Counter-Terrorism: Taliban Terror Tactics Take A Tumble


September 8, 2008:  Some Taliban commanders in Afghanistan are resorting to attacks against villages they feel are not supporting the Islamic radicals sufficiently. The Taliban tactics seek to terrorize many others in the neighborhood, by killing and torturing some villagers, and plundering their homes. Being able to loot is a big deal with the Pushtun tribesmen on both sides of the border. Normally, you would only attack and loot the village of a much weaker tribe. But with most of the Taliban fighters coming from Pakistan, attacks can be made on Afghan villages of anyone seen as disloyal, no matter what their tribal affiliation.

Disloyalty covers a wide range of suspect behavior. This can range from villagers talking to foreign (or even Afghan) troops, or not providing sufficient food, information and other aid the Taliban demand. Over the last two years, the Taliban has gone from being some local boys trying to regain control of the country, to an international organization, with fewer tribal and personal ties to the people of southern Afghanistan. Thus the increased use of muscle.

The tribes that have not sided with the Taliban generally do so because they have no financial incentive to do so. That's why Helmand province (just west of Kandahar) is so important. This is where the Taliban has concentrated so much of their heroin production (over 80 percent of the poppy growing and processing in the country.) But the farther you get from this one province, the more the Taliban are viewed as a bunch of foreign bullies and thugs.

The inability (because of so much illiteracy and a culture of corruption) to create a modern police force, and the small size of the army, makes it impossible to protect everyone in the south from the bands of suicidal (especially when they encounter foreign troops) Taliban. The villagers can't just agree to do whatever the Taliban demands, partly because the tribesmen don't like taking orders from any outsider (someone from the next valley over is an outsider), and partly because that gets them in trouble with the government. At least the foreign troops and the government have goodies to give out. But taking this aid (be it road building or schools), angers the Taliban. Nevertheless, the villagers have noticed that the foreign troops always defeat the Taliban, at least when they can find them, and will provide medical, and other, aid to villagers who have been attacked by the Taliban (who generally give nothing but threats and abuse).

Most Afghans in the south are not happy with all the violence, and no one has a quick solution to the problem.



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