McChrystal: 3 main insurgent groups active

Sept. 22, 2009 at 7:14 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The commander of the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says the threat to coalition forces comes from three main insurgent groups in the country.

In his confidential assessment report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal identified the groups as the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST) led by Mullah Omar, the Haqqani network (HQN), and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin led by former Mujahedin commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Post reported.

The QST, which operates from the Pakistani city of Quetta, has set up an alternative Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan government, which McChrystal says, takes advantage of the Kabul government's weaknesses. The group seeks to control Kandahar and its approaches and "there are indications that their influence over the city and neighboring districts is significant and growing."

The HQN is active in southeastern Afghanistan and draws money and manpower "principally from Pakistan, Gulf Arab networks, and from its close association with al-Qaida and other Pakistan-based insurgent groups," McChrystal wrote.

The Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin maintains bases in three Afghan provinces and in Pakistan, the general's report said.

The report said money from the production and sale of opium and other narcotics provide funding for the insurgents, but warned that "eliminating insurgent access to narco-profits -- even if possible, and while disruptive -- would not destroy their ability to operate so long as other funding sources remained intact."

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