London, July 25 : British and American commanders in war-ravaged Afghanistan have interestingly claimed that the Taliban and its factions could be using NATO troops and weaponry to eliminate rivals.
According to The Independent, the commanders believe that over a period of 18 months, the assassinations or killing of key insurgent leaders like Mullah Dadullah, Abdul Rasaq and three of his senior lieutenants -- Mullah Sheikh, Bishmullah Khan and Mullah Sadiqullah, are examples of the effectiveness of the Taliban policy of "decapitating" the enemy leadership.
There is also evidence that factions within the Taliban are using Western forces to eliminate rivals in a new version of the "Great Game" being played out in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The "hits" on the Taliban leadership have almost all been based on initial intelligence supplied from within the insurgency, although details of the movements of some senior insurgents have also been gleaned from intercepted telephone calls.
Some of the information has come from the Afghan security service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), and some from Pakistani officials, while the British have held secret talks with elements of the Taliban - despite official denials.
The tempo of targeted attacks on the Taliban leadership has dramatically increased in the past month, claim the commanders.
One senior Western official, who deals with both NATO and Afghan forces on security matters, said: "Not all of the intelligence we are getting is being given for altruistic reasons. The Taliban movement is pretty amorphous and we are aware that different groupings appear to be passing on information. There appears to be a power struggle going on in the insurgent leadership across the [Pakistan] border and we are also aware that certain official bodies have their own agendas and that is reflected in what they tell us."
Elements of the Pakistani security forces are known to have close ties with the Taliban, and Western diplomatic sources say that Mullah Dadullah may have been eliminated because he had become a liability for the Islamist group.