UN bodyguard reportedly executed by Afghan police. An amateur video indicates that Louis Maxwell, a security officer from the United States, who until now was believed to have been killed by insurgents on October 28, was in fact executed by Afghan police after helping 17 of his colleagues escape a Taliban attack on the guesthouse where they were staying, the Telegraph reports.
The video shows Maxwell was shot repeatedly at close range by police, who then took his assault rifle. UN officials who have seen the tape are unsure whether Afghan police mistook Maxwell, an African-American, for a Taliban fighter, or simply wanted to steal his weapon. A UN
board of inquiry into the attack is due to report soon.
News of Maxwell's death drew a bitter response from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who demanded to know why it took more than an hour for Afghan forces to respond to the UN's calls for help and withdrew half his international staff from the country.
The attacks follow a string of suicide bombings in Northwest Pakistan, including an attack which killed 3 police in Kohat on Sunday, and a bombing at a displaced persons' camp, also in Kohat, which killed 41 people on Saturday.
Pakistan urges caution in Af-Pak offensive. Under pressure from Washington to expand their anti-Taliban offensive into North Waziristan, Pakistani officials are warning that if they aren't allowed to hold back in their fight against militants, they will be
left with an unstable, Iraq-like scenario, TIME reports.
Though Pakistan managed to retake the Swat Valley from insurgents in a few months, generals now say their forces are stretched too thin to win a similar victory in North Waziristan. The 30,000 troops they deployed to Swat are still there, rebuilding civilian administration
in the region and targeting what Islamabad feels are the key drivers of the insurgency -- corruption and poverty.
If Pakistan expands its effort against the Taliban too quickly, Pakistan officials warn, they would not be able to consolidate their victories in Swat and other regions recently captured from insurgents, such as South Waziristan, allowing militants to retake these regions,
just as Iraqi insurgents flourished when U.S. troops were spread too thin across Iraq.
But this explanation doesn't account for the thousands of troops which remain deployed along Pakistan's eastern border with India, which could be sent to North Waziristan without compromising Islamabad's gains elsewhere on its northwest frontier.
Family feuds fuel Afghan insurgency. A report by Pakistan's the Nation indicates not all Taliban fighters are motivated by Islamic fundamentalism and anti-American sentiment. Rather, many recruits see the insurgency as an outlet to exact vengeance on their families or neighbors for old grievances.
"All you had to do was grow a long beard, and you could settle all your scores or do any nasty thing you please," said Saad Muhammad, a retired Pakistani general.
The family of one such recruit, who was reportedly "fond of Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch whisky," says he joined the Taliban after his father cut him out of the family inheritance. One family member has since been killed, and several others have "narrowly escaped death."
"The local passions enveloped in the broader conflict," the Nation concluded, "help to explain why the United States and its allies have struggled for more than eight years to end the insurgency, without success."
Insurgents take over Korengal Valley. Al Jazeera reports that Taliban forces have taken over Korengal Valley, also known as the Valley of Death, after U.S. troops withdrew from the eastern Afghan region last week. Al Jazeera reporters visited the scene a few days after the U.S. pullout and said that the Taliban had "control of the area and access to every part of the camp."
Taliban fighters reportedly claimed they had captured fuel and ammunition left behind by American forces, and that they will use the abandoned U.S. camp to launch attacks on NATO forces.
But FOX News reports that, according to American officials, the camp was likely occupied by local militia groups not tied to the Taliban, and insist that U.S. forces did not leave any ammunition behind when they withdrew.
Taliban leader willing to have peace talks. Mullah Mohammed Omar has said the Taliban would lay down its arms in exchange for the re-imposition of sharia law and the expulsion of foreigners, according to a Sunday Times interview with two senior Islamic scholars. He did not cite a return to power by the Taliban in Afghanistan as a condition for peace.
Kandahar offensive to target corruption. The Guardian reports that Operation Omid, NATO's plan to recapture Kandahar from the Taliban, will target "bribery and corruption" rather than insurgents. "The biggest problem in Afghanistan is not the Taliban," said NATO chief spokesman James Appathurai, "but the lack of strong governance and the delivery of [government] services."
A senior Taliban commander told the AP that insurgent leaders are moving fighters into Kandahar to counter the operation. The commander said that if the Taliban are unable to beat back NATO's offensive, "we will just leave and come back after" NATO forces leave.