What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Friday, June 22, 2007

300... going where?

MStFB Spillover Monitor Report Update No. 11:1
This is not about Spartans preparing for a last stand, of course. I have written yesterday of ABC's account of what appeared to be a graduation ceremony for 300 would-be suicide bombers, organised by the Taliban, presided over by their new leader, Mansoor Dadullah. The potential targets were named there as well: the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Germany.
Doing something like this would be a bit of a novelty from the Taliban, of course. Most probably they couldn't carry out the operations all by themselves, without relying to a significant extent on jihadist networks outside their country. And up till now they have operated with more of an exclusively domestic focus. Of course it wouldn't be a big thing to see them realise that their domestic objectives can be achieved by global means (profiting from the drugs trade goes as far as that...), but then they have obviously realised that long ago already, so that's not the point. It's rather that this sort of thing is not in their habit.
In the video posted on the ABC blog, at times you can see the faces of these would-be bombers. Is that practical, once they are sent to countries getting into which facial recognition tools might pose an obstacle? And most of the recruits were young... probably neither experienced, nor knowledgeable about the way they should disguise themselves entering the countries named above.
So here's a BBC interview from June 21, with Talib spokesperson Zabiyullah Mujahed, naming another target: Kabul. That's more likely where the 300 are really headed. Most likely the Taliban may be using some tactical inconsistency here, in their communications with the media.
By the way the above cited interview is also interesting for other reasons. One is the discussion of the Taliban's worries about infiltration (the top of which all, if rumour has it correctly, was when the late Talib leader Mollah Dadullah had to realise that his artificial leg was hidden from him, at the time of his ultimate stand). Here's an excerpt rhyming with my conclusion yesterday about the kind of crowd-gathering ceremony for graduating bombers being a telling sign of newly found confidence:
"JS (the reporter): The Taleban led us to expect that there would be a big spring offensive, yet none has materialised.
ZM: I absolutely reject the suggestion that we have been defeated. Our operation continues, and gathers momentum day by day. We know our power, and compared with last year, we have quadrupled our operations all over Afghanistan. As for the spring offensive, our leadership had some problems and there was a lull, but then we were able to recover.
JS: What problems?
ZM: Some members of our leadership were killed.
JS: Nato forces say they have infiltrated the Taleban. Is this true?
ZM: The enemy has tried to infiltrate the Taleban ranks, and has targeted our leadership. Thank God, they haven't been too successful. We are trying to catch their spies. Unfortunately, some have succeeded. But now we are using counter-intelligence to find these people."
Then there are also some interesting remarks on attempts at reducing civilian casualties in bombings. Probably not just mimicking ISAF and OEF forces' having to do the same thing nowadays, but something that is really just as important, and hardly possible, for the Taliban to achieve as it is to ISAF and OEF forces.
And finally, a statement by Z.M. about their perspective on the future:
"... we are certain we will win, because for us independence is important. For the Nato forces, the lives of their soldiers are important. There will be a big fuss in the Western parliaments, asking that their sons should not be killed in Afghanistan. This means we will defeat them".
Update: Apparently other people are getting the same ideas that I do. Downplaying the possibility that the people in the graduation video might really be headed abroad: " Canada's Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said such groups had limited capability "because there's a lot of internal intelligence that points out who certain individuals are. And they do have a limited ability to travel and get through our border systems". "

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