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TALIBAN STRUGGLING AFTER DEATH OF LEADER
August 8 2009
Islamabad, Pakistan – Things have never been easy for the Taliban. Since being founded in 1994 the movement has undergone drama after drama. Seizing power in Afghanistan the organization positioned itself as force to be reckoned with, support which largely dissolved in the face of human rights abuses and religious zealotry and
cam completely unravelled in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Since that time the organization has been fractured and ill-focused with no home to call their own and increasing intolerance to the movement throughout formerly supportive regions of the world.
Now the organization has suffered another major blow with the death of Baitullah Mehsud, the chief of the Pakistani branch of the organization of Friday. The militant commander was apparently killed by a CIA missile strike in the rugged South Waziristan region of the country. Mehsud has long been considered one of the most important of Taliban officials – he is the prime suspect in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2008 – and his death while being hailed as a victory by American forces has left his former soldiers wandering and leaderless. Now faced with one more challenge the Taliban is once again being forced to pick up the pieces and move on as best as they can.
“I confirm that Baitullah Mehsud and his wife died in the American missile attack in South Waziristan . This is a time of mourning but it also a time for us to come together. We have been under attack for many years and have always managed to retain our strength. Mehsud died for the Taliban and we will go on fighting for him,” said Taliban commander Kafayat Ullah to the Associated Press. “Our will is strong and we will continue to fight on no matter the cost. We mourn Mehsud but that will not hinder us from achieving our goals and fighting for our cause.”
It is estimated that the number of Taliban fighters and official could be as low as 7,000 men worldwide. At the height of their strength the organization boasted over 45,000 men worldwide.
“The Taliban has suffered huge losses since 2001 and the situation just doesn’t seem
to be getting any better. They do put on a brave face but the reality is far from the one they present to the world. The reality is they are getting ever closer to the verge of no longer being a stable and viable entity in Pakistan or Afghanistan never mind throughout the rest of the world. With high profile departures such as Mehsud’s the situation won’t get any better,” said Scrape TV Terrorism analyst Doug Davids. “Aside from constantly losing men from missiles and Predator drones the recruitment rate has been abysmal. The economy certainly hasn’t helped but they suffer from a number of significant obstacles in bringing in new personnel. The pay is not great, the job security is poor, management seems to change on a weekly basis, and the safety procedures are less than stellar. Word gets around and that has really hurt their ability to bring in new people.”
The organization has also reportedly suffered major defections to more successful organizations throughout the region. Isolation in Pakistan and the mountains of Afghanistan has also significantly inhibited their ability to expand into other territories, further amplifying the recruitment issue.
“The Taliban has always been known for its subjugation of women and radical reading of the Qur’an which of course brings a lot of interest especially from the younger set. Over the last eight years though that has been tempered by the massive numbers of deaths and the almost incessant attacks from advanced foreign militaries. That makes the whole thing a lot less appealing for most people,” continued Davids. “There are radical Islamic organizations all over the world and though the Taliban is one of the most famous it is also one of the most treacherous. That could be partially attributed to the relative youth of the organization but the military instability is likely the leading cause. That’s just causing people to stay away.”
Most experts recommend stints in more stable and established terror groups such as Hamas, the Ulster Volunteer Force, and the ETA in Spain for young and ambitious terrorists.