Saturday, August 4, 2007

Taliban: Down Two Leaders, Up One Propaganda Claim

"Nato airstrike kills senior Taliban leaders" is how the UK's Telegraph headlined the news. A NATO airstrike seems to have killed at least two or more senior Taliban leaders in territory that's nominally part of Afghanistan: Mullah Rahim and Mansoor Dadullah, and maybe others.

I was grimly amused to note that the self-defined uber-Muslims were killed while watching a public execution. They were hanging some people they said were government spies.

This was a targeted strike. One of the targets was Mansoor Dadullah, Taliban commander for southern Afghanistan. This hasn't been a good year for the Dadullah family. Mansoor took over as Top Taliban terrorist in his territory in May when his older brother, Mullah Dadullah Akhund, was killed by the Special Boat Service. The Telegraph article doesn't say how many Dadullahs are still in line.

It sounds like the Taliban lost a great leader in Mansoor Dadullah's death. The current Dadullah, interviewed on British television last week, promised a wave of kidnappings targeting foreigners in his province. Child executioners were going to behead his victims.

There's no indication of what will happen to Mansoor Dadullah's planned corps of kiddie killers, now that he's dead.

Predictably, there are claims of massive civilian injuries. An excerpt from the Telegraph article:

Nasibullah, one of the injured, said the bomb hit a crowded market killing dozens of civilians and that no Taliban were in the area.

One military source, who did not wish to be named denied allegations of civilian casualties.

"We are 100 per cent clear that this was entirely Taliban. Those in hospital are fighting age males. This is the Taliban trying to cover the fact that they got caught out."

A statement put out by the US-led coalition in Afghanistan last night said that it had targeted two "notorious Taliban commanders": "During a sizable meeting of senior Taliban commanders, coalition forces employed precision-guided munitions on their location after ensuring there were no innocent Afghans in the surrounding area."

This is a familiar pattern. As I remember, a remarkable number of hospitals and markets were hit during the two wars in Iraq: at least according to supporters of Saddam Hussein's regime and presumably-Iraqi militants.

Since I think these claims are made more because of their propaganda value than because they are true, I believe we can learn something about Middle Eastern society and culture by the nature of these claims.

Since, to the best of this news-nut's memory, there have been no claims that of casualties at a nursing home or orphanage, we may consider this possibility: Such institutions do not exist in that part of the world. If they did, I'm sure that orphans and nursing home residents would have been claimed as victims of American aggression.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.