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Taliban appears to be regrouped and well-funded

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The reorganized Taliban are mounting increasingly brazen attacks on Afghan soil. In Zabul Province last month, for instance, Taliban forces took control of two remote districts near the Pakistani border for nearly a week. Afghan military forces, backed up by US Special Forces and helicopter gunships, eventually dislodged the Taliban fighters.

New hierarchy emerges

Taliban sources in Pakistan and Afghan intelligence sources say that the Taliban now has a recognizable hierarchy of leaders - some operating from Afghanistan and some from the Pashtun tribal areas of Pakistan's volatile Northwest Frontier Province.

At the top of the military command structure is Mullah Beradar, who hails from Deh Rawood in Urozgan, the home village of former supreme Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Underneath Mullah Beradar are a number of Taliban commanders and religious leaders assigned to different territories.

The most active region - from Nimroz Province to Helmand, on up to Kandahar, Zabul, and north to Urozgan - is under the joint control of Beradar's top three deputies. Akhtar Usmani was the Taliban corps commander in Kandahar. Mullah Abdur Razzaq was the Taliban Interior Minister. And Mullah Dadullah was the military chief in the northern city of Kunduz, on the front lines against the Northern Alliance when the Taliban lines crumbled.

According to eyewitnesses, the men who captured an Ecuadorian Red Cross aid worker, Ricardo Munguia, in Urozgan Province last month, called up Mullah Dadullah on their satellite phone and under Dadullah's orders, shot Munguia dead.

The Taliban has commanders all across the country. In Paktia, Paktika, Khost, and Ghazni provinces, Mullah Saifur Rehman is in charge. He was the commander of Taliban forces during the US coalition's indecisive battle, Operation Anaconda, in the Shah-e Kot mountains.

In Nangrahar, Laghman, and Konar provinces, the Taliban's former deputy prime minister, Mullah Kabir, is supreme commander, working along with activists of the Hizb-i Islami. According to Taliban watchers in Pakistan, Mullah Kabir is thought to have close ties with Pakistan's intelligence agencies, including the secretive Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

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