Taliban issues code of conduct


Tihar Jail
Jun 16, 2009
Taliban issues code of conduct

The Taliban in Afghanistan has issued a book laying down a code of conduct for its fighters.

Al Jazeera has obtained a copy of the book, which further indicates that Mullah Omar, the movement's leader, wants to centralise its operations.

The book, with 13 chapters and 67 articles, lays out what one of the most secretive organisations in the world today, can and cannot do.

It talks of limiting suicide attacks, avoiding civilian casualties and winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the local civilian population.

Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from the capital, Kabul, said every fighter is being issued the pocket book entitled "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Rules for Mujahideen".

The book sheds considerable light on the structure, organisation and aims of the group, he said.

Mullah Omar is quoted as saying that creating a new mujahideen group or battalion is forbidden.

"If unofficial groups or irregular battalions refuse to join the formal structure, they should be disbanded," Omar says.

Individual Taliban commanders have so far had a fair degree of autonomy, often deciding what operations to conduct and how to run the territory that they control.

Our correspondent said the regulations seem to be an attempt by Mullah Omar to bring all of the Taliban under his control.

"We have in the past had a lot of different groups in Afghanistan operating under the umbrella of the Taliban," Bays said.

"But it says in these regulations that if you find an irregular battalion that is not obeying orders then what you have to do is find that battalion and then disarm them."

Suicide bombing rules

Michael Griffin, an Afghanistan expert and author of the book Reaping the Whirlwind: Al Qaeda and the Holy War, told Al Jazeera: "The Taliban ... is flirting very closely with criminality on a very, very, large scale.

In depth

Key quotes from new Taliban book
Profile: Mullah Mohamed Omar
Timeline: Taliban in Afghanistan

"If you think of the New York Times reporter who was kidnapped in November last year and released for $8m, this was a criminal act and has nothing to do with the Taliban as a political and military force.

"I think [Mullah Omar is] trying to bring all the disparate elements in the Taliban together under one umbrella to somehow isolate and and separate the elements which are simply criminal.

"But this is a difficult cause because there are a lot of people in the Taliban because it pays them."

While the Taliban have repeatedly used suicide bombings across Afghanistan, the book now says that they should be used only on high and important targets."

'Strong guarantees'

"A brave son of Islam should not be used for lower and useless targets. The utmost effort should be made to avoid civilian casualties," the book says.

There are now clear guidelines on how the Taliban will treat its prisoners as well.

"Whenever any official, soldier, contractor or worker of the slave government is captured, these prisoners cannot be attacked or harmed," it says.

"The decision on whether to seek a prisoner exchange or to release the prisoner with strong guarantees will be made by the provincial leader.

"Releasing prisoners in exchange for money is strictly prohibited."

The book further states that if a "military infidel" is captured, the decision on whether to kill, release or exchange the hostage is only to be made by the Imam, a reference to Mullah Omar, or deputy Imam.

'Winning hearts'

The book makes it clear that it is the duty of every fighter to win over the local population.

The book appears to be an attempt to bring all Taliban fighters under Mullah Omar's control
"The mujahideen have to behave well and show proper treatment to the nation, in order to bring the hearts of civilian Muslims closer to them.

"The mujahideen must avoid discrimination based on tribal roots, language or geographic background."

Our correspondent said the reference to winning over the hearts of the Afghan people is very similar to language used by Nato-led military forces in the country.

"Recently the Nato commander here issued a new tactical directive saying that civilians should not be bombed - almost the same words in these regulations to Taliban fighters," Bays said.

"Both sides [are] trying to win over the civilian population in their area."

The release of the rule book comes less than a month before Afghans head to the polls for a presidential election, which the Taliban has deemed an illegitimate system imposed by foreigners.

The timing may be just a coincidence, however, as rival presidential candidates detail their manifestos and the Taliban makes an effort to win over the Afghan public.

Al Jazeera English - AJE


Tihar Jail
Jun 16, 2009
Nato slams Taliban 'code of conduct' for militants

London (PTI): Elusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar has issued a "code of conduct" to his militant colleagues asking them to avoid "unnecessary" suicide bombings and civilian casualties while waging war against "the oppressors", which was described as "sham" and propaganda exercise by Nato.

The 13-chapter guide, recovered by Nato forces in raids in Afghanistan, gives tips to militants on how to be a "good holy warrior" and asks to avoid civilian casualties, the Daily Telegraph reported.

It discloses concern about how attacks are regarded by the civilian population, including minority groups, and its need to be seen as a disciplined force, motivated by Islamic principle rather than personal greed or malice.

The booklet also asks Taliban fighters not to harm Afghans working for the government and to avoid civilian casualties, the newspaper reported.

"The Mujahideen have to behave well and show proper treatment to the nation, in order to bring the hearts of civilian Muslims closer to them," it said.

Nato commanders denounced the "code" as a propaganda exercise aimed at persuading Afghan civilians that the Taliban was a disciplined force that followed the rules of war.

"It seems to be a form of propaganda to try to show there is a central control over the insurrection," said Brig. Gen. Eric Tremblay, a Nato spokesman.

Brig. Gen. Tremblay said the code was a sham and that its "rules" had been exposed as false by the 90 suicide bombings that the Taliban had carried out this year. Forty per cent of the victims were civilians, said Gen Tremblay.

A spokesman for Afghanistan's Defence Ministry also denounced the code's warning against attacks on government employees and abuse of prisoners of war. He said the Taliban had seized and beheaded an Afghan soldier in Paktika province this week.

According to the code, suicide attacks "should only be used on high and important targets.

"A brave son of Islam should not be used for lower and useless targets. Governors, district chiefs and the commanders and every member of the mujahideen must do their best to avoid civilian deaths, civilian injuries and damage to civilian property. Great care must be taken," the guide says.

"Whenever any official, soldier contractor or worker of the slave government is captured, these prisoners cannot be attacked or harmed.

"If the prisoner is a director, commander or district chief or higher, the decision on whether to harm, kill, release or forgive them is only made by the imam," the guide says.

The Hindu News Update Service


Tihar Jail
Jun 16, 2009
New Taliban rule book calls for fewer suicide attacks

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- A new Taliban military "code of conduct" calls for restrictions on suicide attacks aimed at avoiding the killing of civilians, but U.S. and Afghan military officials dismissed the document as propaganda, calling it hypocritical.

The booklet, obtained by CNN in northwestern Pakistan, has emerged during a crucial moment in the fight between troops and militants in Afghanistan, where battles are raging in the country's Helmand province and troops work to establish stability for the upcoming presidential elections.

"Suicide attacks should be at high value and important targets because a brave son of Islam should not be used for low value and useless targets," the code of conduct said. "In suicide attacks the killing of innocent people and damage to their property should be minimized."

It also says "all mujahideen must do their best to avoid civilian deaths and injuries and damage to civilian property." And it says that mujahideen "should refrain" from disfiguring of people, such as the severing of ears, nose and lips.

"Mujahideen must be well behaved, and treat the people properly, in order to get closer to the hearts of civilian Muslims," the code said.

Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker, U.S. military spokeswoman in Kabul, saidit was notable that the document is intended to be "prescriptive on how the bad guys are supposed to conduct themselves." Watch why Taliban have brought out new code of conduct »

"Their day to day actions contradict everything in it," Sidenstricker said. "The long and the short of it is, they don't operate in accordance to their code of conduct."

She said more than 60 percent of civilians killed have been killed by the Taliban, and since January, more than 450 innocent Afghans have been killed and more than 1,000 others have been injured. Watch why Taliban are proving hard to uproot »

Also, half the casualties resulting from roadside bombs were civilians.

"The booklet also says suicide attacks should always be done against high-ranking officials. In reality, they have killed more then 200 Afghan civilians," she said.

Afghanistan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Zaher Azimi said the code is " propaganda" and that the Taliban "will never implement that." He cites a recent beheading of a retired Afghan soldier as a clear example of the group's real behavior.

"It was against all the laws of war," Azimi said.

As far as the upcoming election, Azimi said, the Taliban has tried its best in the past "to disrupt the normal process of peace and security, and they will try their best to disrupt the peace and security process in the future."

The code of conduct is dated as coming into effect on May 9, 2009. It is similar to a previous document that emerged in 2006 and covers many topics.

For example, it says "kidnapping for ransom is strictly prohibited."

As for prisoners, the code says "it is strictly prohibited to exchange prisoners for money. Killing can only be decided by the Imam or his deputy. No one else has the right to do so." It says an imam or his deputy are on the only ones to make decisions on whether to kill, release of exchange a captured "military infidel."

Further, it says the practice of taking weapons from people by force "is no longer permitted."

"But people may hand over their weapons voluntarily," it said.

And it says that the "mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate should not collect donations forcibly" and that "people should be free to choose who they want to give to."

It said mujahideen shouldn't search peoples' homes.

"If there is a need to do this, they should get permission from authority and the search should be done in the presence of the imam of the local mosque and two elders."

The code said mujahids aren't permitted to smoke and that "a male who has not yet grown a beard may not stay in a common sleeping area with other men."

CNN's National Security Analyst Peter Bergen said the militants "clearly" are aware of the need to win "hearts and minds" and are trying to rectify the "mistakes" of al Qaeda in Iraq.

"They have their own counter-insurgency strategy in winning hearts and minds," Bergen said. "This is a corrective, absolutely."

He said "there's a window for both sides to make some progress" and the Taliban want to exploit the moment.

"The Taliban believe they are either winning or not losing. If you are an insurgent not losing is important," he said.

New Taliban rule book calls for fewer suicide attacks - CNN.com

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