Originally Posted by Woodrow
if i deal with your last point first...
most of my friends in the city i used to live in are pakistani or afghan pathans, the masjid i attended mostly and where i said my shahadah was predominately pathan though with about 40-50% other pakistani, arab, somali and revert (in that order) with a few omanis, bengalis, nigerians and others thrown into the mix.
even though it was very pathan in character and so extremely friendly to everyone but before anyone things i have been blinded by pathan nationalism into supporting the taliban, the imam is gujarati and the assistant imam is bengali, the muazzin somali, head of dawah was a revert so hardly nationalistic.
so most of my info is simular to your's in that it is formed from the opinions of others that they have told me about themselves, their own personal experiences and the experiences of their families back in pakistan and afghanistan.
but i also have gone out of my way to inform myself from other sources, speak to those who travel there themselves rather than rely on news sources from the kuffar or secular muslims,
so i have met many people who have lived and travelled under the taliban rule, people who i would trust with my life without a worry.
they are also in many cases like me wanting to make hijrah, some have already gone, some are in the process of making preparations so they keep themselves informed and up to date like i do and we all share information not in passing but actively seeking it and passing it on.
so for a non-pathan, no urdu speaker i think i am about as informed as it is possible to be about the situation.
now dealing with some of your other points...
1. the only people they fight are Muslims
a muslim who opposes the shariah, fights for a government who opposes the shariah or takes their side is by definition a kaffir as he has done kufr known by necessity.
the fataawah of ibn taymiyyah and many of the ulema of the past are clear on this matter when dealing with the tartars, who also claimed islam, he ruled that their blood, their families and property were all halal for the mujahideen to take, as well as this he made the same ruling for all those who supported them.
2. They are striking fear into the rural Muslims, leading them to become more supportive of foreign intervention in Pakistan affairs
this is as hardly true, most against even the kuffar media are saying the people are broadly supportive of their efforts. smacks of pakistani secular elite and their paranoia again to be honest.
because to them the true muslims are the ones who are really and openly siding with the kuffar, and those who oppose them must be in some secret pact with the kuffar.
3. None of the known Taliban in the SWAT region are either Pakistani or Afghanistani, but seem to be foreigners.
yes the pakistani taliban are different, they have a much greater % of tribesman and less of ulema and students of knowledge and so i would agree they can tend to come across a little more OTT and make more mistakes.
but they still respect mullah muhammad omar as amir ul mumineen, follow his instructions and orders so are effectly a different branch of the same organisation.
their goal is to establish islam in the tribal areas and afghanistan but with no intention of stopping there, also taking over the whole of pakistan and other areas also.
so they are not seperate, they are the same. they include foreign fighters, but locals also, indeed predominately locals as even the kuffar news sources report.
there are uzbeks, arabs, chinese, even western reverts in their ranks. but wouldnt it be more worrying if they didnt? wouldnt that make them more nationalistic and less an islamic movement?
were the armies of muhammad (saws) less islamic for having bilal and salman al farsi (ra) as well as many others in their ranks?
now saying you can have shariah in the US is not really true, what you can have is some aspects of family law in the shariah, but you cant have the whole package.
in just the same way as those who say you can practice islam in the west are not truthful as you cannot perform many acts which are fard nor can you avoid all the matters which are haram.