Taliban using ‘compensation’ money against Marines in Marja
US Marines engaged in an intense battle with the Taliban in Marja have been offering thousands of dollars a week to the local residents as compensation for property damage, but the move has backfired.
New York: In an attempt to garner public support, US Marines engaged in an intense battle with the Taliban in Marja, have been offering thousands of dollars a week to the local residents as compensation for property damage, but the move has backfired as the insurgents are using the same money against the international forces stationed in Afghanistan.
With an aim to win over worried locals in Marja, the Marines were paying them compensation for property damage or putting them at work, a tactical approach which helped the US turn the tide in Iraq, but in Afghanistan the move seems to be helping the insurgents more rather than reducing the massive anti-American sentiment in the war ravaged country.
Both Afghan and US officials are aware of the fact that the Taliban is using the compensation for acquiring arms and ammunitions to be used against foreign troops, but they say it is hard to recognise the extremists among the masses.
“You shake hands with them, but you don’t know they are Taliban. They have the same clothes, and the same style. And they are using the money against the Marines. They are buying IED’s and buying ammunition, everything,” The New York Times quoted Colonel. Ghulam Sakhi, an Afghan National Police commander, as saying.
“My greatest fear right now is not knowing if I have put money into the pockets of the Taliban,” said Major James Coffman, civil affairs leader for the third Battalion, sixth Marines.
In Marja, the Taliban are hardly a distinct militant group, and US officials have now realised that they would have to change their strategy.
“We’ve got to re-evaluate our definition of the word ‘enemy’. Most people here identify themselves as Taliban. We have to readjust our thinking so we’re not trying to chase the Taliban out of Marja, we’re trying to chase the enemy out. We have to deal with these people,” said Brigadier General Larry Nicholson, commander of the Marine expeditionary brigade in Helmand Province.