September 16, 2012

Prince Harry Fuels Taliban's Propaganda Superstorm

Last Monday the Taliban announced its latest assassination plot to the world via Twitter. Equal parts PSYOPS, info-warfare and military strategy, the Taliban's feed greeted Britain's Prince Harry with a death sentence in order to exploit a golden propaganda opportunity at Helmand Province's massive Camp Bastion. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid would also announce through Reuters, "We have informed our commanders in Helmand to do whatever they can to eliminate him," leaving NATO and British officials to respond with a mixture of concern and defiance (the two groups are now engaged in total Twitter warfare in addition to organized media).

UK Defense Secretary Philip Hammond assured his country that Harry's second deployment was carefully planned and "the threat to all British troops is continually assessed and all measures taken to mitigate it."

Considering the Prince's maximum security level on the ground, he's likely to mimic the fortune of his first trip to Afghanistan and make it out alive. He could even see limited flight time in his Apache if the Taliban score a near-miss, and NATO guards will be looking for the slightest abnormal behavior from all Afghans. However London doesn't need to be told that it can't sleep for a moment. Taliban strategists are too cunning and resourceful to safely rule out the possibility of Prince Harry's assassination, while Afghanistan's government remains penetrated to a high level. Its leadership should be taken at their word when ordering an APB on a "high value target," language intended to mock the CIA and Mi-5. Since Taliban commanders and foot soldiers must continue to await the later stages of NATO's withdrawal, especially from the southeastern heartland, they now have nothing better to do than scheme against a Prince.

A reward is likely being offered to the victor.

The Taliban repeatedly demonstrate the ability to conduct precision operations on well-defended targets, and wasted no time delivering the opening salvo of the "Harry Operations." Camouflaged in U.S. military uniforms, 19 attackers cut into the perimeter fencing of Camp Bastion and stormed the base with small arms. Most gunmen and suicide bombers were killed after inflicting a substantial amount of damage for a small guerrilla attack - including two U.S. Marine casualties - but Harry was reportedly stationed a mile away from the targeted area. Nevertheless, the Taliban got everything that they came for except the Prince himself.

The Associated Press remarks, "It was unclear what the insurgents hoped to accomplish in attacking Camp Bastion, one of the largest and most heavily defended military facilities in Afghanistan." In fact most reasons are evident, and only unclear due to the combination of factors at work. The Taliban has cooked up a propaganda firestorm to build momentum heading into 2013, adding every ingredient it can find to attract followers and dissuade NATO populaces from supporting the war. Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Taliban, informed the press: "We attacked that base because Prince Harry was also on it and so they can know our anger.”

”Thousands more suicide attackers are ready to give up their lives for the sake of the Prophet."

Beyond the easy score of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula's inflammatory film, the Taliban is attempting to stir up trouble within America's foremost NATO ally. London would conceivably respond to Harry's assassination by appealing to national unity and refuse to make any changes to its plans, but Britain's domestic reaction is the only possible means of accelerating the country's withdrawal. The Taliban hasn't threatened to attack English soil and Harry's death is unlikely to galvanize the public into renewing their commitment. Judging from the thousands upon thousands of comments flooding UK media, and a recent poll from Transatlantic Trends, a majority believe that he and every other British soldier should no longer be patrolling Afghanistan.

The Taliban is targeting British voters, pollsters and decision-makers more than soldiers;  London is critical to maintaining what's left of NATO's alliance until 2015. Were Britain to pull out early for any reason, such as reoccurring "Green on Blue" attacks, the rest of Europe's alliance could start to slip and threaten to isolate America as the war lurches onward. Germany's disproval polled an 81%.

Attacking the seemingly "impregnable" Camp Bastion also demonstrates resolve and intelligence to their own followers and potential recruits. British sources told The Sunday Telegraph that the Taliban initiated their attack after posing as farmers in a nearby maize plantation, before switching to U.S. uniforms. This tactic supposedly allowed them to evade the bases advanced detention system, which scans everything within 20 miles. NATO also suspects that the Taliban received inside information from a member of the Afghan National Army or a one of the several thousand “locally employed civilians." The overall scope of this mission remains minor in comparison to the war, yet The Sunday Telegraph reported "shocked senior officers" in its aftermath.

“This was a determined attack which achieve its aim of getting global press coverage," said one senior Army officer. "They are masters of propaganda. But they are deluded if they really think they can storm Camp Bastion and kill or seriously injured Prince Harry. The attack was never going to succeed but in reality that was never really its aim.”

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