Ron Moreau

Stories by Ron Moreau

  • The Taliban's Own Surge

    All night, every night, an endless caravan of old cars and pickup trucks rolls through the dusty Pakistani town of Datta Khel in North Waziristan's lawless tribal area. The vehicles, headed for Afghanistan, are filled with jihadist recruits going to join the fight against U.S. forces; the insurgents come mostly from the numerous mud-walled compounds that serve as training-and-rest camps in the surrounding countryside, which locals say is controlled largely by Afghan and Pakistani militants. "I think at least one male from every family around here is going to Afghanistan," says a villager who asked to remain anonymous for his safety. "They seem to be going in the thousands and will set Afghanistan on fire."The influx appears to be a conscious militant "surge" that's bigger than any similar seasonal movement in the past. The new fighters are intended to bolster Afghanistan's insurgent forces in the south, which will soon face the additional 30,000 combat troops that President Obama is...
  • Mullah Omar Names Major Taliban Appointments to Replace a Captured Leader

    Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, who remains in hiding and has not been seen publicly for nine years, has appointed two of his top Taliban militia commanders from the south to replace his former deputy and longtime comrade-in-arms Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar who was arrested by Pakistani forces in Karachi last month.
  • Baradar's Taliban Successors

    By all accounts, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will be virtually impossible to replace. Until his recent capture in Karachi by U.S. and Pakistani forces, the Taliban’s master strategist was working 18-hour days. Battle-hardened commanders fondly called him Big Father, and it was the Supreme Leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar himself, who nicknamed him Baradar—“brother” in the Pashto tongue—when they were teenagers fighting the Soviets side by side.
  • Taliban Leaders Taking Shelter in Karachi

    How worried are Taliban leaders about a possible surge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan? President Obama's new strategy for turning the tide of the war includes sending thousands of additional troops to fight the insurgency. But senior Taliban officials tell NEWSWEEK they are confident that their guerrilla presence on the ground is now so well entrenched and widespread in southern, eastern, western, and even northern Afghanistan that increased U.S. troop numbers will not pose a serious threat.What they're more concerned about is the vulnerability of top Taliban leaders, including Mullah Mohammed Omar, whom the U.S. has targeted with Predator drones and Special Operations Forces just across the border inside Pakistan. As a result, there's been a steady migration of senior Taliban officials from Baluchistan and other areas to Pakistan's crowded and sprawling port city of Karachi where, well out of America's reach, they can operate more freely. Indeed, there may be more senior Taliban...
  • Ashraf Ghani, the challenger who may topple Karzai

    Former Afghan finance minister Ashraf Ghani is one of President Hamid Karzai's most articulate and vociferous critics, and a chief contender against the incumbent in the upcoming August presidential election. A U.S.-educated former World Bank official, he quit Karzai's cabinet in 2004, finding it corrupt, and has since then turned down "at least 100 offers" to rejoin Karzai's team. Ghani, 60, talked to NEWSWEEK'S Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai in his comfortable house in suburban Kabul. Excerpts: ...
  • Setback for Secular Pakistan With Swat Peace Deal

    Score another win for Pakistan's extremists. Last week the Taliban extended their control into the country's heartland when the government signed a one-sided peace deal that gave in to the radicals' demands—not in the remote tribal wilds, as with most past bargains, but in the verdant Swat Valley, a onetime tourist destination only 160 kilometers from Islamabad. The government gets a ceasefire and a shaky promise of peace. The militants get the imposition of Sharia in the region. And secular Pakistan suffers another setback.The agreement leaves jihadist forces in control of some 70 percent of the district that once was home to 1.5 million people, ratifying gains won through a terror campaign. Over the past year, the insurgents have killed more than 70 policemen and 150 soldiers, some of whom were beheaded. They have burned some 170 girls' schools and banned the selling of DVDs, the shaving of beards and criticizing the Taliban. At least 1,200 civilians have also died in the fighting...
  • Pakistani Army Says Soldiers Need More Gear

    November's terrorist rampage in Mumbai is bringing more pressure than ever on Pakistan to eliminate the thousands of armed extremists who are operating from its soil. But the Pakistani Army insists it's already doing all it can with the limited equipment it has. To do more, the country's top military men say, they urgently need the improved gear that the United States has been promising them for years. "We are on a war footing," says Pakistan's national-security chief, retired Army Gen. Mahmud Ali Durrani. "But [the U.S.] supply chain is working on a peacetime basis. You have to support us at much greater speed."Senior Pakistani officials say Washington promised in 2004 to deliver 20 Cobra helicopters within two years. Four years have passed, they complain, and only 12 have arrived. They need the remaining eight in a hurry. "We're burning them up at quite a rate," says a senior Pakistani official who declined to be identified because of the subject's sensitivity. "We use them...
  • Pakistan's New Spy Chief

    In the wake of Mumbai's carnage, India handed Islamabad a list of 20 terrorists suspected to be hiding in Pakistan—including one who had phone contact with the gunmen during their attack. Now the nearly impossible role of orchestrating the arrests will likely fall to one man: Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the new head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency.A known moderate, Pasha spent the past three years leading scorched-earth offensives against extremists as head of the Army's military-ops command. Ideologically, he's "totally against" jihadists like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), thought to be behind Mumbai, says retired Pakistani Lt. Gen. Talat Masood.Now Pasha will have to appease Pakistan's leaders (under heavy international pressure to comply) while easing tensions with top Army brass, who think the politicians are kowtowing to India and who have threatened to redirect 100,000 troops from the extremist-plagued Afghan border to Kashmir if India gets too aggressive....
  • Is Pakistan Helping the Taliban?

    Unsure of Islamabad's loyalties, U.S. forces open up a more aggressive, controversial strategy in the tribal areas.