Afghanistan: Blood Money

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September 26, 2006: Captured Taliban, and examination of letters and documents on dead ones, indicates that many are, indeed, either from Pakistan, or Afghans attracted largely by the pay (more than double what police or soldiers get.) When confronted with this evidence, Pakistani officials concede that groups of Taliban continue to cross the border. But the Pakistanis believe that, over the Winter, they can convince the tribal chiefs along the border to shut down the Taliban recruiting and border crossings. That's a tall order, as that degree of discipline is not normally found in the tribal territories. This year's violence, the the deaths of about two thousand people, can be attributed to those drug lords and Moslem (often Middle Eastern) religious conservatives who donated the several million dollars that have bankrolled the mayhem.
Meanwhile, several large groups of Taliban gunmen continue to get caught, and dispersed (with heavy losses) each week. All of this does not stop the terrorism by Taliban in many areas, but the terrorism is often more between religious conservatives, and those who are more open to things like sending their daughters to school. The basic problem in this part of the world is economics. For centuries, most of Afghanistan has been a poverty stricken backwater. It still is. People living so close to the edge, tend to be more religious and conservative. Life is short, and those who take too many chances, don't last long. But there is also a sense of fatalism and adventure among the young men, who have always been willing to go off with a bunch of like minded fellows and do a little looting and pillaging. The Taliban have tapped into this, both pushing the conservative religious angle, and the cash payments to those willing to be "Holy Warriors" for a few months.
September 25, 2006: The former head of the Taliban government, Mullah Omar, has endorsed the tribal truce in Pakistan (where Omar has been hiding out since being chased out of Afghanistan in late 2001.) Some of Omar's associates are also calling for a similar truce in Afghanistan, but are not getting the response they wanted.
September 24, 2006: In Kandahar, a female official, in charge of women's training and education, was murdered by Taliban gunmen. Taliban had threatened the victim, Safia Amajan, many times before, and took responsibility for her death.
September 23, 2006: The suicide bombings continue, and show no signs of getting any more professional and effective. While the Taliban have been able to get two or three men a week to blow themselves up, the support personnel are usually not able to get the bomber to the target. There have also been instances where the bomb would not go off, or went off prematurely. As a result of all this, most of the casualties have been civilians. This makes the Taliban even less popular, as it is widely known that they are behind the bombing effort.
September 22, 2006: The fighting in southern Afghanistan is complicated by tribal politics, and the common practice of Taliban gunmen to take refuge in family compounds (which not only resemble forts, but are built as such, because of the frequent tribal violence). If you cannot convince the Taliban to surrender, or even submit to a search of the compound, the only way to get them out is with a bomb. The Taliban will often not allow civilians to leave, and everyone will die. Letting the Taliban escape is not much of an option, as these guys will kill and terrorize again once on the loose. The Taliban realize how this works, and try and deceive Moslem and Western (especially European) journalists looking for any story hook that will depict the operations against the Taliban as a failure, and mainly a slaughter of innocent civilians.

 

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