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Taliban's back with new rules


Anderson Cooper,CNN
Dec 15, 2006 at 02:05pm IST

Afghanistan: This is the what the Taliban looks like today - young men signing up and lining up to become suicide bombers in their war against NATO forces.

When the Taliban ran Afghanistan as a fundamentalist state, its leaders outlawed television as anti-Islamic, but now, they're putting out propaganda videos.

"This video propaganda is something that the Taliban have obviously learned from al-Qaeda and Iraq," says Professor Barnett Rubin of New York University.

The videos that have been released are not as sophisticated as most of the al-Qaeda videos coming from Afghanistan, but what is noticable is the number of men - about sixty of them - training together, praying together and then heading off to battle.

This, according to the US military, is a sign that the Taliban is better armed and better funded now than at any time since it was thrown out of power after 9/11.

Another sign is a new set of 30 rules of behavior, a code of conduct, for Taliban commanders and recruits, put out in the past several weeks by their leader, Mullah Omar.

"Taliban were able to mount impressive offensives in the past year. Now they have achieved a level of organisation, they are trying to re-establish the rules for that organisation so they can move on to the next level," says Professor Rubin.

The rules deal with recruitment and behavior. Rule one says: A Taliban commander is permitted to extend an invitation to all Afghans who support infidels so that they may convert to the true Islam.

There are rules against corruption, one against kidnapping for ransom, one against recruiting murderers, one even to prevent sexual abuse of young boys; all designed, says Rubin, to create a more professional Taliban - but not necessarily a kinder and gentler one.

There are other rules that mandate the Taliban must destroy government schools, and kill teachers who ignore their warnings to quit.

Intimidation is working for the Taliban, says Rubin, in parts of Afghanistan.

"My impression is that the success of the Taliban is not due to popularity, but due to their effectiveness. If Afghans support the Taliban, they know the Taliban will protect them."

Winter is traditionally the time when fighting in Afghanistan winds down, but Barnett Rubin says all the signs - including the video and the new Taliban code of conduct - point to even more intense fighting come springtime.

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