After Saying They're Not Terrorists, Then Condemning Their Terrorism, White House Urges Deal with Taliban
The White House said today it's still supportive of a "reconciliation process" with the Taliban even after the terror group's bloody attacks this week.
A Taliban suicide bomber detonated an explosive next to a bus carrying employees of the Afghan satellite network TOLO TV on Wednesday in Kabul. Four male and three female employees were killed, and 26 were injured.
The Taliban boasted in a statement today that they "made good" on their vow to target TOLO "for promoting obscenity, irreligiousness, foreign culture and nudity" with its programming including original drama series and reality shows.
"The Islamic Emirate wants to clarify that the attack on Tolo was not an attack on the media but on an intelligence network opposing our national unity and our religious and national values. We want to reassure all impartial media outlets. They must not unintentionally compare themselves with Tolo and should withhold from making unwarranted assertions because they cannot harm us," the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
Most of TOLO's workers, he complained, "were anti-Jihad and anti-Islam elements trained by foreign intelligence toiling for the Americans for the past many years."
"The condemnations by the US embassy, Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah, Dostum and other insignificant figures and organizations can never break our resolve and neither will propaganda and media warnings change our path," Mujahid continued. "Instead of making irresponsible and thoughtless declarations and decisions, everyone should discern their responsibilities."
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the "reprehensible" attacks on TOLO's bus and on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan -- in which 22 people were killed and the Pakistani Taliban have both denied and accepted responsibility -- "underscore the ongoing threat that terrorists pose to the region and to the peaceful and prosperous future we seek to build together."
"We offer our deepest condolences to the victims of the attacks and to their families, and we stand with the people of the region against all forms of extremism and terrorism," Price said.
A year ago, the White House said the Taliban weren't terrorists as the administration justified the swap for Bowe Bergdahl.
"The Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don't make concessions to terrorist groups," spokesman Eric Schultz said in January 2015.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today "the United States has long been supportive of an Afghan-led reconciliation process, and the conclusion that we've drawn here is one that... the Taliban poses a security threat to both countries, and that the nations of Afghanistan and Pakistan are going to be able to more effectively confront that threat if they're able to more effectively cooperate."
"And that's what we're hoping to do and that's what we're hoping to facilitate," Earnest added.
"And, you know, any sort of decisions about how the continuation of those talks and any sort of agreement that could be produced by those talks about whether or not that's in the interest of those countries to pursue are -- those are decisions that will be made by the leaders of those two countries, as it should be. But certainly the United States will continue to play the role that we've played for some time now in supporting, you know, reconciliation talks that are led by those individual countries."