January 20th, 2010
01:15 PM ET

Around the Web: al Qaeda has formed a terror ‘syndicate,’ says Gates

During his visit to India, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that “al-Qaeda was using proxy terrorist groups to orchestrate attacks in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan as part of a broader strategy to destabilize the region,” according to a Washington Post report.

“The Pentagon chief said al-Qaeda had formed a ‘syndicate’ of terrorist groups with Taliban factions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as Lashkar-i-Taiba, a Kashmir separatist network blamed for the 2008 Mumbai hotel attacks that killed 165 people,” writes the Post’s Craig Whitlock.

"What we see is that the success of any one of these groups leads to new capabilities and a new reputation for all," Gates said, according to the Post. "A victory for one is a victory for all."

Meanwhile, the CBC reports that “Afghanistan and its allies have agreed to a proposal to more than double the number of Afghan security forces to 400,000, from the current 191,000, within five years.”

The approval of the proposal by the Joint Co-ordination and Monitoring Board – a panel comprised of the Afghan government, the United Nations and countries that have provided troops – “means the plan will be presented at a Jan. 28 international conference in London,” the CBC reports.

Matthew Rosenberg of the Wall Street Journal profiles Sirajuddin Haqqani, an Afghan warlord.

“In his teen years, Sirajuddin Haqqani was known among friends as a dandy. He cared more about the look of his thick black hair than the battles his father, a mujahideen warlord in the 1980s, was waging with Russia for control of Afghanistan,” Rosenberg writes.

“The younger Mr. Haqqani is still a stylish sort, say those who know him. But now, approaching middle age and ensconced as the battlefield leader of his father's militant army, he has become ruthless in his own pursuit of an Afghanistan free from foreign influence. This time the enemy is the U.S. and its allies.”

Some other news reports and perspectives:

- BBC: “Gunsights' biblical references concern U.S. and U.K. forces

- Dexter Filkins (New York Times): “Kiwis in Kabul

- Thomas L. Day (McClatchy): "Rare IED success: MRAPs cut U.S. death rate in Afghanistan"

- Ashley Rindsberg (Huffington Post): “Spinning the war in Afghanistan

- Brookings: Afghanistan Index

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