Monday, November 17, 2008

Taliban hearts and minds campaign

From the Sunday Times:

‘Robin Hood’ dishes out Nato booty

PESHAWAR, Nov 16 - A Taliban “Robin Hood”, who distributes cut-price food from Nato convoys to the poor, is disrupting supply lines to British and US troops in Afghanistan.

In an audacious raid in Pakistan’s border region last week, two American Humvee armoured personnel carriers and 10 lorries laden with food were seized by Taliban fighters.

In the past year the Taliban have increased attacks on convoys carrying hardware, food and oil as they make their way from Karachi to Peshawar and through the Khyber Pass.

Lorry-loads of hijacked grain have been sold off cheaply in local markets and the Humvees paraded as war “booty”, giving the rebels a propaganda boost. More than 30 tankers with fuel bound for allied forces have been destroyed in bomb attacks on the road this year.

The Taliban commander who led the raids, Mustafa Kamran Hijrat, told The Sunday Times last week that he planned to sever the allied supply lines. “We will continue to seize convoys carrying goods for Nato and American troops. We are waging holy war and we shall continue the struggle by every means,” he said.

Hijrat claims to have hundreds of fighters under his command, although local officials estimate his force at no more than 200...

The lorries loaded with grain were driven to two other towns where Taliban fighters used loudspeakers to invite locals to buy it at knockdown prices.

Eyewitnesses said the militants were welcomed because the grain was being sold for a quarter of its normal price. (link)
  • (Oct 2008) Graeme Smith reports that the Taliban's power is growing on account of their "position[ing] themselves as the best enforcers of security in rural Afghanistan."
  • Many more similar links here.

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