London, Asharq Al-Awsat-In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the Taliban’s media spokesman, Mullah Qari Yousef Ahmadi, highlights what he described as a psychological war that is being waged in the western media against the Taliban. Mullah Ahmadi admitted that it was Taliban judges that passed the sentence to stone to death the adulterers in the Imam Sahib District in northern Afghanistan. He also said that the disfigurement of the nose of “Aisha the Afghan” whose photo appeared on the cover of the “Time magazine” and world newspapers was the worst propaganda against the movement although it was her husband who carried out the disfigurement and not his men.
The following is the full text of the interview:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How true are the reports that elements from the Taliban stoned to death a man and a woman in northern Afghanistan and that the movement also passed a sentence against a young 23-year-old Afghan woman and a married 45-year-old Afghan to be stoned to death in the Kunduz Province?
[Ahmadi] Yes, a married woman from the Turkoman tribe in Imam Sahib District ran away with a married man from the Pashtun tribe. This almost led to a domestic conflict between the two tribes. However, the elders of the two tribes submitted a complaint to the Taliban officials in the district who took over the investigation and followed up on the issue alongside prominent figures and religious scholars from the district. The pair were captured by the prominent figures and confessed their sin in front of a Shariaa committee. The religious scholars issued a sentence to stone them and the Taliban court supported the same sentence. The sentence to stone the pair to death was carried out in the Malaqli District marketplace and a large number of inhabitants of the district participated in the act.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your opinion on Aisha, the Afghan girl whose face was mutilated and whose picture appeared on the cover of publications around the world?
[Ahmadi] These are examples of the psychological war that the US occupation is waging against the successful resistance movement that the Islamic Emirate is leading. It is a war that started when the Taliban movement came to power in 1996 and when the United States lost hope in transforming it into a subservient movement ruling by other than God’s laws and promoting their schemes in Afghanistan and the region. Whenever the military actions of the United States and its allies fail they intensify the psychological war that relies on rumors in order to pit the various sects of the people against one another. The creation of lies is part of this policy, and so are the claims that the Taliban are committing acts with which they are not connected at all, such as the incident of “Aisha the Afghan” about which you are inquiring. Aisha admitted that it was her husband and his brother that disfigured her nose. We pointed out the ambiguities of the incident and of what happened to her in a detailed special statement. We said that it is a family affair and the Emirate has nothing to do with it. We condemned it in a statement and said that the culprit deserves a harsh sentence for his odious act. The incitement of the world press against us is not something new. It has been going on before the aggression on us and the occupation of our homeland. In fact, it paved the way for that aggression. The majority of the western media outlets have been constantly attacking us by propagating lies against us in order to cover up for the crimes that their armies are committing on our land and against our people.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Commentators in the west say that you are a state from the 15th century or from the Medieval Ages, what are thoughts on that?
[Ahmadi] By saying so they want to malign Islam itself. They describe Islam and its rules in a way to repel people against it and to keep them away from Islam as they claim that its laws are primitive and backward and clash against their civilization and what they claim to be human rights. The majority of the Muslims have discovered these allegations. We governed Afghanistan before the Karzai government. The Americans and their ilk admit that security prevailed then. No one was tortured by dogs; there were no secret prisons and no night raids of the homes of the innocent. They were not shelled or burned with phosphorous bombs. I do not know what the US government calls such criminal deeds in the 21st century. Our people insist on applying the laws of Islam in governance and in all aspects of life. We will not be deterred by the poisons vented by the lying media outlets that are financed by the Jews and the colonialist enemies of Islam.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do feel about the United Nations report that says the Taliban movement is to blame for three quarters of the civilian deaths in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year?
[Ahmadi] We are amazed that the United Nations is turning itself into a tool and lackey of US interests. Can this organization be recognized indeed as an international organization after all this bias in favor of the American side? This organization is daring to lie and propagate such unimaginable propaganda. Last month, the US forces killed more than 100 civilians and admitted killing these civilians. In its report, however, the United Nations is holding the emirate to blame for killing civilians. All the nations of the world know that the United States is forcing our people to submit not to the throwing of roses from airplanes but to the dropping of bombs that are internationally banned. Their attacks on our people using all means have become notorious starting with savage dogs to the most lethal and fatal weapons. Since their aggression to this date, wedding celebrations have been a constant target for their planes. They justify their crimes by claiming that their aircraft came under hostile fire or that they were aimed at a Taliban position. If they are unable to lie, they claim that the bombing resulted from inaccurate intelligence. They have rarely volunteered a few dollars to silence the families of the victims. But the United Nations closes its eyes to such painful incidents. Our people that are experiencing such incidents daily insist on expelling the occupation and punishing it for its crimes. We see how men and youths of all ages are flocking to join the ranks of the mujahidin and to offer them all forms of support. Such lies have a counter result to what the enemy wishes. Our people are very mature and have experience with the ploys used by occupiers. They know how to uncover lies and deceit and respond to them with the appropriate jihadist ways.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Why are Afghan women worried about reports on reconciliation with the Taliban or their return to power? In other words, do negotiations with the Taliban threaten the rights of Afghan women? And what will you do with the thousands of schools for girls that the Karzai government has built?
[Ahmadi] This too is part of the psychological warfare propagated by the occupation and its media outlets. How do they know what the women in Afghanistan think? When did they ask them about their opinion? The immediate reason why the Taliban movement was started in 1994 was the insecurity on the roads of Afghanistan, particularly the incidents of abductions and assaults to which many women were subjected at the hands of armed men on the roads. This was in collaboration with the leaders of the Kabul mujahidin and the heads of parties that took over the civil wars among the mujahidin and the gangs that destabilized the country. The residents of Kabul still remember how schoolgirls were abducted and held by the commanders of the armed groups and how they were assaulted without daring to inquire about their whereabouts. And now, what are the occupiers doing to preserve the rights and honor of women? They are like the media. Instead of repeating rumors circulated by the occupation they should go to the capital and investigate the living conditions of the women there as swell as in the rest of Afghanistan. The occupiers are working hard to spread prostitution in the land and to promote it and facilitate it using all means. Moreover, the poverty that the occupiers and the corrupt regime loyal to them have spread has made women the primary victim in society after losing her bread earner and her shelter and exposed to diverse pressures and seductions. It has reached a point where even an honest woman has no solution except to sell her children to international companies and gangs that abound in Kabul. The western occupiers have been inventive in initiating paid pregnancies to exploit poor women. What decency or honor have women left under the occupation? Such wicked statements against Islamic Shariaa that lament women’s rights and claim that women are worried about the return of the rule of Shariaa in the Islamic Emirate most probably originated with some Afghan women that have been living in the West for many years or that were born there. These have become westerners with Afghan names and are currently participating with the foreigners in occupying Afghanistan. They do not at all represent the honest struggling Afghan woman that stands fast in defense of her husband and children in the fields of jihad in defense of religion and the Afghan honor. The freedom and dignity of women cannot be preserved outside Islamic Shariaa. As for what we will do with the tens of thousands of schools for girls, we will more thousands of such schools for girls and boys. All aspects of education will be based on the teachings of Islam in addition to modern sciences that enable our people to build their country without needing foreign expertise.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you think the problem of cultivating drugs can be solved? Are you profiting from it in taxes and duties as the western media outlets are saying?
[Ahmadi] Everyone knows that in 2000, the Emirates issued a decision stopping the cultivation of opium. This was the biggest reason that hastened the invasion of our country because the United States is the foremost beneficiary from the cultivation of opium in Afghanistan and coca in Colombia and other South American countries. A United Nations report testified that Afghanistan’s cultivation of opium in 2001 dropped from about 3600 tons in the past to only 185 tons that were mostly cultivated by the Afghan Northern Alliance that was allied with the United States. However, at present – with the country under occupation and with more than 150,000 US and allied armed soldiers, more than 200,000 mercenaries working for US security firms, and scores of thousands of the local agent army and local militias and mercenaries – we find the cultivation of opium has reached unprecedented levels. According to some estimates, it has exceeded 9,000 tons. The majority of the US forces are used to protect the opium crop in Helmand that they have turned into the biggest opium farm in the world. They also process heroin in their air bases and US planes transport it to many parts of the world. As they seek Karzai’s help in collecting the opium from the farmers, at the same time they use the local armed forces, the police, and other security organs to fight the cultivation and smuggling operations carried out by the local gangs without the official approval of the occupation. We demand an international inquiry to investigate the veracity of this information. Such a committee should be granted the authority to enter and inspect the military bases to seize the heroin factories in order to end the dangers of opium of opium that has become a pestilence afflicting the whole world thanks to the United States that is the biggest stronghold of the international drug mafias whose influence reach to senior US officials and establishments, especially in the army and the intelligence service.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What do you think of the Taliban leadership’s call for an inquiry – in cooperation with the United Nations – into the issue of civilian deaths days after the United Nations has accused the movement of being responsible for the large part of human losses?
[Ahmadi] We are confident that the US occupation will not permit any independent agency or commission in Afghanistan to investigate any crime it commits regardless of whether these crimes are related to the cultivation and smuggling of heroin or the annihilation of civilians in air strikes or the violation of the human rights of prisoners or raids and attacks on civilian homes or the imprisonment of civilians in their own homes or killing them in front of their families and letting trained dogs gnaw at their bodies or any similar crime perpetrated by the barbaric occupation of the US forces in Afghanistan. On our part, we have expressed our readiness to disclose any information we have on such issues and to cooperate with any international inquiry on condition that the occupation does the same in order to reveal all the facts. However, the occupation will not do so because it is worried about an international scandal that will expose its barbaric aggression on our people.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] If you return to power, do you have economic, social, and development plans to raise the standard of living of the Afghan people? How will you co-exist with the outside world?
[Ahmadi] Anyone examining the official statements released by the emirate and the remarks of its officials can see that we have four goals that we seek to accomplish after expelling the occupation: First, we want to establish an independent Shariaa-based government that can run the country and representing all the components of the Muslim Afghan people. Second, we want to achieve national unity and civic peace among all the components of the people. Third, we want to rebuild a strong and prosperous Afghanistan. Fourth, we want to establish a system of relations based on justice, equality, and parity with all the neighboring countries as well as in the region and the rest of the world, primarily, of course, with the Muslim world based on the rules of Shariaa. The people of Afghanistan are active, innovative, and capable of reconstructing their country. Moreover, our natural resources are sufficient to turn our people into one of the richest nations on earth if the United States and others would stop interfering in our internal affairs.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your opinion on the statement made by General Petraeus, the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, that they are prepared to negotiate and that there is a strategy for reconciliation?
[Ahmadi] This is another US trick to change the character of the struggle between us. Our first and last demand is the expulsion of the occupation before discussing any other topic. Our goal is not negotiations; our goal is to expel the occupiers. Moreover, there is no reconciliation with the occupiers; there is armed struggle and relentless resistance until the occupiers withdraw their forces from our country. Negotiations under the shadow of occupation lead to continued occupation. When the Americans invaded our country they did not negotiate with anyone; therefore, they should not negotiate with us when they withdraw from Afghanistan. They want our surrender under the guise of negotiations; this is impossible to happen. Also, if they mean reconciliation between the Islamic Emirate and the ruling regime in Kabul, this is impossible as well because we are not fighting the occupation in order to reconcile with its lackeys. Either these lackeys surrender to the emirate and thus win the general amnesty proposed to those that collaborated with the occupiers or they withdraw with their masters on top of the same tanks that brought them. The fate of communist president Najibullah [he was hanged from a street lamppost in Kabul in 1996] still revives the memory from atop the lampposts in Kabul.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your opinion on the rampant corruption that is gnawing the bones of the country and of those corrupt Afghan businessmen and men of influence that we see in Dubai and London?
[Ahmadi] The occupation cannot continue except in a climate of corruption. It is the main source of corruption and of political and social deviation. We note that any occupation uses only the corrupt locals of the occupied country. The more corrupt they are the more they are rewarded. This happened in the donors’ conference recently held in Kabul when the rate of commission of the corrupt government was raised from 20 percent to 40 percent of the total of international aid. It is ironic that the conferees approved rewarding the corrupt of the Kabul government as if this has become a recognized international law. It is odd that the donors agreed to squander the funds of their peoples in such a shameless fashion to their sovereignty and dignity. This is not strange behavior by the US Administration that rewarded senior banking officials that caused the biggest financial crisis in the United States and the world. The $700 millio0n came from the American people that are suffering from unemployment, dropping standards of living, and bankruptcy of medium and small banks and businesses. Corruption is a phenomenon that is inseparable from occupation.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] If you return to power, will you welcome Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden or will you expel them after learning the lesson that cost you power?
[Ahmadi] I believe that this question is premature. I outlined to you the four principles that I mentioned earlier. These are: A. We want to establish an independent Shariaa-based government that can run the country and representing all the components of the Muslim Afghan people. B. We want to achieve national unity and civic peace among all the components of the people. C. We want to rebuild a strong and prosperous Afghanistan and [D] a system of relations based on justice, equality, and parity with all the neighboring countries as well as in the region and the rest of the world based on the rules of Shariaa. These principles are the future priorities of our government. The Islamic Emirate will not deviate from these principles and we will not allow any individual or side to undermine them. As for the reason for the US war on us, it is nothing but our insistence to apply the Shariaa of Islam and to follow an independent policy that does not take its orders from Washington or any of its agents in the region. Everything else is just an excuse that enables the enemy to find scores of other excuses when it insists on committing criminal aggression on us or on others.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is new on the ground regarding America’s war in Kandahar, the stronghold of the Taliban in southern Afghanistan?
[Ahmadi] The United States has not made any military advances on the ground in Afghanistan even on the level of a small village like Marjah – where they turned the world upside down at the beginning of the year in an attempt to falsely claim some progress – let alone Kandahar, a model of heroism that broke the Soviets who did not enjoy an hour of security or comfort for a decade. The mujahidin wrested Kandahar from the hands of the Soviets several times and did not abandon it for a moment. At present, the mujahidin in Kandahar are more powerful. They are more organized and skilled by far. Their combat tactics do not permit the enemy to harm them or to score any victory on the ground. The enemy suffers serious losses in lives and materiel with every step it takes in Kandahar. They launched their operations from Kandahar several times and faced fierce resistance by the mujahidin. After they realized the failure of their offensive, they announced that they were postponing it to another time. However, God willing they will not score victory at any time. By the way, Kandahar is not the only Taliban stronghold. All of Afghanistan is their stronghold and all the people are members of the Taliban movement. We are not the only ones that say this; the enemy says the same thing. Whenever it launches a military offensive on any site in the country it calls it “the fortress of the Taliban movement”. This shows the degree of the movement’s success and the solidity of the Emirate regime that is leading the armed jihad and the people’s resistance in our steadfast Muslim country.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] In light of the rising cost of the bill of blood and destruction, is it time to make peace and restore stability?
[Ahmadi] Loss of lives and property is cheap for the sake of Islam; sacrifice is cheap for the sake of the homeland and its freedom and the dignity of the Afghans. Freedom cannot be achieved without a high price and cost. Humiliation, disgrace, and surrender may seem an easier solution for some in the short run; however, it is costlier on the long run even if it is marketed under the deceitful misnomer of peace. There can be no stability with occupation but veritable death and manifest loss in this world and the next world. Our values are based on Islam; they are not based on false principles marketed by the occupiers in order to push us to surrender in return for cheap bribes that are accepted only by the decadent and those that have abandoned religion and their manhood. Over the ages, the Afghans have been well known for their passion for glory and freedom. Their country has been called the graveyard of invaders. We are determined to continue our jihad for the sake of God Almighty until God grants us victory or martyrdom. God willing, we are the winners in either case.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are there Taliban judges in the regions that you control that administer “hudud” [punishments in Islam]?
[Ahmadi] Yes, because the administration of hudud is a method to establish security and reform society from sinful corruption. In most of the liberated areas, there are judges from the Emirate that judge on disputes among the people. The details of administering hudud are known to the Shariaa judges and are set by the Emirate in statutes that it publishes every now and then in order to organize administration, the judiciary, and combat in accordance with the development of the situation in every region separately.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Why do some Afghans resort to the Taliban courts to settle their internal disputes?
[Ahmadi] They do so because the Emirate judges seek to solve problems between Afghans without taking bribes. In areas administered by the government, the people prefer to go to wherever the emirate has courts because these courts give them just sentences distant from the corruption of the government’s judges and the police. The aim of establishing Shariaa courts is to treat the people with justice and to solve their disputes in accordance with Shariaa.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are you satisfied with the call of 350 Afghan religious scholars to apply Islamic Shariaa? Do you consider this a step for reconciliation in the Afghan society?
[Ahmadi] The application of Shariaa cannot take place under the forces of the occupation. The basic aim of Shariaa is to secure the safety of a Muslim society in a Muslim state. If the ruling regime is un-Islamic, talking about the application of the rules of Shariaa becomes deception. Since the occupying armies control the country, talking about the application of Shariaa becomes ridicule of Shariaa and religion. The beleaguered occupiers will welcome such a call that is tantamount to entrenching their presence by fooling the people, dividing the ranks of the mujahidin, and polishing the rule of the agents that the occupation brought and consolidated their rule with the help of tens of thousands of soldiers. We doubt that such a call was made by respectable scholars; they are individuals that assume the title of ulema, just like the individuals that they cornered in the jerga [council of elders] of peace that was held in Kabul this summer. They were mere government officials; they did not represent the tribes. This call is part of the psychological war that includes the propagation of rumors. His rumor abuses Shariaa and abuses religion. It is unacceptable to the people. This will drive us to more resistance until the occupiers, who are the source of the calamity, are finally expelled.