Taliban consolidating to recapture Swat

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (eTN) – Terror may be heading back to Swat Valley in Pakistan, after Taliban leader, Fazlullah, who almost succeeded in controlling Nuristan and Kunar in Afghanistan, vowed to strike back at Swat in the future. The first step he is taking to achieve his plan is to try to consolidate his group in the Dir and Chitral areas, where Taliban can attack domestic, as well as international tourists, in the Swat Valley, or they can abduct them for ransom to show their writ in the area.

Since this is tourism season, a lot of vehicles are going in and out of Swat Valley, therefore, controlling the entrance of extremists looks very difficult. Slaughtering Pakistani soldiers and posting avideo of this event testified that three years after the army pushed Fazlullah out of the Swat Valley, he is back.

Mullah Fazlullah organized thousands of fighters in the past, who virtually ruled picturesque Swat, imposing his radical version of Islam on the area. Opponents, and those deemed immoral, were publicly flogged, or even beheaded, and hung in squares and at intersections. Girls’ schools and government buildings were burned down.

Nowadays, Fazlullah’s men control a 20-kilometer (12-mile) stretch of the rugged and largely unpatrolled border with Pakistan from areas in Afghanistan’s forbidding Nuristan province. The Pakistan military thought it had defeated him during a Swat offensive in 2009.

Sirajuddin Ahmad, Fazlullah’s spokesman and cousin in a telephone conversation with an international news agency, said that their aim is to recapture Swat and take control of Pakistan.

“The establishment of sharia (Islamic law) is our goal, and we will not rest until we achieve it. We will fight whoever stands in our way,” he told an international news agency by telephone from an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.

Fazlullah has slowly rebuilt his militia by securing shelter and support from Afghan militants in an area where groups form loose alliances against the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

On Monday, Pakistan protested to NATO and the Afghan military, accusing them of failing to act against militant havens in Afghanistan after the cross-border attack in which the Pakistani soldiers were killed.

Reports from Nuristan province of Afghanistan indicates there are no signs that anyone intends to eliminate Fazlullah, even though he was creating havoc for people there, charging illegal taxes, stealing supplies from trucks and sometimes killing drivers. Fazlullah operates in the Afghan provinces of Nuristan and Kunar, and enjoy the support of hundreds of militants there.