Tag Archives: taliban

Method to madness

If you think anyone can go and join a terrorist organization, you are wrong. You are as wrong as I was when I was worried about a friend who proved to be an admirer of militancy and guerrilla warfare. In his college days, he was a friend to a Mujahid in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. I never took his crave to go and fight a battle, seriously but his Mujahid friend did. And he never let him get close to his organization, weapons or anything ‘militant’ he had. Years after, the same old crazy guy spotted his Jihadi friend somewhere in the Middle East and tried to contact him. I was worried about him and maybe I have mentioned my worry somewhere in some article. I was worried that he may fall prey to ISIL or some other terrorist organization but after reading this research, I am a bit relieved.


This research; “The recruiter’s dilemma: Signalling and rebel recruitment tactics” by Thomas Hegghammer of Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) published in 2012 in the Journal of Peace Research, made me understand that my ‘once friend’ has very little chances to succeed in joining a terrorist organization. How do terrorists recruit? Thomas Hegghammer in order to answer this, say; we know much about the profiles and pathways of recruits, but little about the strategies and tactics of recruiters. He presents an analytical framework that conceptualizes recruitment as a trust game between recruiter and recruit. He argues that the central logic shaping recruiter tactics is the search for cost-discriminating signs of trustworthiness, that is, signs that are too costly for mimics to fake, but affordable for the genuinely trustworthy recruit.

He argues; Terrorist recruiters face a primary trust dilemma in the uncertainty over the quality of recruits. They need people who are trust worthy, which means a combination of at least three qualities: willingness to fight, loyalty and vigilance. But according to different jihadi manuals, there must be some more qualities in a recruit. For example, the so-called Manchester Manual listed 14 desirable qualities in a prospective member: Islam, ideological commitment, maturity, willingness to sacrifice, obedience, ability to keep secrets and conceal information, good health, patience, tranquillity, intelligence, prudence, truthfulness, ability to observe and ability to conceal oneself. Another manual, entitled A Course in the Art of Recruitment (al-Qa‘idi, 2008), advised recruiters to choose old friends or relatives who are not particularly religious and to avoid very pious people and certain types of professionals.

But these qualities, he says, cannot easily be seen but the signs in a terrorist recruit are notable. Recruiters observe, identify and evaluate these signs before probing and induction.

Researcher applies the framework to the case of ‘al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula’ (QAP), and finds that QAP’s recruiters didn’t pay attention to a recruit’s tribal origin or social class. But they paid great attention to ethnicity. In 260’s sample, there were no South Asians and only 12 non-Saudi Arabs. South Asians and non-Saudi Arabs, who together make up about a quarter of residents in Saudi Arabia, are thus underrepresented.  He argues, that, it is fair to assume, then, that QAP did not trust non-Arabs and were less likely to trust non-Saudi Arabs than Saudis. Asian, African or Western features would thus have been a strong negative cue, while very dark- or light-skinned Arab features would have been a moderately negative one.

These preferences probably had both a rational and an irrational component. It would be easier to check the background of a Saudi than a foreigner and easier to communicate with anArab than a non-Arab. The low income and status of Asians in Saudi Arabia would have made them more susceptible to bribes and vulnerable to blackmail. At the same time, prejudice toward Asians and Africans is very widespread in the Kingdom, and the international jihadi movement has historically been characterized by a certain Arab chauvinism.

Apparently this seems true about Taliban’s where majority is from tribal Afghanistan or Pakistan and speaks Pushto (correct me, if am wrong) but recruiters have used different methods to recruit new terrorist. Al-Qaeda preferred veteran jihadists who had been on the battleground in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia or somewhere else, whereas Taliban has depended on Madrassa students as well. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has recruited terrorists from all over the world but surprisingly even they did not rely on the internet for the recruitment.


Writer is pursuing his MPhil at Iqra University Islamabad and blogs at Kashmirica.wordpress.com go say hello @imrankhushaal

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We don’t understand terrorism, do we?

By: Imran Khushal

In 2013, there was a debate going on in a communist circle in Pakistan, whether we support America or Taliban? Which can be accepted as the lesser evil; drone strikes which are killing innocent civilians or suicide bombings which are also killing innocent civilians? It was never an easy task to take a side. But events which were occurring with ever increasing speed confused many communist and socialist and liberals and I don’t know whom else, but definitely a lot of people. Communist and socialist who ever wanted an end to American imperialism was ‘Okay’ with Taliban, as long as they were targeting Americans, but obviously they were not only attacking NATO forces but also innocent civilians across The Durand Line. On the other hand, these same people were also ‘Okay’ with American drone strikes as long as they were just eliminating Taliban and other terrorist organizations who allied with the USA at first place to fight a war against communist Russia.


A similar confusion was heard and seen after Paris attacks, in which more than a hundred people were killed. Facebook, a social network site, gave its users an option to filter their profile pictures with France’s flag, to show solidarity. This same feature was offered by a few other social networking sites as well. Some people right after the attacks tri-colored their profile pictures and updated their status, mostly words of solidarity with the Parisians. But other didn’t. Some gave explanations for why they aren’t coloring their profile pictures whereas other colored their picture with flag or flags of their desired country or countries.

One of the explanations caught my attention and it was ending with this question that, “why Facebook didn’t add this feature after terrorist attacks in Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan or Pakistan”? Well, I intend not to speak for Facebook or any other social media for that matter, but I have a counter question, does this justify not standing with innocent civilians and drawing comparisons, comparisons which are clearly leading towards confusion and more confusion?

I asked my friends where this whole thing is leading and an old friend of mine who is nowadays campaigning for ISIS, said something which didn’t make sense to me. Next day an MPhil colleague expressed similar views and today on breakfast table another PhD candidate said what that “ISIS supporter” said a couple of days earlier. And if I can put their opinion in words, it was more like “Whatever happened to the people of Paris was just and they deserved so”. “Now they will know how it feels”, “Why they are complaining and about what, they have lost just one hundred or so whereas we (Muslims) have lost hundreds of thousands.”

I felt like they all were considering the victims as some property of a bad guy who actually brought harm to their property in first place in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. But this is not the case, how we can draw a comparison between two lives. A life in Syria is as important and valuable as a life in Paris. So if we are not falling on this end why we are falling on that end? I think we as a majority still don’t understand terrorism. These very terrorists who killed your beloved ones now killed their beloved ones and you are not condemning it because they didn’t condemn it at the first place.

This is strange. Terrorists are one ‘’US”, for them all the Parisians and Syrians and anyone else who is not supporting their cause is “THEM”, so deserves to be killed. Westerns including Americas, are another “US” and for them, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban and anyone else who is not accepting their supremacy is “THEM”, and so deserves to be “droned”. Yet you are another “Us” and for you both “Terrorists’’ and “Westerns” are “THEM”, and for this you are oscillating between those two “THEMS”. The point is when you condemn the West you are perceived as a supporter of the Terrorists and when you condemn the Terrorists you are perceived as a Western supporter. Which needs to be changed.

We being a third “US”, need neither to support the drones nor the suicide bombers. We don’t understand terrorism yet fully so have to maintain some important categorizations. Need to set some agreeable points. And for my personal understanding, I differentiate in regards to “civilians”, which means if someone kills some civilians somewhere to achieve his political goals he is a terrorist and this act is terrorism. These political goals can be religious or otherwise.

Terrorism is disturbing and now it’s an everyday phenomenon. If you lack a basic understanding of terrorism and are confuse, you could be next attacker or a suicide bomber or at least a social media abuser. To avoid such a situation, I’ll suggest you to adopt one definition of terrorism which can work for you and there are more than one hundred definitions. I am not saying go for an American definition or of United Nation’s. Write one your own, if you can but remember trickier you’ll make it more chances you will get trap by yourself.

So go for a simple one and here are a couple of them.

Criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act. UN Security Council

Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them. UN General Assembly

And the one I have adopted is, terrorism would be defined as deliberate use or threat to use violence against civilians or against civilian targets in order to attain political aims. Boaz Gonar



Writer is pursuing his MPhil at Iqra University Islamabad, blogs at Kashmirica.wordpress.com and can be followed @imrankhushaal

Why operation Zarb-e-Azb will not be a “success”?

By: Imran Khushaal Raja On: 18 July 2014

Pakistan Army’s latest initiative in Waziristan has got a lot of attention on both local and international spheres. The operation is satisfying some, irritating others; but whether they are in its favor or against it, it seems that just about everyone is keeping an eye on it. Media is reporting it with all its strength and debates are on full swing at iftars and dinners. 


Some say Pak army is sacrificing its blood for the betterment of this country and no doubt this operation is a great breakthrough in this regard. But others in contrast not willing to forget the past, call them responsible for the creation of these non-state actors during their persuasion of strategic depth in Afghanistan, particularly against Russia on behalf of American intelligence i.e. CIA, after a communist revolution in 1978.  Regardless of these hot debate and discussion there are some ground realities that tell us whether this operation is going to be successful or not and in both cases to which extent. I found five reasons that you should know why operation Zarb-E-Azb is not going to be a smash success.

1. A very delayed operation

If it was necessary it should be done long ago. Soon after the 9/11 when Pakistan has decided to go for a war on terror, was a right time to initiate any of such kind of operations because the terrorist organizations got banned and have not proliferated and stretched yet not at least with suicide jackets and blowing stuff. One should admit that Pakistan has wasted a lot of its time in categorizing and separating the so called good Taliban from the bad and Punjabi Taliban from the rest. And if not then at least after the “successful” conclusion of Swat and South Waziristan Operations was comparatively more suitable time for heading towards North in Waziristan.


. But Army Gen. of that time Gen. Kayani was not in agreement to his crew for this operation. As Maj Gen Ather Abbas (R) ex-DG ISPR revealed to foreign media that the military was prepared to launch the North Waziristan Operation by 2011 and that it was Gen. Kayani’s dithering that delayed the operation, thus allowing the militants to further entrench their positions.

2. Being conducted on one side only 

Such operations are hard to conduct and difficult to achieve the goals.  These are not war fight against outsiders where one have to invade and destroy rather win and preserve. These are more complex tasks to perform, against one’s own people where one have to win, not only the battle but the hearts of victims i.e. non-combat. Such operations need to be conducted on multiple fronts i.e. socio-religious and political along with military front.

549198-ImranKhanNawazSharif-1368546963-714-640x480Whereas in this case Pakistani society has mix opinion. Some support terrorist openly even on media, in public gathering and at universities. Other oppose but in low voices and synonymic writings. And remaining are confuse and muddled. Political governments are not in its favor. Punjab wants to maintain its supremacy and do not want to bother the Punjabi Taliban. KPK under the headship of Imran Khan always opposed such initiatives. Baluchistan and Sindh are encountered by their internal problems.  Gilgit Balistan’s opinion has no value and Kashmiri terrorists are inviting Al-Qaida and Taliban to join them in Azad Kashmir (truthdive.com). Although some liberal religious clerics like Tahir Ul Qadri has given “fatvâ’s” against these people but no religious front is equipped officially. That is why the religious institutions and authorities are confusing and misinterpreting the situation instead of giving a clear declaration against terrorist organizations.

3. Lacking International consciences and future planning 

The operation is lacking an international consciences on the prevention of possible inflow of militants into nearby countries through common borders particularly into Afghanistan. As it happens in 2009 When the Pakistan army launched a military operation against the Pakistani Taliban in northwestern Swat valley, Mullah Fazlullah, who is the current chief of Pakistani Taliban, fled to Afghanistan and still operates from there. So if the terrorists find a safe haven in Afghanistan with the support of some anti-Pakistan forces, as has been witnessed in the past, then the ongoing military operation will fail to achieve its goals. The possible measures should have been taken on diplomatic level with Afghanistan to eliminate the threat of future attacks on Pakistan’s soil from across the border.


The operation will also have serious social, economic and human costs. The possible blowback could take the shape of more militant attacks in Pakistan, a country which has seen some 60,000 of its civilians killed in terrorism-related violence. The country is likely to witness more terror attacks, more bloodshed and more devastation of infrastructure in retaliation as Syed Fazl-e-Haider sees.

4. Not adequate facilitations for IDPs

After weeks into the ongoing military operation, the conditions of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) is getting worse as reported by AisaDespatch.com. In Bannu, where at least 600,000 IDPs are housed, over 80% of the families have refused to stay in camps, especially made for them by the armed forces as they argue that the camps are not big enough for their families, nor they are good enough to keep them safe from the blistering heat.


Whereas having a joint-family system, one tribal family encompasses at least 15 people while it can also go up till 80 members. This situation doubts the government announcement of a compensation of PkR12000 per IDP family that if even this amount has surely given to them will it be sufficient for them.

5. See who is rescuing from whom

The first flex for the donation to help IDPs was displayed by Jammat-e-Islami and Jammat-e-Dawa, the welfare and political fronts of militants. On one hand Pak army is conducting a military operation against terrorist organizations whereas on other hand it is just letting going their recruiting agencies to interact with IDPs and gain their sympathies. Apparently nothing is bad in helping displaced people but it really matters who is helping. These are the religious exploiters and opinion makers for the militants.

Jmaat E Islami

Till yesterday they had supported them by all means. They declared them true heroes of Islam and martyrs when they got shot by Pak army. If they are martyrs then what about Pakistan Army? This is not an incident neither some kind of sympathy. This is a shared ideology between these and those. As Awami Muzzamat a leftist paper says, “Extremism is a mindset and political thinking which can’t be change by bombing at distant areas of the country.”