By Editor Aug1,2023

All the Western strategic experts wondered how Taliban’s rag-tag
militia, which was on the verge of collapse, had in a few short
years rehabilitated itself and come up with hugely effective guerrilla
tactics. These strategists wondered how the guerrillas’ skills, which
had been virtually nonexistent till 2005, had suddenly transformed.
NATO failed to comprehend that there could be a strategist behind
the change. That strategist was Haroon, who had been shuttling
continuously between Pakistan’s tribal areas in the two Waziristans
and Karachi, undetected. In Al-Qaeda circles Haroon is today
held in as high regard as Abu Hafs (killed in 2001) for his military
operations and strategy.
While walking on the sandy shores of the Arabian Sea near my
Karachi sea-view residence with Haroon, it was hard for me to believe
that this was the person who had moved the internal dynamics of
the war in South Asia from Afghanistan to India. Like al-Zawahiri,
Haroon’s whole life was the movement. Every part of his mind was
focused on formulating a strategy to win the war against NATO.
While walking near Karachi’s Clifton beach he never once appeared
to enjoy or comment on the cool breeze, or the sight of the awesome
waves. Instead his eyes were riveted on the oil terminal as he pondered

strategies to block NATO’s shipment from the port in Karachi to land-
locked Afghanistan. Haroon shared his thoughts with me every time

he came to Karachi in 2008, when I was living in the city. He said:
Dr Saab, the victory of Khurasan is near. I am certain that if
the mujahideen succeed in severing the NATO supply lines
from Pakistan by 2008, NATO will be left with no choice but
to withdraw by 2009. And, if the supply line is cut by 2010,
NATO will leave Afghanistan by 2011. This strategy is of critical
importance in this war game.
NATO’s claim of an alternative supply route through Central
Asia is a joke. It is so long and complicated that the economy of
the whole of Europe and the United States would collapse under
the financial strain. The only other option is to move the NATO
shipments to Iran. But if you study history, you will see that
relations between the ancient Persian Empire and Roman Empire
were strained. Similarly, in this battle, although Iran facilitated the
US invasion of Afghanistan against the Taliban, it is still looking
to defeat America and its NATO allies. I don’t think that Iran
would allow NATO any permanent route for its supplies through
its territory.
Haroon saw the climax of the battle coming in 2012:
This is the time the Mahdi [the ultimate reformist leader] will
make his presence felt. By all the reckonings and the estimates of
Muslim scholars he has already been born. By 2012, he will come
forward to command the Muslim forces in the Middle East and
defeat the Western forces led by the Antichrist [Dajjal].
I used to spend hours walking with Haroon on the seashore in the
evening, trying to understand the Al-Qaeda perspective on various
issues. It was doubly perplexing for me that while the West doubted
the loyalty of Pakistan Army in the War on Terror in Afghanistan,
believing it to be hand in glove with the Taliban, the Taliban were
repeatedly attacking Pakistan’s armed forces, believing their loyalties
were pro-West. Haroon was the perfect source of enlightenment on
this, as not only was he a former officer of the Pakistan Army, he
had also personally served under the command of several leading
generals, including General Tariq Majeed (then chairman joint chiefs
of the Staff Committee). Haroon said:
Their [the Pakistan army’s] support to the Afghan Taliban is
purely tactical. It does not come from any conviction. This kind
of support to the insurgencies in neighboring countries is given by
states for its nuisance value – and to gain influence in the region.
The Pakistan Army also supports Laskhar-e-Taiba, but only as the
means of waging a proxy war against India. India does the same
with its fifth columnists in Pakistan. If the situation changes, the
army will also change its policies on India. For instance, the ISI
used to launch LeT men in Calcutta [India] for acts of sabotage.
These men were always arrested. Some because of their long beards, some because of the Salafi rituals they practiced, and some
because of the language they conversed in. Whenever they carried
out an operation, they were found and arrested.
The Pakistani intelligence agencies wondered why ISI operations in
India were always exposed while Indian proxy operations in Pakistan
never came to light. The reason became clear to them later. The

Indian saboteurs in Pakistan were rarely Indian. The Indian intelli-
gence hired Pakistanis as their proxies. Pakistan decided do the same,

and in 2007 and 2008 it used the Indian underworld to carry out
bomb blasts in Delhi and other places. For the first time the Indian
security agencies were clueless about the origin of the saboteurs. Now
Pakistan does not need or want to use LeT any more.
“But if that is the case, what prevents Pakistan from completely
dismantling LeT?” I asked. He answered:
They still require LeT for many reasons. First, after their U-turn
following 9/11, Pakistan lost its Islamist allies one by one. LeT is
their only ally in Pakistan. There is one major reason for this. The
Pakistan army is culturally Punjabi. Approximately 60 percent
of its strength comes from the rural areas of Punjab. LeT comes
from the same background. LeT is from the Ahle-Hadith school
of thought [the South Asian version of the Saudi Wahhabi school]
and in this school of thought khuruj [revolt] is not allowed. In
other words, LeT is a pro-establishment group. The Pakistan
Army does not feel threatened by it.
Comparison between the various Muslim societies and the successes
or the failures of local insurgency movements was Haroon’s other
favorite topic. “Dr Sahib, Islam is a universal message for all of

mankind, but it does not ignore local themes, culture and tradi-
tions,” he remarked when we discussed the philosophy of Michael

Aflaq, the founder of Arab Baath Party, and how Islam was practiced
by Saddam Hussain in both letter and spirit.
“But isn’t against the basic spirit of Islam to paint this great
religion in a narrow perspective of Arab nationalism, as did Michael
Aflaq and Saddam Hussain?” I argued. He answered:
Dr Sahib, there is no denying the fact that Islam is culturally Arab,
but I don’t think that there is any harm if somebody supports the
Islamic state on the basis of Arab nationalism. That happened in
the time of Umar Bin Khattab [the second Muslim Caliph and the Prophet Muhammad’s companion], when he gained the support
of some Iraqi Arab tribes on the basis of Arab nationalism during
the war against the Iranian imperialism.
“Then what do you think of the Muslim Brotherhood which
condemns Arab nationalism and the Baath ideology?” I asked. “I
don’t know enough about their perspectives, but I do believe that in
wars for the protection of an Islamic state, nationalist themes can be
used,” Haroon replied.
I often confessed to Haroon that I could not understand the
rationale of wars in which thousands of non-combatants are killed.
His answer was:
Big causes demand big sacrifices. History witnesses that innocent
people are often killed in wars and otherwise. In peace they are
crushed by the tyrannical systems. Life is only for those who chose
to play an active role on one side of the fence or the other. The rest
are anyway caught in no-man’s land.
Haroon is now in Adyala jail, Rawalpindi. The senior police officer
who interrogated him and exchanged notes with me admitted he was
impressed with him, and is at a loss to understand how Haroon got
himself arrested for a crime like abduction for ransom. He quotes
Haroon frequently and is proud he has had the chance to meet such a
revolutionary in his lifetime. He wondered why Haroon’s life is such
an under-reported story.
Haroon continues to share his views on the need to defeat NATO

forces in Afghanistan with his interrogators. Sometimes the loneli-
ness and the emptiness of jail depress him, but his convictions bring

him back to the world, and he lives for another day. His is another
story of Al-Qaeda’s One Thousand and One Nights tales which lead
to the promised “End of Time” battles. Meanwhile his colleagues in
Waziristan look forward to his coming back to the tribal theater of
war. They are convinced that his ideas and presence would lead them
to victory.

By Editor

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