As the Taliban moved into Kabul and demanded the unconditional surrender of the central government, Taliban commander Muhammed Arif Mustafa told CNN: “It’s our belief that one day, mujahedin will have victory, and Islamic law will come not to just Afghanistan, but all over the world. We are not in a hurry. We believe it will come one day. Jihad will not end until the last day.”
The CNN “journalist,” demonstrating yet again the network’s spectacular misunderstanding of the conflict (which, of course, is shared by the U.S. foreign policy establishment), followed that with “It’s a chilling admission from a group that claims it wants peace.”
The Taliban does indeed want peace. It wants the peace that will follow the world’s submission to the hegemony of Islamic law.
Muhammed Arif Mustafa was stating plainly what the U.S. State Department steadfastly ignored for twenty years: the fact that the Taliban views itself as the exponents in 21st-century Afghanistan of a fourteen-hundred-year-old conflict, one that is as old as Islam itself. The History of Jihad details how Muslims in Afghanistan and the world over have waged this jihad without any interruption throughout that entire period, with the goal that the Taliban commander enunciated: to establish the rule of Islamic law anywhere and everywhere possible.
This imperative was often energized by grievances, but was never, contrary to State’s assumption, built on grievances alone. The Qur’an commands: “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah.” (8:39) Some might think that because the Taliban is ending what they perceive as “persecution” – that is, the American presence – in Afghanistan, it will lay down its arms. This is once again a fundamental misunderstanding. The Taliban, and other groups like it, will fight on “until religion is all for Allah.” Within Afghanistan, this will take the form of a ferocious and merciless persecution of women who do not obey Islam’s veiling laws, and of anyone else who dares to violate the strictures of Islam in any way. And outside Afghanistan, the Taliban will do all it can to aid jihad groups elsewhere, as it aided al-Qaeda to prepare for the jihad attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.
No one in Washington or among American forces in Afghanistan ever showed any sign of understanding of this. In an interview with ABC News back in 2010, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan at the time, Gen. David Petraeus, “conceded that a successful counterinsurgency campaign could take up to 10 more years, but said he intended to stick to the 2011 drawdown date.”
Give Petraeus credit: he was close. The successful counterinsurgency campaign took eleven more years, not ten, but he was only off by one year, and by thinking that the success would be that of the United States, rather than the Taliban. For Petraeus ever to have thought that jihadis could be decisively defeated within ten years demonstrated a spectacular case of willful ignorance. When one believes that one is fighting a struggle that has gone on for fourteen hundred years, a struggle that one inherited from one’s father and will pass on to one’s sons, a setback here or there doesn’t matter. As Muhammad Arif Mustafa told CNN, “We are not in a hurry.”
This is not to say that jihadis have never been defeated, or can never be defeated. As The History of Jihad shows, after the jihad conquest of Spain, free people fought patiently and steadfastly for 700 years until they finally drove out the invaders. But it is highly questionable that Joe Biden’s America, in which any discussion of Islam’s jihad imperative earns one the sobriquet of “Islamophobe” and high-level vilification and deplatforming, has that kind of patience. It is good that we are getting out of Afghanistan, although Biden’s handlers have disastrously bungled the withdrawal, with consequences we will no doubt be suffering in the coming months, but State and Defense Department wonks should have a steady and sober regard for the fact that the jihad has not ended, and that jihadis will continue to come after the United States and American citizens.
Instead, they’re focused on chimerical “white supremacists” and enforcing wokeness in the military. People like Muhammed Arif Mustafa see that happening, and they see it as an opportunity, an opportunity they will most certainly exploit. The jihad will indeed not end, and America is not even close to seeing the last of it.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books, including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins―Revised and Expanded Edition. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.