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Taliban: Modified Military Policies?

08/08/2009

As we all know by now Taliban-Afghanistan, under the command of Mullah Omar, has issued a document laying down more than a code of conduct for its fighters.

The document was entitled La’iha – da Afghanistan Islamii Imarat da Mujahidinu lparah or The Code of Conduct for the Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. It included also theological and ideological legitimatization of most of the military commands outlined. The La’ihais quite comprehensive. It has 13 chapters and 67 articles. The major topics covered can be listed under four categories: military tactics, asylum and prisoners, unity of the ‘jihad’ and sociopolitical relations.

Regarding military tactics, suicide attacks and civilian casualties were the main highlights in theLa’iha.  On the former, the leadership of the Taliban declared that suicide bombings should only be used on ‘high and important targets,’ and the ‘utmost effort should be made to avoid civilian casualties.’” On the latter, the La’iha stresses that governors, district chiefs and line commanders and every member of their armed formations ‘must do their best to avoid civilian deaths, civilian injuries and damage to civilian property.’

Regarding asylum, the La’iha recycles ‘aman al-’ahad, an established concept in classical Islamic jurisprudence, into an Afghan contemporary setting: ‘every Muslim can invite anyone working for the slave government in Kabul to leave their job, and cut their relationship with this corrupt administration. If the person accepts, then with the permission of the provincial and district leadership, a guarantee of safety can be given.’ In other words, it provides an exit for government employers and legitimize it in an intelligible narrative.

Regarding prisoners, the policies outlined in the La’iha stresses centralization: ‘whenever any official, soldier, contractor or worker of the slave government is captured, these prisoners cannot be attacked or harmed.

The decision on whether to seek a prisoner exchange, or to release the prisoner, with a strong guarantee, will be made by the provincial leader. Releasing prisoners in exchange for money is strictly prohibited.’ Depending on the prisoner’s rank, the decision to kill or release him is made by the upper echelons of the Taliban. If the prisoner is a director, commander or a district chief or higher, Mullah Omar (referred to as the Imam) or his deputy (na’ib) will decide his/her fate.

The same applies if a NATO soldier was captured: ‘if a military infidel is captured, the decision on whether to kill, release or exchange the hostage is only to be made by the Imam or deputy Imam.’ In other words, if the captured soldier was killed Mullah Omar and his deputies will be directly responsible.

Regarding unity, the Taliban repeats a chapter from the Algerian GIA’s history by outlawing all non-Taliban armed Islamist activities.  The La’iha states clearly that: ‘creating a new mujahidin group or battalion is forbidden.’” It implies punitive measures if that order was violated.

Finally, it is clear that Taliban leadership understands the importance of winning the hearts and minds to win this war : ‘The mujahideen have to behave well and show proper treatment to the nation, in order to bring the hearts of civilian Muslims closer to them.’ More than that, the La’ihahas a Taliban-style ‘equal opportunity’ code: ‘the mujahideen must avoid discrimination based on tribal roots, language or their geographic background.’

Overall, the Lai’ha can be seen as an attempt by the leadership of the Taliban to centralize the organization, before possibly launching a new wave of attacks. The development can be also seen as an attempt to distance the organization from al-Qa’ida’s and other jihadist experiences in Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other countries – where popular discontent marked the end of the Islamist insurgency.