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Oct 10th, 2009

4,000 Foreigners Join Taliban, Afghan Minister Says

‘The enemy has changed,’ defense minister says in plea for more international troops

Image: Men claiming to be Taliban fighters
Men claiming to be Taliban fighters pose for a news photographer on Aug. 19, 2009 at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Reuters)

October 10, 2009

KABUL — Thousands of foreign fighters have poured into Afghanistan to bolster the Taliban insurgency, the country’s defense minister said Saturday as he called for more international troops.

The remarks come as the U.S. debates whether to substantially increase its forces in Afghanistan or to conduct a more limited campaign focused on targeting al-Qaida figures — most of whom are believed to be in neighboring Pakistan.

The minister’s comments hit on a key worry of the United States — that not sending enough troops to Afghanistan will open the door back up to al-Qaida. They also suggest that the Afghan government is nervous about the U.S. commitment amid talk of changing the strategy and a surge in violence in recent months. …

“The enemy has changed. Their number has increased,” Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak told lawmakers in a speech. He said about 4,000 fighters, mostly from Chechnya, North Africa and Pakistan “have joined with them and they are involved in the fighting in Afghanistan.”

He gave no timeframe for the supposed increase in foreign fighters.

Wardak said Afghan intelligence services had asked for more international forces to cope with the foreign threat, and the minister’s spokesman said Wardak backed the call.

U.S. military officials said they could not immediately comment on the claim of a recent influx of foreign fighters.

Afghanistan’s interior minister, who also spoke to parliament, endorsed a strategy promoted by the top U.S. commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal to focus on protecting civilians rather than simply killing insurgents.

“If the target of this fight is only killing the Taliban, we will not win this war. If it is saving the Afghan people, then we have a possibility,” Interior Minister Hanif Atmar said.

Election complicates matters

The strategy debate in the U.S. has been complicated by the still-undecided Afghan presidential election, which has raised doubts about whether there will be reliable, credible Afghan leadership to cement any military gains by the U.S. and its allies. Results from the disputed August vote have been delayed because of widespread allegations of fraud.

A U.N.-backed fraud investigation panel was analyzing data Saturday from an audit and recount of polling stations with suspect results. Results from about 13 percent of the country’s polling stations hang in the balance — enough to swing the result from an outright win by President Hamid Karzai to a forced runoff between the top two finishers.

Election officials have said they expect to announce final results by the end of next week. …

The second-in-command at the U.N. in Afghanistan was fired this month after a dispute with his boss about how to investigate alleged fraud. The official, American Peter Galbraith, has since accused the U.N. of trying to cover up fraud to avoid a runoff vote. Kai Eide, the top U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, has denied the charges. …

New soldier deaths

In developments on the battlefield, U.S. officials said that a U.S. service member died Saturday in a bombing in southern Afghanistan. Separately, two Polish soldiers were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in eastern Wardak province on Friday, Poland’s Defense Ministry said. Four others were wounded. …

Full story


Related report

Obama ‘weeks away’ from Afghan decision


Afghan Taliban commander: ‘We will continue our jihad’ (MSNBC, Oct. 9, 2009) — NBC’s Richard Engel meets Mullah Zahid, leader of a Taliban cell in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, in this exclusive clip from an upcoming documentary, “The Tip of the Spear.” (02:23)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — October 10, 2008

Image: Pakistani tribesmen take part in an operation against Islamic militants
Pakistani tribesmen take part in an operation against Islamic militants.
A classified National Intelligence Estimate due for release after the November 2008 election
 reportedly concludes that the situation in Afghanistan is chaotic and in a downward spiral. The consensus view of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies is that President Hamid Karzai’s government lacks the ability to stem the rise of the Taliban or to exert central control over the country. (Photo credit: Mohammad Sajjad / AP)

After the Primary Election: Day 31

One year ago today, on the 31st day after losing my 2008 primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, in line with my focus on national security, I reported that a pending National Intelligence Estimate will conclude that Afghanistan is in a downward spiral and that U.S. intelligence agencies doubt that the Kabul government has the ability to stem the rise of the Taliban, citing widespread corruption inside President Hamid Karzai’s government, an increase in attacks by militants operating out of Pakistan, and a general breakdown of central government authority in Afghanistan.

2 Responses to “Foreign Fighter Floodgates Open”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » ‘Tea Party’ Sentiment Goes Global Says:

    […] Foreign Fighter Floodgates Open […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » October 10, 2011 Says:

    […] Foreign Fighter Floodgates Open in Afghanistan […]

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