Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan, 2002-7

In This Review

Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan, 2002-7

By Antonio Giustozzi
Columbia University Press, 2007
224 pp. $24.95
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The Taliban were routed but not defeated in the dying days of 2001. This detailed study, with a glossary, maps, graphs, and tables, chronicles the rise of what Giustozzi labels "the neo-Taliban." Separate chapters treat how and why the neo-Taliban were recruited, their organization, their tactics and strategy, and the counterinsurgency efforts of the Afghan government and its outside supporters. With copious cross-referencing, he works in such subjects as the continued involvement of Pakistan, the drug trade, neo-Taliban relations with al Qaeda, and the rural-versus-urban dimension of this struggle. There are also several perceptive comparisons with insurgencies elsewhere in the world. Giustozzi's announced main argument is that the neo-Taliban would have been no more than a nuisance but for their ability to exploit the weakness of the Afghan state, "both as it was originally conceived and as it was 'rebuilt' from 2001." He concludes that reining in the neo-Taliban by arms or diplomacy will be more difficult now than reining in the original was five years ago. He also sees the group's strategy as having shifted in its new form from national resistance to global jihad.

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