Conflict & Justice

Taliban said to be coordinating efforts against US-led troops in Afghanistan


U.S. soldiers in Zabul, Afghanistan walk to meet with village elders on May 27, 2011.


Brian Ferguson

The Pakistani Taliban has set up a council of elders in order to coordinate efforts against US-led troops in Afghanistan, a spokesman told CNN on Monday

The Associated Press, meantime, reported that Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban fighters had also sought to join in a united battle against NATO and its allies in Afghanistan. 

According to the AP, leaders of the groups met in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region in November and December at the request of the Afghan Taliban's leadership council.

They could indicate the militants are struggling in Afghanistan, or conversely, that they want to make sure they hit US forces hard as the Americans accelerate their withdrawal this year. That could give the Taliban additional leverage in any peace negotiations.

"For God's sake, forget all your differences and give us fighters to boost the battle against America in Afghanistan," the AP quoted senior Al Qaeda commander Abu Yahya al-Libi as telling Pakistani fighters at a meeting on Dec. 11.

CNN, meantime, reported that five participating Pakistani Taliban factions, including a branch led by the militant Haqqani network, flagged the move over the weekend via a leaflet circulated in North Waziristan.

The council's creation was spurred by fugitive Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who urged the Pakistani Taliban and associated jihadist groups to put aside their internal disputes and work together to battle the U.S.-led alliance across the border, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told CNN.

The Islamist Afghan Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan before the post 9/11 US-led invasion, and has been battling NATO troops in the countryside ever since. It also opposes the Western-backed government in Kabul. 

However, the AP writes, the Pakistani Taliban — though they've sent fighters to Afghanistan — have concentrated on toppling their own government.

The Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella organization set up in 2007 to represent roughly 40 insurgent groups, has also been split by infighting over turf and leadership positions after commanders were killed by the Pakistani military and US drone strikes.