Taliban seize opportunity in Koran controversy

The Taliban have quickly jumped on the Koran-burning controversy in Afghanistan. In addition to issuing an official statement signed by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on their website, Voice of Jihad, the Taliban appear to have infiltrated the protests that have sprung up outside of Bagram Air Base. The New York Times reported that Taliban songs were being sung by the crowd and that “several Urdu speakers” gave speeches during the protests:

Protests began hours later, as Afghan workers who had seen the burning emerged from the base, one or two of them carrying damaged Korans hidden in their clothes. Protests swelled through the morning and became violent as hundreds of infuriated Afghans set tires on fire and burned an external checkpoint at one of the entrances to the air base.

Shouting “Death to America” and “We don’t want them anymore,” they closed the district government building and stopped people trying to go to the center of the town, witnesses said. Some in the crowd sang Taliban songs, and several Urdu speakers, described as Pakistanis, made speeches.

It should come as no surprise that “Pakistanis” are operating near Bagram in Parwan. Keep in mind that the May 2010 assault on Bagram Air Base was executed by a joint Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and al Qaeda strike team. And within the past six months, the Taliban and allied terror groups have carried out several major complex attacks in Parwan.

On Aug. 14, 2011, a Taliban suicide assault team launched a complex attack on the governor’s compound in central Parwan province, killing 22 people, including six policemen. On Oct. 23, a suicide bomber attempted to assassinate the Afghan interior minister in the province. And a few days later, on Oct. 26, terrorists attempted to blow up a fuel tank inside of Bagram Air Base; the tanker exploded outside the gates, killing 12 Afghans.

Despite ISAF operations against the terror cells in Parwan and surrounding provinces, this network appears to be alive and well and springing into action to take advantage of the Koran controversy. ISAF should expect additional complex attacks on Bagram in the near future.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Kent Gatewood says:

    Given the number of mosques that have been bombed by moslem terrorist groups and the resulting destruction of religious literature, these protests are wonderfully cynical.
    The same American military has destroyed christian literature in Afghanistan. Have there been apologies for that?

  • Paul D says:

    More evidence we are fighting Pakistan in Afghanistan.
    The Most radical elements are from Pakistan with a Deobandi or Salafi background.
    Check Defence Pakistan Council for the types we are fighting in Afghanistan

  • mike merlo says:

    Urdu sounds like Klingon. In fact the people whose ‘native tongue’ it is kinda look like Klingon’s themselves.

  • Kent Gatewood says:

    Obvious question, did Taliban supporters plant burnt korans?

  • Nils R says:

    It does not matter if they burnt the Koran by accident or on purpose. What matters is that Islam believes that a life is worth less than that of a book.
    Last year, they rioted when the pastor from Florida burnt a Koran and these savages rioted and killed seven foreigners. These men of peace beheaded a young woman who was a NATO officer from Norway. Her crime was that she came to help us help the people of Afghanistan improve their lives.
    There is no way to rationally reason with these people whose minds are still in the dark ages.

  • W. C. Taqiyya says:

    Pitting one group of Muslims against the other is the most effective way to contain these crazy zealots. It is also much, much less expensive.

  • Arjuna says:

    The facts as I understand them were that US commanders at Bagram took the Korans away from detainees because they were being used to pass unauthororized notes so, yes, they were intentionally burned BUT as tainted contraband, not as anything else, especially not because they were Korans. It is a shame that these prisoners (or suspects) would have desecrated their own Holy Books in the first place and caused them to be taken away. Had the prisoners not defaced the supposedly sacred books in the first place we would not be having the riots. And as far as Pak/Taliban exploitation of ISAF difficulties, where’s the story here? Late Christmas present from the rulebound brass at Bagram 😉

  • alan hawk says:

    I am puzzled why we were burning the korans in the base burn pit? Especially one staffed by illiterate Afganis. The desecrated korans had intelligence value and should have been turned over to a DOCX unit for analysis.
    consideration should have been given to using them in an information operation against the taliban. The only way to win this thing is to discredit the muslim credentials of the taliban by their actions.

  • Neonmeat says:

    @ Nils R
    A slight correction: The Taliban believe the life of an ‘infidel’ is worth less than a book.
    On another note I agree with Taqqiya let the islamic sects battle it out between each other and spend their strength destroying each other over who is the most ‘Islamic’.
    It is rather funny when you think about it; The Religion of Peace has more armed militias fighting each other in its name than any other religion in the world.

  • gitmo-joe says:

    It is nothing less than outrageous that the most effective taliban recruiting and propaganda videos have been made by members of the U.S. Military. I don’t care if you piss on dead taliban, but to film it borders on treason against the United States. Same is true for the prison abuse videos and assigning locals to burn korans on a U.S. base.
    What distinguishes the U.S. Military from all others is our level of professionalism. These incidents are beneath us. They have done more to thwart the U.S. mission than all taliban attacks combined.


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