The proposal of the U.S. administration to reach out to “moderate” Taliban to end the Afghan insurgency needs reconsideration. The concept that we can live with “moderate” elements of this regimen based on the view that many of them “only” want to implement Shariah laws and that “most” of them do not promote global jihad carry many risks for the world’s security.
The first risk is that accepting to live with “moderate” Taliban – because they do NOT believe in global jihad — will set a model for many Islamists to use the same barbaric approaches — that the Taliban used before and is still using until now – to implement Shariah rules everywhere.
If I was until now a jihadist (as I used to be 25 years ago) reading about such an approach of the U.S. administration, I would immediately start putting a plan with my fellow jihadists to behead children in the U.S., burn young girls alive, and demand from the U.S. government to live under the rules of Shariah in order to stop our attacks. In other words, to end the freedom of women in U.S., prevent young American girls from getting education, and to practice stoning for those who have sex outside of marriage.
Recently, the Pakistani government agreed to live with “moderate” Taliban and allowed them to control Swat, or the “Switzerland of Pakistan,” but this agreement has not prevented terrorist attacks in Pakistan such as the recent attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team and many others.
This is partially because Sunni Islamic groups — unlike Shia — do not follow one main hierarchal system and trying to satisfy one group is not enough to prevent others from launching jihadi attacks. Failure to recognize this structure of power in Sunni groups is catastrophic, as giving concessions to one group does not provide us immunity from the attacks of others. In fact, such concessions can encourage many radicals to use more barbaric tactics to get more concessions from us.
We have already seen an increase in the intensity of the attacks of Islamist terrorists in both Pakistan and Iraq after the U.S. made this step of reaching out to the “moderate” Taliban. The expression “reach out” seems promising for many but this does not mean it is effective. Defeating the Nazis or the emperor of Japan was not by reaching out to them but, on the contrary, was by devastating military defeat that used sufficient power to suppress the enemy. .
The U.S. tried already to “live with” the Taliban prior to Sept. 11 and the outcome was that they harbored al-Qaida and threatened world security. Shall we repeat the same mistake again?
The Taliban themselves did not participate directly in the attacks of Sept. 11 but they allowed the cancer of al-Qaida to grow and destroy us. Can we ignore the Taliban as the nourishing system for the al-Qaida cancer simply because they did not directly attack us? How can the U.S. administration guarantee to us that future Taliban will not harbor another al-Qaida and give them the safe haven to attack us again with more sophisticated and lethal weapons?
Assuming that Shariah laws do not support global jihad represents lack of sufficient knowledge about the basic principles of Shariah. One of the fundamental and undisputable principles of Shariah in ALL accepted schools of Islamic jurisprudence — until now — is global wars to spread Islam after offering non-Muslims the options of conversion to Islam, paying humiliating tax, or jizzia, or to be killed. Until this fundamental concept of Shariah changes it will be just naivety to imagine that we can live with the “moderate” Taliban who “only” want to implement Shariah laws.
I encourage the U.S. administration to try to convince the leading Islamic scholars to change this basic foundation of Shariah law first before recommending to us that we live with “moderate” Taliban.
As an ex-jihadist I can confirm that the only difference between the “moderate” and “radical” Taliban is that the “moderates” are more wise, so they will not attack the West before they attain enough power to do so – as Shariah laws actually recommend.
The difference between the two groups is mainly at the tactical level rather than in their strategic goal.
If any sane individual read the available Shariah books he or she will immediately realize that if the “moderate” Taliban did not attack us today they will do it once they have the power to do so.
The “moderate” Taliban probably do not say this loudly as a form of “tequia,” or deception to deceive the West and to decrease the pressure on them until they gain more power. They simply play chess with us and we accepted their gambit.
If the Barack Obama administration is suggesting living with “moderate” Taliban only as a tactical step to defeat it later on, then their view may be correct. On the other hand if the administration genuinely believes that we can “live with” the Taliban then it is certainly erroneous.
It is vital to step back and try to understand the phenomenon of Islamism. Using only military attacks is certainly not sufficient to end this problem but on the other hand, trying to live with it can only make things worse.
Ideally, our attack on groups like the Taliban has to include proper overt and covert ideological, psychological, and economical operations to weaken them in addition to effective anti-terrorism measures. The intelligence must play a major role in this war. Failure to end Taliban barbarism using one tactic does not mean that we can live with it but — on the contrary — it must encourage us to add other and more effective measures to our strategy to defeat it.
Tawfik Hamid is a radical Islam reformist, a world authority on radical Islam, and A senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. Dr. Hamid is also the author of "Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam."
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