If anyone had any doubt that the Taliban in Afghanistan had “reformed” or become “moderates,” they should talk to the Taliban’s acting interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani. Mr. Haqqani is the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of the Haqqani Network — a loose collection of terrorists, gangsters, and fanatics. The State Department designated the Haqqani Network a terrorist group in 2011 and they’ve done nothing since then to change anyone’s mind.
Mr. Haqqani is wanted by the FBI for planning and executing the bombing of a hotel in Kabul in 2006. Now he’s the acting interior minister of a country. Go figure.
During the 20-year insurgency, the Taliban used dozens of suicide bombers to kill U.S. and Afghan soldiers. On Tuesday, Mr. Haqqani hosted the families of many of them and praised them for their sacrifice.
“In his speech, the minister praised the Jihad and sacrifices of the martyrs and Mujahidin and called them heroes of Islam and the country,” the Taliban’s “acting ministry” said in a statement on Twitter.
Families of the suicide bombers were given clothing, 10,000 afghani ($111) and promised plots of land, spokesman Qari Sayeed Khosti said.
Certainly, Mr. Haqqani has a different idea of what constitutes a “hero” than many of the rest of us. But if you want to see something really “heroic,” how about the Afghan woman who was a member of the Junior National Team whom the Taliban beheaded earlier in October? She was beheaded because…well, she’s a girl and playing sports.
In an interview, coach Suraya Afzali (name changed) said a woman player named Mahjabin Hakimi was killed by the Taliban earlier in October, but nobody learnt about the gruesome murder as the insurgents had threatened her family not to talk about it.
Mahjabin played for the Kabul Municipality Volleyball Club before the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani government, and was one of the club’s star players. Then, a few days ago, pictures of what seemed to be her severed head and bloodied neck turned up on social media.
The western media is portraying incidents like this as a battle between radical and “moderate” elements of the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
The promise of rewards for suicide bombings signals conflicting approaches within the Taliban leadership. They are trying to position themselves as responsible rulers, who promise security for all and have condemned suicide attacks by their rivals, the militant Islamic State group. On the other hand, they praise such tactics when it comes to their followers.
The Taliban cannot afford to alienate the U.S., which froze billions of dollars in Afghan assets in U.S. accounts in line with international sanctions protocols. International monetary organizations paused disbursements, equivalent to 75% of the previous government’s expenditure.
At the same time, the Taliban cannot afford to lose their hard-line base, especially in the wake of a growing IS threat.
The battle isn’t between “moderates” and radicals. It’s between more rational terrorists and bat guano crazy terrorists like Minister Haqqani. The difference is that the more rational terrorists have sense enough to keep their radicalism as hidden as possible. The “moderate” Taliban are just as fanatical about denying little girls the opportunity to read and write. They just don’t go around bragging about it.
The Taliban desperately needs that cash sitting in American banks. Their economy is expected to contract up to 30 percent this year — a depression-level contraction from which the economy won’t recover for at least a decade. The U.S. and western nations have to calculate whether it would be cheaper to give them the cash now or rescue them after the depression hits.
The more “moderate” the Taliban can appear to be, the more cash will fall into their laps.