Heading off a corrupting influence. "Taliban calls for boycott of Western aid as Swat Valley ravaged by floods," by Neil Tweedie in the Telegraph, August 11 (thanks to Mackie):
The Taliban has told victims of Pakistan's floods to boycott aid from "foreign infidels" as the UN called for $460 million in emergency aid to prevent a rise in the death toll.
"SMILE," orders the huge welcoming sign by the road, "you're in Swat!"
There isn't much to smile about here, though, in the mountainous far north of Pakistan, where until recently the Taliban ruled.
Last year, two million people fled their homes in the valley to escape heavy fighting as the Pakistani army sought to impose control over the area; now the floods have come to wreak even greater destruction. [...]
"We condemn American and other foreign aid and believe that it will lead to subjugation," said Pakistan Taliban Azam Tariq. "Our jihad against America will continue."
With the rhetoric came the offer of $20 million (£12.7 million) in Taliban aid, a doubtful promise and, in any case, a drop in the ocean.
Anthony Cordesman, who has advised the Obama administration on Pakistan, said the floods represent "a major opportunity" for Islamist groups.
"If we have to deal with a radicalised Pakistan, that raises the threat that is posed by terrorism by several orders of magnitude," he said.
The people of Swat, once a popular destination, are happy to accept any help. Thousands of men queue each day at food centres, some run by Islamic charities....