From The Sunday Times
TALIBAN insurgents who have infiltrated Kabul are nailing “night letters” to the doors of policemen, soldiers and government workers, warning them to leave their jobs or face punishment.
The militants are being welcomed in the Afghan capital’s poorer areas among inhabitants who are disaffected with corruption, and who supply them with food, cash and weapons. And who don't think their treatment of women is anything out of the ordinary, because is the Islamic way, as practised for generations in Afghanistan.
Safe houses and bomb-making workshops have begun to appear in run-down districts close to the city centre as the militants increase their presence and plot attacks on prominent local targets.
“They know who we are, where we live and what we do,” said Dr Ehsan Anwari, who used to work as an Afghan army medic and now runs a clinic in Company district, where Highway One, the main road from Kandahar to the south, enters the capital. “Whenever we hear shooting we think that the Taliban are taking over the district by force. We are afraid.”
Earlier this year, the Taliban assassinated two army colonels as they walked through Company district to work. The killings forced many government officials to leave the area in fear of their lives.
Local inhabitants said last week that they supported the Taliban because the police had failed to crack down on criminal gangs smuggling drugs, running prostitution rackets and kidnapping businessmen.
Last month in Wardak, a Taliban-controlled province just south of Kabul, the insurgents captured four men accused of kidnapping the son of a wealthy Kabul tea merchant.
The kidnappers had told their victim to pretend he was one of their nephews if they met anyone en route to the gang’s safe house in a remote area. But Taliban footsoldiers at a checkpoint noticed his expensive shoes, jeans and leather jacket.
Days later, four bodies were swinging from a tree in Maidan Shah, the provincial capital. A note pinned to one of them read: “The same fate awaits others who choose to kidnap for a living.”
The Taliban had caught the kidnappers, tortured them and executed them in public. The tea merchant later donated $200,000 to the Taliban as a gift for his son’s release.
The story spread like wildfire through the districts around Highway One.
“It proves the Taliban have no problem with ordinary Afghans. They have a problem with those Afghans who work in high government positions who run crime in this city,” said Karimullah, 40, who owns a shop selling flour, oil and rice. In that they remind me a bit of the IRA in Belfast during the 70s. "We control the crime around here and don't you forget it!"
The mounting collaboration between Kabul’s disaffected residents and the Taliban mirrors the hardline Islamic regime’s rise to power in the mid-1990s, when warlordism, corruption, violence and crime gripped the country during the civil war.
The Taliban used the public’s disgust to garner support, swelling its ranks until its troops seized the capital in 1996.
Apart from wanting the Taliban kept away from Pakistan's nuclear weapons I really don't care about the 'plight' of the Afghans any more.
Also in the Sunday Times this morning.
A deadly game of wits on the roads of blood.
Task Force Thor has a crucial role: to make the roads safe from IEDs so that convoys can pass. Everything the military needs — fuel, food, ammunition — must come by air or over land. The taskforce covers the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan, where the Taliban are strong.
As the US armour has improved, the insurgents have responded with ever more powerful bombs — ammonium nitrate fertiliser is readily available in the farmland of southern Afghanistan. They have also mounted attacks aimed at separating the troops from their protective vehicles.
Intelligence officers from Task Force Thor said the Taliban had been spotted filming the procedures that soldiers follow when a vehicle is hit. They have subsequently set secondary bombs aimed at soldiers who dismount.
“We even caught one insurgent pacing off the distance between the wheels of an RG-31 [advanced Mrap],” one officer said.
The danger has been compounded in “complex” attacks in which the Taliban set charges aimed at soldiers getting out of their vehicles and ambush them with gunfire.
Colonel Kevin Landers, Task Force Thor’s commander, believes the troops scheduled to arrive in the surge announced by President Barack Obama this month will have a huge impact on its mission.
“There are probably 100 ways to skin this cat, but we decided to push out companies and open lines of communication,” Landers said.