So my post last week wondering about the presence of LeT in Kunar led to some interesting emails. I’m afraid I don’t have permission to quote anyone so sourcing will have to be vague on this, but the end result of discussing the issue with these people—all of whom live in Kabul and only some of whom personally travel there (though they all claim knowledge of people who go there routinely)—is that I have no idea what’s actually going on. Some of the private comments I’ve received, briefly:
- One correspondent told me the LeT beat up a Taliban shadow governor in Kunar at some point (it was unclear when) because they wanted to attack development projects and the Taliban shadow government wanted them to leave development projects alone.
- “I got a different story from just about everyone I spoke to,” one person with access to people who travel to the area said. “Everyone I spoke to said it was Taliban [in Nuristan], not HiG, even though western Nuristan has historically been HiG territory. I hear that Hekmatyar has visited the province twice since late March.”
- “According to one of the senior officials,” another emailer told me, “most of the insurgents in Nuristan ARE HiG guys, directed by a commander based in Bajaur, and there are a few hundred Al Qaeda and Tarek-e Taliban guys as well, but no Lashkar-e Taiba to speak of.”
- “You’re wrong,” said one aid worker. “The LeT are everywhere in Kunar and Nuristan. They’ve practically taken over the insurgency.”
There were a few more comments like this. It’s rare that there is this much confusion about what’s actually going on, but I think because this is Nuristan and upper Kunar we’re talking about there is almost no reliable information coming out of the area. And it’s impossible to confirm any of it.
So the end result? I have no idea if LeT has become a major force in Kunar and Nuristan. And I don’t think anyone else does either.