Counter-Terrorism: Testy Tribes Trash Taliban Tactics

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April 3, 2007: An example of how development projects can defeat terrorism occurred in western Afghanistan recently. On March 24th, in Farah province, some Taliban gunmen attacked a group of Afghan and Indian engineers examining a dam, in preparation for work to be done on the facility. Hearing the gunfire, over a hundred armed men came from a nearby village and attacked the Taliban, killing three of them and driving the rest away. One villager was wounded. The villagers knew that the engineering team meant jobs, and economic progress for them. All the Taliban brought was bullets and threats.

The gun battle at the dam was not unique. Since late last year, when more villagers got angry at Taliban attacks on their new schools (which weren't religious schools, the only kind approved by the Taliban), and began meeting the Taliban with gunfire, there has been increasing armed resistance to Taliban gunmen. Groups of Taliban gunmen roam the countryside, demanding that villagers support them, and adopt conservative Islamic customs. The Taliban don't like to get into gun battles with the villagers, because the tribal code in Afghanistan calls for revenge if a villager is killed. Threats and coercion are the preferred Taliban tactic. But if the villagers grab their guns and resist, then the Taliban either have to lose face, back off, and abandon the area, or fight and risk a blood feud with this village, and their tribe (which may be a large one.)

 


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