Afghanistan’s Taliban Declare Victory as Peace Initiatives Get Under Way

Andrew McGregor

January 26, 2012

The opening of an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan office in Qatar as the first step in a Qatar-backed Afghan reconciliation process has been interpreted by the Taliban as a sign of the movement’s “victory” in Afghanistan. A January 15 statement entitled: “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: Formal Proclamation of Islamic Emirate’s Victory” said the development had “proved to the world that the Islamic Emirate is deeply rooted internally in the Afghan nation and externally in the whole Islamic Ummah. Militarily successful resistance against a gigantic international alliance, full presence on the whole soil and overall perseverance are the signs and secrets of the Islamic Emirate.”  (, January 15).

Islamic Emirate of AfghanistanAccording to the Taliban, the Islamic Emirate has overcome “the claims of Karzai and America” and demonstrated it is “a well-organized political power besides being a political power… The Afghans and Taliban are not a trivial phenomenon but an ideological and national movement which should be acknowledged as a political fact.”

The Taliban used the statement to express their pleasure with the choice of Qatar for the opening of a formal office, noting that Qatar has balanced relations “with all sides and a prestigious status in the Islamic world.” The movement outlined why several alternatives would be less desirable; Pakistan (referred to here only as a “neighboring country”) would have allowed the Karzai regime to continue its propaganda efforts to describe the Taliban as being under the control of Pakistan’s security services; Saudi Arabia was out of the question due to its close bilateral relationship with Pakistan, and Turkey was also unsuitable due to its membership in NATO. Some reports state the United States is considering a proposal to allow five Taliban leaders to leave confinement at Guantanamo Bay for Qatar as a confidence-building measure (The Nation [Lahore], January 24; January 25).

Another Taliban statement responded to images circulated in the Western media of U.S. troops urinating on the bodies of recently killed Taliban fighters by calling for the UN and other human rights organizations to bring an end to “such inhumane acts” (, January 13). The statement charged American soldiers with committing torture, abusing the Quran, killing women and children and desecrating the dead, alleging that these were “only a small fraction of the crimes which are perpetrated by the American soldiers.” The statement concluded by warning U.S. troops would have to face “the consequences of such actions and will have to confront the extra wrath and hatred of the Afghan masses.”

While the Taliban proclaims victory in its struggle against U.S. and NATO forces, there are signs that U.S. authorities have begun a wider effort to initiate peace talks with all the major insurgent groups operating in Afghanistan. Dr. Ghairat Baheer, a representative of Afghan warlord and former U.S. ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has reported having talks on behalf of Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i-Islami movement with CIA director General David Petraeus, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and U.S. Marines General John Allen (AP, January 25; The Nation, January 24). Hekmatyar has been a U.S. “specially designated global terrorist” since 2003.

There are also reports that the United States is exploring the possibility of including the notorious Haqqani Network in the peace talks. Working in close alliance with the Taliban, the cross-border Haqqani Network has been identified as a major threat to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan (Express Tribune [Karachi], January 9; AP, January 25). Earlier this month, the UN added the names of two Haqqani Network members to its list of proscribed Taliban associates; Fazi Rabi, a Haqqani Network financier involved organizing suicide attacks, and Ahmed Jan Wazir, described as a key commander in the network and a deputy to Sirajuddin Haqqani (United Nations, January 6, 2012:

This article first appeared in the January 26, 2012 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor


Taliban Condemns President Karzai on U.S.-Run Prison and Continued Night Raids

Andrew McGregor

January 12, 2012

Bagram Air BaseBagram Air Base

A recent statement issued by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban) has criticized Afghan president Hamid Karzai for his dependence on a small number of warlords to maintain power and his subsequent inability to combat corruption or assert Afghanistan’s sovereignty. [1]

[Karzai] speaks of national sovereignty and of the welfare of people but practically, we see that there are thousands of Afghan detainees who have been suffering in the Bagram Air Base and other American bases now for years, and without a trial. But this does not prick his conscience to feel the need of a national sovereignty!

On the same day as the Taliban statement was released, President Karzai announced the creation of an investigative commission to look in to the Bagram issue while issuing a demand that control of the U.S.-run prison be turned over to the Afghan government within 30 days (al-Jazeera, January 5). However, one Afghan daily suggested that national authorities are incapable at this time of taking control of Bagram Prison or similar facilities based on their record in recent years:

Mass escape of prisoners- most of them Taliban prisoners – from Kandahar prison, escape of a number of dangerous prisoners from Pol-e Charkhi prison, strikes and riots in different prisons of the country including in Pol-e Charkhi prison, increase of prisoner numbers in the country, lack of sufficient environment for keeping inmates, [lack of] legal professional capabilities of prison guards in Afghanistan, the overwhelming problems in regards to handling of prisoners cases, all these reveal the capabilities of the Afghan government in maintaining and controlling prisoners (Daily Afghanistan [Kabul], January 7).

Bagram is the largest U.S. run detention center in Afghanistan, with over 1,000 prisoners, though only a minority of these have been charged. Though both Karzai and the Taliban have identified U.S. control of the facility as a national sovereignty issue, there are fears that mass breakouts of Taliban prisoners might follow an exchange of control (Tolo TV [Kabul], January 9).

Karzai was also condemned in the Taliban statement for failing to prevent the night raids “conducted by the invaders, noting that even members of the administration and family members had been killed or harmed during night raids. Karzai actually began to demand an end to night-raids by NATO forces in December, 2011, but received a negative response from U.S. and NATO officials, who described the night-raids as an efficient, low casualty method of rounding up suspected militants (Khaama Press [Kabul], January 8; AP, December 19, 2011).

The Taliban used the statement to describe the Kabul government as one where corruption “is at its climax. It is apt to say that bribery and drug trafficking have become part and parcel of the daily life of the venal officials of the government. Obviously, this is the result of the Karzai mismanagement of governance…”

According to the Taliban, Karzai’s willingness to do the bidding of warlords and other corrupt individuals is preventing his administration from playing an independent or constructive role in providing a solution to the occupation of Afghanistan: “Though he has tried to deceive the people by pleasant and emotional assertions… the people have now come to know his anti-Islamic and anti-national intentions…” With increasing indications that the United States is now prepared to negotiate directly with the Taliban, it seems likely that Karzai’s demands are part of an effort to reassert his influence and prevent his exclusion from peace talks.


  1. “Karzai’s Anti-National and Pro-Warlord Demeanor,” Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, January 5, 2012.

This article first appeared in the January 12, 2012 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor.


Taliban Spokesman Says Loya Jirga Reveals the Invaders “Sinister Objective” to Occupy Afghanistan

Andrew McGregor

December 15, 2011

In a recent interview with a Taliban-run news agency, Afghan Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi provided an official response to the recent Kabul Loya Jirga (Grand Council) that approved a continued American military presence in Afghanistan as well as an assessment of the Taliban’s struggle against NATO forces in various regions of the country. [1]

The four-day Loya Jirga produced a nearly unanimous vote in favor of a strategic agreement with the United States that would permit the continued presence of American military bases in Afghanistan after the scheduled pull-out of U.S. forces in 2014. There were, however, conditions attached, including an end to night raids on residential housing, the closure of all prisons operated by foreign forces and accountability to the Afghan justice system for Americans who commit crimes in Afghanistan (Khaama Press [Kabul], November 19).

The Taliban spokesman suggested that the Loya Jirga decision would actually play into the Taliban’s hands: “The people have realized that the invaders are here for sinister objectives. They want to endanger our religion, prestige and other sanctities at the hands of a few traitors and corrupt agents. They want to keep us as an occupied nation and impose their own systems upon us.”

Given the Loya Jirga’s decision, the Taliban spokesman was asked how long the Taliban will continue to fight against a foreign military presence: “Jihad is a religious obligation upon us. We have no specified time framework for it. When the need for Jihad is ceased, the war will naturally come to an end. It totally depends on the invaders.”

ISAF Regional Command – North

The Taliban spokesman also offered an assessment of the military situation in the southern and northern operational theaters:

  • In the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, the site of some of the war’s fiercest clashes, the spokesman admits the Taliban have been driven out of some areas, but attributes this to the occupiers’ complete destruction of orchards and houses in these districts. Otherwise he denies NATO claims that the Taliban are restricted to limited areas in the south of these provinces, insisting that foreign forces are confined to their bases in urban centers while the Taliban conduct attacks throughout the rest of the region at will. Qari Yusuf suggests the inaccurate perception of the situation in the southern provinces is partly due to “the absence of free international media” to observe and report Taliban activities accurately. While attributing this absence to threats against journalists by internal and external secret services, this complaint from an official spokesman demonstrates the Taliban’s growing appreciation for the value of the media in the struggle for Afghanistan. The movement once known for smashing televisions now manages a website in five languages, Twitter and Facebook accounts, radio stations, magazines and a video production company that posts its work on YouTube (Express Tribune [Karachi], December 1).
  • In the northern provinces, particularly Kunduz, a decrease in Taliban activity is blamed on the reluctance of the “mostly non-American” NATO garrisons there “who are fed up with this war” to venture far from their bases, thus reducing the opportunities for Taliban operations. Nonetheless, Qari Yusuf says the Taliban is continuing to increase its presence in the north. The Kunduz Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) is one of five PRTs that come under ISAF’s Regional Command-North. With Germany as the lead nation, PRT-Kunduz includes German, Belgian, Armenian and American troops.

Qari Yusuf summed up the rationale behind the Taliban’s continued commitment to a military resolution in Afghanistan rather than entering into political negotiations:

We can never tolerate foreign invasion in our country. We want the strict implementation of Islamic rules and regulations. We want Islamic brotherhood and unity among the countrymen. We want cordial relation with the world on the basis of Islamic principles where no one is harmed. But the enemy is extending the occupation and is dreaming for a prolonged subjugation of our country. In these circumstances we are compelled to insist on a military solution rather than political one because the enemy is not ready to leave our country… and to solve the disputed issues by political negotiations.

Qari Yusuf also stressed that the Taliban’s operational flexibility is a factor in its favor: “When we notice that the public and the mujahideen are both under pressure, simultaneously we open new fronts in other villages and districts. In the same way if one zone is under pressure, we have increased our activities in other zones… We have entered a new phase in the war where we have been able to inflict heavy losses on the enemy and have significantly reduced our own.”


  1. Afghan Islamic News Agency, “Interview of the Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,”, December 4, 2011.

This article first appeared in the December 15, 2011 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor.


Taliban Reject American Perceptions of the Haqqani-ISI Relationship

Andrew McGregor

October 14, 2011

Following a series of high-level meetings between American and Pakistani security and military figures related to the operations of the notorious Haqqani Network in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, the leadership of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has released a statement denouncing what it perceives as an American attempt to detach the Haqqani Network from the Taliban command in the interests of creating divisions within the movement.  The statement is also critical of American suggestions that the Haqqani Network has close ties to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the latter agency long suspected of having close ties to the Taliban and various other Islamist militant groups active in Kashmir and in the tribal agencies of Pakistan’s northwest frontier. The Taliban consider this an attempt to “attribute the decisive and staggering attacks by Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate to the neighboring country of Pakistan” (, September 27).

Jalaluddin Haqqani

The Taliban assert that the success of their summer “Badr” offensive was so successful that it forced many Coalition partners to reassess their participation in the Afghanistan conflict. Afghanistan’s government claimed from the beginning that “Badr” was coordinated with the ISI (Tolo News [Kabul], May 28). According to the Taliban statement, the success of this campaign revealed the true nature of the “lies and false information” spread by CIA chief General David Petraeus and others in the American command. Unwilling to attribute these victories to the Afghan Taliban, these same U.S. officials have concocted an intervention from Pakistan to explain their defeats at the hands of an enemy they claim to have weakened long ago. These unfounded allegations are meant to “deceive the members in its coalition for a bit longer.”

The Taliban are especially disturbed by American suggestions that veteran Pashtun jihadi commander Jalaluddin Haqqani is not part of the Afghan Taliban command but is rather somehow a separate force “tied to others.” The statement asserts that such efforts are designed to “give a bad name to our prominent figures by tying them to foreign intelligence… the Islamic Emirate is at its strongest and [is] unified more than it has been at any other stage… Neither are our bases in Pakistan, nor do we need residence outside of our country… The respected Jalaluddin Haqqani is [one of] the Islamic Emirate’s honorable and dignified personalities and receives all guidance for operations from the leader of the Islamic Emirate.”

The U.S. military has long been frustrated by deadly operations carried out against its troops in Afghanistan by Haqqani Network forces, which typically retire into Pakistan after finishing their operations, placing them beyond most forms of retribution by American forces.  A series of meetings in the last few weeks has been designed to goad Pakistan’s military into carrying out a major offensive against the Haqqani Network and compel the ISI to stop its support for the group (Pakistan Observer, October 10).

According to U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, “We cannot have the Haqqanis coming across the border attacking our forces and [Afghans] and disappearing back into a safe haven… We keep telling [the Pakistanis] you can’t choose among terrorists. If you are against terrorism, you have to be against all forms of terrorism” (Dawn [Karachi], September 22).

This article was originally published in the October 14, 2011 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor


Taliban Claim to Reject Use of Children as Suicide Bombers Because of Physical, Mental and Religious Deficiencies

Andrew McGregor

September 9, 2011

Afghanistan’s Taliban movement is seeking to deflect a wave of criticism surrounding its alleged use of children as suicide bombers following a public appearance by President Hamid Karzai with eight children the president said were recruited by the Taliban for “martyrdom operations.” The eight children were being sent back to their families after being rescued by national security services, while another 12 juveniles were being sent for education and reintegration programs before they are similarly returned home (Reuters, August 30).

Suicide Bomber AfghanistanAttack by Suicide Bomber, Jalalabad, Afghanistan (Reuters)

In the latest incident, a 16-year-old was detained on August 27 in the Baharak district of Badakhshan while wearing a suicide vest. The teenager was stopped while on his way to bomb a local mosque (Frontier Post [Peshawar], August 28).

A report released only days later by Human Rights Watch described “an alarming increase in recent months of suicide bombings and attempted suicide bombings by children.” According to the group’s Asia director, ““The Taliban’s use of children as suicide-bombers is not only sickening, but it makes a mockery of Mullah Omar’s claim to protect children and civilians.” [1]

In response the Taliban issued a statement describing the charges as a “ploy against the mujahideen” by an enemy that is reeling from suicide bombings that the Taliban refer to as “effective tactical enterprises.” [2] To malign this tactic, the “invaders and their internal puppets” have presented the children of employees of their spy agencies as would-be martyrdom-seekers. The movement reminds observers that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has already issued a ban on the recruitment of children in the ranks of the mujahideen. The ban is contained in Article 69 of the Taliban Code of Conduct (or Layha), an effort to impose a unified disciplinary code on Taliban fighters. [3]

The movement insists it has not faced any shortage of manpower, suggesting that there are so many volunteers for martyrdom operations that would-be suicide bombers must wait months for an opportunity to carry out “their jihadic task.”

According to the Taliban statement, there are three Shari’a-based preconditions for recruits willing to carry out martyrdom operations:

  • The volunteer’s intention “should be for the sake of Allah”
  • The volunteer should have the capability of inflicting heavy losses on the enemy
  • The volunteer should be armed with full military training and capacity.

The Taliban use the statement to reject the concept of using children as mujahideen or as martyrdom-seekers, pointing out that such use would only inhibit the success of martyrdom operations as an effective military tactic as they lack the “physical and mental capacities” and “deep Islamic knowledge and motive” necessary to bring the task to completion. 


  1. Human Rights Watch, Afghanistan: “Taliban Should Stop Using Children as Suicide Bombers,” August 31, 2011,
  2. “Statement of the Islamic Emirate in Response to the Propaganda about Recruitment of Children in Martyrdom-seeking Attacks,” September 5, 2011.
  3. Muhammad Munir, “The Layha for the Mujahideen: an analysis of the code of conduct for the Taliban fighters under Islamic law,” International Review of the Red Cross, No. 881, March 31, 2011, .

This article first appeared in the September 9, 2011 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor