November 2, 2006 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Quickly falling from the headlines but gaining in importance is the real significance of the Coalition's air strike in the Bajur region of Pakistan, made against the Maulvi Liaquat madrassa - a locally well known hub of pro-Taliban activity in Pakistan's tribal region.
Evidence coming to light in the wake of the attack seems to firmly establish the fact that the madrassas - or religious schools - in these areas function as training centers for radical Islamists, sometimes providing suicide bombers and at other times merely foot soldiers for the Taliban.
As Andrew Cochran of the Counterterrorism Blog states:
"the strike on the Chingai, Pakistan madrassa has punctured the "Madrassa Myth," asserting essentially that observers should know better than to believe that the madrassas run by Islamists - especially in the al-Qaeda/Taliban-dominated North West Frontier Province - are run without affiliation to terrorists."
The India Times is reporting that unnamed security officials,
"displayed to media stills and videos of the early morning training sessions at the destroyed seminary with participants from Swat, Dir, Bajaur and even Afghanistan. The photos taken through infrared camera showed people aged between 20 to 30 carrying out exercises with no weapons. No weapon or arms were shown as being used for training, as tactics of terrorists have been changed and they prepare suicide bombers."
Underlining the belief that Pakistan's government has little interest in pursuing the terrorists in their midst, on Saturday, the eve of the air strike the government released al-Qaeda operatives included Gul Mohammed, a relative of Faqir Mohammed, a pro-Taliban militant leader who is being sought by security agencies for allegedly aiding remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaida.
It is believed that both Ayman Zawahiri al-Qaeda's number two leader and Faqir Mohammed the local Taliban strongman, left the compound only 30 minutes prior to the strike showing the porous nature of Pakistani intelligence, apparently having been tipped off.
As PipeLineNews speculated in its October 31 piece Is Zawahiri Dead? - Questions Surround Missile Attack On Terrorist Madrassa In Pakistan the strike had all the earmarks of having been carried out by the coalition especially since Pakistan is unashamedly ceding huge areas of the country back to the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces.
Our supposition appears to have been justified, with eyewitnesses describing the presence of at least one Predator aircraft flying in the vicinity of the madrassa during the 24 hrs preceding the attack. Additionally, unnamed US intelligence sources have been quoted as having provided confirmation.
Musharraf has been a reluctant ally at best, as we detailed in an October 1 piece Musharraf's Pakistan Express Going Off The Rails - India Charges ISI With Collusion In Mumbai Bombing.
Along the same lines, it's an open secret among NATO, Coalition and other pro-western players in the region that tolerance of Musharraf's game of cooperating in selected instances - like helping the Brits track down the Pakistani core responsible for the 7/7 bombings - while actually empowering the resurgence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda via its withdrawal from the western border region and refusal to engage the Islamists, has come to an end.
NATO conducted two days of secret talks on the subject in Brussels just last week indicating that time may be running out for Musharraf. The larger and over riding concern is with Musharraf's hold on power tenuous at best, will it be possible to keep the country's nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Muslim radicals should he fall?
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