Posts Tagged ‘propaganda’
Part of the wrestle the US is having over next steps in Afghanistan appears to centre on this question: Who should be the target – al Qaeda, or the Taliban?
Tied in with this is a related question: is the Taliban just a nationalist terrorist movement (in which case we should just focus on AQ), or is it becoming an internationalist one (in which case, they should be just as prominent a target as AQ)?
Analysts seem to differ on whether the Taliban is too close to AQ for comfort, or whether there’s actually tension (maybe even ideological hostility) between the two organizations.
Some, like Long War Journal‘s Bill Roggio, who say the groups are thick as thieves:
The Taliban’s leadership, including Mullah Omar, consistently refused to turn over Osama bin Laden prior to the September 11 attacks. And after al Qaeda’s most devastating attacks, Mullah Omar again refused to answer calls for bin Laden to be turned over – even under the threat of war …. In all likelihood, this will never change. Mullah Omar simply will not abandon his longtime ally. Mullah Omar is the “Leader of the Faithful” and al Qaeda has sworn allegiance to his Emirate. Osama bin Laden himself has sworn his personal fealty to Mullah Omar. For Omar to betray bin Laden and al Qaeda now would be a colossal blemish on the Taliban’s legitimacy in the broader jihadist community’s eyes. Indeed, al Qaeda leaders have long recognized that Mullah Omar is firmly behind them.
Others, however, in reading jihadi/terrorist online forums and statements issued by various jihadi groups and ideologues, say it’s not quite so straightforward.
For example, Javid Brown at Jihadica.com says recent Talban statements are not sitting well with AQ:
The recent shift in the Quetta Shura’s strategic communications is not to al-Qa’ida’s liking, and it is raising serious concerns among the broader Salafi jihadi movement about the religio-political legitimacy of the Afghan Taliban’s leadership.
Specifically, one of the statements Brown points to as problematic for AQ is the Tailban’s 19 Sept 09 “End of Ramadan” statement (which I shared and talked about a bit here), where the Taliban’s boss tells the world:
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants to maintain good and positive relations with all neighbors based on mutual respect and open a new chapter of good neighborliness of mutual cooperation and economic development. We consider the whole region as a common home against colonialism and want to play our role in peace and stability of the region. We assure all countries that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as a responsible force, will not extend its hand to cause jeopardy to others as it itself does not allow others to jeopardize us.
In other words, the Taliban says, “hey, we’re just fighting it out in our own backyard here, no need to worry about our fighting in yours.” This was further reinforced by a similar message in a 7 Oct 09 message on the anniversary of post-9/11 strikes against training camps in Afghanistan (link to Milnet.ca discussion and PDF version):
We announce to all the world, our aim is obtainment of independence and establishment of an Islamic system. We did not have any agenda to harm other countries including Europe nor we have such agenda today.
We do not have any intention to harm our neighboring countries but we want to gain independence of our country which is our natural right and establish an Islamic system as a panacea for all our economic and social problems, for which, we have been offering tremendous sacrifices unremittingly. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as per its peaceful policy wants to have constructive interactions with Shanghai forum member countries for a permanent stability and economic development in the region.
Notwithstanding reports that
some analysts see these statements as being counter to AQ’s world view.
One dig at the Taliban’s nationalist blinkers, so to speak, came from a jihadi ideologue Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (PDF of 21 Oct 09 statement in Arabic via jihadica.com here) who takes a dig at the “we’re only fighting in our own backyard” elements of Mullah Omar’s statement. There was also other videos and exchanges on jihadi fora (summarized in Brown’s post at jihadica.com) suggesting a bit of an ideological schism.
Even with some analysts, though, this isn’t proof positive. Leah Farrall at the All Things Counter Terrorism blog has this to say:
Maqdisi’s stature among the Taliban has never been strong …. the Taliban does not follow religious figures from the Middle East. They take their advice mostly from Afghan and Pakistani religious figures in the first instance. So Maqdisi’s criticisms while vocal will do little to put the Taliban off their current strategy.
In fact, she goes as far as saying it’s AQ who needs the Taliban, not the other way around:
The Taliban does not need al Qaeda for its religious legitimacy, nor has it ever sought this legitimacy from al Qaeda. The Taliban doesn’t need al Qaeda full stop. Al Qaeda however, needs the Taliban. And the Taliban’s actions …. have put it in a real bind. Although bin Laden has never given a personal oath to Omar he has presented himself as if he has, and al Qaeda by implication is tied to this allegiance. Al Qaeda’s senior leadership therefore cannot come out like Maqdisi has done, because of how they have presented themselves and how this would contradict the doctrines surrounding how one deals with an Emir who goes astray. They can’t paint Omar as going astray. They can’t say he has fallen under misleading influences because the Taliban has always taken this position …. (witness it’s constitution for example). Bottom line they can’t undermine Omar without it badly damaging their own position in a number of areas.
In light of this, how would we really know if AQ was really pissed at the Taliban for its new positions? Reasonably simply, according to Leah:
If this really does concern him either in terms of what the Taliban is doing and how it is positioning itself (and the implications of this for al Qaeda) or the reaction of the ascendent takfiris within al Qaeda and what they’ll have to say and how they’ll react to the Taliban statements and position, he’ll order attacks against the west. He always does when things like this go down. It’s diversionary and it forces unity. He will also calculate that a big attack against the west will cause a surge in forces in Afghanistan and this will force Omar to change his tune.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see – more, as I find it.
As the “Bribe the Tribes” story picks up a bit of momentum, in addition to denials, we see a bit of re-direction:
Defence Minister Peter MacKay, speaking in St. John’s, described the allegations as likely little more than “Taliban propaganda.”
Retired Canadian major-general Lewis MacKenzie suggested the notion of bribes to the Taliban “smells of a really intelligent piece of propaganda.”
True, we have a British media outlet “confirming” the story with a Taliban “commander”, but let’s look at where the information came from in the original stories that got the ball rolling, shall we?
The clandestine payments, whose existence was hidden from the incoming French forces, were disclosed by Western military officials. (The Times, 15 Oct 09)
One Western military source told of payments made by Canadian soldiers stationed in the violent southern province of Kandahar, while another officer spoke of similar practices by the German army in northern Kunduz. “I can tell you that lots of countries under the NATO umbrella operating out in rural parts of Afghanistan do pay the militants for not attacking them,” the senior Afghan official said. (Agence France-Presse, 16 Oct 09)
Since Canada, Italy and Germany were named by these sources in various venues, I’m guessing the Western officials were not from any of these countries.
I don’t know who told the reporter the initial information that started the research, but it’s interesting to see that it’s mainly allies who are confirming this.
I wonder what agenda these allied “sources” have?
Or should I say “alleged” allies?
All that said, this certainly does give the Taliban an interesting messaging point: look at all the money your pour into defeating us, and we still get money!
A variation of this meme (specifically, some development project money ends up in Taliban hands through protection payments to let the projects be built, convincing enough folks to cause the US government’s international aid agency to look into it), but I haven’t seen any exploitation of this theme by the Taliban themselves.
Then again, maybe they’re happy to sit back, and watch the NATO allies pick away at each other with claims, counterclaims and denials.
Someone more cynical than myself might say we may just be doing the Taliban’s work for them on this one.
Click here to see what such a beast – al-mosul.co.cc – looks like.
And the rules, in case you want to share some terrorist, anti-Western thoughts there? This, from “The Beheader” (must be one of the meaner moderators):
1-Using Abusive and Vulger language is not allowed.
2-Posting Images or Videos of un-related Issues are not allowed.
3-No posting of any Videos,Images, Statements and Audios of groups that are not shown on the logos.
4-No double posting allowed.
5-No Insulting any Shuyookh <community elders>,Scolars and respected people.
6-No promoting of any religion except Islam.
7-No cursing any Prophet and their companions.
8- Mention salutations after any Prophet is mentioned.
9-Respect other members and administrators.
10-Disbelievers only allowed to veiw posts.
11-No double accounts allowed accept with permission from the administrators.
12-NO SHIAS ALLOWED.
13- If a disbeliever joins this forum, then he/she should inform the administration that he/she is a Disbeliever.
14-Promotion of Nationalism, Triblism and Racism not allowed.
I guess in light of rule number 12, number 6 is only partly true, right?
“…. Say the mujahideen in the region: American College occurred in a battle surrounded the militants in Morocco yesterday, so the increased losses, and is worth mentioning that in this battle won two of the Mujahideen high degree certificate. The Mqatay Srcano that mandate was also a witness to successful operations by the Mujahideen, which continued yesterday morning until the age of heroic resistance in the face of the enemy force coming to the area Knczykl has admitted speaking Americans are a large numbers of casualties in their ranks, and beneficial to the latest report from the Knczykl : that killed more than (30) foreign soldiers and internally to the enemy in this battle, sheep Mujahideen (8) AK U.S. Draskov type, (2) heavy machine gun, (2) satellite, and a further quantity of light weapons and live ammunition ….”
Nothing in the mainstream media or military pages on this at this point.
A couple of new claims of Canadian casualties courtesy of the Taliban Communications Shop:
“A Tank of Foreigner Destroyed in Boldak District
Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan destroyed a tank of the invading soldiers by IED when they were on patrol at Nawa Kalla, near Boldak district, Kandahar province. Five Canadian soldiers aboard the tank were killed as a result of the IED explosion.” (.pdf of statement in English & Arabic at non-terrorist site here)
“Mujahideen Destroy a Military Tank of the Canadian Invading Army
Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan based in Kandahar have destroyed a Canadian Army tank at Sar Shabein area of Arghandab district, Kandahar province. The crew aboard the tank were all killed. After the incident, enemy airlifted the dead bodies of the soldiers.” (.pdf of statement in English & Arabic at non-terrorist site here)
No official reports of new Canadian deaths as of this posting.
Enjoy the lies!
TALIBAN RENEGES ON CEASEFIRE PROMISE TO KARZAI’S HALF-BROTHER
This, from Agence France-Presse:
“The Taliban on Sunday threatened for the first time to attack Afghan polling stations, escalating their bid to derail key elections this week after striking NATO in the heart of Kabul. The threat was made in leaflets, pinned up and dropped in villages in the south, and authenticated by a Taliban spokesman who said the militia would accelerate its bloody campaign of violence on the eve of polls ….
“This is to inform respected residents that you must not participate in the elections so as not to become a victim of our operations, because we will use new tactics,” said one leaflet distributed in Kandahar city and seen by AFP. The letter was written by Mullah Ghulam Haidar, the guerrillas’ purported operations commander in Kandahar city. It said voters — as allies of the Afghan government and foreign forces — would be considered enemies of Islam …. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi confirmed the leaflets were authentic and that commanders were ordering the masses to boycott the vote. “We are using new tactics targeting election centres… We will accelerate our activities on election day and the day before,” the spokesman told AFP. “I cannot comment on the new tactics we will use. Targeting polling stations won’t just be in the south, it is for the whole country,” he added.
It’ll be interesting to see what Qari Yousuf means, exactly, by “targetting” in light of the new code of conduct the Taliban are (allegedly) supposed to be following.
…of Taliban claims versus actual announced Canadian deaths now available here.
One highlight: Since October 2008, the Taliban have claimed almost 13 Canadian casualties for every one officially announced by the Government of Canada (354 alleged by Taliban vs. 28 reported by Canada).
Enjoy the lies!