4d961246cad78210VgnVCM200000e66411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2009-Q2These Taliban diaries might alter how we spend our days3d961246cad78210VgnVCM200000e66411ac____These Taliban diaries might alter how we spend our daysWhile most of the diaries typically relate the events of the day, a portion of each diary is dedicated as a training manual. And this is what makes them so interesting.<p>During the Swat operations, Pakistani security forces captured diaries of some Taliban leaders; among them was a diary of Muslim Khan, the spokesman for Fazlullah, the leader of the Taliban in Swat. I managed to lay my hands on some of them, including a diary of someone who styles himself as "Khalid bin al Walid" - an obvious pseudonym.
While most of the diaries typically relate the events of the day, a portion of each diary is dedicated as a training manual. And this is what makes them so interesting. The diaries contain detailed instructions on how to conduct urban and rural guerrilla warfare. They include instructions on carrying out an ambush, how to evade one if possible and how to fight through one. They list combatants under loose command structures for certain operations. The diaries include analyses of the successes and failures of operations, with notes on the casualties taken and inflicted. They record why a commander has been changed, occasionally for his inefficiency, but more frequently to find the most appropriate individual for each task.</p>
<p>The details of each operation and the instructions on how to reorganise after success or failure provide fascinating insight into their training and understanding of guerrilla operations. Occasional glimpses of Sun Tzu and Che Guevara's teachings come through. But what the diaries resemble most are the "training manuals" captured from the rebel Contras that Nicaragua took before the International Court of Justice to present its case against the US.</p>
<p>While fascinating, the diaries might not be a cause for surprise; except to wonder how they received such detailed training. The remaining instructions contained in the diaries of leaders as well as "soldiers" is certainly cause for concern.
These instructions are exquisite in their detail on how to make explosive devices; many with the most innocuous components like sugar, cooking oil, aluminium, Vaseline, coffee, charcoal, salt and even black seed. In each case, other explosive components are included and in each case all composites are spelt out in milligrams - frequently with diagrams. Instructions on the use of TNT, RDX, and plastique are also included with a ratio for each component.</p>
<p>Instructions also detail how improvised explosive devices (IEDs) can be triggered; methods range from conventional fuses to improvised ones from rope soaked in fuel, to those made from a hand-wound wrist watch, an alarm clock and even a mobile phone. Instructions also include which devices can be used for which type of IED. They include how charges can be shaped for maximising effect in a given direction and even instructions on biological precautions if there is prolonged exposure to certain chemicals - when to drink a glass of milk or a quart of yogurt. Needless to say, instructions also include details on the sensitivity of each kind of IED, what might trigger each prematurely and its lifespan. Everything necessary has been covered in the minutest detail imaginable, many of which were unknown to me until I read the diaries.</p>
<p>While all this information is available on the internet, it requires a specialist to understand and synthesise it. Often the diaries necessitate knowledge of chemistry, physics and biology and a combination of that knowledge would be developed for a specific purposes: training people to operate behind enemy lines and make do with whatever is available.
Such information could also be gathered by a scientist in the pay of an organisation like al Qa'eda. But even a chemist would need to be pointed in the right direction to collect the relevant information on physics and biology. This information has to come from an intelligence agency.</p>
<p>Now we are talking about people who are not only programmed to kill through distortions of religion, but who combine that religious conviction with the knowledge of highly trained operatives capable of constructing their weapons of destruction. Think of them as a few thousand Rambos with a distorted version of religion. So far they are used to operating as individuals or a group under the instructions of what would be called "a control" in intelligence parlance. However, if the Pakistani military operations are fully successful and eliminate the leadership, the command and control, and even the training structure of the Taliban, which they must, even if only to stop them from churning out more of these "killing machines", those already trained, no longer need "controls" or further instructions. If only 10,000 are left, and 50 per cent decide in favour of peace, five thousand suicide attackers might still be left.</p>
<p>As far as Pakistan's future is concerned the question of who trained them pales into insignificance compared to the implication; it lends credence to a conclusion I came to in an earlier article; that we are not destined to see the end of murder, mayhem, and suicide attacks in Pakistan for the foreseeable future.
<i>Brig Gen Shaukat Qadir is a retired Pakistani infantry officer</i></p>