Taliban justifies 9/11 attack, blaming America’s ‘interventionist policies’

In a newly released video, the Taliban blames America for the 9/11 hijackings. The Taliban describes al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the US as “heavy slap on their dark faces,” claiming it “was the consequence of their interventionist policies and not our doing.”

This provocative message is included in “Umari Army (6),” a video that was produced by Al-Emara, the Taliban’s official media arm. It was released online and promoted by the Taliban’s spokesman earlier today.

Footage of United Airlines Flight 175 slamming into the World Trade Center is shown in the background as the statement rolls across the bottom of the screen.

The Taliban’s argument that the US deserved to be attacked on 9/11 is consistent with the reasoning of the group’s deceased founder, Mullah Omar. Omar was interviewed by Voice of America in late Sept. 2001, just weeks after al Qaeda struck in New York City and Washington, DC. He steadfastly refused to turn over Osama bin Laden, saying this wasn’t “an issue” of al Qaeda’s leader. “It is an issue of Islam,” Omar said. “Islam’s prestige is at stake. So is Afghanistan’s tradition.”

During the interview, Omar said that “Americans will not be able to prevent such acts like the one that has just occurred because America has taken Islam hostage.”

When the interviewer asked for an explanation, Omar responded:

America controls the governments of the Islamic countries. The people ask to follow Islam, but the governments do not listen because they are in the grip of the United States. If someone follows the path of Islam, the government arrests him, tortures him or kills him. This is the doing of America. If it stops supporting those governments and lets the people deal with them, then such things won’t happen. America has created the evil that is attacking it. The evil will not disappear even if I die and Osama dies and others die. The US should step back and review its policy. It should stop trying to impose its empire on the rest of the world, especially on Islamic countries.

Omar’s justification for terrorist attacks in the West was the same as al Qaeda’s, as bin Laden repeatedly accused America of interfering in the Muslim-majority world and “occupying” Saudi Arabia — an absurd charge given that Americans were first stationed on Saudi soil to prevent Saddam Hussein’s advance in the region.

The Taliban doesn’t just blame 9/11 on the West’s “interventionist policies.” In its new video, it is also portrays the 2004 Madrid train bombings by al Qaeda-linked terrorists in the same light.

Image of the aftermath of the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which were carried out by al Qaeda-linked terrorists.

“People of the World! Western imperialists and transgressors are lying to you,” the Taliban claims. “They neither care for the security of their own people, nor for ours and yours. If they truly cared about national and international security, then they would have ended their interventionist policies against the oppressed Muslims.” An image of the aftermath of the Madrid train bombing is shown on screen as these words roll by.

These policies are not limited to Afghanistan, as the video includes scenes from various other countries. Palestinian protesters are also shown, and the Taliban asks at one point if bombings are being conducted because the “security of the occupying Israelis [is] being threatened from here” — a question that implies the group faults Western policies across the board.

The Taliban’s latest video contains a number of other noteworthy moments.

With respect to women, the group claims they “are not given any rights” currently and are “solely called towards misguidance.” This is a rejection of more liberal-minded rights for women and girls.

Indeed, the Taliban rejects any form of Westernized culture outright, decrying “24-hour music and songs, obscene dramas” and “movies” as a desecration of the “creed of a nation” and degradation of Afghanistan’s “cultural heritage.”

“Can promoting Western ideas ever be considered civilization and improvement?” the Taliban’s media team asks, as images of Valentine’s Day hearts are shown.

The Taliban adds that Western reconstruction has failed, claiming that Afghanistan’s “high-risers are not” a sign of “progress,” but instead the “fruits of illegal wealth.”

In “Umari Army (6),” the Taliban again rejects formal talks with the Afghan government, asking: “Is it rational to talk peace with stooges when the master is present?”

The jihadists threaten the Afghan army and security forces, saying they “shall never leave” the “criminal[s]” along, even if they operate “under the superficial names of army, police and intelligence,” because they are “busy massacring our people for occupiers.” The only response can be “exacting vengeance.”

Moreover, the Taliban says that they shall “shall never accept a single occupying soldier” in Afghanistan — a claim that undermines the idea that the jihadists may be willing to accept a rump counterterrorism force.

“Umari Army (6)” also includes audio footage of the Taliban’s leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, who is given the title “Amir-ul-Mumineen Sheikh-ul-Hadith.” The first part means “Emir of the Faithful” — a title usually reserved for a Muslim caliph.

“If this jihad was absent, we would be humiliated as such, we would be miserable as such,” Akhundzada says. He continues: “Our turbans would be tied to our necks and we would be dragged from street to street. They would mock us and they would ridicule us. Neither will our elders be respected, nor our youth, nor our womenfolk. Neither would our land be revered, nor our country. So this Mujahid is here to defend the honor of Muslims, protect beliefs of Muslims from lowlifes, and that is why this Mujahid wages Jihad against infidels.”

The video ends with “Fond Memories of Martyrdom Seekers” — a commemoration of several suicide bombers who died in the war against the “infidels.” Some of the “martyrs” drive explosives-laden American-made Humvees.

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

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