Big news from the BBC this morning: It says it has viewed a secret NATO report that suggests the Taliban will retake Afghanistan as soon as NATO exits the country, thanks in part to assistance it is receiving from Pakistan's ISI. The report was compiled following 27,000 interrogations of civilians and Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, and the BBC describes it as "painful reading." Among its claims: That Pakistan is aware of the whereabouts of a number of high-ranking Taliban leaders; that some of these Taliban members live near ISI's Islamabad headquarters; and that Pakistan is actually manipulating and controlling the Taliban. "The Taliban are not Islam. The Taliban are Islamabad," said an al-Qaeda detainee, according to the report.
A BBC correspondent says the report actually indicates that the Taliban feel constricted by ISI, and "fear they will never escape its influence." But the report also alleges that the Taliban is exerting increasing influence of its own over the Afghan people. "Afghan civilians frequently prefer Taliban governance over the Afghan government, usually as a result of government corruption," reads the report, which notes that even government officials are interested in joining the Taliban cause. The report also presents evidence that the Taliban are consciously slowing their attacks in some areas in an effort to speed up NATO's withdrawal. A NATO rep vouched for the existence of the report, but cautioned that it "is a compilation of Taliban detainee opinions. It's not an analysis, nor is it meant to be considered an analysis."