March 20, 2007:
Although the Taliban have been attempting more suicide bombings, they have been
remarkably inept in carrying them out. The bombers often only kill themselves,
and rarely getting their intended target. Worse, the people who are usually
killed are nearby civilians. The dead women and children make the suicide
bombers look more like hapless murderers, than brave martyrs, dying for the
cause of Islam. In 2005, the Taliban used about 500 roadside bombs and suicide
bombers. That tripled last year, to over 1,500. The Taliban are believed capable
of launching 2,000 such attacks this year, but so far are off to a slow start.
The shortage of technical experts and experienced team leaders is hurting the
Taliban bomb effort the most.
March 1 9, 2007:
After two weeks, the Taliban released a pro-Taliban Italian reporter, who was
from a pro-Taliban Italian newspaper. It took that long to convince the Taliban
they had made a mistake. The Taliban did not admit to releasing the reporter,
but said they had turned him over to tribal elders. This is a typical way out,
as tribal elders are generally easier to deal with, than a bunch of young guys
with guns. Although everyone denies it, it's also possible that a ransom was
paid, if only as a "service fee" to cover Taliban expenses for food,
lodging and security of their captive. It's also believed that some men in
police custody may have been released to get the tribes involved. The captive
reporter was shaken by the beheading of one of his two interpreters. Taliban
believe any Afghans working for foreigners are traitors, and murdering traitors
discourages others. While al Qaeda has generally considered all journalists as
enemies, the Taliban has usually tried to play the media. The Taliban has often
been successful in this, but the greater presence of al Qaeda in Afghanistan
this year, appears to have changed the Taliban attitude towards the
March 16, 2007: The
NATO sweep of Helmand province has disrupted Taliban plans, and sent Taliban
fleeing, trying to get out of the way of NATO air and ground units.
March 15, 2007: The
Taliban refuse to back off on their opposition to polio vaccinations. Radical
Islamic clerics in Pakistan took the lead in pushing the idea that vaccinations
for diseases are a Western plot to poison Moslem children. This particular
fantasy has been rattling around for nearly a decade, and has prevented the UN
from wiping out polio. Like small pox (which was wiped out in the 1970s), once
there are no people with polio, the disease is gone for good (it can only
survive in a human host). The Islamic clerics urging parents not to vaccinate
their children against polio, provide the disease with hosts, and keep it
going. Last year, 24,000 children were not vaccinated in northern Pakistan
because of this paranoid fantasy. In Afghanistan, it was even worse, with
125,000 children denied vaccination by Taliban terrorists (who attack the
vaccination teams) As a result, at least 39 cases of polio were confirmed last
year in Pakistan. No precise numbers are available for Afghanistan, but the
damage is believed to be greater. The victims (usually children) either die, or
are crippled for life. When confronted by angry parents, the Taliban say
that it's "God's will" that the kid is dead or crippled from polio.
Most Moslem parents accept that, because Islam means, literally,
"submission" (in this case, to a bearded guy with a gun).
March 14, 2007: The
Taliban has distributed a video of a captured Italian journalist, and said the
man would be killed if the 2,000 Italian troops in Afghanistan were not
withdrawn, and two captured Taliban officials released. This is another example
of Taliban ineptitude. The reporter works for a leftwing Italian newspaper,
that supports the Taliban. So killing the reporter would be self-defeating.
Then again, the Taliban has gone that way before.