July 29th, 2009
01:00 PM ET

Manifesto of Terror

The Taliban leadership have published a guide-book for their forces.

The Taliban leadership have published a guide-book for their forces.

Octavia Nasr | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Editor, Mideast Affairs

A manifesto of terror was released this week. It was disguised as a 65-page code of conduct for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan under the guise of Islamic Law.

What was the Taliban leadership thinking when it released this pocket-sized booklet? It’s hard to answer this question without looking at the general situation in Afghanistan and what information the booklet contains.

Fierce battles have erupted along the Pakistan-Afghan border region over the past few months because U.S. Marines and British troops have stepped up the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda in that area. Those battles have resulted in hundreds of deaths in the ranks of both groups – as well as among civilians and NATO troops. And the situation has led to a refugee crisis where more than a million people fled the border region.

Despite the losses and setbacks Taliban and al Qaeda have suffered, their attacks continue. And their propaganda machine repeatedly produces hate messages to incite Afghans against their own government and against the West. According to Afghan authorities, at least seven Taliban insurgents wearing suicide vests and wielding machine guns struck at government and commercial targets on Saturday in the eastern city of Khost. The suicide bombers died when they detonated their vests, and at least 14 civilians - three military service members and a police officer - were wounded.

Now comes the booklet. The group decided to deliver it to the Qatar-based Arabic network Al-Jazeera instead of posting it on the Internet, which has become a common strategy adopted by many terror groups and insurgencies recently.

According to Al-Jazeera, the pocket-sized book with the blue cover contains 13 chapters and 67 articles dealing with topics ranging from recruiting and training, to rules of conduct and engagement.

The first section is titled “Issues of Existence.” It explains, among other things, that if an Afghan government official “agrees to leave his position and join the Taliban, he should be protected.” The section also warns that, “Any Taliban member who mistreats the converted Afghan will be brought to judgment.”

One section deals with the subject of taking hostages. It gives instructions on not harming the hostages or killing them in order to use them in prisoner swap operations. In another chapter, the fate of high-ranking captured officers from what is described as the “slave government,” is left to the discretion of the local leader.

Perhaps the most significant detail in this manifesto of terror is that it stresses that no new groups are to be formed without the approval of high ranking commanders. On radical Islamist websites, commentators deduced that this could be a sign of a rift between al Qaeda and Taliban. The two groups have been operating closely and almost in the same bunker since 2001. As a matter of fact, al Qaeda’s leadership is believed to be hiding in Taliban-controlled territory in Swat Valley and in Northern and Southern Waziristan - a rugged border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The booklet does not mention al Qaeda at all, according to Al-Jazeera.

In the section on “Agents” the booklet describes what should happen if a person is confirmed to be “spying for the enemy.” In this case, the booklet says that person “is considered spoiled and only the Mullah can forgive or deport him or order him dead.”

The booklet also offers directives on suicide operations, asking that the fighters spare civilians, ignoring the fact that no suicide attack could be carried out in accordance with that rule.

For the Taliban, the publication is called, “List of the Mujahideen in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” The group’s intention is to give a copy to every one of its members as a guideline on conduct as they fight the “infidels” and all who aid, them including the legitimate Afghan government and forces who they refer to as members of the “slave government.”

To the naked eye however, this booklet is a manifesto justifying terror while hiding behind the cover of Taliban’s own interpretation of Islamic Law. It is a simple attempt to give an outlawed organization some semblance of control, at a time when facts on the ground show the opposite.

Find more from Octavia Nasr here.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Octavia Nasr • Taliban
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Even Stevn

    I do see what you mean bystander as well as you Carol. This was a war of choice, not of necessity or provocation. Afghanistan should have been won, regime change firmly in place well before we engaged in any conquest of Iraq. 8 years later we are taking significant casualties in a war we should have handled first. Never have we had so few sacrifice so much for so many. Our armed forces are miniscule in manpower compared to any time in our nation's history. We are sending the same individuals to do our work time and time again while the rest of us do what King George asked us to, "shop and continue to spend money". Shot out to all the Troops over there.
    Back on point, codes and reform are not possible as long as the greater majority of muslims continue to vote in ways such as the Palestinians. The problem is the faith which condemns democracy and mandates theocracy. The religion will not change and will not stop until all follow the faith or the faith is destroyed. hate being doom and gloom but seeing the region first hand I can say that individually, most folks are very much like us. Collectively, they're a bunch of lunatics.

    August 3, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  2. The Bystander Roure

    The shell has cracked (maybe not all we wished,but it has cracked ),IT shows reformes are possible and more humanistic codes of social living and law can follow .The Muslem communities have grately been discredited with the savage brutality and dictatorship of religiouse imposition it wishes in this wor.You can not bow in worship, respect or submission to God with a sword in your right hand. Religiouse wors are won with words,humanistic ideas and not fear of butchery,

    The Bystander Roure

    August 1, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  3. Even Stevn

    The only way to stop these folks along with Al Qaeda and their off shoots is by cutting the head off of the snake and marginalizing their movement (Give the people a better option). We saw it work in Iraq to a decent degree in Anbar and eventually it will work through out the rest of the country, I hope.
    I agree with Dave, we have to hold the higher ground and not torture and not kill civilians. It's hard work I know but we have to aspire to a higher standard in everything we do, we are after all Americans.
    Pres Obama did promise to pull us out of Iraq. We should have never been there in the first place. These things take longer than it takes to get over there and the Government of Iraq has asked repeatedly for us to stay. We have to be patient but fair as well. Pres Bush signed the deals to move out of the cities and for the eventual withdrawl. We are seeing his plan being worked now.
    Bush was no Satan but I can't say the same for the likes of Pearl, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Frum, Kristol, Bolton and Max Boot. Did a little homework and wow, those dudes were crooked!

    Still curious though, where are the rest of our middle eastern allies?

    August 1, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  4. Carole

    Chilling. This is something everyone should read.

    Unfortunately,George Bush's war of choice in Iraq has undermined the war against the people who flew the planes into the World Trade Center.

    July 31, 2009 at 6:14 am |
  5. Carole

    Chilling. This is something everyone should read.

    July 31, 2009 at 6:10 am |
  6. Mike

    I thought Obama said the first thing he would do in office would be to pull our troops out of Iraq and Afghanastan. It was one of his biggest themes while running against McCain, comparing him to Bush. Well, it seems that Obama now realizes Bush was right and we can't pull our troops at this point in time. You don't hear the Democrats calling Obama "Satan" as they did with Bush. I respect Bush for taking the hard stance that needed to be taken, even if it cost him in the "popularity polls". The Taliban will not rest, the will not stop. Ever. DO NOT forget that.

    July 30, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  7. Ian

    Good way to reel off topic Joe G. Why dont you mention something about healthcare in your next post. If you want to attack Obama or make a case about anything but the Afghan war, there are many other places to do it. Come back when you have something relevent to say, and not something extremely indirectly related.

    July 30, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  8. Dave

    This is why if we were disciplined and didn’t use torture the Taliban would be falling apart. If we live by a higher standard our enemies will be shown to be common criminals murdering civilians for power that they are. The Taliban use of the soccer field in Kabul shows they are little dictators that control through fear and are about as anti-Islam as you can get. I feel sure that there is a God and they will not be sitting at his table telling him how they killed civilians in God’s name. Their hypocrisy is that they try to be God instead of following the basic tenant of most religions of “thou shall not kill”. This is the word of God according to the Torah, Bible and Koran.

    July 30, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  9. Melissa

    Sounds like propaganda to me too. They are trying to put their enemy off guard to make the enemy easier to hit. Especially considering that they delivered it in such an odd way. They seem to have intended it to be found.

    July 30, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  10. Joe G. (Illinois)

    Talking about Manifestos.. Israel is the Holy Land.. And it belongs to Israel. Yet Obama is telling the Israeli people that they cannot build on their own land, and that they ought to leave it free for the Palestinians.. Now that to me is a manifest of terrorism.. “A boomerang version of scary fate to come..” Oh well.. It’s Obama words against…

    July 29, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  11. Even Stevn

    Interesting read. This is more bad news for us as we fight these morons. They are starting to organize. One could only hope they'd form a union and take more time off from Jihad. At least we could get a few here and there during coffee breaks.
    All kidding aside, it appears as though they are trying to legitimize and have a rudementary understanding of the nature of PR in this war. At face value this isn't a big deal but if it catches on one could consider them moving towards a legitimate standing army. Scary proposition.
    On a slightly different note, why is it just the US and our "Western" allies fighting these folks. Aren't the Saudi's, Jordanians, Turks, and Kuwaitis our allies? Why aren't there any Muslim militaries fighting along side us?

    July 29, 2009 at 1:52 pm |

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