Monday, 30 May 2011

Afghan Security Forces Infiltrated By Taliban

For the past few months it has become increasingly clear that the Taliban has changed tact. It has realized that it is no match for the fire power of NATO forces. Thus it has started avoiding large scale fire-fights except in one or two cases. Even then they picked up the fight in the province of Nuristan where the coalition troop have no permanent base.

They have lost the two main opium producing provinces of Kandhar and Helmand which were their seat of power and generated cash through drug sales to keep them going. If they are to sustain themselves it is imperative that they do something to win it back.

Thus military and NATO officials, including the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, have predicted heavy fighting this summer. They have also predicted the Taliban will continue its campaign of terror and assassination. That campaign targets anyone who backs the Afghan security forces, peace talks with insurgents, or the Afghan government's reintegration program designed to lure Taliban foot soldiers back into their communities with offers of economic development for their villages.

"This is going to be a tough fighting season. The Talibs are not going to take these security gains laying down, and we have already seen them trying to come back. There are no certainties here," said British Maj. Gen. Phil Jones, a veteran of four tours in Afghanistan and NATO's point man on efforts to reintegrate Taliban fighters back into society.

To make high profile but small scale attack they have to get near high value targets. To do so they need to infiltrate the rank and file of the new Afghan National Army. Indications are that they might have already achieved this goal. Here is an example of what happened a few months back. A car with the license plate of a high-ranking Afghan general approached the gates of the Defense Ministry in Kabul last month. A special "A" pass also was on its windshield, so guards quickly waved it through.

Once inside, a man in an army uniform jumped from the car and stormed the ministry's main office building, an Afghan government official said. He gunned down two Afghan soldiers before being killed. The gunman also wounded an Afghan army officer, who died later at a hospital.

The man who drove the car with heavily tinted windows into the facility was the nephew of the general, the government official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the information.

The Afghan army would never stop or search a vehicle driving into the ministry with a special pass on its windshield, the official said, adding that the general had not yet been told about the car or the involvement of his nephew, who is believed to have fled to Pakistan where many insurgent groups have safe havens.

The official said the investigation was still under way, and he would not elaborate as to why the general had not been questioned, or whether he even knew that a vehicle assigned to him by the ministry was used in the attack.

Another classic example of people inside the force helping and supporting Taliban effectively happened on the 21st of May, Afghan intelligence service said a soldier serving with the security unit at the main military hospital in Kabul picked up a Pakistani national and drove him to a mosque in the capital. There, inside a restroom, the man slipped an Afghan army uniform over a suicide explosives vest and got back into the soldier's official vehicle.

He was then easily driven through the gates. The attacker blew himself up in a tent being used as a cafeteria. The explosion killed six Afghan students and wounded 23 others. No foreigners were injured.

Police later arrested the driver - a soldier who had been in the army for eight months. NATO said the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network was responsible.

"The enemy is making huge efforts to infiltrate Afghan security organizations," Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, the Afghan defense minister, recently told parliament.

The Taliban claim that indirect tactics, such as suicide attacks, assassinations and infiltration, are part of their new strategy against the government.

"The mujahedeen are able to infiltrate into the ranks of the enemy and are using these opportunities to attack," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said after the attack.

Since September 2007, the coalition has recorded 21 incidents in which a member of the Afghan security forces - or someone in a uniform used by them - have killed coalition forces. Forty-nine coalition troops, including at least 35 Americans, have been killed. At least six members of the Afghan security forces also died in the incidents.

Now it remains to be seen as to the way Taliban takes on Coalition troops this spring because it is quite clear that the Americans have failed to annihilate or reduce the fighting ability of the Taliban and it is believed they are lying low for the time being waiting for the Americans to move out . The second part of the strategy is to dis-credit the Afghan government by hitting high value targets, thus the general public will believe that the Afghanistan government is not in control and Taliban is the main power which can stabilize Afghanistan.