The Taliban have already said that they intend to welcome back al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists who share their religious outlook. Their primary spokesman has already affirmed that the Taliban are becoming much more world-focused than they were in the 90s. They are prioritizing the spread of Islam in conquest of the whole world. To this end, they will be happy to serve as a haven for Muslim terror groups to hone their skills and plan their attacks. Unless the non-Muslim world takes serious action to dissuade the Taliban from this course, the world will become an even more dangerous place in the near future. Writes Mateen Elass
The Taliban of 2021 claim that they are not like the Taliban of the 1990s. And I believe them, in this one respect. Today’s Taliban have become skilled users of social media, and are able to project an image as a “kinder, gentler Muslim movement,” not at all like the brutal, backward terrorists of the turn of this century.
They claim that a blanket amnesty will be given to all Afghanis who worked with the US or NATO forces, that women’s rights will be protected, that children will receive modern education, that Afghanistan will join the international society of civilized nations as a beacon of goodness.
Of course, this is all image and no substance. The original Taliban claimed as authority for their policies and actions the unchanging Shari’a, the Law of Allah. Beheadings of apostates, stonings of adulteresses (but rarely adulterers), executions of homosexuals, forced marriage of child brides, the hiding of women in formless burqas and the prevention of education outside the home for young girls, the call to armed jihad against any groups who refused to conform to the strict version of Islam favored by them, all these and more atrocities found (and still find) their legitimacy in Shari’a.
The Taliban of 2021 still claim Shari’a as their governing authority. So, can they still style themselves as strict followers of Shari’a and yet jettison any of the practices from the past which they justified as commanded by Allah under his Law? The short and complete answer is no.
The Afghani people are all too aware of this. Those interviewed by Western media are not shy in sharing their certainty that Taliban leaders are just blowing smoke (opium-laced, no doubt) with their assertions of moderation and reform. As soon as world attention moves on to other cataclysms, the Taliban will ditch their West-pleasing image and return to their barbaric, Islamically-inspired ways. This is the true face of the Taliban, because they are still as convinced as they were 25 years ago that the commands of Allah do not change, and that strict enforcement of harsh Islamic justice will bring the blessings of Allah upon them.
How do we know this? In studying their actions even in the last week rather than relying on their words.
They claimed to offer amnesty to all “collaborators” who had assisted the “occupiers”, i.e., the US and NATO alliance working with the established Afghan government. Yet news reports consistently indicate that Taliban forces are going door to door in Kabul, Kandahar and Herat looking for names on lists put together from informants and from bank and biometric records the US government left behind in its hasty exit from the embassy site. These records identify locals employed by the US government all over the country, and now provide the Taliban a quick and easy way to identify and lethally “deal with” collaborators.
Of course, the Taliban have made no secret of the fact that any Americans or Europeans still physically present in Afghanistan will be subject to capture and imprisonment, or worse, after Western troops meet their August 31st pull-out deadline. The ring of Taliban “soldiers” around the Kabul airport while Western governments are trying to evacuate their own citizens as well as endangered Afghans has prevented or intimidated potential evacuees from exiting the country. There are no guarantees of safety to Westerners who remain in country after troop withdrawals scheduled for the end of this month.
Other targets of Taliban Islamic wrath include homosexuals – Taliban judge Gul Rahim confirmed that under Taliban rule, the Shari’a punishments for the crime of homosexuality will be reinstated, either death by stoning or by being crushed by the toppling of an 8-10 foot stone wall upon the convicted man.
Christians especially, but other religious minorities as well, when identified and refusing to abandon their faith in favor of Islam (Deobandi or Salafi Islam in particular) will be enslaved or executed. As the Taliban are going door to door, they are demanding to examine people’s cellphones. If they find a Bible or other decidedly Christian app on the phone, they immediately detain the cellphone owner or execute him/her on the spot.
Shi’ite Muslims are regarded as false believers (hypocrites or infidels, depending on Qur’anic passages utilized to anathematize them). They also are subject to immediate execution. The Hazara tribe located in the mountainous central region of the country are the most obvious target of the Taliban. Back in 1995, their leader Abdul Ali Mazari was executed by Taliban forces. Since then a statue of him was erected in Bamiyan (the same location where the Taliban used two giant sculptures of the Buddha for target practice and destruction). One week ago, after they had retaken control of the region, the new “kinder, gentler” Taliban beheaded the statue and then proceeded to blow it up for further dramatic effect.
Amnesty International reported that in early July 2021 when Taliban fighters overran Ghazni province in central Afghanistan, they executed 9 Hazara men they captured, 6 by bullets and three by torture.
One does not have to be Shi’ite, however, to face Taliban judgment. Even Sunni Muslims who fail to measure up to the religious standards of their old and now new overlords are subject to harassment, incarceration or worse. Secular Muslims must pretend to be observant, not knowing who might become an informant against them.
Those with most to lost under Taliban rule, however, are without doubt girls and women. The oppressive dress code is once more being enforced, though Taliban spokesmen are saying burqas will no longer be mandatory but full face and body covering is still required. Last week a young Afghani woman was shot dead because a fighter did not approve of her outfit. Girls and women of marriageable age are no longer allowed to travel alone or with other women but must have a male guardian accompany them anytime they wish to leave their homes. Parents with single girls/women in the home must now place an identifying marker on their home’s exterior so that Taliban fighters can come in and assess whether they are interested in taking an eligible female (from ages 12-45) as a wife or sex slave. These practices are justified on the basis of specific Qur’an verses (see 4.34 and 33.50) where Allah gives his fighters those whom they conquer as booty, and specifically permits them to take young girls and women as sex slaves. Education of girls is frowned upon or forbidden. The latter stance was the position of the Taliban 1.0. Taliban 2.0 has said they will allow girls to be educated, but only by a female teacher. Their first fatwa since retaking power was a ban on coeducation. No mingling of the sexes will be permitted. We will see in coming months whether education for girls is encouraged or throttled. Needless to say, if girls are being forced into marriages at age 12, the likeliness of their being permitted to attend school drops to near zero.
One might console oneself here in the West by noting that all these horrors remain contained within the borders of Afghanistan. We are not endangered by the barbarity of the Taliban in its implementation of Shari’a. That is true. But there are two ways in which the flourishing of the Taliban spells trouble for the rest of the world.
First, it is estimated that roughly one quarter of the Taliban’s yearly budget is funded by opium production and trafficking. Afghanistan accounts for 84% of the world’s opium, and the Taliban control every aspect of its production, refinement and sale, bringing them over $400 million annually. It stands to reason that as their budgetary needs increase with their new role as the governing force of the Afghani nation, they will seek to increase the amount of opium they can dump on the world market. Since America is one of the biggest consumers of opioids, licit and illicit, the increased availability of opium and its derivatives can only have a deleterious effect on our society. For the Taliban, this outcome would be a “twofer”: they increase their income while at the same time inflicting harm of the “Great Satan”. That’s a no-brainer.
Secondly, the Taliban have already said that they intend to welcome back al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists who share their religious outlook. Their primary spokesman has already affirmed that the Taliban are becoming much more world-focused than they were in the 90s. They are prioritizing the spread of Islam in conquest of the whole world. To this end, they will be happy to serve as a haven for Muslim terror groups to hone their skills and plan their attacks. Unless the non-Muslim world takes serious action to dissuade the Taliban from this course, the world will become an even more dangerous place in the near future.
Is there any possibility the Taliban could moderate, throwing off their hardcore obedience to their prophet Muhammad and his Shari’a pronouncements? I’m reminded of the words of the Jewish prophet Jeremiah: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23).
Rest of the article is available on the blog of the author
Please follow Blitz on Google News channel