Friday, December 12, 2003

Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here. See you soon, we hope. Signed, Your pals, the (real) evildoers. P.S. How are you enjoying Iraq?

KAMALZAI, PAKISTAN - With a bitter winter chill and the largest US ground offensive in nearly two years afoot in Afghanistan, Taliban commander Maulvi Pardes Akhund and his fighters are cheered by the warm reception and accommodations in a refugee camp for Afghans here.

Mr. Akhund's band, and others like them, have come to Pakistan's sprawling Balochistan Province for a bit of R&R and to recruit new blood for the Islamic militia's fight in Afghanistan. Recruitment is going well, Akhund says, with 10 new fighters joining the ranks this week, and donations from local people pouring in....

...Sources in religious circles here say the Taliban fighters are still getting financial support from the banned Al-Rasheed and Al-Akhtar Trust, which worked in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime, and other welfare organizations, besides collecting huge amount of donations from rich and influential traders in Karachi. Many of these traders donate to the Taliban on a monthly basis.

..."From our village only, people donated 1.7 million rupees [around $30,000], and two truckloads of blankets, warm clothes, and medicines were dispatched for the Taliban," says Abdus Salam, a local villager in Killi Karbala. "People support the Taliban not only because they are Muslims, but when they were in power people here could travel across the border easily, as there was peace and security."...

...A former Taliban leader, who is now hiding in Balochistan, says, "Things are changing. Karzai is losing his control in Afghanistan. Initially we used to hide from our own shadows in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but now we can easily mingle with the locals who extend us all sorts of support."...

"Winter restricts our movement so we might have to scale down our military attacks, so we try to intensify political efforts against the infidels and defeat the loya jirga," says on former Taliban leader in Quetta. "But we are also working hard to reorganize and regroup through winter because we want our cause to blossom in spring."

--Christian Science Monitor

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