment process and to generate funding.

In this era of globalization cyber space allows a person sitting in one end of the world to carry out action in other part of the world without even being identified.  All person might need to carry out such an action is access to information technology and knowhow. Owning to the fact that information technology is easily accessible and its knowhow is not some secret, makes it excellent medium for state and non-state actors to carry out malicious activities against other states and non-states actors. Threat of terrorism or cyber terrorism is from which no country is safe, even most secure countries with world largest armies. However, countries such as Pakistan which are unfortunate to be located in a region that is prone to all types of conflicts whether they are traditional or non-traditional; are more exposed to threats like cyber terrorism. According to scholars cyber terrorism could be defined as “Cyber terrorism is socially or politically illegal attack on computers, network systems and stored information for political gains”.   Although, there are no mass events of cyber terrorism reported in Pakistan but according to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Pakistan is the second most spied on country and NSA has intercepted more than 13.5 billion pieces of information from Pakistan. But, if one talks about cyber terrorism specifically in Pakistan, many terrorist organizations are running their recruitment pages and financial set-up electronically.

These groups and their online presence is serious issue because through these pages, websites, blogs and video they spread hate, sectarianism, violence and messages to overthrow the governments. Absence of strong filters and blocking mechanisms is helping these organizations to carry on their malicious activities. Pakistan is already fighting against terrorism by conducting military operations on state level. In future when it would become harder for terrorists to launch physical activities against state they will move towards the unguarded territory of cyber space. So, it is necessary for Pakistan to nip the evil in the bud.

So far to stop the cyber terrorism different govt. in Pakistan have taken few actions but most of these actions are to regularize different crimes that are taking place in realm of cyber space. Such initiatives include Pakistan Telecommunication Reorganization Act 1996, Electronic Transaction Ordinance 2002, Payment systems and Electronic Fund Transfer Act 2007, Electronic Crime Ordinance 2007, Cyber Security Strategy Bill, Prevention of Electronic Crime Bill and National Action Plan.

However, due to lack of proper institution handling emerging threats in cyber space implementation of these legislative measures is very weak reason being the politicization of the issue of cyber security rather than its securitization. It is true that security measures taken by states in arena of cyber security fall under the grey area where they step on the human liberties but security comes with the price. To securitize Pakistani society from the evil of cyber terrorism it is necessary that strong executive measures shall be taken, separate institutions shall be made to handle all threats emerging from cyber space because one small branch under one federal investigation authority is not dynamic enough to handle threat of cyber terrorism.

Continue Reading

Intelligence

Killing of Mulana Samiul Haq and Afghan Peace Process

Published

on

On 2nd November, Jamiat Ulema Islam-Sami (JUI-S) chief and former Senator Mulana Samiul Haq was assassinated at his residence in Rawalpindi. According to reports he stabbed multiple times. Samiul Haq’s spokesperson Mulana Abdul Majeed said there was no one present at the residence when he was killed. He further said “We do not know who attacked him. He was alone, the person who was supposed to be with him had gone to the market.”The assassination of Maulana Samiul Haq, chief of his faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), has sent shockwaves and sorrows throughout the country. The respected religious scholar exercised significant influence through his seminary Darul Uloom Haqqania based in Akora Khattak, which produced many leaders of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. He also wielded political weight, having served as a senator for many years, and was currently aligned with the ruling PTI. He was also connected to the politics in Afghanistan and was sought after for advice by many stakeholders.

The assassination of Mulana Samiul Haq is considered as a big loss for peace process in Afghanistan. Along with it everybody in Pakistan is gloomy on the brutal killing of the Mulana. Indeed he was peace loving person. Despite his hardline religious and political views, the 80-year-old Samiul Haq was a patriot and upheld the national cause in the face of external and internal threats. He opposed taking up arms against the state and instead advocated the use of peaceful means to work for enforcement of the Islamic law in Pakistan. He strived to be on the right side of the civil and military establishment despite differing with them on certain issues, such as Pakistan’s close relations with the US in the past, particularly in the aftermath of the 9/11 event when Islamabad broke ties with the Afghan Taliban under pressure from Washington. His dedication for peace in Pakistan and especially in Afghanistan will never forgotten.

According to experts on Afghanistan affairs his death is the huge setback for Afghan peace process. Mulana Samiul Haq was known as “Father of Taliban” and interestingly he took much pride in this title. It was because his seminary of the Deobandi school of thought and alma mater to some of the most prominent of the Taliban, including their leader Mullah Muhammad Omer, Mullah Akhtar Mansour and Jalal ud din Haqqani. Mulana Samiul Haq was much influential on Taliban leadership in Afghanistan and that is why that delegations twice led by the Afghan Ambassador himself asked him to play a role in initiating the peace process. In post 9/11 period till his assassination he remained involved in many negotiations between Taliban leadership and Afghan government. Last month there were at least five known meetings between him and Afghan delegates. In meetings he had suggested that the religious leaders from Pakistan and Afghanistan meet without the inference of the United States. Suggesting that the peace process should be locally initiated, he had stressed that there should be a clear timeline on the withdrawal of NATO forces. While many considered the Mulana’s influence had decreased with time, his stature was best known by the people who came to seek his advice. Many times Afghan government and even Western diplomats approached him in the hope that he would be able to persuade the Afghan Taliban to stop fighting and start talking peace.

According to different reports the killing of Late Mulana will halt and hurt Afghan peace process. Different experts on Afghan affairs denote that the people as well as organizations which want to sabotage peace process in Afghanistan will benefitted. There are reports that the killing of late Mulana was plotted in Afghanistan. Basically it was the revenge of Kandahar Police Chief General Raziq and NDS Chief of Kandahar province. After the killing of notorious General Raziq his brother Tadeen Khan took charge as police Chief and determined to continue Raziq’s ‘mission’. NDS, RAW and CIA nexus is taking all kind of steps to sabotage peace in Afghanistan. Disreputable 888 brigade remained involved in counterproductive activates in Afghanistan. Killing of Mulana is linked with 888 brigade which is known as the cover organization of RAW CIA and NDS. After his killing it is quite evident that CIA, RAW and NDS are not willing to resolve Afghan issue. This unholy nexus is responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent Afghanis. In this scenario it is the obligation of international community to raise voice against unholy nexus of NDS, CIA and RAW which are involved in terrorist activates in Afghanistan and in the whole region.

Continue Reading

Latest

Trending

Copyright © 2018 Modern Diplomacy