|Taleban Government Appoints Two New Ministers
FTS19961117000219 Kabul Radio Afghanistan Network in Pashto 1500 GMT 17 Nov 96
Under a decree by his eminence Amir al-Momenin [Mola Mohammad Omar], Mawlawi Ahmad Jan has been appointed as the acting minister of mines and industries and Mawlawi Jalaloddin Haqqani as the acting minister of borders.
Rabbani on Afghan Arabs, Bin-Ladin, Taleban
FTS19961202000853 London AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT in Arabic 02 Dec 96
[Part two of interview with "deposed" Afghan President Borhanoddin Rabbani by Amir Taheri in Paris; date not given]
[Taheri] You are surely aware of the doubts several countries have regarding your government, especially the United States.
[Rabbani] We are, but what we do not know is the real reason behind these doubts. During the jihad against the Soviets some elements attacked our movement as a movement loyal to the Americans because we always insisted on having the closest relations with the United States because the United States, as a superpower, was capable of counterbalancing the Soviet Union at the time, and it supported the liberation war we waged. After the liberation we pursued a policy of close rapprochement with the United States because that best reflected our national interests. I visited Washington and met with (President George) Bush twice. Our message was that Washington should hear what it wished to know about Afghanistan from us and not from other parties or foreign governments.
Before this year the Americans never complained against us on any issue pertaining to our policies or the developments in Afghanistan in general. Early this year Robin Raphel [U.S. assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs] came to see me in Kabul and said that Washington was concerned about the terrorist training camps on Afghan territory. I asked her if she could mention a single location of such camps. She mentioned Jalalabad. I explained to her that Jalalabad was under the control of a council headed by Hajji Qader, the ally of Abdulrab Rasul Sayyaf, both of whom were hostile to the government at the time. I suggested to her that the United States should send a team to investigate the matter. They sent (Senator Hank) Brown. When Brown came to me I told him that he had complete freedom to go anywhere he liked to locate the terrorist camps and that we would then seek to close them down. Nobody told us that that was an urgent matter in the eyes of Washington and its regional allies.
[Taheri] That is really astonishing because the U.S. media had for years been saying that several people involved in "terrorist" operations in the United States, including the perpetrators of New York's World Trade Center explosion, had received training in Afghanistan. You know that some recent attacks on U.S. positions in the region were planned and executed by elements trained and based in Afghanistan.
[Rabbani] That may be so but what has the Afghan Government or our movement got to do with that? During the liberation war our movement (Jam'iyat-e Eslami) continuously opposed the involvement of foreign fighters in our work, because we had an abundance of manpower. Hundreds of thousands of Afghan youths came forward to volunteer as mojahedin and they did well because of their knowledge of their country's terrain and their strong incentive to fight the invaders. We felt that the non-Afghan brothers who really wished to help us could do so by sending us the value of what would be their travel expenses to Afghanistan in cash. We needed funds and arms, not men, but some mojahedin groups did receive foreign volunteers for reasons of their own. The Hezb-e Eslami, with its numerous wings, was active in that field. Those wings were the forces most supported by the United States, Pakistan, and their regional allies. During the war of liberation thousands of foreign volunteers flooded into Pakistan and Afghanistan, encouraged by their governments, including some Gulf states' governments, but few volunteers actually participated in the fighting. At any rate, our forces did not use foreign fighters, although we did use the services of some foreign doctors who came to us as volunteers. After the liberation most of them left Afghanistan. Some settled in Pakistan but the majority went back to their homelands or to other areas in search of other scope for jihad.
[Taheri] You have mentioned the part played by the Hezb-e Eslami wings in the camps of what is now known as "the Afghan Arabs," but Golboddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hezb-e Eslami, was appointed prime minister in your government. You also entered into alliances with leaders of other wings of that party, such as Yunus Khalis and Sayyaf.
[Rabbani] That is true but these alliances were based on a program which included the exclusion of all armed foreign elements from Afghan territory. Our own government was itself the victim of terrorism for about four years. We helped in the restoration of peace to Tajikistan after years of civil war. What interest would we have in training terrorists to strike at countries whose friendship and aid we badly need?
[Taheri] You mean to say that there were absolutely no foreign armed groups in the territories under your government's control?
[Rabbani] There were camps in Paktia, Konar, and Nangarhar before they came under our control. As soon as we entered into alliances with the wings governing these areas, most of these camps were closed down. Some 10-20 Arab families, with children, were in Jalalabad under the protection of Hajji Qader, but we were assured by the people concerned that they were not armed. Also, Jalaloddin Haqqani, leader of one of the mojahedin groups, looked after the few remaining "Afghan Arabs," against our wish to deport them all from the country.
Another group of "Afghan Arabs" was under the protection of Mawlay Akbari, another local leader. Of course, Qader, Haqqani, and Akbari had close ties with Pakistan. Let me also remind you that the Arabs were not the only people in these camps. There were volunteers of other nationalities, from Kashmir and the Philippines. Does anyone really need reminding that Afghanistan is a country that is landlocked on all sides and that reaching its territory necessitates passing through other countries? So which neighboring countries did the "Afghan Arabs" pass through to enter Afghanistan? I raised this issue with (Benazir) Bhutto on more than one occasion. Fighting foreign terrorism requires cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many "Afghan Arabs" have homes and families in Pakistan. They use Pakistani territory in their travels to their homeland and in fighting their governments. Of course, preventing the use of Afghan territory as a springboard for operations against other countries has been and will continue to be one of our government's political priorities. I have given Egyptian President (Husni) Mubarak and Tunisian President (Zine El Abidine) Ben Ali categorical assurances that no Egyptian or Tunisian nationals use our territory for acts of terrorism.
[Taheri] And yet Hekmatyar participated in a conference of groups and movements held in Khartoum to declare jihad against the United States and its allies, and he also invited Dr. Hasan al-Turabi, general secretary of the Sudanese National Islamic Front, to visit Afghanistan.
[Rabbani] That was before he rejoined the government ranks. I have already said that he was readmitted to the government on the basis of a program including closure of the camps used by foreign fighters. I have no reason to believe that he has not honored his commitments under the agreement, although some factions of the Hezb- e Eslami continued to sponsor a few volunteers alongside whom we fought in the past. As regards Hekmatyar's invitation to al-Turabi, that did not take place. Al-Turabi was in constant contact with us during the jihad and, as far as we knew, he had close relations with the Americans at the time. He later on offered to lead a mediation mission to Kabul but nobody responded to that offer.
[Taheri] What about Usamah Bin-Ladin who, early this year, gave interviews to some British and German papers while in Afghanistan?
[Rabbani] He was in Nangarhar under the protection of Hajji Qader. Before that he was under the wing of Khalis who benefited from Bin-Ladin's financial campaigns to collect donations during the liberation war. Again the Pakistanis had knowledge of Bin-Ladin's movements between Nangarhar and Khartoum, coming and going via Peshawar.
[Taheri] But according to press reports, the Taleban Movement promised to arrest the "Afghan Arabs."
[Rabbani] That is the Taleban's affair. All I know is that, after detaining a few dozen "Afghan Arabs" and moving them to Kandahar last September, Taleban has now allowed the reopening of some camps.
[Rabbani] The Taleban movement is deeply divided on that issue. Perhaps some elements close to the Pakistani authorities had promised to arrest the "Afghan Arabs" and to close their camps, but other elements in the Taleban leadership and some local mojahedin leaders who joined the Taleban perhaps want to protect the "Afghan Arabs" and are most likely doing so for money.
[Taheri] Is Bin-Ladin one of those?
[Rabbani] Our information is that Bin-Ladin left Afghanistan supposedly for Khartoum after the Taleban captured Nangarhar, Konar, and Paktia. The latest reports received by us indicate that he was seen in Kabul in the company of some Taleban leaders in November. We have to assume that he repeatedly traveled between Sudan and Afghanistan via Pakistan.
[Taheri] Are you implying that the Taleban's policy on the "Afghan Arabs" has changed?
[Rabbani] First of all, I do not know what their original policy really was, but I do know that they are opening new camps for foreign movements' members. Perhaps the aim is to train foreign volunteers to fight on their side. The Taleban have suffered grave losses, of dead and captured, in the recent battles and they perhaps want to use some "Afghan Arabs" to consolidate their ranks. The fact is that "Afghan Arabs" have participated in the fighting between the conflicting blocs and factions at all stages since the defeat of the communist regime to this day. Sayyaf, for instance, recruited Arabs where he is in Lajiham [as transliterated] to fight units of the Shiite Unity Party who were led by the late Abdol Ali Mazari.
[Taheri] All that is really confusing. Is there any information as to the current number and whereabouts of the "Afghan Arabs" in Afghanistan?
[Rabbani] Our information is that the old camps of Badr-1 and Badr-2 which we had closed down in Khasteh have been reopened. The number of foreign volunteers is estimated at 600, many of them Arabs, with others from Pakistan, Kashmir, and the Philippines with them in these two camps. Khasteh is near the Pakistani border. Actually, these two camps use a newly built all-weather road which links Khasteh with Miranshahr in Pakistan. Are those people being trained to fight alongside the Taleban against the government or to fight their governments in their own countries? I cannot be certain about anything at present, but what is new is that a number of training camps have been built in the districts of Shenadan, Wahran, and Farah [as transliterated] in the west. Our information is that about 1000 "Afghan Arabs" are at present receiving training in these new camps. Again we cannot be sure about the purpose of the training. Is it to fight us or is it for the purpose of proceeding to carry out operations in other countries?
[Taheri] There is another issue of interest to many countries, namely the drugs issue. Afghanistan has become a main center for smuggling heroin.
[Rabbani] That is true. The problem began under the communist regime. After liberation we realized the danger that drugs pose to our people. So we created a special directorate to combat the production and smuggling of narcotics and, despite our minimal resources, we allocated a good part of our budget for that purpose. Our government formulated a cooperation program with Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey in that field. We also sought technical aid from the United Nations to fight the production and smuggling of drugs but we did not get the desired cooperation. Some had convinced the Americans that the Taleban would end the drugs trade but they now realize that they were deceived. The elements controlling the Taleban cannot possibly give the United States and its allies what they want. One sometimes has to follow a mirage. Four-fifths of the heroin produced in Afghanistan over the past two years came from areas under Taleban control. The picture should be clear to the Americans through the satellite photographs.
[Taheri] Your critics maintain that your government is trying to form a bloc with New Delhi, Moscow, and Tehran.
[Rabbani] That is false. Afghanistan's position among nations is one of nonalignment. We want normal relations with all neighbors and others without joining any military bloc. We have not concluded anything that is in any way akin to a military agreement with any party. We fought the aggression committed against our government in Kabul without anyone's help. We fought using our own willpower and resources. We have close relations with numerous countries, especially Egypt, Turkey, Germany, and France. We welcomed the Turkish offer to hold a conference in Ankara on the Afghan problem. I have written to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin-'Abd-al-'Aziz seeking his assistance in making fresh efforts to establish peace in Afghanistan either through a direct Saudi initiative or in the context of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. We sincerely hope that a conference will be held in Jeddah to help find a political formula to avoid more bloodshed in Afghanistan. We are not in a position to tolerate the existence of a blacklist in hostile countries. We need everyone and we would be grateful to anyone who helps the Afghan people in this time of crisis. A friend in need is a friend indeed. I sincerely wish that Pakistan and the United States would reconsider their policies toward us on the basis of the existing facts on the grounds. These two countries now have a better understanding of the Taleban movement and its real ideology, and they should realize that the salvation preached by the Taleban would not stop at Afghanistan's borders. The United States and Pakistan should think hard before creating a monster like Frankenstein's, who turned on his maker. Pakistan is really in grave danger because some tribal elements in its border northwestern districts still have special concessions given by Britain, and they do not recognize the legitimacy of the Pakistani Government. The Pakistani Government should embark on a thorough and comprehensive dialogue with us before it is too late.
[Taheri] Can I ask you about Najibollah's death?
[Rabbani] When the Taleban attacked the capital, Kabul, we convened an emergency meeting of the government attended by senior military commanders. After much discussion all the conferees agreed on temporary withdrawal from Kabul to avoid bloodshed. We then sent envoys to everyone whose safety we thought would be in danger if he remained in Kabul after our withdrawal. We sent a special envoy to Najibollah, whom we were protecting on behalf of the United Nations, offering to take him and his brother with us. He told our envoy that he was grateful for that offer but did not wish to leave Kabul because "certain arrangements" had been made that would help him ensure his safety. We did not pause for long about that matter and we assumed that the arrangements he was referring to were made through the United Nations which was committed to protecting him pending his appearance before a judicial court to face trial for the crimes he committed against the Afghan people. We learned later that some channels of contact in the United States had promised to smuggle him out of Kabul to the West, presumably via Pakistan. He, in return, promised to provide all the information he had about his long cooperation with the Soviets and his work as head of the Afghan security organ (Khalid) and then as head of the communist regime in Kabul. We do not know the identity of that American channel of communication but we know that the Taleban undoubtedly knew about the deal and decided to kill him before his contacts could act. A Taleban unit went to Najibollah's headquarters and opened fire killing him and his brother. After his death he was left hanging for hours. Our information is that Najibollah's contacts arrived in an armored car to rescue him but they arrived half an hour too late. He wasted the opportunity for his own survival.
[Taheri] Had Najibollah agreed to go with you, would you not have executed him?
[Rabbani] No. We had promised the United Nations that we would protect him until an elected government determined his fate. We do not smear our hands with people's blood like that.
[Taheri] To foreign observers it seems as if there is a double deadlock, military and political, in Afghanistan. What are your expectations for the near future?
[Rabbani] The deadlock cannot last forever. The elements of popular uprisings against the Taleban are growing in various parts of the country, especially in Herat and Kabul. When such movements surge forward, our military forces will make the necessary moves to support them. That is how our counterattack took place in October. The people rose against the Taleban north of Kabul enabling our forces to regain the initiative. We, of course, will continue our efforts for a political solution. There are now several channels open for that purpose. Of course, I cannot go into details at this point but we are under no illusions. We realize that we have to be prepared for war despite the winter season which hampers the fighting very much. But one thing is certain: We will drive the Taleban from all the cities it now occupies, including Kabul, and, after that, form a government of national unity.
Social Origins of Taleban
FTS19970124001403 Paris Les Nouvelles d'Afghanistan in French 24 Jan 97
[Article by Mariam Abou Zahab, an INALCO [expansion unknown] instructor: "The Social Origins of the Taleban"]
There are many questions about the Taleban movement. Where do they come from? What is this Islamic law they are trying to enforce completely? What is the status of the other populations they do not control (in this issue the Hazaras and the Uzbeks)? What are the international implications of their coming to Kabul? Are there prospects for a solution? In this second part, specialists on Afghanistan provide some answers.
They are described as students or illiterates. They are sometimes said to be manipulated by Pakistan, sometimes Pushto nationalists. We look at their chiefs' ideology. But who are they, the rank and file Taleban soldiers? Where do they come from?
Even if the Taleban include in their ranks some professional soldiers and some former Khalqis have joined them for various reasons, often ethnic or tribal, most Taleban come from private Afghan or Pakistani madrassas. Unlike the leaders of the resistance's basic parties, who have often graduated from the Shariat department of Kabul and Al Azhar University, a good number of the mullahs who lead the Taleban movement were trained in Pakistani madrassas of the Deoband sensibility, thus a part of the tradition of special relations between Deoband and Afghanistan. (Footnote 1)
The majority of Taleban belong to the lowest rungs of Pushto society. Many, natives of the poor countryside of Zaboul and Ouruzgan Provinces, do not enjoy the prestige and the power connected with owning land. There are many orphans among them: small, private madrassas or ones linked to a resistance party--essentially Maolawi Mohammadi's Harakat-e Enqelab-e Islami--and who often lived inside mujahidin bases, which under the Soviet occupation took in the children of chahid (martyrs) or the poorest families. The students of these madrassas were housed and fed and got an education that would make it possible for them to earn their living. Furthermore, starting very young, they were mobilized for the jihad. We should remember that non-religious education, which was already very little in evidence in these rural areas before the Soviet occupation, had disappeared completely during the war and that, in any event, it was associated with communism and thus utterly rejected.
In the 1980's I visited a number of these madrasses, in particular in the northern part of Zaboul Province and I cannot forget what I saw there: the students' living conditions, a majority of whom were between 6 and 12 years old, were extremely harsh. Ill fed, sleeping on the floor in dilapidated buildings, the children lived in diplorable hygienic conditions. Lessons, basically oral ones, consisted mainly of learning the Koran by heart, which generally takes three to four years of study. Students learned how to read Persian and Arabic though not to write it.
The madrassas established in Pakistan by the Jamiat-e Ulama-e Islam (JUI) (Footnote 2) for the refugees recruited from the same social strata. According to the 1 December 1995 issue of the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, at that time 1,383 madrassas were officially registered in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), 684 of which were affiliated with the JUI. There were 99,307 Pakistani and 13,772 Afghan students. The JUI's madrassas had foreign financing (Footnote 3), as was acknowledged by Maulana Fazlur Rahman in March 1995: "We accept donations from every Muslim country, organization, and other donors. Without them, we wouldn't be able to run these madrassas." The refugees did not turn to these madrasses because they couldn't gain access to Pakistani high schools but because this type of Islamic education corresponded to the traditional training they wanted, in particular within the context of the jihad. Besides it seems to be an established fact that most of the madrassas located in the tribal zone provided their students with military training.
The Akora Khattak Madrassa
The mullahs who lead the Taleban movement have often graduated from prestigious Pakistani madrassas and in particular from Jamiah al Islamiyah and Dar ul Ulum Sarhad, both located in Peshawar, and from Dar ul Ulum Haqqaniyah, the Akora Khattak madrassa located five kilometers from Nowshera (NWFP). The latter, established following the 1947 partition by Abdul Haq Akorwi, a Deoband graduate, trains one-third of Pakistan's Deobandi graduates. Recruiting almost exclusively among Pushtos, it is currently headed up by Maulana Sami-ul Haq, the son of the founder and the chief of his own JUI faction that is opposed to the PPP [expansion not given], unlike the majority trend led by Fazlur Rahman, which supports the Benazir Bhutto government. (Footnote 4) The study of this madrassa by Jamal Malik (Footnote 5), which has been linked since the beginning to Afghanistan, is one of the most eloquent. The proportion of Afghan students there is very high: from 15[percnt] in 1959-60, it rose to 37[percnt] in 1970--i.e. 204 students out of 550--and it rose to 60[percnt] in 1985--about 400 students out of 680. Of a total of 799 graduates between 1977 and 1984, 129 were Afghan (16.2[percnt]), 34.9[percnt] of whom belonged to a family with a religious tradition. The madrassa's enrollment records do not mention tribal background, which would be contrary to Islam's egalitarian principles, though they do mention the graduates' geographic origin. Most come from Kandahar, Ghazni, Jalalabad or Paktia. (Footnote 6) It should be pointed out that during the same period 93 graduates were originally from the Pushto areas of north Baluchistan and 133 others from Bannu and North Waziristan, which is not insignificant when we remember that Maolawi Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi got support from the Wazir and Mahsud tribes in his fight against the Soviet occupier. One can deduce that ties were established between the Afghan and Pakistani students, given their ethnic and cultural affinities and that the Pakistani students were mobilized for the Afghan jihad. The Dar ul Ulum Haqqaniya madrassa provides a top education and no military training is given its students. They have however taken an active role in the jihad, leaving in rotation for Afghanistan for several months without that disrupting their studies. The interest of Saudi Arabia and Zia ul Haq's Pakistani Government in this madrassa, which claimed to be "on the front line of the jihad" was thus considerable. Dar ul Ulum Haqqaniya's resources and in particular the monies spent by the Pakistani Government under the rubric of zakat (legal alms) thus increased significantly starting in 1982. (Footnote 8)