Night Watch

Afghanistan: Special comment: There have been 28 instances of insider attacks in which Afghans working with NATO personnel murdered NATO personnel. The numbers are not high, almost miraculously, but their impact on working relationships is disproportionately large. Now Americans are authorized to carry loaded weapons when working with Afghans on base.

In his speech on the end of Ramadan this week, Mullah Omar reminded everyone that this has been a Taliban policy all along. He did not exaggerate or take false credit. When the US drove Omar and his acolytes from Kandahar to Pakistan, Omar left orders to triage his followers.

The leadership and some followers would take refuge in Pakistan to prepare for their return. A second group of fighters would remain in Afghanistan so as to never let the "crusaders" think they had won. The third group was to rally to the Karzai government, working with it until the time was appropriate to destroy it from within.

In past years, when NATO forces dominated operations, there were fewer insider murders, for multiple reasons. The increase seems to coincide with NATO's accelerated transfer of administration and fighting responsibilities to the Afghans in the past 18 months.

NightWatch judges the surge in such attacks to be in accord with a pre-planned and deliberate tactical plan to drive a wedge between Afghans and "the foreigners", as Mullah Omar said last Thursday.

The significance of this is that vetting will not expose whether a new recruit is driven by jihad, money, the attractiveness of a better way of life or a host of other motives. What's more is that they co-exist. The call of jihad, the visceral Afghan dislike of foreigners and profound cultural differences with westerners are the backdrop. When a devout Muslim hears Allah's call of jihad he or she must respond and that can occur at any time without warning and may be directed against family members, friends and strangers.

Insider murders must be considered the tactic of choice of the third group of Taliban stay behinds and their new recruits for driving a wedge between Afghans and the coalition forces.

End of NightWatch ###.

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