Taliban Article Rebuts ISIS Accusations Of Deviation From Earlier Ideology, States: The Taliban Do Not Fight ISIS On Behalf Of West

In an article published in the Taliban’s monthly magazine, Al-Somood, which was released[1] on August 31, 2021, writer Karim Al-Nakadi argued that the views held by the Taliban today are consistent with the Taliban of the past, and responded to several accusations made against the Taliban, including the claim that they fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) on behalf of the West.

The writer began by saying that since the signing of the agreement between the Taliban and the U.S. on February 29, 2020, some of the Taliban’s supporters and sympathizers have expressed concern that the Taliban have changed their ideology. He highlighted that ISIS spearheaded the campaign of accusations, by claiming that the Taliban have “deviated from their original path.” ISIS’s criticism of the Taliban, he said, dates back to Al-Qaeda denouncing ISIS. “Since then,” he wrote “[ISIS] and its supporters have been campaigning against the Taliban, claiming that the Taliban of today differ from the Taliban of the past, and that the Taliban of the past – according to their views – were Muslims who waged jihad and adhered to the orders of Allah, whereas the Taliban of today are unbelievers, apostates, and traitors[.] [ISIS] bases these claims on issues faced by today’s Taliban which did not exist for the Taliban of the past.”

ISIS Endorsed The Taliban In 2011

Citing an August 2011 speech delivered by slain ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani in which he praised the Taliban’s fighters and Taliban founder Mulla Muhammad Omar, the writer noted that his article will “examine the issues that serve as the basis for ISIS’s accusations against the Taliban, [accusations which include] deviation, treason, and unbelief.” He continued: “We will rely on the Taliban’s ideology prior to August 2011, i.e., prior to the last time ISIS endorsed the Taliban, and then we will see if these were developing issues for the Taliban, or if the Taliban holds the same original positions [it held before] when, according to ISIS, they were [true] Muslims who waged jihad and adhered to the orders of Allah.”

Views On The Heads Of Muslim States

ISIS’s claim that the Taliban have deviated from the correct path, the author wrote, is based on the accusation that the Taliban do not consider the leaders of Muslim countries to be unbelievers, and view the Saudi and Iranian regimes as legitimately Islamic. Al-Nakadi wrote: “This, in fact, is due to [ISIS’s] lack of knowledge about the Taliban’s ideology[…] The Taliban, since their inception, do not deem the heads of state of Arab regimes to be unbelievers.” The reason behind that, the writer explained, is that the Taliban are affiliated with the Deobandi movement, follow the Hanafi school, and are close to Sufism. Those who adhere to this ideology, he said, are “extremely careful when it comes to issue of excommunication.” The writer then cited several statements delivered by Taliban officials proving that they held the same position before ISIS’s last endorsement. This included a December 2008 statement in which Taliban founder Mulla Muhammed Omar called the late King of Saudi Arabia, Abdallah Bin Abd Al-Azizi, “the custodian of the two holy mosque and the king of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Diplomatic Relations With Foreign Governments

Another ISIS accusation mentioned in the article is that the Taliban’s diplomatic relations with many countries, such as China, Russia, Qatar, and Iran are a departure from the group’s earlier ideology. The writer responded by saying: “Everyone knows that when the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was established, before the 9/11 attacks, it had established diplomatic relations with three countries[:] Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, and maintained embassies in those countries.” The writer then cited several statements by Taliban officials in which they expressed their intention to establish relations with all countries of the world.

Position On Threats Against The U.S. And It Allies In Taliban Territory

Addressing the Taliban’s commitment that its territories will not be used to threaten the U.S. and its allies, the writer argued that this is not a new position of the Taliban, and that the Taliban’s leaders have always stressed that “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will not constitute any threat to any country in the world, so long as the U.S. and its allies withdraw completely from Afghanistan.” He then cited a May 2007 message by Mulla Muhammad Omar in which he stated that “the Islamic Emirate doesn’t interfere illegally in the internal affairs of other countries and doesn’t accept such illegal interference from other nations.” The writer also cited a November 2010 open letter to members of the U.S. Congress, written by Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousaf Ahmadi, in which he wrote: “The fear that Afghanistan may turn out to be a threat to world peace must be put out of your minds, as it is mere baseless propaganda and a lie fabricated by your rulers to justify and continue their illegal, unjustified, and irrational war, the so-called war on terror.”[2]

Shi’ite Fighters In The Taliban

ISIS’s claim that the Taliban’s acceptance of Shi’ite fighters in their ranks represents a deviation from the group’s original path was also addressed by the writer, who claimed that the Taliban have always called for unity among Muslims, and have always opposed sectarian-based classifications and disunity. He also cited a May 2007 message from Mulla Muhammad Omar in which he called on the people of Iraq to put their sectarian differences aside and “be united in their resistance against the enemy occupiers, as victory cannot be attained without unity.”

The Taliban’s Fight Against ISIS

Refuting the claim that the Taliban fight against ISIS on behalf of the West, the writer noted that the Taliban have stressed that they do not seek anyone’s assistance in their fight against ISIS. He then cited a December 2015 statement by the Taliban: “To end the U.S. occupation of its land, the Islamic Emirate has contacted many countries in the region and continues to contact them, and this is its legitimate right. But with regard to ISIS, we don’t need support from anyone. We have not contacted anyone regarding this matter and we did not talk to anyone.”

Stating that the evidence presented clearly refutes ISIS’s allegations and establishes that the Taliban have not deviated from their path, the writer mentioned that despite ISIS’s allegations, slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and former leader of the Islamic state in Iraq (ISI) Abu Mus’ab Al-Zarqawi both swore allegiance to the Taliban, and that former leader of ISI Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi endorsed the Taliban, as did the former leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi via his spokesman Al-Adnani.

The writer then maintained that even if ISIS’s allegations against the Taliban were proof that the Taliban are treasonous and have committed acts of unbelief, this would mean the same accusations should be leveled at the Taliban of the past and all those who had allied with it, including Al-Qaeda during the time of Bin Laden, ISI during the time of Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi, and ISIS itself, during the time of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

The Taliban Now Vs. The Taliban Of The Past

The writer concluded by stressing that there “is no difference between today’s Taliban and the Taliban of the past, and their current policy is a continuation of their older policy, since they assumed power in Afghanistan in 1996[.] Those who claim otherwise are either lacking in knowledge of the ideology of the Taliban since their inception, or maintain the wish that the Taliban had deviated, so they can unleash the arrows of their deep hatred of them.”

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