A couple of weeks ago, we noted that the Taliban had issued a policy statement condemning a forthcoming Islamic conference on suicide bombings as a “fraudulent gathering” and “clear American intrigue.” The statement urged scholars from across the Islamic world to boycott the conference, in support of the mujahideen, their “spiritual offspring.” [See Threat Matrix report, Taliban spurn Islamic scholars’ conference on suicide bombings.]
Now Mullah Omar, the emir of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has come out squarely against the conference, which is sponsored by the Afghan High Peace Council and is supposed to take place in Kabul later this month. In a statement to the media on Jan. 9, Mullah Omar warned that clerics who participate in the conference will be “answerable to God” and will be discredited by the believers, TOLOnews reports.
The conference, which was agreed upon in December by representatives of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, plans to consider the morality of suicide attacks as well as discuss the progress of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban and allied insurgent groups. As a regional Ulema gathering attended by Islamic scholars from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, it will have the authority to issue a fatwa condemning suicide attacks as haram (forbidden).
According to The News, the four-page statement released by Mullah Omar on Jan. 9 urged clerics associated with Darul Aloom Deoband and Jamia Al Azhar to shun the conference, condemned the conference as a desperate ploy by the United States, and reiterated the Taliban’s insistence that “they will not lay down weapons until achievement of their goals and establishment of a real Islamic state.”
There are some suggestions that the conference may not take place as scheduled at the end of January. The Nation reports that Kabul and Islamabad are asking Saudi Arabia to “send a high profile Ulema delegation to participate in the conference,” and that such efforts, even if delayed, are necessary to achieving reconciliation in Afghanistan.
This latest Taliban statement makes abundantly clear that the Taliban intend not only to keep the upper hand in religious matters (i.e., to retain the ability to conduct suicide attacks), but also to undermine any attempts at reconciliation in Afghanistan. Additionally, Mullah Omar’s statement is a strong indication that the Taliban have no intention of abandoning suicide bombings, a tactic that is linked to the Taliban’s close ally, al Qaeda.