On May 4, just two days after the US killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the Taliban released an interview with Jalaluddin Haqqani, the leader of the dangerous Haqqani Network. The interview was originally published at Al Somood, the Taliban’s magazine, and reprinted at Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s web propaganda outlet which is published in Pashto, Farsi, Urdu, Arabic, and English. Titled “The Defeat Of America In Afghanistan Will Be Swifter Than The Defeat Of The Collapsed Soviet Union,” the interview provides an interesting look at Jalaluddin’s views on his relationship with the Taliban (in the interview, he says he is on the Quetta Shura) and negotiations with NATO (he says negotiations are useless). Jalaluddin also uses the interview to deny reports that his health is poor.
But there is one problem: the interview is three and a half years old. This becomes clear well before you get to the end (at several points, Haqqani mentions that the occupation is seven years old, and he also lists the number of foreign troops at 70,000, the pre-surge number). And at the conclusion, Voice of Jihad confirms that it is indeed an old interview, noting that the article was “Translated From The Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan: Al-Somood Magazine, Issue #30, Dhu Al-Hijrah 1229 AH, December 2008.”
Four days ago, I contacted Voice of Jihad, through their email contact form, to ask why a three-year-old interview with Jalaluddin Haqqani was published at their website. Was it a mistake, or was there something more to this? I’ve received no response, which is also odd given how media savvy the Taliban spokesmen tend to be.
Text of the interview:
“The Defeat Of America In Afghanistan Will Be Swifter Than The Defeat Of The Collapsed Soviet Union
Wednesday, 30 Jamadil Awal 1432 Wednesday, 04 May 2011 07:09
“Sheikh Jalaluddin Haqqani (May Allah Protect Him)
Dear Readers,Al-Somood magazine wished to interview Field Commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, one of the most prominent Jihadist personalities and the military official for the provinces of Khost and
Paktia, about the latest political and military developments on the Afghan front. The Sheikh has privileged al-Somood magazine with this interview. We thank him, and regard this interview as a realistic assessment of the accomplishments of the Mujahideen by one who lives physically and mentally at the heart of the conflict and who sees with his Jihadist perspective what political analysts do not see from the outside.
Question: Your excellency Sheikh Haqqani, would you please give readers of al-Somood information about your health situation?
Answer: In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Who granted victory to His servants and glory to His soldiers, Who fulfilled His covenant, and defeated the factions alone. Praise be to Allah Who blessed us with the Religion of Islam, the greatest of religions. Prayers and peace upon the noblest of His creation, Muhammad, and upon his household and his companions and all who are guided by him! Thereafter…Praise be to Allah Almighty, I am in complete health and vigor. By complete health, I mean that, despite my great age, and despite the unstable security conditions I have been experiencing, I have not faced any health problems hindering me from conducting my Jihadist activities.
Question: Local and global media recently reported news of the seriousness of your health situation. Indeed, there have been spread news of your death or your martyrdom in a barbarous bombing attack. What is the truth of these rumors?
Answer: I say that the fact you are interviewing me and that I am alive amongst you is sufficient to falsify these rumors. If we compared my health situation to those rumors, we would reach the conclusion that I am in full health and not suffering from any illnesses. There is no truth behind the spread of those rumors and lying reports and these are deceptive claims of the enemy.
A second thing is that health, sickness, death and martyrdom are divine destinies. We believe in Allah-ordained fate and destiny. These destinies are ordained for every person and none can escape them. Every human being must taste death, and everything destined for him will occur at its appointed time.
The Sublime and Exalted says: “Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave, the term being fixed as by writing” (Al-i-Imran 154).
And the Almighty says “every soul shall have a taste of death in the end to Us shall ye be brought back”. (Al-Ankabut 57).
I mention to you that although I have faced many bitter days and have spent most of my days in Jihad and battling the enemy; have endured serious crises and have been wounded many times in battles that erupted between us and our enemies among the kuffar and munafiqeen – despite all that, I am in perfect health.
I also state that martyrdom and death fi sabeel Allah are among the dearest wishes of my life. All my life I have wished to be killed and to sacrifice myself and my soul fi sabeel Allah and to support his Deen with which he has blessed us and to deliver his servants from the oppression of the oppressors and the deceits of the infidels. But I have not been to achieve my dearest wishes yet.
Question: Excellency Sheikh, more than seven years have passed since the Crusader occupation of Afghanistan. Their forces stationed in Afghanistan number more than 70,000 persons armed to the teeth with the most modern types of military equipment. On the other hand, the Mujahideen confront them with scarce resources and paltry equipment. Based on your Jihadist and military experience, and in view of the imbalance in numbers and equipment between the two sides, what are your expectations of the defeat of the Crusaders in the face of the Mujahideen resistance, from your perspective?
Answer: If we looked at the ongoing battle between truth and falsehood in Afghanistan, we would understand from an historical standpoint it is considered an unique battle and asymmetrical encounter between Islam and infidelity. There is only one precedent in the history of Islam of such an intense battle and that is the Ghazwat al-Ahzab. There the Mujahideen achieved a great victory in the end. Here, also the Mujahideen will achieve victory by the will and permission of Allah. The assistance of Allah Almighty for the Mujahideen and the support of the people by their side, as well as recent military and political events are among the evidence and indications that prove our claims and back up our words.
I add to that, all the reasons and factors that led to the fall of the Russian Empire at the hands of the Afghan Mujahideen are today facing the American Empire. The huge monetary sums America is spending on the occupation of Afghanistan and the deaths of dozens of their forces every day at the hands of the Mujahideen are among the circumstances that indicate the victory of the Mujahideen and the defeat of all aggressor Crusader forces before them.
Question: There are enormous differences between the Russian occupation and the American occupation of Muslim Afghanistan, from the perspective of time, circumstances and resources. Meaning, at that time there was an ongoing Cold War between the forces of East and West. Additionally, the peoples of the world were angered by the arrogance of Communist actions and its use of arbitrary methods. For this reason, the Afghan Jihad received material and moral assistance from the world. The Mujahideen were permitted the latitude to carry out Jihadist activities and received resources and aid from outside the country. But the situation today is the opposite. The world’s affairs are directed by a unipolar power with no competitor to balance its power. The entire world stands against the Jihad and the Mujahideen in the name of the War on Terror – as they call it – and the Mujahideen enjoy no financial or military support and no external political backing from even one country across the globe. So how can the Mujahideen resist this great force and triumph against them with empty hands?
Answer: Divine fate and victories often cause supernatural events that can not be (grasped) by the human mind. This is not something new today rather they are constants that have been determined since the beginning of the outbreak of the battle between truth and falsehood across the pages of history. If we look at history, we would find that divine criteria are based on this premise. The Sublime and Exalted says, “How oft, by Allah’s will, hath a small force vanquished a big one? Allah is with those who steadfastly persevere.” (Al-Baqara 249). The Almighty also says, “O ye who believe! If ye will aid (the cause of) Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly..” (Muhammad 7).
It is true that this world is (controlled) by reasons; we must therefore look for means and motivations. We see in the present circumstances that the Islamic Jihad against the occupiers provides a strong impetus to the collapse of the American occupation and its agents. It provides an impetus whose positive effect is acknowledged by America and its Crusader alliance. Additionally, Afghanistan’s geographic situation, the strong hatred around the world towards Americans and huge costs of the war are factors that play a tangible role in the failure of those predatory forces. Indeed, I believe that America’s current policy and its violation of all international agreements are considered as a threat to the entire world. It is not far-fetched that the world will one day act against it and adopt a unified policy towards (America’s) failed policy.
It is worth mentioning that during the time of the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, it was called the Russian Empire, it was alleged that the cause behind the victories of the Mujahideen against the Russian forces were Western aid and American Stinger missiles. The victory of the Mujahideen was therefore attributed to American aid and equipment. The victories against the American crusaders and their allies in our present time, however, are the result of nothing but the heavenly sacrifices of the Mujahideen. It is impossible to attribute it to any other agency or ascribe it to baseless causes.
Question: More than seven years have passed since the Crusader attack on Afghanistan and America and its allies have used all of their military and political resources to subdue the Afghan people. The result of these practices and attempts has been failure, defeat and collapse. Moreover, all Western military commanders and political analysts, among others, have given the opinion that this war will not be able to achieve any victory. Despite that, America insists of sending more military reinforcements to Afghanistan. What is your assessment of these contradictory actions?
Answer: I have said before and I say again that America’s involvement in the Afghanistan issue is just like someone who is losing at gambling. He keeps playing hoping to win but, in the end, rather than achieving anything he loses everything he owns.
Undoubtedly, Western admission of losing the battle in Afghanistan is an established fact they have to face. Even if they don’t acknowledge it, the coffins and corpses of their slain soldiers acknowledge it. As for sending additional reinforcements without achieving victory, I believe that Allah has ordained the destruction of this unjust race at the hands of the oppressed Afghans. Two decades ago the arrogant Russian empire was stricken from the political map at the hands of this afflicted people. Likewise, in the previous century, this people were able to overturn the British Empire. Now, however, after the fall of the Russian Empire, there does not remain on this earth a power to compete with America, which in its turn has committed vicious crimes against humanity that have led it to the level of delusion that it speaks of determining the fate of the world. But, with the permission and help of Allah Almighty, it shall encounter the same fate as the previous Russian and English occupiers did.
Question: Your excellency sheikh! The Americans and their allies speak of changing their strategy in Afghanistan after the passage of more than seven years. Additionally, the global media has turned the eyes of the people to the rumor of negotiations being conducted between the Taliban Movement and the lackey Karazi government. What is your view of this issue?
Answer: Yes! After more than seven years, the Americans understand that their current strategy in Afghanistan is ineffective and must be changed. It appears that these changes include different aspects, which are:
First: Increasing the number of American troops deployed in Afghanistan.
Second: Sowing ethnic disputes among the Afghan tribes and clans and pitting some against others, or establishing ethnic awakening (councils) among them.
Third: Conduct negotiations with the Mujahideen.
They have pursued these first two items for a long time but they have not yielded any positive results worth mentioning.
Now they are trying to implement the third item, which is negotiate with the Mujahideen, in order to achieve the following goals:
1. Create divisions and mistrust among the Mujahideen, by exaggerating the issue through the global media and international newspapers. They have spread the story of negotiations to the point where they have published the location of the negotiations, the stages of the negotiations, and the conditions of the two sides. It is natural that all this media exaggeration will lead to the creation of an atmosphere of mistrust and ill-feeling. It will cause annoyance and anxiety among everyone, but it couldn’t be farther from reality.
2. Bestow legal legitimacy upon the lackey Karzai government by having it play the role of intermediary in negotiations.
3. Accuse and characterize the Islamic Emirate as continuing and prolonging the war by insisting on a military rather than peaceful resolution and by not participating in negotiations.
As for the position of the Islamic Emirate towards negotiations, it may be summarized as follows:
The position of the Islamic Emirate is the peaceful resolution of all issues of conflict through peaceful means. The Islamic Emirate has declared this for eight years and demanded of America and the United Nations the peaceful resolution of all issues through peaceful means. But the Americans were not ready to accept this proposal or consider this matter. They claimed that their material strength would enable them to achieve their goals. They looked on others with scorn and contempt.
Likewise, the Islamic Emirate tried to settle the crisis through the mediation of Islamic states at that time. But the despotic illusions of the Americans made them insist upon imposing their will on the Islamic Emirate and they were not prepared to accept any sane or sound suggestion. They began their barbarous attack on the Islamic Emirate which resulted in the killing of thousands of innocents, the destruction of entire villages and the infliction of more damage upon an already destroyed Afghanistan.
On the other hand, the resistance of the Mujahideen has resulted in the killing of thousands of Crusaders, and the expenditure of billions of dollars to conduct their criminal acts. After all that, their situation has reached the point that they have acknowledged that they will never win the war.
Question: Your statements here inform us that there is no benefit to conducting negotiations at this time. Is that not so?
Answer: No indeed! The matter as I understand it is that there is no benefit to it because the Americans and their allies and the lackey government use the issue of negotiations as a means to implement their malicious military conspiracies and not to resolve or end the problem. I am quite certain that America and its allies are not sincere about conducting negotiations, because the basic condition for negotiations is accommodating the interests of both parties. So they propose negotiation but at the same time advance only the conditions of their side. This completely violates all national and international criteria.
The truth is that the position of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan towards negotiations is clear and unambiguous, predicated on respect and acceptance of the conditions of the Emirate that will make it possible to reach the desired results. Among their conditions is the unconditional withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan before anything else. If we look carefully at the issue of Afghanistan we see that the crux of the matter is the presence of foreign troops, which conduct recurring assaults and random bombing which have caused the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and left in their wake mass massacres of human beings.
Additionally, this presence results in the deterioration of the security situation and the imposition of a corrupt and dissolute government. Everyone knows that high-ranking officials in the lackey government are involved in various crimes like drug-smuggling, taking bribes, embezzlement, and spreading indecency and vice, extortion and other despicable acts. Even the Americans themselves acknowledge and publicize these crimes.
Question: You have referred to the establishment by the Americans of ethnic militias similar to the Iraqi Awakening Councils. As a prominent Jihadist figure and distinguished tribal leader, what is your assessment of the success of this American tactic in Afghanistan?
Answer: The Americans are facing the defeat in our country not only of this tactic, but also of all the plans and tactics they have adopted in this field, because they do not know the nature of the Afghan people and because their plans and programs are insane and illogical. For example, the Afghan people are suffering from hunger, poverty and unemployment while (the Americans) are building recreation and entertainment facilities for men and women. They build parks while thousands of people suffer from hunger and poverty. They drone on about implementing democracy while the people are killed under their huge bombs and destructive shells.
On the other hand, anger and hatred have been kindled among the Afghan people towards the Americans, their allies and lackeys. Yes, in this current situation they ask for help and assistance from the people. Their lack of understanding of the Afghan environment is one of the reasons for the failure of all their programs. Even if they drew the conclusion that this plan was successful in Iraq and yielded positive fruits, we would say that the circumstances in Iraq differ from Afghanistan where there are huge differences among the different groups. Perhaps these differences provide the Americans with the ability to implement this plan to an extent but its application in Afghanistan is almost impossible.
Question: Your excellency Sheikh Haqqani, western news agencies report that your Jihadist movement is independent and outside the organization of the Islamic Emirate. What prompts these claims and what is the truth of them?
Answer: It is well-known that whenever the enemy is defeated on the battlefield, they intensify their activities in spreading baseless rumors and claims. This is typical of those plots of the defeated enemy and its aim is to create divisions and mistrust among the Mujahideen. He is not content with that but spreads many such allegations. Sometimes they spread rumors of the division of the Mujahideen among moderates and extremists, and other times they spread reports of negotiations with them to create divisions among them. All of these claims are baseless. Praise be to Allah, all the Mujahideen wage Jihad under the leadership of the Ameer ul-Momineen Mullah Mohamed Omar Mujahid against the American invaders and their lackeys. There is no crisis (of division) under the names moderate or extremist among the Mujahideen. They all fight under a unified leadership, according to the glorious aya: “Strong against the unbelievers (but) compassionate amongst each other”.
I myself am a member of the High Council of the Islamic Emirate. I also bear on my shoulders responsibility for Jihad in the provinces of Khost and Paktika. The biased claims of the international media agencies are unfounded in truth. Since we swore allegiance to Ameer ul-Momineen Mullah Mohamed Omar Mujahid, we have been to his day steadfast in that allegiance and we are true to (the Emirate’s) principles and decisions. There are no differences, divisions of discord among the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate.
Additionally, we have a strong Jihadist experience that makes us acquainted with the schemes and conspiracies of the kuffar. All Muslims, and especially the Afghans, know well of these hostile schemes and plots and that the enemy’s cunning schemes are useless and doomed to fail. I believe that in the 14th century there is no leader like Mullah Mohamed Omar Mujahid in terms of bravery, dignity, zeal and action. This Ameer is a blessing of Allah Almighty upon us. All the Mujahideen understand the degree of this blessing and we pray to Allah Almighty not to take it away from the Muslims. We have tasted the bitter dregs of a multitude of ameers and great number of organizational disputes at the time of the resistance against the Russian army. The multitude of leaders squandered the fruits of our Jihad and because of this we lost all that we had gained through the victories and heroism of our sacred Jihad. We lost all the achievements we had realized. The Afghan Muslim people, therefore, will not permit a repeat of this bitter experience. We are united now and will not allow anyone to fracture or divide us.
Question: It is also well-known that south eastern corner of Afghanistan borders Pakistan. Often the Karzai administration drones on about Jihadist activities being planned in a neighboring country (i.e. Pakistan). Likewise, they claim that many of the Mujahideen of your front belong to other countries. What is the truth of these claims in your view?
Answer: It is well-known among all that the structure of the lackey government administration is composed of 37 aggressor Crusader states, yet they drone on a lot about baseless rumors. I am able to say to you: If operations conducted in the southeast corner are planned in a neighboring country, then where are the operations from the northern and central regions being planned?
Without a doubt, successful operations which result in the deaths of Crusader forces occur and are launched in the central provinces more than elsewhere, and these provinces do not share borders with neighboring countries. It is the same with northern provinces like Kanduz, Baghalan, Balkh, Badakhshan, Jowzjan and other provinces that are far away from the neighboring country in question (Pakistan). Where is the planning done for the operations carried out there? If the support of governments or states is the cause of victory and success, then this would have afforded the lackey Karzai government the opportunity to impose its control over the entire country and enable it to seize all its territory, because it has the military backing alone of 37 countries and politically it is backed by most of the countries of the world, including neighboring countries.
As for the presence of non-Afghan Mujahideen, we say of them: Some of the religious and zealous young men living in the border regions are eager for Jihad and sacrifice. This zeal is their inheritance from their fathers and grandfathers throughout history, who took part in the Afghan Jihad and stood by the side of their Afghan brothers against the British Empire and against the Russian invaders in 1980s. They have battled the occupiers and invaders who have overreached themselves and they plunged into battles against them. During the course of these battles not a few of the men from these regions have been martyred. The Jihadist zeal present among the residents of this region remains and they yearn for sacrifice for the sake of aiding the Mujahideen and elevating the word of Tawheed. We for our part support their participation in the Jihad and consider it as a religious duty to be performed.
Question: Your excellency Sheikh Haqqani, we have seen for some time a deterioration in the security situation in the border areas, and the martyrdom of hundreds of innocents and the destruction of their homes due to barbaric American bombing. What in your view is the primary factor in the deterioration of this situation?
Answer: We mentioned before how America threatens the security of the entire world. It attacked Afghanistan and set Iraq ablaze. Likewise, the Palestinian and Somali peoples and others suffer from its tyranny and injustice. Indeed, the peoples of the world often face dangers because of its tyrannical oppression. Even the American people themselves suffer from the failed plots of its leaders and face many threats when they travel abroad for commerce or tourism or to participate in international sporting events. They do not see security even inside Americas itself, and they have become confused and worried about this deteriorating security situation.
The primary cause of the current financial crisis in the world is American policy. Therefore, all who choose an American policy and walk behind America will share its fate. The fires set alight outside Afghanistan in which Muslims are being burned are the result of following and supporting the failed American policy. If such satanic plans and failed policies continue to be followed then it is expected that the fires of this tragedy will engulf the entire region. This is one of the gifts America gives to those regions where Muslims live.
Question: How do you analyze the victory of Democrats under the leadership of Obama in the American elections and the extent of its influence on the current Afghan situation?
Answer: As you well know, kufr is one creed and does not change its policy towards the Muslims with a change of personalities. We, therefore see that Obama’s policy towards Afghanistan is in reality a continuation of the Bush policy. As for what will happen in the future, we will see whether the Americans will learn from the experience of the failed Bush policies and what they can expect from those policies. Nonetheless, we say that the American people have put their faith in Obama and have chosen him as president of the country. He must rescue them from the predicament into which Bush led them.
Question: At one time, the Islamic Ummah led the world and was considered a super power. Today the Ummah is controlled, afflicted and oppressed. What must the Muslims do to regain their past glory and previous honor?
Answer: The primary factor in restoring honor and glory is Jihad fi sabeel Allah according to Divine guidance and laboring for it by a true and sincere path. The Muslims must also unify ranks and adhere firmly to the Quran and the Sunnah. If the Muslims wish to reclaim their lost glory and fundamental greatness, they must wage Jihad in the cause of Allah Almighty. Their honor, freedom and independence are linked to their Jihad. As for the triumph of Jihad, it is linked to the unification of ranks and complete avoidance of division and dispute.
Al-Somood: In closing, we can only thank his Excellency Sheikh Qa’id Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, may Allah protect and watch over him, for providing us this opportunity to speak with him. We thank him profusely for that and beseech Allah to guard and protect him from the evil of the kaffireen.
Translated From The Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan: Al-Somood Magazine, Issue #30, Dhu Al-Hijrah 1229 AH, December 2008
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.