Counter-Terrorism: Jihadi Go Home!

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October 18, 2006: In Afghanistan, staunch Islamic conservative tribes that formerly welcomed al Qaeda's "foreign fighters" into their regions, appear to be having second thoughts. Most religiously conservative tribes just want to be left alone to do things the way they've always done them. If this means fighting the government (as in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or elsewhere) then so-be-it. But so long as the government doesn't meddle in local affairs, the tribesmen generally aren't particularly interested in whether or not the rest of the country adheres closely to Islamic tradition or is wallowing in sin. Al Qaeda's "Global Caliphate" agenda thus often clashes with that of the local tribes. Lately there's been some evidence that the tribes are getting annoyed.

In the Waziristan region of Pakistan, al Qaeda seems to have committed two particular blunders. The first was trying to take on the Pakistani government, which led to retaliation in force, most of which ended up landing on the tribes rather than al Qaeda's minions. At the same time, some al Qaeda, apparently unhappy over the lack of enthusiasm displayed by the tribes for global jihad, tried some strong-arm tactics. This included harassing, and in some cases killing, tribal leaders. These actions annoyed the tribes. One result was the recent agreement between the Pakistani government and tribal leaders, that left the latter in charge of policing their own areas, if the government agreed not to harass them. In addition, some of the tribes have been taking action against "foreigners." How much action, is as yet unclear, but regional al Qaeda leaders reportedly "apologized" for the actions of some of their followers.

A similar situation is unfolding in Iraq's Anbar province. There, the pro-Baathist, or merely nationalist, Sunni tribes were rather heavily defeated by government and coalition forces earlier this year, and decided to lay low. This pretty much left the terrorist activity in the hands of al Qaeda. Miffed at being left to fight on alone, al Qaeda initiated a program of intimidation and murder against tribal leaders. This led to the recent agreement between the Sunni tribes and the government that established a tribal elders council to help police the province. As a result, Sunni tribesmen are now working with government police to patrol roads.

 


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