“Some like the Taliban; some like the infidel.” The fact that he puts it in those terms does not bode well for the infidel.
“Inside the Taliban’s fallen town of fear,” by Stephen Grey in the Times (thanks to JE):
FIRST the traitor was hanged, then his head was cut off and finally the Taliban placed it on a road at the point where it enters Musa Qala.
“They killed him at 3am and left his head there for everyone to see,” said Gul Wali, 14. “They killed both traitors and thieves. The traitors were giving secrets to the enemy.”
Three others were hanged in the town. One was left strung up at a different entrance, one from a monument in the centre and the third in the bazaar.
Wali’s description, confirmed by other witnesses, added to an emerging picture of the brutal rule imposed by the Taliban in this strategic town in Helmand province after they seized control last February.
Residents trickling back after British, American and Afghan troops retook it last week said the Taliban had banned smoking and the use of snuff, and had beaten and thrown into jail those they disliked. Some said the Taliban had extorted money to fund their jihad against the Afghan government and Nato forces.[…]
Residents who had come back said they had been hiding in the nearby desert with their families. Speaking at a checkpoint where returners were searched for weapons, Mahmoud, 18, said there had been no school in the town for months. When the Taliban arrived they turned it into a religious madrasah and their headquarters. “No one sent their kids to the school because they were afraid the Americans would drop bombs and everyone would be killed,” he said.
Mohamed Anwar, 20, a doctor’s son, said his family”s pharmacy had been destroyed by an American bomb but he was glad to see the back of the Taliban. “I was put in jail when I wouldn’t give them money, and they tortured me by pouring cold water on me morning and night,” he said.[…]
There was also a huge haul of drugs. In two compounds a stock-pile of more than 12 tons of brown heroin was uncovered, worth tens of millions of pounds in Britain, along with the chemicals and oil drums used to process it. Orders were passed to the British troops to destroy the drug.[…]
The British hope to wean Helmand off the poppy. But, pointing across the well irrigated fields on all sides of the Musa Qala valley, one farmer, Sayed Hassan, explained the problem that local people would face if they abandoned the crop. All the greenery, which could in theory support other crops, was in effect paid for by opium, he said. “We only have irrigation because we can afford the expensive diesel fuel. Without the poppy we can’t afford the diesel.
“If the British and Americans destroy the poppy, everyone will leave and join the Taliban.”
As we sat talking in the street, the strength of Taliban support was not hard to find. Several of those returning accosted our translator, an Afghan from Kabul. “Why are you working for the infidel?” they asked.
The town itself appeared largely unscathed by the bombing, although many complained that innocent civilians had been killed by Nato forces, particularly the Americans.
One 18-year-old said: “All the Americans do is kill our people. All of Helmand is Taliban and, God willing, they shall return.”
An elder expressed a more considered view: “Here there are mixed feelings. Some like the Taliban; some like the infidel.”
Last week the British commander, Brigadier Andrew Mackay, would not be drawn on his plans. But, arriving in Musa Qala as Afghanistan’s flag was raised, he acknowledged that the Afghan troops now garrisoned there could expect a fierce counterattack in the coming months. Meanwhile, reconstruction and development would be a priority.
The British Army has arrived in Musa Qala with more than Â£2m to spend on “quick impact” projects. They may include building new mosques and roads, repairing schools and restoring electricity and water supplies.
Oh, that will take care of this problem.