The security forces have much evidence of al Qaeda shifting its efforts from Iraq, where all but a few percent of the population is hostile to the terrorists, to Afghanistan. Here, 10-20 percent of the population backs the Taliban, and, by extension, al Qaeda. Captured documents and CDs indicate that al Qaeda operators in Iraq have tried to translate the terrorist tactics used in Iraq, so that Afghans can use them. So far, the Afghans have not been as effective as the Iraqi al Qaeda. Then again, the al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq have not been doing very well of late, with over 90 percent of roadside bomb attacks failing, and successful suicide bomb operations posting similar numbers. If at first you don't succeed, go somewhere else and try it there.
Police are finding and seizing more drugs, including, this week, 440 pounds of heroin hidden in a truckload of salt. Dozens of drug labs (for converting the raw material from poppies into heroin) have also been found and destroyed. But many other encounters between police and drug gang members results in a bribe being paid, and not arrests or seizures.
March 19, 2006: A suicide car bomber crashed into a French military convoy in southern Afghanistan, but only managed to kill himself. To the west, near Kandahar, police and Taliban gunmen clashed, leaving two policemen dead and four mission.
March 18, 2006: In the eastern province of Ghazni, a Taliban death squad killed a former governor and four of his bodyguards. Another death squad failed in their attempt to kill the current governor, losing three of their number. This is all part of the typical Taliban terror tactics, that attempt to intimidate officials, and allow the Taliban to take control.
March 17, 2006: Two Taliban couriers were arrested. One was carrying a letters from Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and al Qaeda leader (second only to bin Laden) Ayman al Zawahri. The second many, arrested separately, was carrying 500 identical threatening letters, to be left under the doors of Afghans the Taliban wants to terrorize. These are called "night letters," as that is when they are typically distributed. The two men were arrested separately near the Pakistani border, in Nangarhar province. Catching one courier, carrying letters from Omar and al Zawahri, is just more evidence of how the Taliban and al Qaeda continue to cooperate, and are apparently hiding out in Pakistan.
In the north, police found the bodies of four foreign workers who had been kidnapped last week. While moving the bodies by truck, the vehicle hit a mine, killing five policemen. The Taliban took credit for the murders and the anti-vehicle mine.
March 16, 2006: The increase in combat activity last year also saw an increase in the use of American warplanes. While in 2004 there were 86 attacks from above, in 2005 this increased to 157. But most of the time, the warplanes are simply up there looking, and waiting, as only about two percent of combat sorties actually result in bombing or shooting at anything on the ground.
March 14, 2006: Oil exploration in the north has found over $200 billion worth of oil and natural gas. Aside from creating some jobs, the profits from this are likely to get stolen by government officials. This is what happens in the majority of poor nations in similar situations. It would take strong leadership to avoid this.