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Al-Qaeda active in Pak tribal areas: Report

A media report says several Al-Qaeda activists, the Taliban and Islamist extremists from Iraq and Uzbekistan are active in South Waziristan.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2006 14:33 IST

Several activists of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban militia and Islamist extremists from Iraq and Uzbekistan are active in Pakistan's South Waziristan, The News International newspaper said on Friday.

The report comes as President Pervez Musharraf admitted in Islamabad on Wednesday that he had been unable to sell the September 5 agreement reached with tribal chiefs of South Waziristan either to the Bush administration or to neighbouring Afghanistan.

Tahir Yoldash, wanted in Uzbekistan for spreading religious extremism and engaging in terror acts in Ferghana Valley, has been in this tribal region for long, the paper said in a report from Peshawar.

"Officials of the political administration are tight-lipped about his presence in the area. Other foreign nationals, especially the Uzbek fighters loyal to Tahir Yoldash, are reportedly still seen in the area, but their number has considerably reduced," the report said.

Abu Okash, an Iraqi national suspected to have Al-Qaeda connections, and other foreign nationals have gone underground since the government signed the agreement with the tribal chiefs.

The agreement stipulates that the Pakistani security forces will not target the local tribals and will only man the checkposts along the border with Afghanistan.

The foreign nationals, who are the "guests" of the local tribes, could stay on if they live there "peacefully".

Not evicting foreigners runs counter to Pakistan's official policy, but the official explanation is that Waziristan is an exception because of the strong tribal tradition of standing by their guests.

Musharraf tried hard to sell the agreement, first to neighbouring Afghanistan by paying a high-profile visit to Kabul.

But President Hamid Karzai continues to oppose this.

The two leaders engaged in public spats about the role of the Taliban and the foreign mercenaries throughout their visit to the US and the United Nations last month.

The agreement has only received a nodding approval from the Bush administration, even as US policy makers and think tanks have panned it, expressing serious doubts about its practicability.

At home, critics including columnist Ayaz Amir, have said that the agreement is "a face-saving" measure by the government that failed to tame the tribals and lost 700 soldiers in the process.

Musharraf admitted to senior editors and journalists at an iftar party in Islamabad on October 11 that the agreement had failed to win approval during his US visit.

Another Arab national Abu Wafa, sources said, is jointly organising attacks and ambushes against the US and allied forces in Afghanistan with Abu Nasir Al-Qahtani, a Saudi national, who along with three others broke into the US-run detention centre at the Bagram airbase, north of Kabul, and is active again in Paktia, Paktika and Khost provinces of Afghanistan.

A recently released CD shows Al-Qahtani imparting military training, guiding the fighters through the help of computerised map to attack enemy bases and delivering a lengthy speech to wage jihad against 'infidels' in Afghanistan and Iraq, reports said.

The report describes Abu Okash, as the "mystery man of Mir Ali", who is popular in the region for settling disputes among the locals who credit him with miraculous feats.

Security forces failed to destroy his house in Mosakai village, a few kilometres away from Mir Ali, even though they used six dynamites to blast it, claimed the report, quoting local residents.

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