Across the southern portions of Afghanistan, where the Taliban found strong support among the rural conservative Pashtun populations, there are definite signs that the Taliban are making a comeback. Some Taliban leaders, such as Salam and Taliban commander Mullah Muhammad Hasan Rehmani, are giving interviews once again. Others are dropping leaflets, calling for a jihad against US forces and against the new Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai. Still others are increasingly willing to discuss the secret hierarchy that is directing this jihad and the sources of funding that keep it running.
It’s this confidence that undercuts recent assertions by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that major combat operations in Afghanistan are over, and that the focus will now be on reconstruction.