DEPUTY AMIR OF TALIBAN REJECTS U.S. PLAN TO CREATE AN “AWAKENING” MOVEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN
Late last month, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin described a new law signed by President Barack Obama authorizing the payment of Taliban militants in return for laying down their arms. Lower-level Taliban fighters would be offered amnesty and employment in new local defense militias patterned on the “Awakening” movement that diverted many Iraqi Sunni militants into pro-government forces that played a major role in expelling al-Qaeda from large parts of Iraq (AFP, October 29; Reuters, October 27).
The Taliban responded to this initiative with an October 30 statement by Deputy Amir Mullah Brader Akhund, released through the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Voice of Jihad website (alemarah.info, October 30). Mullah Brader described the plan as nothing new, suggesting “old weapons” of this type were already a proven failure in Afghanistan: “The British invaders used it in the 19th century but failed; the former Soviet Union used it; it failed too.”
Mullah Brader issued a number of points for the “moribund rulers of the White House”:
• The existence of “moderate” and “extremist” Taliban does not correspond with reality; these terms are American inventions.
• The Mullah describes the professional soldiers of the Coalition and members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) as “mercenaries and employed gunmen.” By contrast, the Taliban fight solely for independence and the establishment of a Shari’a system. “This war will come to an end when all invaders leave our country and an Islamic government based on the aspirations of our people is formed in the country.”
• The White House should focus on “pragmatic” and “realistic” means of ending the conflict. The United States should stop “shedding the blood of innocent Muslim people” by pulling its forces out of Afghanistan and by putting “an end to the game of colonialization.”
• The huge military expenditure on the war in Afghanistan will deepen the American economic crisis. “Your people will face more problems and suffer from psychological diseases.”
• In a reference to President Hamid Karzai and his brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, Mullah Brader denounced those “few well-known Afghan Americans who sell their country and who have received training in the CIA cells for many years.” The Mullah describes their actions as an unforgivable and shameful act that will carry an “historical taint.” The Mullah suggests American leaders should look at the example of the pro-British Shah Shuja (assassinated in 1842), and the pro-Soviet Babrak Karmal, who was ousted as president by his Soviet sponsors in 1986. The United States should study what status these surrogate leaders had “in the eye of the Afghan masses.”
The Taliban statement came at the close of a month that saw 53 American fatalities in Afghanistan, the worst single month for U.S. military losses since the war began in 2001.
TARIQ AFRIDI APPOINTED HEAD OF TALIBAN IN STRATEGIC KHYBER AGENCY
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have filled the post of Taliban chief in the strategically important Khyber Agency following a meeting in Orakzai Agency (The News [Islamabad], November 10). The new leader is Tariq Afridi, the notorious Taliban commander based in Darra Adam Khel (see Terrorism Focus, February 13, 2008).
Afridi will replace former Khyber Agency Taliban commander Kamran Mustafa Hijrat (a.k.a. Muhammad Yahya Hijrat; a.ka.a Mustafa Kamal Kamran Hijrat), who was arrested by Pakistani security forces in December 2008. Hijrat was responsible for planning numerous attacks on NATO supply convoys in Peshawar and along the dangerous highway through the Khyber Pass. It can be expected that Afridi will now take over these operations, which are intended to pressure U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan by cutting off their supply lines.
From his base at Darra Adam Khel, Afridi has been responsible for attacks on security forces in Orakzai Agency as well as suicide bombings in Peshawar, Kohat and the Punjab. He is best known outside of Pakistan for his kidnapping and murder of Polish engineer Petr Stanczak in 2008. Stanczak was beheaded by his captors in February 2009 when Islamabad refused to release certain Taliban prisoners in exchange for the hostage. A cash offer was made but refused by Afridi (Dawn [Karachi], April 26).
Despite his rise through the Taliban ranks, Tariq Afridi nonetheless faces opposition from within his own tribe. Last April a lashkar [ad hoc militia] of over 300 mostly Afridi tribesmen was raised to drive the Taliban commander out of Darra Adam Khel. Most members of the lashkar had previously been under Tariq Afridi, but left his group over killings of security personnel. Despite some clashes, the lashkar did not succeed in their mission (Dawn [Karachi], April 23).
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