The Philadelphia Inquirer
November 1, 2001
Fresh troops reportedly
flock to Taliban
are streaming into Afghanistan from Pakistan, say refugees who recently
War With Terror
Afghanistan - Fresh Taliban recruits from Pakistan are pouring into
Afghanistan to shore up the front lines against a potential attack of
anti-Taliban forces, refugees fleeing Kabul said yesterday.
leaving bomb-shattered Kabul for opposition territory said the new Taliban
troops began appearing in the capital last week, wearing new uniforms,
armed with AK-47s and speaking Pakistani dialects.
a white-bearded trader who traveled five days ago to Pakistan through an
illegal border crossing in tribal areas, said that "there were many
trucks full of Taliban" crossing the frontier.
the United States really wants to destroy the Taliban, they should bomb
the Pakistan border," said Khairullah, who was wedged into the back
of a jeep that was traveling from frontline positions to Golbahar, a
trading center behind the lines of the opposition United Front, or
refugees, thousands of whom have crossed by foot in recent weeks through a
mountain gap skirting the front line, also said that mounting civilian
casualties in Kabul are eroding support of the U.S. bombing campaign.
of the bombs are hitting civilians," said Khudadada, a produce vendor
whose statement prompted nods of agreement and a few protests from the
companions in his vehicle. "The people are getting angry at the
United States for dropping the bombs."
accounts by refugees that zealous Muslim extremists are arriving in great
numbers in Afghanistan confirms reports that thousands of students from
Pakistani religious schools were flocking toward Afghanistan to engage in
jihad - holy war - against the United States.
the chief patron of the Taliban and the only nation in the world that
still recognizes it as the legitimate Afghan government, has promised the
United States that it would close its long border with Afghanistan and
discourage the Islamic students from joining the war.
the border that follows a harsh frontier through tribal areas is not
entirely under the control of Pakistan's government and is easy to
were no questions asked at the border," Khairullah said.
of the Northern Alliance also believe that significant numbers of Taliban
troops could not be crossing into Afghanistan without the knowledge of
Pakistani intelligence agents, many of whom sympathize with the Taliban's
rigid view of Islam.
hear on the radio that thousands people from Pakistan are coming to help
the Taliban," said Gulagha, 26. "Why doesn't the United States
bomb Pakistan instead of Afghanistan?"
refugee Kabul residents, interviewed along a dusty dirt road, said that
the population of the capital has been slowly depleted in recent weeks as
hope disappeared that the bombing campaign would be brief. Most said they
were aware that the United States was targeting military installations,
but they were concerned because stray or misguided bombs were hitting
civilian targets, and the Taliban had devised ways to avoid the brunt of
the American bomb attacks by hiding in residential areas.
said the Taliban appeared to be gaining confidence.
lot of the Taliban sent their families out of Kabul before the bombing,
but now they're bringing them back," said Ato Mohammed, 35, who had
been unable to return to his home territory in the ethnic Tajik stronghold
of the Panjshir Valley because he could not come up with the $40 required
to pay various taxis to cross the front lines.
most said the Taliban was losing some authority and respect with the
public, though confidence in the imminent downfall of the Taliban was not
strong enough that Kabul residents were prepared to rise up against the
aren't that scared of the Taliban anymore," said Gulagha. He said
Kabul residents had organized themselves into nightly neighborhood watches
to prevent Taliban troops from invading and looting houses where the
residents had left the city. The patrols don't directly confront the
Taliban troops, he said, but they make enough noise that the troops know
they are being watched.
Taliban is like a watermelon that has softened with time," he said.
of the fleeing residents said the bombing in Kabul had failed to
the bombs hit Taliban places, it wouldn't be so bad," said Sultan
Mohammed, 43, a former military officer who retired to become a street
vendor after the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996. "People are getting
angry because they (Taliban fighters) are getting away and civilians are
who said all the glass in his house was shattered by the bombing, also
said he has seen new recruits from Pakistani religious schools.
said he had read some of the leaflets dropped from American planes that
indicated the United States was fighting terrorism, not Islam.
the ground troops come, we can tell them where the Taliban are
hidden," said Mohammed. "But how can we communicate that
information to those airplanes in the sky?"