A detailed interview with Zabihullah Mujahid with the Daily Asharq Al Awsat about the recent developments
The spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Mr. Zabihullah Mujahid has conducted a detailed interview with the Arabic Daily ‘Asharq Al-Awsat’ newspaper about the recent situation and developments in Afghanistan. Being informative, the English translation of this interview is published on the Alemara website for the sake of our esteemed readers with due acknowledgements to the daily ‘Asharq Al-Awsat’ newspaper.
Question: When did Mullah Mohammad Umar Mujahid (may his soul rest in peace) pass away? If you could state the exact date of his passing away and the place of his burial!
Answer: بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم، الحمدلله وکفی والصلوة والسلام علی عباه الدین اصطفی امابعد
His Excellency Amir-ul-Momineen late Mullah Mohammad Umar Mujahid (may his soul rest in peace) passed away on Tuesday 23rd April 2013 due to the illness he was suffering from and was laid to rest inside Afghanistan where he had been living. Because of the security considerations, we cannot identify or reveal his exact burial place.
Question: Why was this news kept secret from the fighters and political leaders of this movements for such an extended period of time?
Answer: You are aware that we are involved in a vigorous war with a tyrant occupying enemy. Revealing the news of passing away of Amir-ul-Momineen would have definitely undermined the spirit and enthusiasm of Mujahidin therefore following a decree of authentic scholars, the tragic news of his passing away was concealed and not announced. This is not without a precedent in the early history of Islam. The news of passing away of the first Caliph Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddique (may Allah be pleased with him) was concealed by Hazrat Abu Ubaida bin Jarrah (may Allah be pleased with him) in the battle of ‘Yarmuk’ from all Mujahidin who were fighting under the command of Hazrat Khalid bin Waleed (may Allah be pleased with him). When the fighting ended and Mujahidin were at ease, only then did Hazrat Abu Ubaida bin Jarrah inform them about the passing away of Amir-ul-Momineen Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddique (may Allah be pleased with him). So in our situation too, only a select few family members of late Amir-ul-Momineen (may his soul rest in peace) and leaders of the Islamic Emirate were informed and the news was prevented from spreading out.
Question: How much truth is there to the news of differences after the death of Mullah Mohammad Umar Mujahid?
Answer: After the death of late Amir-ul-Momineen (may his soul rest in peace), due to the delicacy of the Jihadi circumstances, an urgent and essential meeting of discerning and influential people, comprising of members of the leading council of the Islamic Emirate and authentic scholars was convened where it was decided that Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor will be the new leader due to him being competent enough for shouldering this huge responsibility and practically leading the Islamic Emirate for the last several years. He was trusted by Mujahidin and was close to Amir-ul-Momineen late Mullah Mohammad Umar Mujahid (may his soul rest in peace). So he was appointed as the new Amir (leader).
When the news of his appointment was announced, heads of Jihadi fronts, commanders, dignitaries, religious scholars, Mujahidin and ordinary people from all over the country started pledging their allegiances to him. Similarly within the short span of seventy two hours, messages of allegiances were received from all parts of the country which confirmed how essential the unification of our ranks for all Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate was! It also revealed their unwavering trust and confidence in their leaders and scholars as well as their contentment with the appointment of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor as their new leader.
As far as the disagreement of one or two persons is concerned, it was actually not with the Amir but with the procedure of his appointment which was not very serious either. It is quite natural that differences of opinions arise in such a huge movement comprising of people with different ideas and evaluations. But these differences are not that serious. A solution will be found at the earliest as a group of authentic religious scholars are working at solving these issues and inside our ranks, we have no concern about them.
Nevertheless, due to the responsibility, obligation and likewise tolerance of the Islamic Emirate, efforts are underway to convince these individuals to support the Islamic Emirate and to avoid providing a chance of negative propaganda for the enemies of the Islamic Emirate. Neither should they be deliberately or unintentionally misused by others.
Question: Does Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor avail the support of all political members of ‘Quetta Council’ and have they pledged their allegiance to him?
Answer: The Islamic Emirate has no organ called ‘Quetta Council’ in its setup rather it has special organizations and commissions for the progress of all Jihadi activities. The overwhelming majority of the leading council, authentic scholars, trustworthy representatives and the above mentioned commissions have unanimously and consistently pledged their allegiance with his excellency Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor (may Allah protect him) as their new Amir (leader). They called upon the masses to pledge their allegiance too which was warmly welcomed. As I stated that within the short span of seventy two hours, messages of allegiances were received from various Jihadi fronts, villages and towns, cities and tribes and a large number of Afghans living in exile in different countries which were simultaneously published, along with their reports and minor details, on the official Alemara website. We can conclude that the newly appointed Amir is an undisputed leader and there were no issues and obstacles in his selection.
Question: Would you like to talk about the personality of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor as the Muslims, both in the east as well as in the west, have little information about him! Can we simply say that he is one of the eagles of the Islamic Emirate?
Answer: Yes, the new Amir (leader) Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor (may Allah protect him) was one of the intimate colleagues of His Excellecny late Amir-ul-Momineen Mullah Mohammad Umar Mujhaid (may his soul rest in peace). He has worked in various key military and civil posts during the reign of the Islamic Emirate. He has worked as the minister of aviation for five years. In the new setup following the American invasion, he worked as the Jihadi in-charge of Kandahar province besides being a member of the leading council. He was then appointed the assistant of the first deputy head of the Islamic Emirate, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. When Mullah Abdul Ghani was arrested, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor was appointed as the deputy head of the Islamic Emirate in 2010 by late Amir-ul-Momineen, Mullah Mohammad Umar Mujahid (may his soul rest in peace). So for the last five years, he has been practically managing all the activities of the Islamic Emirate and by the grace of Almighty Allah, he proficiently and successfully shouldered the huge responsibility of leading the Islamic Emirate in the most daunting circumstances as its deputy leader. He has intimate ties with all Mujahidin. He is very sympathetic while having deep tolerance and patience. He is a pious and knowledgeable person. He consults the religious scholars and pays great heed to their views as he is fully cautious about its importance and is fully committed. He has deep insight and discerning power in tackling political issues. He is very popular among all Mujahidin. Since he has been an affectionate and sympathetic leader for Jihadi group leaders, therefore, Insha-Allah (God willing), Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate will have no concern about him. They fully trust him as he is a well-known and experienced person.
Question: What is your new stance about negotiations with the government? Do you have any fresh information in this regard?
Answer: We have not altered our standpoint about negotiations. Afghanistan is still under American occupation and the Kabul based admin has no powers. Our political office has been authorized to conduct talks. Whenever it is deemed necessary and they are convinced that the occupation is ended and an Islamic System inside the country can be restored through negotiations then there should be no issue in this process.
Question: Do you fear the increasing influence of Daesh (ISIL) that they will replace Taliban?
Answer: Daesh (the Islamic state) is the result of the bitter political, military and religious fissures prevalent in Iraq and Middle-East. As those bitter and untoward circumstances are not yet present inside Afghanistan therefore the presence of Daesh (ISIL) is not needed here and neither do we have any fear about them.
We have always tried to prevent ethnic, religious and other internal differences inside Afghanistan and by the grace of Almighty Allah, have been quite successful in achieving it. In the future, we pray to Almighty Allah that our courageous nation resist the foreign occupying forces in unison and He saves them from fragmentation and disintegration.
Question: How real are the reports of splitting of some Taliban commanders from the Islamic Emirate and their integration with Daesh (ISIL) forces?
Answer: You know that the Islamic Emirate has full control over its forces under a well-established administration system wherein specific rules and regulations have been assigned aimed at controlling their activities and capabilities, and they are obliged to work and proceed within the jurisdictions of these allocated norms and rules.
A number of people who tried to misuse the name of the Islamic Emirate and indulge themselves in activities which are not consistent with the rules and regulations of the Islamic Emirate. They were prevented by authorities of the Islamic Emirate from committing such acts. Since they repeatedly violated the policies of the Islamic Emirate and did not refrained from illegal activities like abduction, torturing civilians, looting and various other activities therefore the Islamic Emirate had to expel them from its ranks and some were trialed accordingly.
These were the people who got together in the eastern province of Nangarhar supported by some foreign circles and launched their activities against the Islamic Emirate under the name of Daesh (the Islamic state). By the grace of Almighty Allah and with the persistent support of the local people, most of the areas occupied by them were liberated quickly. And at the time being, there is no significant resistance in those areas against the Islamic Emirate.
Question: Abdur Rashid Dostum, the deputy head of Afghanistan is determined to fight against Taliban in Faryab and Kunduz provinces. How will it affect the morale of Taliban forces?
Answer: We have fought against Dostam in the past and forced him to flee the country several times. Now the Americans have invaded and Dostum was empowered with the aerial support of the American forces, it is totally a different story.
The presence or absence of general Dostum does not affect the fighting fronts. Dostum cannot inject his forces with new enthusiasm nor can he undermine the high spirit of Mujahidin. In our prolonged struggle, we have even successfully managed to defeat the American forces despite all their advanced military warfare and allied forces. Dostum is nothing in comparison to them. This time again, he will be badly defeated, Insha-Allah (God willing).
Question: In the west, there is a perception that Taliban’s struggle is led and directed by Pakistani intelligence agencies and Mullah Umar was only a symbolic personality. What is the reality?
Answer: We are not the only victims of such baseless propaganda rather all freedom loving movements especially the Islamic movements are targeted by it. These calumniators do not believe in Allah’s support and assistance neither do they believe in Jihad and sacrifice in the path of Allah. They marvel at how these weak empty handed Mujahidin successfully managed to defeat such a powerful enemy. So to satisfy of their narrow minds, they sometimes link our lofty struggle with Pakistan, sometimes they attribute it to the American agencies etc. etc.
We assure the people that our struggle is not indebted to anyone. No foreign support nor any secret intelligence agencies can sponsor such a huge struggle. Had the external support or intelligence supervision been beneficial, the Americans and their stooge authorities should have benefited from them. America has strong and well-organized intelligence systems which are actively and openly working in our country for the last fourteen years but it is all in vain. Had the foreign support been useful, the Kabul based admin would not have faced any difficulty as it enjoys the fully extended support of forty nine well-equipped and advanced countries of the world.
All of them have failed. It is only due to the blessings of the holy religion of Almighty Allah. Actually it is a sign of their refutation and truthfulness of the Mujahidin. The people who cannot properly discern this secret, they slander us with bad culminations and it is just a matter of their mindset.
Question: Are Taliban in a state that they need a strong leader to keep the unity of their ranks and what will be its impacts on the future of Taliban movement?
Answer: Since the Jihadi front is an arena of sacrifice where everyone including the leadership can be martyred, arrested or face demise in naturally therefore the leadership of this kind of Jihadi front takes preemptive measures for its future. Besides other characteristics and specifications, our Jihadi front is a madrassa for training and nourishing leaders. Here, if one leader is martyred or arrested or dies naturally, Mujahidin are neither destabilized nor do they feel any weakness in their determination. They are pre-informed that the continuation of Jihad has nothing to do with leaders or individuals rather its persistence is related with its lofty ideals and objectives. Personalities will inevitably change in this path either due to natural reasons or military incidents but the ideals and objectives which form the wraps and woofs of Jihadi struggle will remain constant.
This was the main reason that even after the disclosure of Amir-ul-Momineen’s death, Mujahidin did not feel any weakness in their ranks instead they are incessantly following the path of their late Amir due to their loyalty and devotion to their mission and are fighting with the same fervor and enthusiasm against the foreign invaders, allied forces and their internal stooges.
Moreover, the newly appointed Amir of the Islamic Emirate, his excellency Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor (may Allah protect him) has been a well-experienced and successful Jihadi leader. He was fully trusted by the late Amir-ul-Momineen. He has practically led the Jihadi front in the most daunting circumstances. At present, he has appointed quite discerning, influential and religious assistants. He enjoys the support of a strong leading council comprising of discerning and the leading members of the Islamic Emirate. Therefore we hope that the unity of the Islamic Emirate will strongly be preserved and our presence will be visualized with even more strength and unanimity.
Question: How true is it that the Taliban are facing financial crisis in the present circumstances?
Answer: In our opinion, the era of weakness has been left far behind. By the grace of Almighty Allah, the Islamic Emirate and all our Mujahidin are moving from strength to strength day by day. We enjoy wide support of our masses. We are making progress on the daily basis. In the battle-fields, huge amount of light and heavy weapons, ammunition and other necessary equipment is being seized from the timid enemy by our forces daily. So I strongly deny this rumor that the Islamic Emirate is, God forbid, facing any difficulty in financing its civil or military setup.
Question: Who is Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor and what is his military role in the ranks of Taliban?
Answer: His Excellency, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor is one of the foremost people of the Islamic Movement of Taliban. He has participated in the Holy Jihad against Russians. Like his predecessor, he was also seriously wounded in the confrontational war against Russians. He has worked at various posts during the reign of the Islamic Emirate. He has been the minister of aviation. After the brutal American occupation, he was the general military commander of the important Kandahar province. After the arrest of Mulla Addul Ghani Baradar, he shouldered the most heavy and critical task of deputy leadership. He is deeply respected by leaders, scholars and all Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate. They trust in his sympathy and benevolence. He has the potential of controlling and leading the Jihadi ranks. He pays due attention to the suggestions of religious scholars and discerning people. He is endowed with deep political insight. Due to all these features, he was introduced as the new leader of the Islamic Emirate and was widely accepted throughout the country.
Question: Has the military situation altered in enemy’s favor after the selection of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor as the new leader?
Answer: In view of the above mentioned experiences of his excellency Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor with his two talented deputies and complete support of the leading council of the Islamic Emirate, we are assured that the military situation inside the country will take a positive turn in our favor. Mansoor Sahib is facing huge challenges now and is trusted with heavy responsibilities as compared to past therefore it is inevitable that he steer his work much wisely and boldly which will certainly have lasting positive impacts on the military situation of Jihad. As far as we know Mansoor Sahib, he has deep tolerance, patience and steadfastness. He has full trust in Almighty Allah therefore we can say and predict significant progress in the field of Jihad and his control and management will face no major obstacles, Insha-Allah (God willing).
And it is never difficult for Almighty-Allah!!!
Spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.