Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Terrorism Analyst

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Pakistan Sets Major Taliban Leader Free, About to Release Another


Well, so much for all the bold talk from Pakistan's new government about being "tough on terror." CBN News viewers know all too well the disastrous results of the "peace deals" struck  by the Musharraf regime with the Taliban in Pakstan's tribal regions. Musharraf's successors apparently didn't get the memo. From The Long War Journal:

Within weeks after the new central and provincial governments signaled it would revive negotiations with the Taliban in the Northwest Frontier Province and the lawless tribal areas, Pakistan has freed a senior Taliban leader jailed since 2002. After signing a six-point agreement with the Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammadi, the government released Sufi Mohammed, the leader of the radical Taliban group.

Sufi Mohammed is one of the most dangerous Taliban leaders in the Northwest Frontier Province. As the ideological leader of the outlawed Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammadi (the TNSM, or the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad's Sharia Law), he has close links with the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban as well as senior al Qaeda leaders.

The TNSM is known as the "Pakistani Taliban" and is the group behind the ideological inspiration for the Afghan Taliban. The TNSM sent over 10,000 fighters into Afghanistan to fight US forces during the opening stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in late 2001 and 2002. Sufi was jailed by the Pakistani government after the TNSM was banned.

Coincidentally, in 2007, I interviewed a Muslim who lived in Pakistan's tribal regions until just a few years ago. He told me how several residents of his village--responding to a radical cleric's exhortations-- traveled to Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces after 9/11. He said most never returned. That firebrand cleric may very well have been the aforementioned Sufi Mohammed. It gets worse:

The release of other senior Taliban leaders may be forthcoming. The Taliban have called for the release of Sufi along with Maulana Abdul Aziz, the radical leader of the Red Mosque, and “five Afghan Taliban and the three men arrested on charges of allegedly plotting Benazir Bhutto’s assassination — Aitzaz Shah, Hussnain and Rafaqat,” the Daily Times reported. The Taliban are demanding their release in exchange for Tariq Azizuddin, Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan.

In other words, meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 4:00 AM



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