Monday, October 10, 2011

All change, all the same: Afghan Taliban 10 years on

In the 10 years since being toppled from power by invading US troops, the Taliban have transformed from media-shy mullahs into a technology-savvy guerilla force who could still end up back in government.

Ousted just weeks after a foreign assault started on October 7, 2001, the Taliban retreated, at least partly to Pakistan, and were written off by Western militaries as a spent force.

But they rebuilt and re-emerged to lead an increasingly brutal insurgency with a new generation of fighters motivated by the presence of 140,000 foreign troops -- and some shifts in emphasis, if not belief.

Until earlier this year, Mullah Noor-Ul Aziz was the Taliban's shadow governor in Kunduz, north Afghanistan and before that was a commander in charge of 300 fighters in the southern province of Helmand.

"About 10 percent were old fighters and 90 percent were new recruits," he told AFP, of his former men.

"Lots of new fighters have joined the Taliban because of the tyrannies of the foreign forces, because of the killings of innocent civilians by the foreign forces." more