Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Tora bora, Malawa valley Intel. UPDATE

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    Monday, August 27, 2007

    Tora bora, Malawa valley Intel. UPDATE

    The "Tora Bora Front", as Taliban propaganda calls it, borders the province of Nangahar and has been active for about three weeks. The complex of deep caves, which proved impervious to US bombing in 2001, sits on an infiltration route from the Spin Ghar mountains between Nangahar province and Pakistan's lawless Tribal Areas, where bin Laden is still thought to be hiding.

    Afghanistan - Taliban fighters back in caves of Tora Bora
    Members of the Canadian army dig away rubble as they search for a cave in the Towr Ghar mountain
    Western officials and local government authorities confirm that Taliban insurgents backed by al-Qa'eda have reoccupied the complex.

    They believe that one of the group's leaders could be Amin ul-Haq, a close associate of bin Laden. One western official also named Maulvi Anwar ul-Haq Mujahed as a commander of the group. He is the son of Younis Khalis, one of the most famous Islamist leaders in the Afghan jihad against the Soviets.

    Initial estimates of the Tora Bora force by local Afghan officials put the number at between 200 and 250, including Arab, Chechen and Pakistani fighters.

    "They have reoccupied the old base," said Haji Zalmai, the district governor of Khogiani, which borders the Spin Ghar mountains at Tora Bora.

    Khogiani district is a dusty plain dominated by the imposing rampart of peaks that make up the Spin Ghar mountains and the border with Pakistan. Governor Zalmai survived an assassination attempt two weeks ago that blew up his car and the district, which has never been secure, has experienced a recent rise in insurgent activity.

    Taliban fighters back in caves of Tora Bora

    The area, which is also notorious for poppy production and smuggling, has had three governors in a year. Zalmai's predecessor was killed and the governor before him was injured and swiftly left the post.

    A Taliban propaganda blitz across southern Nangahar has led to "night letters" being dropped in villages boasting of the new front. They warn Afghans of the dire repercussions for supporting the government or western forces.

    Officials in Kabul believe that the move is part of a more general strategic shift in the focus of Taliban operations away from their previous epicentre in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand, where a series of offensives by British troops supported by US and other Nato forces has left the Taliban with a battered command structure and weakening morale.

    The death of the notorious Mullah Dadullah Akhund in May was only the most high-profile success of a little-publicised campaign, largely conducted by both British and American Special Forces, to decapitate the leadership of the Taliban in the south.

    There also appears to be a shift in tactics, with the insurgents turning more to terrorist tactics such as yesterday's suicide bombing in Kabul..

    More: Malawa valley Intel.

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