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CIA's Stealth War Centers on Eroding Taliban Loyalty and Aiding Opposition
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Terrorism; War; Intelligence gathering; Military strategy
Author: Alan Sipress and Vernon Loeb
Date: Oct 10, 2001
Start Page: A.01
Section: A SECTION

The United States has sought to turn the tide in northern Afghanistan on behalf of the Northern Alliance, which was already battling the Taliban before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, both by targeting government tanks and aircraft and arming opposition commanders. Within the last week, the alliance forces of Gen. Abdurrashid Dostum have begun to receive assault weapons, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and other military supplies from Uzbekistan that were paid for by the United States, according to Philip Smith, Dostum's representative in Washington.

Another former CIA officer with extensive experience in Afghanistan said the only practical strategy for ousting the Taliban is to "peel off" Pashtun tribal leaders who had not expected they would face war with the United States when they allied themselves with Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader. Winning Pashtun defectors, he said, will not be difficult for the CIA. "These are rented relationships -- if you have common grounds, common interests, you can do something for a few bucks," he said.

U.S. intelligence officials have received reports of Taliban forces pulling back from the border of Uzbekistan to reinforce [Mazar], according to one U.S. official. "In the north, there's some movement - - Taliban forces pulling back to reinforce Mazar-e Sharif, coming back to the urban area from the border," the official said.

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