- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Taliban’s inspector general has compiled a scathing report that charges the organization’s leaders with recruiting too many men who can read and write, Pashtun insiders familiar with the document said yesterday.
The internal study notes that the Taliban’s greatest gains have come when its members are uneducated, and questions as "fundamentally unsound" the recent decision to permit university graduates to join the organization, albeit on double secret probation. "Who knows what thoughts may have been put in their heads?" asked the Taliban official, Gulam Nabi, who is Afghan but who like many Americans goes by two names.
The report, which was provided to the Best Defense by a usually reliable source in an unreliable mud hut near Lashkar Gah, also discerned weak oversight and accountability in preventing educated men from joining. Yet it also questioned the goal of Taliban chief Mullah Omar to achieve 100 percent illiteracy within three years, saying that target may be "unrealistic and unattainable." Addressing the issue of whether forces unable to keep written records could keep reliable track of their weapons inventory, the Taliban IG noted that there is not one instance over the last 2,500 years of an illiterate Afghan ever losing track of his weapon: "His women? Perhaps. His sheep? It happens. His sword or rifle? No. Not gonna happen."
The report concludes by warning that if current trends in literacy continue, parts of its fighting force could become as ineffective as Afghan National Security Forces.
In a related story, al Qaeda yanked the accreditation of its Syrian affiliate, stating that the branch had fallen out of compliance with several key tenets of membership. Some of the violations were purely technical, such as killing rival leaders without first informing its higher headquarters.
Author’s note: Yes, this post is my salute to DuffelBlog.