5 years ago
From Voice of America:
Coalition officials in Afghanistan say they intercepted a message from Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, ordering his followers to never surrender and kill any civilians suspected of helping the coalition forces …
According to the spokesman for the NATO-led ISAF forces, General Josef Blotz, Mullah Omar sent the letter from his alleged Pakistani hideout to his fighters in Afghanistan.
Blotz says the letter encourages Taliban insurgents to fight coalition forces to the death without surrender or withdrawal, attempt to capture coalition forces whenever possible, recruit anyone with access to the coalition and work to get more heavy weapons.
He also says part of the new orders target Afghan civilians. “Capture and kill any Afghan who is supporting and/or working for coalition forces or the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Capture and kill any Afghan women who are helping or providing information to coalition forces,” he said.
Blotz says these new orders reverse Mullah Omar’s edict from last year to avoid civilian casualties. “This proves the Taliban are willing to ignore their own code of conduct when they sense that they are losing influence and control. And make no mistake, that is what is happening as more Afghan National Security Forces take to the streets and more ISAF forces arrive to assist them,” he said.
It’s doubtful that Mullah Omar has ordered the deaths of cooperating civilians because he thinks he is losing. On the contrary, he isn’t worried about hearts and minds. They have the initiative, and their campaign of terror has worked. Consider a recent entry during a patrol from Bill Ardolino who is embedded with the Marines in the Musa Qala district.
As the Marines and Afghan national security forces (ANSF) walked through the village, most of the locals paused what they were doing to watch the patrol with casual interest. Some children poked out from tiny metal doorways set in hardened mud walls to gawk or smile. Here and there, a local businessman or elder moved from under a thatched straw lean-to to greet the Afghan security personnel, usually followed by a handshake with the Marines. Within 20 minutes of navigating the narrow tan streets and alleys, the group broke the perimeter of the village, cutting eastward into the incongruous patch of vibrant green farmland that splits the sandy ridges and imposing mountains towering above the valley.
Their destination was a shura (conference) of village elders scheduled to take place at Panda Ridge, a Marine patrol base on the other side of the valley. The meeting’s topic was grim. The previous Saturday, on June 26, the Taliban detonated a buried roadside bomb amidst an American convoy traveling through a section of the village lining the opposite riverbank. No one was injured in the initial blast, but the insurgents set off a second bomb as Americans and villagers gathered to assess the damage. One Afghan boy was killed instantly, at least dozen villagers were wounded, some seriously, and two Marines were riddled with shrapnel, but will survive. Despite immediate aid rendered by a Navy corpsman and the quick arrival of a medevac helicopter on the dry riverbed, two more small children died on the operating table at Camp Bastion. Navy surgeons were able to save three others.
The aftermath of the explosion has presented a stiff challenge to Marine counterinsurgency efforts focused on protecting the population in Karamanda: villagers living closest to the blast have become wary of the Marines and Afghan government forces. Some protective parents on the western side of the wadi have now instructed their children to avoid the patrols.
The civilians are aligning not with the side who does the best at digging wells, providing schooling, doing governance, and engaging them in Shuras, but the side they believe will win.