Counter-Terrorism: Vulnerability of Taliban Terror Tactics


July 14, 2006: In Afghanistan, Islamic terrorists are attempting to use the threat of retribution to coerce both Afghans, and some NATO countries, to cede control of southern Afghanistan. These are the same tactics used by the Taliban to maintain control of the country in the years prior to the American invasion in late 2001. The Taliban methods are simple. They tell villagers (or NATO countries) that they will kill anyone who cooperates with the government or foreign troops. The Taliban always say they have loyalists in the village who will report to them if anyone disobeys. In many southern villages, the Taliban do have fans who will act as informers. As long as the Taliban gunmen return to the villages periodically (every few months will do it, and hitting one village will get the message to nearby ones), the villagers will obey. The villagers know that the Taliban believe they are on a mission from God, and will kill without hesitation or mercy.
There's one catch to all this. The Taliban have to show up with enough gunmen to discourage the locals from grabbing their weapons and fighting back. This year, more cash (from drug lords, Islamic conservatives in the Middle East and al Qaeda) have enabled the Taliban to operate in groups of 100-400 men. This made it possible to terrorize larger villages. Over a dozen of these groups have been hunted down and destroyed (the men killed, captured to scattered in many directions). Many of the Taliban gunmen were local hires, but the core guys had accents indicating they were from Taliban tribes across the border in Pakistan. The Taliban have gone out of their way to keep any foreigners (al Qaeda and the like) in the background. That's because, in the last few years of their rule, the Taliban "terror" approach to maintaining control had alienated so many Afghans, that the main Taliban police force was a brigade of al Qaeda. Most of these guys were Arabs, and they were quite brutal when they were sent to "discipline" unruly Afghans. The Arabs made it worse by not hiding their disdain for Afghans (who they considered a bunch of ignorant savages.) The Afghans have not forgotten, even those who agree with many Taliban ideas (Islamic law and old school attitudes towards educating women). When some foreign fighters were found among some Taliban dead, the Taliban issued a denial that any foreigners were working with them, and that it was all government propaganda to discredit the Taliban.
The government has not got enough police to protect all the villages and small towns from the Taliban terror tactics. So the response is to use American, Afghan and NATO troops to track down and destroy the Taliban terror teams. This has been working, but it will take over a year for many of the terrorized villages to believe that the Taliban are not coming back. Meanwhile, many of the NATO contingents believe they are being given special attention by the Taliban in order to force their politicians back home to bring the troops back to Europe. The Taliban believe that if the European troops suffer too many casualties, this political effect might work. So far it hasn't, but it's one more thing NATO troops have to worry about.




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