As they’ve done every year since before the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban released an Eid message yesterday (see here for reports on 2000, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012). This year’s message dealt with civilian casualties, urging Taliban to avoid them, and placing the blame for past mistakes on the Afghan government and Coalition forces (Tolo), saying that ‘if’ a Taliban member should cause unnecessary casualties he would be dealt with through the Taliban courts. Considering the UN and others assess the vast majority of civilian casualties to be caused by the Taliban (Amzn), then, it’s surprising so few cases have come to light. The U.S. was also blamed for the deadlock inQatar (ET), and the possibility of a residual American force in Afghanistan was warned against. It was alleged that next year’s presidential elections are meaningless, and that the true vote for Afghanistan’s leadership will take place in Washington. The writer ‘opined’ about Afghanistan’s post-2014 future, stating that the Taliban did not wish to monopolize power, and would be looking to consult with others as to the future of Afghanistan, ‘regardless of ethnicity or geography’ (it makes no mention of sect or school, however). Those who have worked with foreign forces, the Afghan government, or as criminals need not apply.
Stating “our fundamental principle according to our unchanging policy is that we do not intend to harm anyone, nor will we allow anyone to harm others from our soil,” the the Taliban strove yet again to publicly distance themselves from Al Qaeda, thereby denying ISAF nations a casus belli. It may also be a sop to Pakistan on the Pashtunistan issue (although I doubt Pakistan is particularly worried the Afghan Taliban would turn on them), as well as Iran and the Central Asian border nations, which have become increasingly concerned about a return of the Taliban to their own borders. Now if only the neighboring countries would make the same commitment to Afghanistan. The message also welcomed international aid organizations, provided they were free of “political or espionage motives,” especially from Islamic countries. This may be aimed at some of the polio-vaccination campaigns that were suspended in Afghanistan earlier this year due to attacks on health workers. The Taliban only recently (May 2013) came out against killing unarmed health volunteers delivering life-saving vaccines to children.
It’s highly unlikely Mullah Omar writes these messages himself. It has been alleged he is sub-literate, and the messages are complex and varied enough to point to multiple editors. Still, the messages are the most widely publicized primary source documents of the Taliban, reach more Afghans than any other piece of insurgent propaganda, and should therefore be closely analyzed. I am sure analysts across North America, Europe, and Asia are doing just that today, and for that reason the Taliban has always had at least a sentence or two for Western audiences. This year, an interesting phrase aimed at the west was “The categorization of hard line and moderate Mujahideen is a futile and hostile classification worked out by you and your hirelings. All Mujahideen are followers of the sacred religion of Islam. They have a unified, moderate and clear policy,” which I take to be a caution against treating with certain factions of the insurgency before others, as well as a deliberate claim of moderation, perhaps to distance themselves from Al Qaeda and other hardline, global jihadists.
As was noted in an article two months ago by Timothy Soper, the messages have changed tack since 2008; whereas before the messages were filled with calls to drive out the foreigners and avoided mention of what type of government would follow a fall of the Karzai regime, since then they have focused increasingly on visions for a post-ISAF (and post-Karzai) Afghanistan. In tandem with predictions of victory against “foreign forces and mercenaries” going from “eventual” to “imminent,” assurances have been repeatedly given to the Afghan people that a Taliban return to power will eliminate the corruption and waste of the current government. Statistically speaking, of course, most Afghans have little to no memory of the last Taliban government, and so nothing first-hand to compare the current national government with.
After years of attacking the West and their Afghan allies, the Eid missive began in 2009 to emphasize the Taliban’s political platform, focusing on justice reform and anti-corruption. It must be remembered that between Eid 2008 (December) and Eid 2009 (November), President Obama laid out the first timeline for the eventual drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. This no doubt had an effect on Taliban strategy, and this is reflected in the change in focus of the annual Eid messages. Messages began to focus on post-withdrawal Afghanistan.
In 2009, the message trumpeted the defeat of foreign forces in Afghanistan and the triumph of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA; the Taliban). In 2010, Mullah Omar stated that the insurgency had reached every quarter of Afghanistan (although it wasn’t until 2011 that Coalition Forces were attacked at FOB Lion in the Panjshir, marking the spread of the insurgency to all 34 provinces of Afghanistan). The message also promised war after the ISAF withdrawal, particularly with the “corrupt” and “inept” Karzai government, while at the same time reaching out to Afghan citizens and offering them a chance to participate in the post-ISAF government of the IEA. It should be remember that up to their taking of Kabul in 1996, the Taliban talked openly of restoring the monarchy; once in power that rhetoric disappeared.
In 2011, the message made vague promises of economic prosperity after foreign forces left Afghanistan, no doubt in response to widely publicized accounts of Afghan concern with an economic recession after ISAF’s withdrawal and the Kabul Bank debacle, as well as the rumors that Afghanistan might have a trillion dollars in mineral wealth for the taking. It also furthered the Taliban’s message of inclusion to Afghans who were not affiliated with foreigners, the government, or criminal gangs, saying that they had a responsibility to Afghanistan’s future. It also contained such directed-at-the-west barbs as “Think, if your country is invaded by someone else, would you remain indifferent in such circumstances?”
Last year’s message sought to burke the pressing concerns of Taliban fighters about Taliban leadership negotiating with the U.S., stating that the Taliban was only trying to secure the release of prisoners held by the government and the U.S.; submission and/or the abandonment of principles were out of the question. The message again called for accommodation with other Afghan factions after foreign forces withdrew, slammed the Karzai government as “corrupt, collapsing, and ill,” and recommended the Afghan people support the Taliban. As part of the Taliban’s attempt to not appear so belligerently antediluvian, it also made mention that women’s rights would be “considered” after the Taliban had come back to power (Tolo), prompting raised eyebrows everywhere. The message was heavily salted with the by-this-time-standard claims of devastating the enemy and imminent victory, prompting then ISAF commander General Allen to refer to Mullah Omar as “deranged” (PakDef).
In each message, the proportion of text devoted to political platforms and inclusion has grown; the messages have become longer addresses divided into sections. From fiery rhetoric and promises of death to enemies to calls for settlement and appeals to international aid organizations; current affairs, military, domestic, and foreign issues are all presented, albeit still with the occasional Quranic verse on divine punishment. This year’s message continues that trend (UM):
Message of Felicitation of Amir-ul-Momineen (May Allah protect him) on the Occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr
In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
All praise be to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We also seek His refuge from the evils of our inner selves and from our wicked deeds. Whoever is guided by Allah, there is none to mislead him and whoever is left by Allah in error, there will be none as guide for him (except Allah).
I testify there is no god but Allah. Alone is He and has no associate and I testify that Mohammad (peace be upon him) is his Servant and Messenger.
Having said that, I proceed and seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the rejected one.
“Allah has promised those of you who believe and do good works to make them successors on the earth as He had made successors those who were before them and that He will surely grant them authority to practice their religion that He has chosen for them and to change their fear to safety. Let them worship me and associate not anything with me. Those who disbelieve after this, they are the wicked” (24:55)
To the Mujahid people of Afghanistan and All Islamic Ummah:
Asalamu Alaikum WA Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh.
Peace be on you and Mercy of Allah and His Blessing.
I extend my felicitation to you all for the great bliss and festivity for your having performed the great obligation of the holy month of Ramadan and that you are now in the auspicious days of Eid-ul-Fitre. I pray to Almighty Allah to accept in His Sight, the Jihad, fasting, worship and charities of all Muslims. May you have a prosperous life and success! Similarly, I congratulate the Afghan Mujahid people and all oppressed Ummah for the great victories achieved by Mujahideen in the field of Jihad with the help of Allah (SwT) and through unparalleled sacrifices, martyrdom-seeking operations and struggle which have practically forced the invaders to take to fleeing in a manner being unprecedented.
I would like to thank the Afghan Mujahid and freedom-loving people for their continuous and comprehensive assistance with the Mujahideen against the invaders and hope that they will, shoulder to shoulder with the Mujahideen, increase their assistance in the cause of independence. I pray to Allah (SwT) to bring to an end, the sufferings and miserability of the Muslims both in Afghanistan and in the entire world, particularly, may Allah save the oppressed and believing people of Syria and Egypt who spent the (whole) month of Ramadan under beating, bloodbath, arrest and torture in squares, prisons and hospitals. May Allah be their helper and grant them glory and (aptitude of) excellent planning. May Allah save all Mujahideen from overt and covert conspiracies of enemies and may Allah, the Almighty, heal the injured believers, and may through His grace and blessing usher in means for release of the detainees.
The current jihad in Afghanistan is continuing with great success. Many areas of the country have been liberated from the grips of the invading usurpers during the sacred operations of this year under the name of Khalid bin Walid (RA). (Military) centers of the enemy in different areas of the country have fallen which before this, were considered unconquerable. With the help of Allah (SwT), the military power, morale, pride and arrogance of the enemy have received heavy thrashing. They are now on the threshold of collapse. The Almighty Allah says: “Their multitude shall be routed and they will turn their backs” (54:45)
Another good news is that the Mujahideen have been waging their struggle against the enemy in all provinces of Afghanistan like brothers under a sole leadership and flag. The Jihadic movement gains momentum with the passage of each day. In addition to the military field, Mujahideen increasingly obtain new experience of work and success in political, cultural, economical, administrative and allurement fields. A spirit of reform, dedication, cooperation and obedience gains strength ever more.
(My) believing Countrymen and Mujahid Brothers!
You know that our country is passing through a critical phase. The enemies who have been beaten in the past twelve years are unleashing new conspiracies and launching new plans. We are on our guard as to their conspiracies. We believe that only an Islamic, just, independent and all Afghan-inclusive system can bring well-being and prosperity to our countrymen.
With the support of our people, we will not allow anyone to succeed in the wicked plan for disintegration of the country or to divide our country under geographical locations and ethnicity denominations. Our pious people consider it their responsibility to build their common home and defend its every inch. Similarly, they consider it their religious obligation to maintain internal unity and give support to their Mujahid brothers. They also believe that obtainment of freedom and independence is their legitimate right.
As to the deceiving drama under the name of elections 2014, our pious people will not tire themselves out, nor will they participate in it.
Our pious and Mujahid people know that selection, de facto, takes place in Washington. These nominal rulers are not elected through the ballots of the people. Rather they are selected as per the discretion of Washington! Participation in such elections is only a waste of time, nothing more.
I urge all Afghans who perform duties in the ranks of the enemy to turn barrels of their guns against the infidel invaders and their allies instead of martyring their Muslim Afghans. We have always given a hero welcome to these young fighters and, on the basis of fraternity, we welcome everyone who leaves the rank of the enemy and comes over to his Mujahid people.
My brotherly request from those who say they are committed to Islam and Jihad but still carry out maligning campaign against Mujahideen, spreading hypocrisy, doubts and mistrust, using their tongues and pens against their Muslims brothers instead of the unbelievers, is to desist from such futile and sabotage activities. These activities only expose their selfish and naïve character, nothing more than that. Unequivocally, it makes their burden of sin heavier.
Those patriotic Afghans who detest the (foreign) occupation and de facto oppose the presence of the invaders, though far-off they may be from us in distance, we appreciate their emotions of Afghanhood. I assure all, no personal revenge will be taken on any one following the end of occupation because our struggle is neither for achievement of personal gains nor personal power.
Public of the World and Countrymen!
I would like to opine about a future Afghanistan. An Islamic system and complete independence are values, which we are not willing to strike a deal on them with anyone. The Afghan people have rendered great sacrifices for the said two values both in the past and the contemporary history. Their country has been destroyed for the sake of these values and millions of them have been martyred. After all these, they should be left to form an independent Islamic system as per their aspirations.
As to the management of internal system and rehabilitation, we believe, that there is no remedy to alleviate the pains of the Afghans except the remedy of an Islamic system based on transparency and commitment, in which all Afghans will see their full participation. Instead of reliance on foreign assistance and skills, the Afghans should qualify themselves and serve their country by utilizing their own resources. In the same sense, in order to protect ourselves from scarcity and hardships, our young generations should arm themselves with religious and modern educations because modern education is a fundamental need of every society in the present time.
I reiterate once again that we do not think of monopolizing power. Those who truly loves Islam and the country and has commitment to both, whoever they may be or whichever ethnicity or geographical location they hail from, this homeland is theirs. None can prevent them from serving their homeland. We assure them that, we, together and through joint efforts, will serve our homeland. We consider as our brother and give him a welcome whoever openly expresses regret about his support for occupation.
As to the foreign policy, our fundamental principle according to our unchanging policy is that we do not intend to harm anyone, nor we allow anyone to harm others from our soil. Similarly, we can’t tolerate any harm from others. We will maintain good relations with all those who respect Afghanistan as an independent Islamic country and their relations and interactions are not domineering and colonial, whether they are the world powers or the neighbors or any other country of the world. It is to be said that we have mentioned this point in our previous messages and have conveyed to all people of the world through the Political Office.
The aim of our contacts and talks with the invaders which are conducted through the Political Office is to put an end to occupation of Afghanistan. No one should perceive that the Mujahideen will relinquish of their lofty religious principles and national interests. I assure you that I will not reach any illegitimate compromise or unlawful deal. Praise be to Allah (SwT), the Islamic Emirate has the honor of having stood up to ups and downs of many tribulations and trials. I ask Allah (SwT) to keep us straight on His way in the time to come as well.
The developments following the opening of the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate proved that Islamic Emirate is independent, strong and unwavering in its decisions. It was also proved that the Islamic Emirate has shown and is showing honesty and commitment to resolve problems of its oppressed people in the light of Islamic principles and national interests. But the invaders and their allies are creating obstacles in the way of resolving problems by making various pretexts.
We have already said that the Islamic Emirate does not think of monopolizing power. Rather we believe in reaching understanding with the Afghans regarding an Afghan-inclusive government based on Islamic principles. Of course, the Islamic Emirate considers it its religious and national obligation to liberate the country from the occupation. When the occupation ends, reaching an understanding with the Afghans will not be a hard task because, by adhering to and having common principles and culture, the Afghans understand each other better.
The occupying countries should learn from the bitter experiences of the past twelve years. They should not try their fate once more by prolonging the occupation or by establishing permanent bases. In the same vein, they should not let themselves to be deceived by the futile and baseless promises of the Kabul powerless administration. Their domestic allies and hirelings, who had, at the beginning of the invasion, described Afghanistan as being a ready-made soft loaf of bread, now want once again the occupation to prolong and military presence to continue in order to ensure their power and personal interests.
The Western invaders should have come around by now to realize that the Afghans do not want foreign invaders and their installed rulers. If they think that they can pave the way for a permanent (military) presence by resorting to misinformation and gimmicks and by implementing different schemes or in their words, convening a fake Loya Jirga for approval of the security agreement or by creating other pretexts, they are wrong. The Afghans consider the presence of small number of invading troops as an encroachment against their independence as they are not willing to accept presence of thousands of foreign troops. The invaders also should not nurture the idea that the chiefs and common Mujahideen of the resistance of the Islamic Emirate will disband their legitimate struggle because of the invaders promises, material privileges, and personal security and government slots while occupation is in place. The categorization of hard line and moderate Mujahideen is a futile and hostile classification worked out by you and your hirelings. All Mujahideen are followers of the sacred religion of Islam. They have a unified, moderate and clear policy.
“And thus we have made you a nation justly balanced so that you may testify against mankind and that your own messenger may testify against you” (2:143)
About the work of international humanitarian organizations, I would like to say that every humanitarian organization which keeps away from political and espionage motives and which is not established by the invaders for the purpose of collecting intelligence or inviting people to non-Islamic ways, it can carry out its selfless activities in areas under our control on the basis of our conditions and policy and in coordination with the relevant commissions, whether they are working in the health sector or in the refugees or in food supply sectors or any other sector.
To end, I urge the public of the world, particularly, the Islamic countries and those countries and people who love justice, the international and Islamic societies to give all-sided assistance to the oppressed Afghan people in the cause of their independence on the basis of humanitarian sympathy and Islamic fraternity. I thank them for their efforts made for the Afghan people in the way of their independence.
I would like to remind the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate to further focus on implementation of the by-laws, the instructions of the leadership of the Islamic Emirate and perfectly obey your chiefs. Strength of array (a group) lies in unity. Real unity comes from obedience. So maintain your ranks united by obeying (your superiors).
Manage affairs of the areas cleansed from the presence of the enemy or are being cleansed, with the help and counsel of religious scholars and (local) elders. Those people who harm the commoners by misusing the name of Mujahid or kidnap people for ransom or follow personal goals under the name of Jihad, they are neither Mujahideen nor belong to the Islamic Emirate. I order the Mujahideen to block the way of activities of these tyrants if possible and increase efforts for prevention of civilian casualties and help the newly- founded office of the Islamic Emirate which has been established to prevent civilian casualties and present on ground facts to our people and the public of the world.
It is worth mentioning that the enemy has been spreading misinformation about civilian casualties. Some entities, who claim to be neutral, publish reports based on these distorted reports. In fact, civilian casualties are caused by the enemy itself. Occasionally, when a Mujahid is found being careless as regards the prevention of the civilians casualties, he must be referred to the leadership after identification for handing over to the judicial courts.
The Mujahideen should try to invite those in the Opposition side to the way of truth according to the policy of the Commission of Call, Guidance, Allurement and Absorption and split them from the Opposition side. Similarly, they should consider it their responsibility to serve the detainees and the injured according to the programs of the Detainees and Health Commissions. Moreover, the Mujahideen should pay necessary attention to the education of the new generations in accordance with the plan of the Education Commission so that our emerging generation will have both religious and modern education and serve their people and country as pious and professional Afghans.
The Islamic charity organizations and the wealthy brothers should help the Economic Commission in order to perform their obligation through financial jihad and satisfy the need of the Mujahideen. I call on the wealthy Muslims on this occasion of the auspicious day of Eid-ul-fitre not to forget the families of the martyrs, detainees, refugees and the poor to enable them to participate in the festivities of the Eid.
To end, I wholeheartedly thank all Muslims for their assistance given to the Mujahideen and for their prayers for Mujahideen and urge them to keep on. Congratulation on Eid-ul-fitr once more. Wishing you independence and glory. Peace be on you all.
Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid
Servant of Islam