Afghanistan: Sex, Drugs and Suicide Bombs

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January 16, 2008: Law and order in southern Afghanistan is severely compromised by corruption. On the government side, money meant to buy equipment, or even pay the police officers, is stolen by senior officials. On the bad-guy side, bribes are offered to police to ignore drug operations, or even to leave armed Taliban alone (while they terrorize villagers into supporting the Taliban operations.) U.S. and NATO advisors with the police report this to their superiors, who then try and pressure the Afghan government to clean up the corruption. That is difficult, as it is traditional. Senior officials expect to be able to steal once, as it is seen as an essential perk of the job.

January 14, 2008: A Taliban gunman and two suicide bombers attacked a Kabul hotel popular with foreigners. At least eight were killed. Quick police work led to the arrest of several of the men involved in the attack. The Taliban have threatened to attack places where foreigners hang out. The Taliban has largely bought into the al Qaeda terror tactics. While some Taliban leaders pointed out that these tactics had failed, and backfired, in Iraq, Algeria, Egypt and elsewhere in the Islamic world, these misgivings were ignored. The Taliban has not got much choice. The partnership with the drug gangs is having unwanted side effects. The drug crowd tend to have un-Islamic habits (porn, booze, drugs and sex). Young, impressionable Taliban fighters are being corrupted. Not a problem with al Qaeda, which prefers to recruit young Taliban to be suicide bombers. Most young Afghan tribesmen would rather run with the druggie crowd.

January 12, 2008: Police have found and identified Iranian made anti-vehicle mines. Iran denies it is sending weapons to the Taliban, and implies that corrupt Iranian officials are selling the munitions to smugglers, who are getting the stuff to the Taliban.

January 11, 2008: Just across the border in Pakistan, one of the major Pushtun tribes, the Wazir, have declared war on al Qaeda, and have gathered a militia of several hundred armed men, to expel al Qaeda members living in that part of Waziristan. Several thousand al Qaeda fled Afghanistan for Pakistan in late 2001 and early 2002. Most settled down in Pushtun controlled areas just across the border, and married local women. But these foreigners were never fully accepted, and increasingly got into disputes with their in-laws over business practices and terrorist activity. Over the last few years, the al Qaeda groups (the foreigners tended to organize gangs based on ethnicity) began using violence against Pushtun tribal chiefs that opposed them. This escalated to kidnapping and murder, and that's what turned the Wazir against al Qaeda. At least ten percent of the al Qaeda in Pakistan are in Wazir territory. Afghan border guards have been alerted to expect some of these al Qaeda members to sneak back into Afghanistan.

 

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