Tags: Afghanistan | Al-Qaida | pentagon | report

Report: Facts Contradict Pentagon on Al-Qaida in Afghanistan

By    |   Thursday, 20 November 2014 09:39 PM

According to a recent Defense Department report on Afghanistan, al-Qaida forces are mostly restricted to "isolated areas" in the northeastern part of that country. But according to the Long War Journal, a website which closely monitors the military situation in that country, the facts on the ground contradict the Pentagon’s analysis.

The Pentagon's "Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan," released last month, covers "progress in Afghanistan from April 1 to September 30, 2014." Long War Journal found just nine mentions of al-Qaida in the report, which is more than 100 pages long.

In it, the U.S. military describes al-Qaida forces as being "isolated" in Kunar and Nuristan – mountainous, remote provinces of northeastern Afghanistan.

"Counterterrorism operations restricted al-Qaeda’s presence to isolated areas of northeastern Afghanistan and limited access to other parts of the country," according to the report. It added that these operations "forced al Qaeda in Afghanistan to focus on survival, rather than on operations against the West."

This assessment is similar to analyses the U.S. military has been making for years in which it claims that the terror group was confined to operating in the northeast. But this is contradicted by reports complied by the International Security Assistance Force (NATO’s military force in Afghanistan).

The Long War Journal (LWJ) analyzed ISAF press releases announcing operations between early 2007 and June 2013. They showed that al-Qaida and its allies were targeted 338 times in 25 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces during this period.

And as the LWJ’s analysis makes clear, al-Qaida operatives have been engaged in combat well beyond Kunar and Nuristan in recent months.

Last month, for example, a U.S. airstrike reportedly killed al-Qaida leader Abu Bara al-Kuwaiti in Nangarhar province. Abu Bara, who was said to be close to al-Qaida boss Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been described by U.S. intelligence officials as the most senior leader of the organization killed in Afghanistan in recent years.

The Long War Journal lists other examples of senior al-Qaida-linked figures still operating in Afghanistan including Qari Bilal, who is thought to control more than 300 fighters in the northern province of Kunduz. He is a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al-Qaida linked group that works closely with the Taliban. Another al-Qaida-connected organization in Afghanistan is Junood al Fida, which operates in the southern province of Kandahar.

No less troubling is the continued ability of the Taliban to carry out attacks in many areas of the country including Kabul. On Tuesday, the group attacked a compound housing foreigners in eastern Kabul, killing four people, two of them Afghan security guards. It was the latest in a series of recent terrorist bombings in the capital. In the past week, suicide bombers targeted a female lawmaker and the police chief, both of whom survived, The Washington Times reported.

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According to a recent Defense Department report on Afghanistan, al-Qaida forces are mostly restricted to "isolated areas" in the northeastern part of that country. But according to the...
pentagon, report
Thursday, 20 November 2014 09:39 PM
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