Afghanistan: January 1, 2002


The U.S. is now holding 210 al Qaeda and Taliban members. Most are being held at a U.S. controlled base in Kandahar. 

Afghan forces numbering several thousand men to search an area northwest of Kandahar. The Afghans believe Taliban leader Omar and over a thousand armed Taliban are in that area. American intelligence officers do not believe that Omar is there, but that it is only a refuge for armed Taliban.

As contact is made with more remote areas of Afghanistan, it is obvious that wide scale poppy growing is resuming. The poppies are processed into opium or heroin. Drug production in Afghanistan went from 2,000 tons in 1995 to 4,600 tons in 1999. The tribes have found that organizing drug production and smuggling operations are over 30 times more lucrative than growing wheat. The Taliban taxed the drug operations, and it is still uncertain if the new Afghan government can suppress the drug business. 

Fighting continues in northern Afghanistan as the various tribes sort out there differences. Much of the fighting is a result of Pushtuns moving north to occupy land previously used by non-Pushtuns. This was encouraged by the Taliban as a way to pacify the anti-Taliban Tajiks, Hazara and Uzbeks. 


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