Afghanistan: Lies To Die For


July 12, 2007: June was the bloodiest month in a long time, with about a thousand dead (700 Taliban, a hundred government and foreign troops and 200 civilians). For the first six months of the year, about 3,200 were killed, compared to about 4,000 for all of last year. About 70 percent of the dead are Taliban. The high Taliban casualty rate is the result of high losses among Taliban leaders, and recruiting many younger, inexperienced Pushtun tribesmen. The more experienced Pushtun gunmen noted the losses from last year, and took a pass on a Taliban paycheck this time around. Their misgivings were well founded, with most Taliban war bands getting chewed up pretty bad. A few survivors, some of them wounded, eventually straggle back, to tell of being caught by American aircraft and Afghan soldiers, and even being picked off at night. These guys have only a vague knowledge of UAVs and night-vision goggles. All they know is they went into battle as warriors of Islam, and quickly became fleeing survivors. More than half of these holy warriors were recruited from Pakistan Pushtun tribes. The money was good, more than local cops made, and there were prospects for loot. But it was all a lie. No one is coming back with loot, and many aren't coming back at all. But the money is still there to hire holy warriors for operations in Afghanistan. The drug gangs, and the couriers from wealthy Islamic conservatives in the Persian Gulf, see the holy warriors as a useful way to keep the Afghan government busy. Despite all the defeats, the Taliban still have believers on both sides of the border, and always have. Calling these religious fanatics "Taliban" is relatively new, but this kind of bullying bigotry is nothing new. The fact that the religious zealots actually ran Afghanistan for most of the 1990s is an inspiration to Islamic fanatics throughout the region. It's going to take a lot of defeat to put out this fire.

July 11, 2007: As promised, the Taliban have been shifting more of their operations towards terrorist attacks. This can be seen in the growing use of roadside bombs and suicide attacks. While the remotely controlled roadside bombs can usually avoid civilian casualties, the suicide bombers cannot. As a result, the Taliban are increasingly seen, even by Afghan Islamic conservatives, as a bunch of murderers. The recent attack that killed thirteen kids, was a major propaganda defeat. The revelations that the Taliban have been terrorizing villagers into claiming inflated, or non-existent casualties from smart bomb attacks, has not helped either.

July 10, 2007: A Taliban suicide bomber set off his explosives in a crowded market in southern Afghanistan, killing 17 people, including thirteen school children. The target was a group of Dutch soldiers, and eight of them were wounded.

A Pakistani man was allowed to visit his 14 year old son in Kabul. The boy was captured in May, when police raided a terrorist safe house. Also arrested was a Taliban suicide bomb expert, and several bomb vests. The boy had been recruited in a Pakistani religious school, and persuaded to carry out an attack on a provincial governor in Afghanistan. The boys father did not know the boy had joined the Taliban until several attempts to contact the boy at the boarding school failed.

July 9, 2007: Aid groups have resumed food shipments in parts of the south that had become too dangerous back in May. Since then, the Taliban groups that had been interfering with aid efforts, have been driven out or destroyed.

July 7, 2007: The minister in charge of fighting the drug gangs, has resigned. This is apparently the result of his failure to decrease drug production. The U.S. has been offering a herbicide that kills poppies, and nothing else. The Afghans resisted this because they feared there would be side effects. There were, as many government officials were bribed to resist the spraying. But now the bribes may not be generous enough to stop a spraying campaign.

July 6, 2007: The sudden spate of claims that many civilians are being killed by smart bombs was traced to Taliban telling villagers to make these claims, or face retaliation. The Taliban have largely abandoned efforts to win civilian support, and are increasingly dependent on pure terror to gain what they need from civilians (silence, support, lies). Taliban attacks on civilians are increasing. These includes beatings, kidnappings and murder. As a response, villages are increasingly fighting back. Taliban have to be careful entering villages. If the villagers have too many guns, the Taliban will be driven back.




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