October 22, 2005:
The Taliban have apparently embarked on an assassination campaign, killing government officials (especially police commanders), school teachers and clerics. The intention is clear. If these groups can be intimidated, they might back off in their resistance to the Taliban, which would allow pro-Taliban people to take control of areas. But at the same time, the Taliban is a dying organization. The government amnesty program has resulted in an increasing number of pro-Taliban tribal leaders to declare loyalty to the government (if only for jobs and money, and the realization that the government is too strong to overthrow). The Taliban are largely from a few Pushtun tribes in the south, and these tribes tried to impose their religious and social values on the rest of the country in the 1990s. But their conservative form of Islam was not popular everywhere, and the other tribes (including many Pushtun ones) resented being forced to accept the customs of the pro-Taliban tribes. Faced with declining influence, the remaining Taliban have turned to murder and terror. This won't work, and just increases the hatred of the Taliban. But the Taliban diehards are desperate, and running out of money, as well as popular support. It is believed that the Taliban is trying to attract the attention of Middle Eastern supporters of Islamic radicalism, and thus get more money for their operations. Taliban fighters have to live, and many of the Taliban gunmen won't work unless they have some financial support for their families. Weapons and other supplies must be purchased as well.
October 19, 2005: An Australian TV story about combat operations in Afghanistan included accusations that American paratroopers burned the bodies of two dead Taliban as a tactic to encourage nearby Taliban fighters to come out and fight. The incident occurred on October 1st. The U.S. troops said they burned the bodies because they were beginning to rot. The Australian reporter insists the burning was a psychological operations ploy (mainly because their were American psychological operations troops in the area.) American troops say the Australian reporter made up most of his story, but the journalist, embedded with a battalion of American paratroopers, got his story on the air, even though he had no direct (filmed or audio) evidence to back it all up. Makes no difference, as the journalist knew he had a great story when he saw the bodies being burnt (and said so). Cremation is forbidden under Islamic law. The story will cause some unrest in Afghanistan, especially among groups that are already hostile to the government, and foreigners in general. The U.S. Army is conducting an investigation.
October 18, 2005: Two more anti-Taliban clerics were killed by gunmen. The Taliban, which is suffering an increasing number of defections, is fighting back by trying to terrorize clerics that criticize Taliban attacks on civilians.
October 16, 2005: Nine thousand people demonstrated against the killing of an Islamic cleric. The Taliban were suspected in the bombing, that was directed at a pro-government cleric. Seven clerics have been killed in the past five months. Some of the murders are believed to be carried out by warlords angry with criticism of their arbitrary rule.