The Economist reported on the phenomenon 10 days ago, noting, “There are suggestions he may have been betrayed. Certainly Western commanders are not going to do anything to allay the paranoia over internal security evident in Taliban ranks. American forces were watching Dadullah from the moment he crossed the Pakistani border into Helmand province on May 10th; they killed him within 24 hours.” Two days after he was killed, a suicide bomber detonated in Peshawar, Pakistan, near the Afghan border; taped to what was left of his leg was a message that “U.S. spies” would end up the same way as people killed in the attack.

Now the Guardian weighs in. Paranoia does indeed strike deep:

Taliban insurgents fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been hit by a wave of defections and betrayals that has resulted in a witch-hunt within the militant movement.

The news has boosted morale among commanders of the Nato operation in Afghanistan, which includes more than 6,000 British soldiers. The British contingent has struggled to contain the insurgency in the country’s southern provinces over the past 18 months…

However, two of the Taliban’s most senior commanders have now been killed after being betrayed by close associates. Up to a dozen middle-ranking commanders have died in airstrikes or other operations by Afghan, Nato or Pakistani forces based on precise details of their movements received from informers. Few details have been publicly released, but senior military sources speak of ‘major hits’ that they wish they could talk about openly

‘There is a feeling that there are spies everywhere,’ said one tribal leader speaking by telephone from the violent and anarchic North Waziristan ‘tribal agency’ along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. ‘People are very worried and no one is trusting anyone any more.’…

According to Rahimullah Yusufzai, a senior Pakistani journalist and expert on the Taliban, ‘suspicion is now falling even on trusted men and is creating tension in Taliban ranks’.

The obvious bad news: some of the people “cleansed” in this round of purges are bound to be innocent Afghans or Pakistanis.

If you’ve got a very, very strong stomach, Rusty Shackleford has still frames from that video of a 12-year-old boy meting out Taliban “justice” to a suspected spy in their midst. It’s gruesome even by jihadi standards so please observe your strong content warning.