Friday, March 17, 2006

Sebastian Junger Revisits Afghanistan and Points Finger at Pakistan

Counterterrorism blog says:

Sebastian Junger is famous for his book, "Perfect Storm," but he's also in a unique position for having visited Afghanistan in 2000 and traveling with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud. Massoud was assassinated two days before the 9/11 attacks, and Junger wrote a book, "Fire," about his experience. In interviews, he supported using the Afghans as much as possible to pursue Osama Bin Laden, exactly the strategy employed by the U.S. and heavily criticized after Bin Laden's escape.

Junger has returned recently to Afghanistan and has written an outstanding article, "America's Forgotten War" for the April issue of "Vanity Fair." This in-depth and thoughtful piece is worth buying the magazine. He writes without prejudice of the problems and successes in the continuing counterterrorism activity there. Moreover, he fingers elements in the Pakistan army and intelligence service ("ISI") as critical sponsors in the resurging Taliban activity. He notes that while Pakistan has captured and turned over key Al Qaeda operatives, it hasn't turned over a single mid- or high-ranking Taliban official to the U.S. since the attacks. Junger talked with a former Taliban government official with current knowledge of that assistance. He writes that some Pakistani military are training Taliban recruits. The Taliban official gave him the name and phone number of an ISI agent who brings recruits from a region in Afghanistan, inserts them into training camps in western Pakistan, and then sends them back to fight. Junger also writes that the ex-Taliban told him that the Paks are receiving as much money from Osama Bin Laden to not capture him as they are taking from the United States to catch him. If true, this claim indicates both a level of duplicity that must start near the top of the Pakistani government, and a level of resources available to Bin Laden that is extremely high. Doug Farah posted precisely on the latter subject on August 19 of last year in, "Signs that al Qaeda is Flush With Cash."

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