Al Qaeda Builds a 'Shadow Army'; New Force Bedevils U.S. Efforts to Pacify Afghanistan

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 13, 2009 | Go to article overview

Al Qaeda Builds a 'Shadow Army'; New Force Bedevils U.S. Efforts to Pacify Afghanistan


Byline: Bill Roggio, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Al Qaeda has reorganized its notorious paramilitary formations, setting the stage for a dramatic comeback. Formerly known as Brigade 055, the military unit has been rebuilt into a larger, more effective fighting unit known as the Lashkar al Zil, or the Shadow Army, a senior U.S. intelligence official told me.

The Shadow Army is active primarily in Pakistan's tribal areas, and in eastern and southern Afghanistan, several U.S. military and intelligence officials said on condition of anonymity. The force is well trained and equipped, and has defeated the Pakistani Army in engagements in North and South Waziristan, Bajaur, Peshawar, Khyber, and Swat. In Afghanistan, the Shadow Army has attacked Coalition and Afghan forces throughout the country.

The Shadow Army has been instrumental in the Taliban's consolidation of power in Pakistan's tribal areas and in the Northwest Frontier Province, a senior U.S. intelligence official told me. They are also behind the Taliban's successes in eastern and southern Afghanistan. They are helping to pinch Kabul.

Afghan and Pakistan-based Taliban forces have integrated elements of their forces into the Shadow Army, especially the Tehrik-e-Taliban and Haqqani Network, the official continued. It is considered a status symbol for groups to be a part of the Shadow Army. The Tehrik-e-Taliban is the Pakistani Taliban movement led by Baitullah Mehsud. The Haqqani Network straddles the Afghan-Pakistani border and has been behind some of the most high-profile attacks in Afghanistan.

The Shadow Army's effectiveness has placed the group in the crosshairs of the U.S. air campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas. In October 2008, the United States killed Khalid Habib al Shami, the leader of the Shadow Army, in a strike on a compound in North Waziristan.

The Shadow Army has a clear-cut military structure, a U.S. military intelligence officer said. A senior al Qaeda military leader is in command, while experienced officers command the brigades and subordinate battalions and companies. There are three or four brigades, including the re-formed Brigade 055 and several other Arab brigades. At its peak prior to the U.S. invasion in 2001, the 055 Brigade had an estimated 2,000 soldiers and officers in the ranks. The rebuilt units consist of Saudis, Yemenis, Egyptians, North Africans and Iraqis, as well as former members of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guards. At present, the 055 Brigade has completely reformed and is surpassing pre-2001 standards, an official said. The other brigades are also considered well trained.

The blending of the Taliban and al Qaeda units has made distinctions between the groups somewhat meaningless. The line between the Taliban and al Qaeda is increasingly blurred, especially from a command-and-control perspective, a military intelligence official said. Are Faqir Mohammed, Baitullah Mehsud, Hakeemullah Mehsud, Ilyas Kashmiri, Siraj Haqqani, and all the rest 'al Qaeda'? Probably not in the sense that they maintain their own independent organizations, but the alliance is essentially indistinguishable at this point except at a very abstract level.

The Taliban have begun an ideological conversion to Wahhabism, the radical form of Sunni Islam practiced by al Qaeda, further cementing ties between the two groups. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Al Qaeda Builds a 'Shadow Army'; New Force Bedevils U.S. Efforts to Pacify Afghanistan
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.