x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Report shows Taliban POWs convinced of victory once US-led forces leave Afghanistan in 2014

The Taliban believe they will return to power, Nato officials said yesterday, based on a classified report on the interrogation of thousands of insurgent prisoners.

KABUL // The Taliban believe they will return to power after the US-led coalition ends its combat role in Afghanistan in 2014, Nato officials said yesterday, based on a classified report on the interrogation of thousands of insurgent prisoners.

The captured Taliban fighters also believed they were receiving support from Pakistan and that they were doing well on the battlefield, the officials said.

But the officials cautioned that the report, compiled shortly after the capture of Taliban fighters, was a summary of those interrogations and not based on an intelligence analysis.

"Obviously they are telling us what their idea is about the goings on of their campaign," said Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF. "It is what they either do believe or what they want us to believe."

He said most of the captured fighters think that "they are still having a successful role" on the ground but that perception was wrong and Nato was not planning to change its strategy because of it in any way.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told reporters in Kabul, where she was on a one-day visit, that claims her country was helping the Taliban were not new and could be disregarded.

"This is old wine in an even older bottle. I don't think these claims are new. These claims have been made for many, many years," she said.

Just-retired Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen last year called the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani insurgent network, based in safe havens across the border in Pakistan, a "veritable arm" of the Pakistani intelligence agency.

Adm Mullen also alleged that Pakistani intelligence supported militants who last September mounted a 20-hour rocket attack on the US Embassy and Nato headquarters in Kabul.