Afghanistan: August 10, 2005

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American  SEALs and Special Forces are still looking for  Ahmad Shah, a warlord loyal to deposed Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Shah has a lot of influence along the northeastern border, particularly around the town of  Asadabad. It was Shahs gunmen who were involved with the death of 19 American troops last June when they surrounded a SEAL recon team, then shot down a helicopter bringing in reinforcements. The search is hampered by tribal politics, which is a problem on both sides of the border. If you offend tribal customs when going after someone, you can get the entire tribe (including thousands of guys with guns) on your case. Good relations with the tribes, however, makes your job a lot easier. You can travel through tribal territory without much worry of ambush or sniping, and you can obtain useful information. But negotiations with tribal elders can go on and on, and meanwhile, the pro-Taliban members of the tribe, and any al Qaeda thugs living as guests in the area, continue to do their thing. Memories are long and tempers are short in the tribal territories along the border. U.S. Army Special Forces, using their language skills, and knowledge of the local customs, have developed many valuable agreements with some of the tribes. Some, but not all, and that's why the fighting, as low level as it is, continues.

 

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