President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have been so thoroughly hyping the role of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and its allegedly expanding co-operation with the Taliban in Afghanistan, they sound like they are praying for such a Coalition Of Terror so as to have an enemy worthy of the full force of the United States.
While the Taliban has proven to be a resilient and extremely tough enemy in Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda is expanding its operational scope and using Iraq as a training ground for a new generation of international terrorists, neither enemy has lived up to the ultra-hype of the NeoCons as 'The New Nazis'. But they soon may. Which will make it far easier for Bush Co. to sell 'The Long War' back home. Perhaps. Americans are sick, literally, to death of war, and while the new Nazis may emerge, it's debatable whether or not Americans will rally behind their president, even if Al Qaeda managed to carry off what Dick Cheney claims they want to do : explode a nuclear device in a major American city.
From Afghanistan comes news that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are not only sharing war-fighting tactics, but all important PR strategies, for fighting the war in the media :
The Taliban, the fanatical Islamist movement that seized power in the 1990s as an ethnic-based jihad in southern Afghanistan, has in recent months merged its propaganda and field operations with those of al Qaeda, which flourishes across the border in Pakistan, say senior Afghan officials and the group´s former leaders.
The transformation of the Taliban provides a study in how a local, once xenophobic and home-grown Islamist insurgency has re-emerged as a force for al Qaeda´s global interests, say Afghan security officials.
Fighting against the violent backdrop of the well-publicized U.S.-led global war on terror, the Taliban movement is feeding off the larger global jihad to hone previously nonexistent media skills and new fighting tactics.
"The Taliban have changed immensely in the last year due to the mentoring they are getting from leading Arab jihadists in Pakistan with al Qaeda, both in the realm of battlefield tactics and media operations," said Lutfullah Mashal, a senior official in Afghanistan´s National Security Council,
"They are doing what works in Iraq and often succeeding," said Mr. Mashal, who as director of strategic communications designs media operations to oppose the Taliban.
Afghan and Western analysts familiar with the changing face of the Taliban say the local movement is gaining sustenance through recruiting, propaganda and tactics such as suicide bombing. The strategy is gleaned from the godfathers of the global jihad, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri and from battlefield skills honed in Iraq.
Before his violent death this month at the hands of Afghan and U.S. Special Forces, the Taliban's military commander, Mullah Dadullah, claimed that the Taliban's planning and operations are one and the same with those of al Qaeda.
Afghan officials also said the Taliban´s suicide bombing attacks in Kabul and other large cities are approved in advance by senior al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan.
"The Taliban is now an integral part of an internationalized jihad," said Waheed Mujda, an Afghan writer who served as a deputy minister in the Taliban´s government between 1997 and 2001.
"The Taliban´s war has now moved outside the boundaries of Afghanistan and is part of a global struggle."
Pakistan denies that al Qaeda is running its global terrorist network from its side of the border.
The transformation is best exemplified through the Taliban´s changing battle tactics and slick videotapes depicting training exercises and attacks on NATO, Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces.
A cameraman travels with Taliban fighters on most major operations, a major step for a group that once banned television.
In one recent video, Abu Laith al Libi, a senior Libyan trainer for the Taliban in Afghanistan, sends a message of encouragement to Iraqi insurgents from an al Qaeda and Taliban training base inside Afghanistan.
The Taliban, a movement that once mangled its own media operations, is regularly featured in the independent Afghan media for its press statements and military gains -- so much so that officials from the government of U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai are threatening to muzzle the free press in their country for being too sympathetic toward "the enemy."
The Taliban insurgents, mimicking Al Qaeda´s own Web sites and video production wing, Al Sahab, are producing daily news articles covering events in Afghanistan and the Muslim world and slick videotapes that depict Iraq-style beheadings and the lives of young militants in schools and al-Qaeda training camps.
But Mullah Zaeef denied that the Taliban "in their hearts" had global jihadist intentions. He said Afghans would not attack the U.S. soil as long as the U.S. military abandons Afghanistan.