(AFP) – Oct 17, 2009
WASHINGTON — A New York Times reporter kidnapped by the Taliban in 2008 and held for seven months in Pakistan said late Saturday he had underestimated Taliban's extremism and the strength of its supporters in Pakistan.
"Over those months, I came to a simple realization," the reporter, David Rohde, wrote about his ordeal. "After seven years of reporting in the region, I did not fully understand how extreme many of the Taliban had become."
He said that before the kidnapping, he viewed the organization as a form of "Al-Qaeda lite," a religiously motivated movement primarily focused on controlling Afghanistan.
But after spending time in captivity, he said he had realized that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious.
"They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al-Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world," the writer noted.
He said he had known before about the ties between Pakistan?s intelligence services and the Taliban and knew Pakistan had turned a blind eye to many of their activities.
"But I was astonished by what I encountered firsthand: a Taliban mini-state that flourished openly and with impunity," Rohde pointed out.
He said all along the main roads in North and South Waziristan, Pakistani government outposts had been abandoned and replaced by Taliban checkpoints where young militants detained anyone lacking a Kalashnikov rifle and the right Taliban password.
"We heard explosions echo across North Waziristan as my guards and other Taliban fighters learned how to make roadside bombs that killed American and NATO troops," the reporter wrote. "And I found the tribal areas -- widely perceived as impoverished and isolated -- to have superior roads, electricity and infrastructure compared with what exists in much of Afghanistan."
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