Taliban want release of 5 al Qaeda-linked commanders in exchange for captured US soldier


The Taliban have again offered to exchange a US soldier who was captured in 2009 for five Taliban commanders currently held at Guantanamo Bay who are closely tied to al Qaeda. The offer comes just two days after the Taliban officially opened a political office in Qatar which is being used to legitimize the group in the international community.

In a telephone conversation today from their Qatar office with the Associated Press, the Taliban said they would exchange Bowe Bergdahl, who went missing in eastern Afghanistan in the summer of 2009, for five notorious and dangerous Taliban leaders who are currently in custody at Guantanamo. Those five leaders have previously been identified by The Long War Journal as Abdul Haq Wasiq (former Taliban deputy minister of intelligence); Mullah Norullah Noori (a former Taliban governor and military commander); Mullah Mohammed Fazl (the Taliban army's chief of staff); Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa (the former Taliban governor of Herat province); and Mohammad Nabi (a commander with ties to numerous terror groups).

Relying on declassified and leaked Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) documents authored by US intelligence officials, The Long War Journal has previously profiled these five senior Taliban leaders. [See LWJ reports, Taliban seek freedom for dangerous Guantanamo detainees, Afghan peace council reportedly seeks talks with Taliban commanders held at Gitmo, and Afghan Taliban announces new 'political office' in Qatar.]

All five Taliban leaders have extensive ties to al Qaeda, according to intelligence reports cited by JTF-GTMO.

The US is willing to release the five prisoners without the condition that the Taliban denounce al Qaeda. The Taliban have refused to denounce al Qaeda or sever ties with the group since the US invasion of Afghanistan in the fall of 2001.

The US has discussed making the same exchange in the past, but the Taliban suspended negotiations in March 2012 after claiming the US misrepresented the purpose of the political office established in Qatar. The Taliban had also claimed that the office was to be used for "preliminary talks with the occupying enemy over the exchange of prisoners" as well as to communicate the Taliban's intent to fight NATO forces until they withdraw from Afghanistan.

But the Taliban have now somewhat altered their rhetoric on the nature of the office, intimating that it would be used to conduct negotiations with the US and "Afghans," but not the Afghan government. The opening of the Taliban's office in Qatar was announced in a statement on the group's Voice of Jihad website on June 18.

First and foremost, the Taliban assert that the purpose of the office is to legitimize the group and communicate its messages to the international community. Although the Taliban have long maintained that the Qatar office was to be used primarily for advancing the group's political interests, not for conducting negotiations [see LWJ report, Taliban suspend 'dialogue' with US], the point is now made explicit.

In the Taliban's June 18 statement, the first reason given for the creation of the office is "to talk and improve relations with the international community through mutual understanding," while the fifth reason is to "give political statements to the media on the ongoing political situation." The fourth reason offered is to "establish contact with the United Nations, international and regional organizations and non-governmental institutions."

Reasons two and three are vague references to negotiations. The second reason put forth for the creation of the office is to "back such a political and peaceful solution which ends the occupation of Afghanistan, establishes an independent Islamic government and brings true security." The third is to "have meetings with Afghans in due appropriate time." The Taliban do not say they are willing to negotiate with the Afghan government.

In the June 18 announcement, the group also claims that it "does not wish to harm other countries from its soil and neither will it allow others use Afghan soil to pose a threat to the security of other nations!" This statement is strongly contradicted by the reality on the ground in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Taliban continue to conduct operations with and host international terror groups, such as al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and the Turkistan Islamic Party. Additionally, the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that operates in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and whose top leaders sit on the Taliban's executive councils, has facilitated international attacks. And classified documents found at Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, purportedly show that bin Laden and Zawahiri were in direct communication with Taliban emir Mullah Omar and that the three leaders plotted strategy and tactics.

The Taliban's announcement of the creation of the political office has incensed many senior Afghan politicians, including President Hamid Karzai. Yesterday, Karzai suspended talks with the US on an agreement to base US forces in Afghanistan after 2014.

Karzai accused the US of sidelining the Afghan government by conducting direct negotiations with the Taliban, and said that the office in Qatar is being used mainly for political purposes.

The Taliban's press conference announcing the creation of the office was certainly intended as a propaganda stunt to bolster the group's political profile. The Taliban displayed its white flag, and used the name "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," which the group used when it controlled Afghanistan from 1996 to the end of 2001. Additionally, Qatari officials appeared in the background while the Taliban spokesman thanked Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani for sponsoring the office.

The news of the office's opening also overshadowed the nationwide transfer of security responsibility from the International Security Assistance Force to the Afghan National Security Forces. Reports of the official security transfer on June 18 were dwarfed by the Taliban's announcement.

The US's willingness to negotiate with the Taliban to exchange Bergdahl for the five Taliban leaders also highlights the group's ongoing links to al Qaeda and its support for foreign fighters in Afghanistan.

Bergdahl is currently thought to be held by Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a Haqqani Network commander who serves as a senior lieutenant to Sirajuddin Haqqani and as the Taliban's shadow governor for Paktika province in Afghanistan. Mullah Sangeen was added to the list of designated terrorists on Aug. 16, 2011.

US military officials have told The Long War Journal that Sangeen is considered to be one of the most dangerous operational commanders in eastern Afghanistan. Sangeen has organized numerous assaults on US and Afghan combat outposts in the region. Sangeen has professed his support for al Qaeda and recently called on Turkish and Kurdish jihadists to join the fight in Afghanistan and elsewhere.



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban want release of 5 al Qaeda-linked commanders in exchange for captured US soldier"

Posted by Witch Doctor at June 20, 2013 2:20 PM ET:

I think this is a bad idea. When did we start negotiating with terrorists? I feel for the soldier and his family, but if you have ever served in a combat zone, you know what you have signed, and you know what may happen to you. If it were me, I would not expect any help.

On another note over on Fox, Mullah Omar is talking smack through one of his cohorts.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/06/20/taliban-leader-mullah-omar-vowed-to-take-kabul-within-week-us-pullout/

Posted by Matthew at June 20, 2013 2:26 PM ET:

Prisoner exchanges are nothing new. We did a prisoner exchange to free Peter Moore (who isn't even an American citizen) in 2009. Bergdahl will probably be exchanged at the end of 2014.

Posted by Mr T at June 20, 2013 2:27 PM ET:

Is the new Taliban signed on to Geneva Conventions regarding warfare? If not, then why trust them? We trust based on actions, not words and these guys are known liars.

If I were Bowe, I would not want the US letting 5 murderous criminals go in exchange for me. They will go back to the battlefield and kill numerous other American soldiers. Why trade my life so others can die? Especially since the circumstances surrounding Bowes capture seem to be somewhat voluntary.

And the US agrees to this insanity? Maybe the US leaders will let those guys move into their neighborhoods.

Posted by John at June 20, 2013 5:02 PM ET:

The headline should read as "Taliban want release of 5 al Qaeda-linked commanders in exchange for captured US deserter". Bergdahls cowardice led him into his own situation.

Posted by jean at June 20, 2013 5:25 PM ET:

Bill,
Would you comment or post some comments about why the Taliban are sitting down to negotiate verus waiting until after the 2014 drawn down to settle via force of arms? Is this a delaying tactic or an attempt to further disrupt our poor relationship with the Karzai government ?

Posted by mike merlo at June 20, 2013 6:35 PM ET:

Welcome to Panmunjoministan. The fantasy world of endlessly circular negotiations, navel gazing, & the practice Byzantine of obfuscation.

Karzai was right to 'Monkey Wrench' this US overture of unilateral negotiations. This has the stench of Kissinger & Nixon selling-out Thieu & South Vietnam, Truman & Marshall selling-out Chiang Kai-Shek & the KMT, & Eisenhower & Dulles turning their backs on the French & Dienbienphu.

That being said if giving the Gitmo 5 back in exchange for getting Bergdahl back then I say Do It! Hell, 'Fish/Dredge Up' 'Benny' Laden from the 'Deep Blue' & hand his carcass over if that's what it takes to get Bergdahl back.

The Gitmo 5 have been out circulation for so long they're next to useless. They'll be doing little more than sipping tea, smoking opium & diddling Bacha Bazi Boyz; occasionally to be 'rolled out' for propaganda purposes. Maybe even contracting out an excellent Gastroenterologist to embed/implant some tracking devices in the Gitmo 5.

Posted by Jeff Edelman at June 20, 2013 10:26 PM ET:

Who is your money on here, Bill? Mine, devalued as it is, is on the Obama administration making the swap. Save a huge public outcry, it will happen. And, in so doing, aid and abet the kidnapping of more American soldiers or contractors. As you well know, the Israelis have experienced an increase in attempted kidnappings as the result of their swapping Galid Shalot for hamas terrorists. This should be a lesson for any intelligent being. As kidnapping is one of the main strategies for these terrorists' organizations to fund their carnage or raise their power status, America, a great and powerful nation (though declining), should not engage in this degrading act. In doing so, the administration gives more value to this captured soldier's life than those that lost their lives in Afghanistan or are serving there currently. For all of their lives could have been spared or not endangered by not going there in the first place.

Posted by jayc at June 20, 2013 10:38 PM ET:

While there is certainly a hint of sarcasm in mike merlo's post, I have to agree. If we were to unilaterally hand these 5 over to the Afghan government in the future, they would only enrich themselves by "selling" them to the Taliban. We might as well get the idiot Bergdahl back. Give him a big chicken dinner and send him to his next job; pumping gas in Montana.

Posted by JT at June 20, 2013 10:47 PM ET:

Negotiating with terrorists. What a concept. If there were any evidence that agreements made by these groups would be lived up to, I'd say go for it.

But that is most definitely not the case. Just ask past US administrations about deals made with the PLO.

Then there is Iran, but I digress.

Posted by Gerry 301 at June 20, 2013 11:07 PM ET:

It would seem the "prisoner" walked away on his own into Taliban hands.

The question is, should the US release 5 important leaders to save one irresponsible idiot?

Then the equation goes to how many other responsible US troops will die as a result.

Personally, I think the "prisoner" should reap the benefits of his own actions and not put others in harms way.

Posted by Scott J at June 20, 2013 11:25 PM ET:

Sorry for my contrarian view, but I say go ahead and make the trade. Those taliban commanders will never be tried for anything, which means they're going to be released sooner or later anyway. So let's just get Bergdahl for them and end the nightmare for his parents.

Besides, if we keep those taliban guys, we feed them, guard them, and give them medical care. If we release them, they become targets. I'm fine with that outcome.

So yeah, let's trade them.

Posted by gb at June 21, 2013 12:09 AM ET:

I'd trade em all for the solider. Eventually they'll end up on some godforsaken battlefield like Syria hopefully martyring themselves. In my opinion this is different than negotiating with terrorists for civilian hostages. Tracking chips, followed by hellfires..

Posted by NP at June 21, 2013 12:30 AM ET:

They are going to make donkeys out of us. This can only end in disgrace. They are holding all the cards and they know it. Why we would willingly enter into public negotiations under the worse terms and conditions is beyond me. I hope we stick a tiny chip implant on those AQ leaders so a drone can find them one day. I feel bad for my country right now.

Posted by kind_boyz at June 21, 2013 5:38 AM ET:

Whcih airline Taliban leaders will use for exchange, I wonder)

Posted by Stephen at June 21, 2013 7:56 AM ET:

Before they give back the Gittanmo 5 they should fill them full of heroin, (like they are trying to do to our children), when they get back to "the land of pleanty" they will be busy chillin out and smoking their own medicine..
The Taliban won't know they are useless till it's too late ...

Posted by JRP at June 21, 2013 8:39 AM ET:

The real problem with negotiating with the Taliban is their long long history of pretext negotiations/interviews/meetings etc. where they lure their target to the site then detonate concealed bombs. I would not be surprised if the Qatar HQ has bombs embedded in it at time of construction/renovation. The December 2009 debacle at FOB Chapman should be lesson enough. Meet with Taliban and become a target/victim.

Posted by jean at June 21, 2013 9:19 AM ET:

The hunger strike would be good cover to inject a tracking device via feeding tube, but that crew is probably not part of the hunger strike.

I can't believe we are forcing feeding these clowns.

Both sides must be reading the history books from our Vietnam pullout.

Posted by george at June 21, 2013 9:48 AM ET:

Trade for AQ linked terrorists? Hell, they are probably already working for this administration shuttling weapons to AQ in Syria.

Posted by Stephanie at June 21, 2013 9:57 AM ET:

Yuck. Of course we shouldn't negotiate with terrorists and of course we don't want to let those guys go because they are dangerous ... but speaking as a person, if it were me and I was being held hostage by terrorists, I would (selfishly) want people to do whatever they could to get me free. :-(

Posted by irebukeu at June 21, 2013 10:13 AM ET:

@witch doctor-- I am not sure when we started to negotiate with terrorists but I do know that Ronald Reagan was pretty good at saying we wont do it and he was very good at doing it. In fact I think the formula was 300 tow missiles for one western hostage in exchange.

@Mike merlo I agree with your comments but please give a warning. I was drinking soda as I read your post and now I need a new keyboard.

@JRP That was al queda, not the taliban.

@Gerry.---- Yes, we should get him back. He is an American soldier and every effort should be made to get him back regardless of how he ended up in their hands and regardless of any comment he might make on any video tape that might be released.

He is one of ours. He needs to come home. We need to make that happen.

@JT the last time there was a deal in the works for an exchange there was safeguards to make sure everybody got their people back. First some of the prisoners would have been transferred to Qatar and any release would happen in the middle east. Not direct from GITMO to Jalalabad Then the American POW would have been released followed by more Afghans being transfered/released

@Jeff I disagree. The Israelis IMO are eager to always trade prisoners for prisoners. Alive or dead.
Anyone can say what they want about Israel but one must respect the value they place on their citizens. They will trade 1000 to get one back if they have to. They are still seeking the return of Ron Arad
From an Israeli website--'Teheran refused to reveal information about missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad despite economic pressure, USD 10 billion incentive package offered by Israel in early 1990s'

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3188619,00.html
------------------------------------------------------------

There is also a good article on this subject over on the AAN blog available as the first selection on the blog roll on the threat matrix page on this website.

Nice article Mr Roggio Thank You

Posted by muusa at June 21, 2013 12:38 PM ET:

Nato has failed to win over Taliban....
Most powerfull weapon have been used....but still Taliban survived...why?....reality is that...God knows those poor guys are on the right path....nothing shall stop them from success...

Posted by Doug Ratcliffe at June 21, 2013 2:33 PM ET:

I'm all for the tracking device so long as it is made from C-4 and timed for detention at the height of their homecoming party. They should have been put to sleep a long time ago and this would not be an option.

Posted by sundoesntrise at June 21, 2013 4:29 PM ET:

So I guess this is a sign that the Taliban could not be defeated by ISAF? The U.S. never negotiated a settlement with anybody it defeated on the battlefield. But forces it cannot defeat, they always talk about "negotiations" and "peace talks".

Posted by Mr. Wolf at June 21, 2013 5:11 PM ET:

If you are going to die somewhere, might as well be on your own shores. Those 5 from Cuba will set up camp somewhere in the hills, and live out their days in familiar surroundings (at war, on point and without much sleep).

And while there is always the "trust" of safe travel, if this is the last POW we save before we leave, nobody says the chopper they travel in has to be the one that works correctly.

Leave nobody behind.

Posted by totok at June 22, 2013 8:46 AM ET:

If any swap is made it should be on a one to one basis. The mere facto of swapping 1 non Muslim for multiple terrorists give them a great propaganda victory and raises their power status (as Jeff Edelman said).

If give them the feeling or the secure knowledge that no matter how many battles they lose they will win the war. That is the worst of it. One of the primary ingredients to winning a war is not how many tanks or soldiers you have, but whether you have the will. Will although not a sufficient ingredient is a necessary ingredient. Many of our leaders do not have it. Many of our leaders only have the will power and the political smarts to fight over who will control the cockpit that is America.

Swap 1 to 1!

Posted by Mr. Rosewater at June 22, 2013 3:21 PM ET:

First of all I would like to thank everyone for their insightful comments! It is very rare to find that virtually all comments had some substance and insight.

On that note I highly agree with what "Scott J" said when he sided with the trade and he said something like..."these guys (the Taliban/Al-Qaida) will just become legitimate targets anyway."

However, since so many things were said that I agree with I will focus what I believe has not been said yet. I view this as a very interesting turning point. I want people to focus on what is really being discussed or what is at stake here. This is not about Bowe or the GITMO 5. This is about the hope and future for Afghanistan as a whole.

Now perhaps the Taliban do want to sign onto the Geneva Convention. It is highly unlikely, but what if they do? The point I am trying to make is that it should be clear to anyone who has been following these affairs that Afghanistan is never going to welcome a Western or US influence there. The Taliban feels they are the only bone fide rulers of Afghanistan. Which of course is very unfortunate. However, it just may be the reality that US foreign policy refuses to accept.

This is what I think is going on. I think the Taliban are trying to tell the US and NATO to cut their losses and that they will never stop the insurgency until the Coalition forces leave. That being said, just perhaps they all want to be at peace with the United States, even if for the time being. It just might be a last save face effort for THIS generation of Pashtun men. Yet, there are many other generations of Pashtuns, Pakistanis and others who are witnessing what is happening to their region and culture. So they will be the next wave, the next front. These fronts are consolidated and built everyday. It has BECOME a way of live, the way to survive in this lawless land.

Do not forget the Taliban came to power to usurp this lawlessness that plagued that nation after the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan. So naturally, based on all the studies that were done about security and stability in Afghanistan the years in which the Taliban were in power 1996-2001 were the most stable years that country has seen in 3 decades.

Posted by Peranakan at June 23, 2013 6:47 PM ET:

Maybe it is the Pashtun that need a peace treaty to cut their losses ... to save face. Any group can be ground down. Ask the Assyrians. the Russians, Chinese, Baluchis, Indians or Persians could grind them the rest of the way down.

The Pashtuns are only in the game because other people are supporting them for ends they have in common with Pashtuns and end that they don't have in common. The Pashtuns should take note.

The Taliban were a creation of the ISI as was Hekmaktyar. That is they were being used. Also with a U.S. under poor leadership distracted or its' wings clipped I dare say the Russians could whip them. They almost did the last time. Believe what you want, but I believe that to be true.

Plus if the U.S was out of the picture it would not be hard to use WMDs. the Taliban have no defense for that. After keeping the women pregnant barefoot and illiterate and persecuting the merchants and academics, how would they stop it?

Stability at the barrel of a gun. Interesting argument. I am sure the women of Afghanistan appreciate it. I suppose stability brought with the force of arms which is a tad more beneficent than Pol Pot is okay?

Posted by gb at June 24, 2013 12:17 AM ET:

@MUSA, you gotta be a troll looking for suckers, but in case you're legit, here goes....ISAF as far as I know, targeted the talibs for death, and has not shown previous interest in a hearts and minds approach. God has nothing to do with the talib spring, it has all to do with ISAF restraint from carpet bombing or flooding the country with an overwhelming number of ground troops. I will be satisfied with the occasional missle from nowhere taking out the talib leadership once they climb out from under their rocks.

Posted by Viv at June 24, 2013 1:00 AM ET:

Its weird that the Taliban is not insisting the release of Mullah Baradar from Pakistan. Instead it is Karzai who wants him outside badly. Just proves how Pakistan is trying to shape the negotiations. One the positive side though, the Taliban are not as barbaric as Al Qaeda (apple to apple comparison) and may treat the high value Bowe Bergdahl well considering he is an Asset.

Posted by mike merlo at June 24, 2013 3:01 AM ET:

@Mr Rosewater
"...the years in which the Taliban were in power 1996-2001 were the most stable years that country has seen in 3 decades." Huh?

Please 'Post' "The Study"

Posted by Peranakan at June 24, 2013 8:15 PM ET:

@ merlo

I see you responded to Mr Rosewater.

I have to wonder if he is trolling. I looked up rosewater to make sure. And it is one of several varieties of a certain type of water, which is IMHO apropos.

Further searching found.

"God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" - Kurt Vonnegut

Maybe someone has a surname of rosewater. But I think we are being trolled by the left or a jihadi.

Posted by mike merlo at June 25, 2013 11:29 AM ET:

@Peranakan
Rosewater is just another 'Peter Panner' pushing the Duranty style of propaganda

Posted by irebukeu at June 26, 2013 1:13 PM ET:

Ok, I see a line of comment about a Mr. Rosewater. He made some comments that people have taken issue with. Rather than argue against his comments people seem to be going after Mr Rosewater himself either for his name, his motivation for posting here or his general assumed ideology.

I would like to make an appeal for civility, plain good manners and a focus on issues. Part of the fun of reading articles on this website is the diversity of opinions and information people bring to the comment portion of these pages.

So when I see the conversation move to the Ad hominem, especially from people that post here often and whose opinions I look for because of their knowledge and insight I feel compelled to speak out. So at the risk of becoming a target myself, I repeat I would like to make an appeal for civility, plain good manners and a focus on issues.

Perhaps another reason I say something is that I understand the comment that Mike Merlo pointed out as one that he had a problem with. Not about the existence of 'studies" but that '"...the years in which the Taliban were in power 1996-2001 were the most stable years that country has seen in 3 decades."

Here's some information easily searchable on the web in regards to supportive information about the claim of Mr Rosewater.
First as part of a response to a question put to Micheal Scheuer.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1688745/posts

Source--- Michael Scheuer served in the CIA for 22 years before resigning in 2004; he served as the chief of the bin Laden unit at the Counter-terrorist Center from 1996 to 1999.

8-23-2006
QUESTION-- Things seemed to have turned for the worse in Afghanistan too. What's your take on the situation there?

ANSWER ".................. Three years later, the Taliban has regrouped, and there's a strong insurgency. We paid a great price for demonizing the Taliban. We saw them as evil because they didn't let women work, but that's largely irrelevant in Afghanistan. They provided nationwide law and order for the first time in 25 years; we destroyed that and haven't replaced it. They're remembered in Afghanistan for their harsh, theocratic rule, but remembered more for the security they provided. In the end, we'll lose and leave. The idea that we can control Afghanistan with 22,000 soldiers, most of whom are indifferent to the task, is far-fetched. The Soviets couldn't do it with 150,000 soldiers and utter brutality......"

Here's one more

source http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft3p30056w&chunk.id=d0e5347&toc.depth=1&toc.id=d0e5312&brand=ucpress


Before Taliban
Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad
David B. Edwards
PART THREE section 8-Explaining the Taliban takeover--
The Taliban’s success in moving from madrasa to military movement stems in the first instance from the corruption that preceded them. Part of the Taliban mythology is that Mulla Umar committed himself to forming the Taliban one day when he came across a carload of people by the side of the road who’d been robbed, raped, and killed by former mujahidin who had taken to preying on the people in their area. Whether apocryphal or not, the story is believable within the experience of average Afghans, who came to see the Taliban as a deliverance from the anarchy that had befallen Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal. [3] Even before people knew who the Taliban were or what they represented, they were willing to give the Taliban the benefit of the doubt, and even if they were suspicious, they weren’t willing to risk their own lives to defend those in charge against the Taliban assault.

Perhaps the most significant reason for the Taliban’s success though was simple exhaustion. As the Taliban movement began to pick up steam in 1995, their reputation for keeping security preceded them into each new area. Thus, for example, when they launched their attack on eastern Ningrahar Province, where roadblocks had become a fixture of everyday life and renegade mujahidin operated with impunity, the local population failed to support local commanders, even when they were from the same tribe or ethnic group; the people were simply tired of the status quo and willing to accept the new leadership, despite its promises of certain austerities and purist doctrines that deviated from established custom. While the Taliban did not gain mastery over the entire country, the roads in areas they did control were relatively safe. People were able to ride buses without fear of being searched at roadblocks, something they had been unable to do for years, and trucks carried goods without having to pay exorbitant road taxes. That may not sound like much of an accomplishment, and it is generally ignored in Western accounts, but after a decade of Soviet rule and more years of predation by former mujahidin commanders, basic security was a longed-for luxury and sufficient reason for many to offer their support to the new regime.

The number (3) in the original text is hyperlinked to this the authors personal experiance
"During a trip through eastern Afghanistan in 1995, a year prior to the Taliban takeover in the region, I witnessed the conditions that the Taliban complained about and cited as justification for its existence. On that occasion, I was accompanied by a number of armed men and so was relatively safe, but wherever we traveled we had to pass through improvised roadblocks where vehicles were stopped and forced to pay tolls. Local commanders drove around in expensive four-wheel-drive cars and trucks and were clearly enriching themselves as the mass of people scraped by. While I never encountered or heard of an incident as brutal as the one Mulla Umar is said to have come across, it was clear from what I saw that the country was in a state of nearly complete anarchy—a state that had little to do with the Islamic principles on which the war against the Soviets had been premised".
------------------------------------------------------------
I do not know of any actual studies I could cite but I am aware of dozens of comments like the ones I reference above, many of them from afghans and not American CIA analysts or anthropologists. Of course if you lived in the north on the front lines you would see things a bit different.

So there is at least something I cold provide to back up Mr Rosewater's statements and the statements are what should be focused on.

Posted by mike merlo at June 27, 2013 3:50 AM ET:

@irrbukeu
During their brief reign The Taliban were engaged in ethnic cleansing. Had it been aloud to continue their Reign Of Terror would have been mentioned within the same breathe as The Khmer Rouge, RUF, The Rwanda Genocide, Assad's father, Saddam Hussein etc.,. Fortunately for the 'World At Large' The Taliban & their "partners in crime" chose to ignore consolidating their gains & take a Low Intensity "under the radar" approach. Instead they doinked out & pulled a Hitler/TOJO - attack Russia/Pearl Harbor. Never mind the US, by The Taliban & 'their partners in crime' actions' 'they' got The Big 3, Russia, Communist China & India, now paying very, very close attention. IMO 'at the end of the day' it'll be The Big 3 as the principal determinants of how events ultimately 'play out' on the Eurasian Land Mass. Particularly those parts of it that comprise Asia.

The Taliban's ascension would have never been possible if not for major man power, equipment & technology assistance from Pakistan, & Muslim Mercenaries; nor would have it been possible without significant Financial Assistance from individuals, groups & Governments from the GCC & other like minded Islamic Ideologues scattered about the Globe.

The Taliban murdered & terrorized their way to power. It was no different than the many Limited War scenario's that surfaced during The Cold War. The Taliban simply took The Communist 'Playbook' & co-opted Communist Ideology with the 'elements' of Islam that satisfied an 'agenda' that allows them them ability to mobilize Critical Mass capabilities from the various strata & social networks forming the Muslim Ummah.

This Islamic Internationale has also done a very credible job of identifying Strategies & Tactics employed by The Communists that have payed 'dividends' for them. They've also done an exemplary 'job' of understanding the strengths & weaknesses of that of which opposes them. It is also obvious they have a Firm Understanding, Grasp & Knowledge of the various Limited War Scenarios that have surfaced in The Aftermath of WWII. Zawahiri just might go down as this Century's Trotsky.

The agility & adroitness routinely demonstrated by The Islamic Internationale is a phenomena few, if any, have anticipated. Yes there have been those such as Huntington, Lewis, Mathews, etc., who predicted this "Clash Of Civilizations." However I can't think of anyone for example who anticipated the speed, organization & 'infrastructure' The Islamic Internationale has regularly brought to 'bear' when the opportunity of a Spontaneous Event such as the Self Immolation in Tunisia presented itself.

For Mr Rosewater, or anybody else for that matter, to suggest that The Taliban brought "stability" to Afghanistan during their 'heyday' is ludicrous to say the least. The Taliban have been nothing but a pox upon the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan etc.,. To suggest otherwise is akin to letting the inmates run the asylum. One need only 'look over' Horizon into Pakistan, particularly FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa & North East Balochistan to witness the benefits of having allowed this human 'Plague Bacillus' into 'their' midst.

By the way I've read David Edwards "Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad." It should also be noted, besides being an excellent 'read,' that very same area, Panjshir Valley, singled out by the author also gave 'birth' to The Northern Alliance & its oft cited leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.

There is absolutely nothing you or anybody else could provide to "back up" the inane comment/observation proffered forth Mr Rosewater.

Posted by Peranakan at June 28, 2013 9:15 AM ET:

@ irebukeu

In my second post I did make fun of Mr Rosewater. But it was the second post not the 1st one. He chose not to reply to the 1st post.


Some monikers seems designed to be condescending and trollish. I thought so when I saw the moniker "Mr Rosewater" It looks like an English name or at least an anglicized name. I was tempted to check out the phone book, I was fairly certain to find the name if not in a mid sized city at least a major metropolis.

But most people would use aliases here. So I would think as an alias that might probable IMO) have purposeful connotations. So yes I think is is condescension on his part.

Especially when coupled with the false praise of his beginning sentence. "First of all I would like to thank everyone for their insightful comments" When a person butters up people like that I suspect disingenuous. Muusa's comment was not insightful for one. I also do not think Mr Roswater would cotton to the comment by Merlo of "Welcome to Panmunjoministan. The fantasy world of endlessly circular negotiations, navel gazing, & the practice Byzantine of obfuscation."

I think Mr Rosewater was using propaganda techniques.


One could say Norman the conqueror brought peace. After 2 major battles Stirling Bridge and Hastings followed by the Scourging of the north, there was peace in England. It was said a young maiden could walk from London to York bedecked in gold and not be molested or otherwise harmed.

The Taliban brought 5 years of peace (not in the NE of Afghanistan), because they brought overwhelming force.

Using you logic the Soviet Union with their proxy Afghan government could had peace in Afghanistan from about 1987 thru today if Britain, the U.S., Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia and wealthy Arab donors not intervened. Without Stingers and other military aid the muj would have been broken and stayed broken. Then there would have been few deaths from 1987 on.

But most of those people pulled out and directed their attention elsewhere except for the Pakistanis. So the Pakistanis were essentially overwhelming force. there were no other major players putting in major money or effort. The Talib were at least initially a Pakistan proxy. They were created, funded and trained by the ISI. Is a Pakistan proxy better than an USSR proxy?

The Soviet Union had all sorts of warts. I have no love for them. Still seems better than the Taliban tons of warts.

If one wargamed a Soviet victory in Afghanistan. One could posit that worldwide that Communism is seen as the wave of the future and that Islam withers due to 10 years of fighting and nothing but losses. That is without the Stingers, Blowpipes and Chinese SA-7s ( and all the other tens of billions even 100 billion in military aid). After consolidation, Pakistan might be saying mother may I and the Muslim world might have leader more like the socialist Nasser.

there was peace not because the Taliban were upright or great administrators. It was only because the nation was exhausted by war and the Talib were backed by the only significant power, Pakistan. The other were not playing.