TALIBAN TAKE CONTROL OF TWO AFGHAN VILLAGES
As evidence of the Taliban’s attempts to re-establish their control over southern Afghanistan, the Taliban managed to take control of two Afghan villages in the south of the country, near the border with Pakistan. Taliban militants drove police out of Naway-i-Barakzayi and Garmser villages in Helmand province on Tuesday (al-Jazeera, July 18). According to Afghan officials, more than 100 Taliban fighters were involved in the attack (Agence France-Presse, July 18). It is not expected that the Taliban will be able to maintain permanent control over the villages, as the U.S. military has already announced that it will launch “decisive operations” to re-take the towns. Nevertheless, the Taliban’s decision to attack in larger numbers highlights a continuing trend in the movement’s tactics away from random raids to larger, coordinated, guerrilla attacks (Terrorism Focus, July 11).
AUTHORITIES INVESTIGATE CLAIMS OF AL-QAEDA IN KASHMIR
On July 11, explosives ripped through commuter trains in Mumbai, India, killing approximately 200 people. One day after the explosions, a man claiming to speak on behalf of al-Qaeda said that the organization had created a wing in Kashmir called al-Qaeda in Jammu and Kashmir. The man, who gave his name as Abu al-Hadeed, appealed to “Muslims in India to fight for freedom and Islam and choose jihad as their way to achieve freedom and establishing Islamic ways,” according to various Indian media agencies. Al-Hadeed said that the leader of the new al-Qaeda wing was Abu Abdul Rehman al-Ansari. After investigating the claim, authorities announced on Monday that the call was “a hoax” and that there is “no concrete evidence that suggests al-Qaeda has set its base in Kashmir” (Express India, July 17). The largest indigenous militant group in Jammu and Kashmir, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, also called the claim a hoax, stating that the call was a “ploy of the Indian intelligence agencies” and argued that “al-Qaeda had never operated from Kashmir” (Express India, July 17). Meanwhile, the little-known group that declared responsibility for the Mumbai blasts—Lashkar-e-Qahhar—threatened to launch additional operations against India.