Afghanistan: Terror on Trial

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October 16, 2006: The death toll from this year's Taliban "offensive" is nearly 2,500. Most of the losses were among the Taliban, who have been conducting a vigorous terror campaign throughout southern Afghanistan. The civilian death toll from this has actually been quite low, much less than Taliban losses. This is because each dead civilian is the possible beginning of a tribal feud. So the Taliban choose their civilian victims carefully. It's difficult to measure the impact of this effort, because the Taliban have been trying to provide muscle to back pro-Taliban tribesmen in hundreds of towns and villages. Although southern Afghanistan is the home, or rather source, of Taliban thinking, not all Afghans down there agree with the "Taliban Way." In fact, the majority of people in southern Afghanistan are anti-Taliban. Thus the widespread use of terror. Over the Winter, people in southern Afghanistan will discuss the Taliban effort, and decide whether it is worth the effort to continue resisting the terror campaign.

October 15, 2006:The Taliban released a video showing one of their leaders, Mullah Dadullah, hacking the heads off eight Afghan civilians. The victims were accused of cooperating with the Afghan government and NATO forces. This cooperation is a major problem for the Taliban, and this video is meant to shock Afghans into backing off in efforts to resist Taliban rule.

October 14, 2006:A Taliban bomber made another attack on a provincial governor, in Lagman province. The attack failed, but last month, one of these dozen attacks succeeded and killed the governor of Paktia. The purpose of these attacks is to put the governors in the proper frame of mind to make concessions to the Taliban.

October 11, 2006:Yet another Taliban attack gone wrong in the south. This one, in Uruzgan province, left 25 Taliban and one civilian dead. Several soldiers and civilians were wounded. The Taliban used a roadside bomb in their ambush of Afghan soldiers. But reinforcements and aircraft quickly arrived and killed most of the Taliban attackers.

October 10, 2006:The Taliban suicide bomb campaign in Kabul, the capital, has killed 17 and wounded about 70 in the past month. While this has no military effect, it does embarrass the government. The sustained bombing effort also makes it clear that, for the first time, a terrorist bombing cell is able to sustain itself in the capital. It's the support organization (bomb builders, scouts, guides, bomber handlers, security people) that makes these bomb attacks happen. The police believe they will be able to find and destroy the organization. But every day the bombing goes on says otherwise.

 

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