On the same day senior Taliban leaders could be seen in a video celebrating dozens of “various martyrdom seeking groups” including suicide bombers, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was telling the U.S. State Department and reporters that he “[believes] we are in a more hopeful moment that validates our approach [regarding the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan].” He was “optimistic that finally we are moving forward to the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations.”
Apparently, the Taliban defines negotiation quite differently than Khalilzad is willing to admit. Per his own words in the recent special briefing, he is clearly wrong — either by virtue of ignorance or misinformation — on the Taliban’s commitment to break ties with al-Qaeda (and a conglomerate of Deobandi-linked terrorist groups in the region, for that matter). What is more, he has also ignored their means for preparing for peace. After all, nothing says peace more than a group of martyrdom seekers and suicide bombers.
On June 1, 2020 — the same day of Khalilzad’s lofty statements about the organization — a near 35-minute video entitled “Victorious Force (1)” was released by the Taliban, highlighting some of their various methods for engaging in negotiation with the Afghan government that are fearfully ignored by a blinded special envoy. “We are in a good place,” he contends. However, the martyrdom groups participating in jihadi training at Al-Fateh Camp seem to say otherwise.
The video, which includes English subtitles, can be viewed in its entirety on Voice of Jihad, the official website of the Afghan Taliban. It was produced by Al-Hijra Studio, part of the Audio & Visual Sector of the Multimedia Department of the Commission for Cultural Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The short film begins with the recitation and English translation of the Quran, chapter 8, Surah al-Anfal (The Spoils of War), verse 60: “And prepare against them whatever you are capable of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy.”
Following the opening Quranic verse, and paired with footage of the graduation ceremony, a number of pre-recorded messages which can be heard later in the video are presented. Initially, an image of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund appears, accompanied by such a voice recording. Akhund is the Doha-based Political Deputy of the Islamic Emirate and head of the Political Office who negotiated the withdrawal agreement with the United States. In the video, he indicates:
The military power of Military force of the Islamic Emirate will be a great defender of the future Islamic system. It will be defending its Islamic faith and its soil as it is doing now and will work for peace, security and stability of the Islamic system in the beloved country and will serve its Muslim people. The military force of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is the true force of all Afghans. True, free and loyal with its religion and soil.
Next, an image of Mullah Sirajuddin Haqqani, Deputy of the Islamic Emirate and head of the Haqqani Network, appears with a soundbite. Later in the video, he can be heard stating:
Every Mujahid is a hero, every Mujahid is a good military commander, fighting skills and tactics are excellent. Praise to Allah, the military formations of the Islamic Emirate are very organized, they have all kinds of units. Praise be to Allah; the Islamic Emirate special commando units responds very quickly and precisely to enemy moves and remain on standby position round the clock for repelling any threat and danger. The Islamic Emirate pays special attention to the jihadi and military training of the Mujahideen and also pays attention to the military equipment industry and does not waste any opportunity. We want to resolve issues through negotiations, Prophetic Shariah politics is also a way of our jihad and struggle, but politics and negotiations should not be taken to mean that we will neglect jihadi affairs and the strengthening and development of our jihadi military force.
Thirdly, the voice of Maulvi Mohammad Yaqub, Deputy Chairman of the Islamic Emirate and head of the Military Commission, can be heard with an image of the Taliban’s white flag waving on the screen. In the film, he says:
Praise be to Allah. With each passing day the Mujahideen armies become more organized and strengthened. They are self-reliant in every way, successfully performing jihadi duties with few resources. We will do our best with the help of Almighty Allah to make the military jihadi force of the Islamic Emirate stronger and more organized to the extent that the enemies will be intimidated just from its name. And never be tempted to encroach on our sacred land … You are the pride of our Muslim nation, be ready for any sacrifice in defence of your faith and land.
Following Yaqub, the voice of Zabihullah Mujahid, head of the Cultural Commission and Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate and the Islamic Emirate’s spokesman, can be heard with a similar image of the Taliban’s flag. He points out:
Training is the key mystery to jihad and victory, the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate must receive the best training as they have fought and emerged victorious with the most powerful and well-equipped forces in the world. It is essential for your success to pay close attention to two points. Attention must be paid to spiritual holiness. Those who do not have esoteric holiness cannot intimidate the enemy and prepare themselves for real sacrifice [and] physical training is a necessary achievement that ensures the supremacy of any force.
Finally, in an abbreviated clip in the English language, an image of Alhaj Mullah Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, Deputy Chief of Political Office and Head of Negotiation Team of the Islamic Emirate, appears for a moment. In the full audio near the end of the video, he proclaims:
Islam is [more] precious to us than anything else. We are committed to defend our side. We have always obtained freedom by force and will continue our jihadi and sharia-based political style until we get full independence of our beloved country. We love our country and love freedom. Liberty is the spirit of our nation. We are resilient and bravest people on the face of the earth. We are self-confident and by the grace of Allah, we have always defeated great empires with our courage. All praises be to Allah. The Islamic Emirate has now [self-reliant] regular forces which has all military capabilities. We have qualified military experts and mujahideen. We have trained our forces to such a degree that they do not lose moral in face of propaganda and psychological warfare. When there is war, they fight. And when the guns are silent, they focus on their training to boost their capabilities. No one should imagine making us neglectful. We are not making many claims rather we have proved it practically.
Do any of these senior leaders of the Taliban have the intention to bring peace to Afghanistan, as Khalilzad and others suggest? In reality, the Taliban firmly believes the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is the only acceptable Islamic government for the South Asian country. And Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada is the country’s only legitimate emir. According to the prominent voices of their latest media production, sharia is the true law of the land in Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, special envoy Khalilzad is not alone in his sentiments. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, current Secretary Mike Pompeo, and head of U.S. Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie all share the same ludicrous expectations of nothing less than a terrorist organization.
By deploying suicide bombers, infantry units, special operations forces, and shock troops like those graduating from the Al-Fateh Camp, a “jihadi and sharia-based political style” imposed by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (or the “moderate” Taliban) will soon reign over Afghanistan. All the while, leadership and national security strategists around the world will continue to pretend otherwise. Afghanistan will once again be used as a haven for terrorists plotting to cripple America, Israel, India, and their allies.