Wanted: A Few Good Taliban Recruits

Taking a cue from the media-savvy Iraqi insurgency, the Taliban has produced its first fund-raising, recruiting and training VCD shot entirely in Afghanistan. Taliban sources say that over the next few months, Mullah Mohammed Omar's anti-U.S. movement hopes to distribute hundreds of thousands of copies of the hour long VCD throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan and the wealthiest of the gulf states. "We want to motivate people, make them emotional, so they'll join, contribute to and support our growing jihad against the United States and their puppets in Afghanistan," says Zabihullah, a senior Taliban official based along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The VCD, titled "Lions of Islam"--a copy of which was obtained by NEWSWEEK--is thoroughly professional. Shots of silhouetted guerrillas armed with AK-47s and RPG launchers are accompanied by songs in Pashto. Groups of masked fighters in Afghan Army camouflage are shown taking target practice, firing mortars and antiaircraft missiles. Getting the VCDs to their intended audience will be difficult for the Taliban. Because they lack access to industrial VCD manufacturers, supporters currently have to reproduce the VCDs by copying them one by one in small Pakistani video stores. They then have to be smuggled back inside Afghanistan--often inside the jackets of popular Bollywood movies --where, according to one Quetta shop owner who peddles the VCDs, they are sold clandestinely, "just like pornography."