Waziristan: a tribal criminal enterprise masking as jihad

Slate blogs the the Nation’s report on the wiseguys, Pakistani government employees and various gangland mooks who were involved in the kidnapping of New York Times reporter David Rohde:

When Rohde was captured in Afghanistan in November 2008, he fell into the hands of “Mullah Atiqullah,” an up-and-coming Taliban commander whom the Nation outs as Haji Najibullah. In a bid to keep Rohde hidden and bolster his own reputation, Najibullah drove him across the border to Pakistan, where he put the reporter in the custody of the Haqqani clan, a mujahedeen group that worked with the CIA in the 1980s and is now known for its sophistication in attacking American troops. Since the 1970s, many experts believe the Haqqanis have been on the ISI payroll, the Nation says, and an interview with Rohde confirmed that the clan was allowed to operate without military interference. “Pakistan forces never came off their bases,” Rohde told reporter Aram Roston, “and the Haqqanis were allowed to operate their own Taliban ministate in North Waziristan.” When Rohde escaped, a feud blew up between the Haqqanis and Najibullah, each believing that the other party had sold its out for ransom money. Eventually, sources tell the Nation, the Haqqanis went to the ISI to resolve the dispute, turning over two of Rohde’s former guards, including Najibullah’s brother, Timor Shah. The men were reportedly “interrogated fiercely and tortured” but eventually released once the ISI determined that they had not endangered inter-Taliban relations by accepting bribes. “Rather than cooperating with US authorities,” Roston writes, “Pakistan’s intelligence agency essentially became an accessory after the fact to Rohde’s kidnapping.”

Afghanistan expert Michael Semple, quoted in the Nation, said: “We need to think of Waziristan as this tribal criminal enterprise masking as jihad.” Pakistan’s ISI is openly and notoriously supporting the Taliban. The ISI and various Pakistani mob organizations are profiting from the Taliban’s crimes. We’re paying the Pakistani government for these favors, and we’re also paying ransoms. If we had fought the local American mafia this way, John Gotti would have been the USA’s President for life.

More from The Nation:

I asked Rohde for his reaction to this information. “It’s very disturbing that the Pakistani authorities would not keep in custody people that were involved in my kidnapping,” he said. “If they had two of my guards in their custody and then released them, that seems to fit a broader pattern of the ISI sheltering the Taliban.”

The senior ISI official who spoke with The Nation would neither confirm nor deny the report. “I don’t know about it. I haven’t heard about it,” he said.

As this case shows, the corruption and profiteering that characterize the Karzai government, propped up by the United States, are often mirrored in the financial dealings of America’s fractious enemies, who are propped up by Pakistan.

As Semple pointed out, “We need to think of Waziristan as this tribal criminal enterprise masking as jihad.”

The Nation’s source put it this way: “There is a lot of money. You have no idea how fragile things are within the Taliban. This is not a small war they are fighting. They are fighting over power. The money goes to whoever has the power.”

When we analyze the ‘war against terrorism’, or whatever it is we’re supposed to be fighting, we should spend less time reading the Koran and more time reading Mario Puzo.

* Link thanks to Michael Yon, who said: “I got major flak for saying NYT/others paid big bucks to get Rohde released (not faulting them for that, was just saying facts), and shortly thereafter Rohde admitted in writing that money was paid to the Taliban. Unfortunately, those who went ballistic on my report did not apologize after the admission that Taliban was actually paid.”

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Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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