Mullah Omar Orders Attacks on Civilians

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 5 months 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.


  1. On July 30, 2010 at 10:54 am, burkbraun said:

    But the civilians have crucial influence themselves, with intelligence, general allegiance and turning into insurgents. So it is a dynamic, reflexive situation, where we will only be successful if we bring all our instruments to bear as intelligently as possible.

    For instance, we could easily terrorize the countryside and beat Afghanistan into submission (as the Soviets did). We have plenty of firepower for that. But that would induce .. well, you know the story. We could even depopulate Afghanistan entirely if we wished. But we don’t, as that would also buy more problems, way beyond Afghanistan.

  2. On July 30, 2010 at 2:57 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Yes, I’ve got it. As the Navy boys would put it, I have “memorized the gouge.”

    I am not necessarily suggesting that we adopt Edward Luttwak’s approach for the population. No, I am making another observation entirely, one that points away from the population.

    I am observing (or in this case forecasting) that the lack of effort to win hearts and minds on the part of the Taliban, while probably counterproductive, won’t effect the results in the end. If it did, this would have already happened, a point also made by Bing West after his most recent embed to Afghanistan.

    I am suggesting that there is something more important, and that is, having the initiative and force projection. By tightly restricting the ROE, by spending ourselves blind trying to rebuild the country, by trying so hard to understand the human terrain, we are targeting only secondary and tertiary issues.

    The population will side with the winner. It’s that simple. They will not pick a loser, no matter how much they might like him. Picking losers gets them killed in the long run. We may care about our population-centric counterinsurgency doctrine, but the Afghanis don’t.

  3. On July 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm, burkbraun said:

    Yes, I agree- your point about winning is very apt & true.

    But where does that insight lead? It leads to the home front, not the Afghan front. Killing civilians there is not going to win the war any faster, as it turns civilians into terrorists. The reverse behavior bleeds fighters away from the Taliban.

    The issue is here at home, making sure we maintain the will to persevere for the decade it is going to take to set the stable course in Afghanistan, given wiser policy. Look at Iraq and the success there. The opposition was less organized, with fewer safe havens, than in Afghanistan, so was easier to kill and out-wait, but the principles are the same- any chance of leaving depends on a secure and functioning civilian system that it appears to be our job to foster.

    Also, the Afghans have been through so much and are so justifiedly skittish that we have to move heaven and earth to make up lost ground for their overall stability. At least we don’t have the same record of brutality that the Soviets did, which would make the project entirely hopeless.

  4. On July 30, 2010 at 4:13 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    In order to make the point once again, I can only refer you to my most recent featured article.

    In contrasts your presuppositions (pop-centric COIN) with what we did in Iraq. My opinion: I think you should be a little more skeptical before buying so completely into the Kilcullen/Nagl/FM 3-24 dogma.

    In Iraq we made it extremely dangerous to be an insurgent OR to be affiliated with or even anywhere near insurgents.

    Rather than creating more insurgents, this squashed the insurgency. The FM 3-24 dogma was wrong in Anbar, and the Marines did their own thing.

  5. On August 1, 2010 at 8:31 am, Mike Walters said:

    There was a recent article which documented the withdraw of Dutch troops from Afghanistan despite ISAF’s request that they stay:


    This is a worrisome trend. it is expected that other NATO/Coalition forces will follow suit.

    The Taliban are nothing if not patient. They know that all theyhave to do is wait long enough, and the West will weary of the war, weary of further casualties, and eventually the civilian population will demand that the troops be brought home. This is where we will lose the war in Afghanistan. We will lose if the Coalition, and America in particular, fails in their resolve to contine the fight.

    At the end of World War II we left large numbers of troops both in Europe, and Japan. This is THE reason that these areas of the world are productive democracies today. If we pull out too soon, and it seems that this is inevitable, Afghanistan will again be thrown into civil war, the taliban (or another repressive regime) will ultimately gain control, and this region will again become a haven for terrorists.

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You are currently reading "Mullah Omar Orders Attacks on Civilians", entry #5292 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Counterinsurgency and was published July 29th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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