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Taliban X: The next generation of terrorists


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Washington Examiner:

Early last month, Taliban suicide bombers, all believed to be in their early 20s, raided a compound of an American contractor in a northern province of Afghanistan, killing four security officers and themselves.

A month earlier, a boy about 13 years old crashed a wedding party in Kandahar and detonated his suicide vest, killing more than 40 people and wounding more than 80.

Those attacks are part of a troubling trend, according to some U.S. intelligence officers, in which young Afghanis radicalized by nearly nine years of war with Western forces are opting for suicide martyrdom rather than the traditional role of conventional fighting under a local warlord.

Terrorist groups from Pakistan and foreign fighters from Saudi Arabia, Palestine and elsewhere have sown a form of jihad that resonates among the younger generation, officials told The Washington Examiner.

The emerging Taliban generation is "more brutal than what we have seen in the past and it is something we are very concerned could get much worse," said an Afghan official.

The youthful insurgents are "Taliban X, and we just don't know what they will do in the future when their older commanders die off and they take their place," said an American military official in Afghanistan.

In early July, International Security Assistance Forces issued a statement linking Taliban fighters to al Qaeda and a Pakistani Taliban leader.

"Afghan and international security force killed several insurgents and detained two suspected insurgents in Ghazni province ... while pursuing a Taliban commander in direct contact with Taliban leadership in Pakistan and associated with al Qaeda and Commander Nazir Group," the statement said.

Military officials say Taliban fighters in their teens and twenties are different from the Taliban that emerged from the wreckage of the original Taliban movement, which was crushed by American air power and an alliance of Afghan fighters in 2001 and 2002.

That iteration of the Taliban had not "adopted the sort of jihadist or terrorist line of thinking that you see with al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations," said a U.S. defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We have seen that the younger generation are much more open to the jihad message," he said.

The younger insurgent fighters grew up for the most part in squalid refugee camps near Peshawar or around Quetta. "All they know is the refugee camps in Pakistan," the official said.snip
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