Division Within Neo-Taliban
A significant portion of a Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty article, Afghanistan: Contradictions Hint At Division Within Neo-Taliban, appears below.
The most recent contradiction between statements of the spokesmen of the Taliban and the website of the "Islamic Emirate" followed the suicide attack that killed Paktiya Governor Hakim Taniwal on September 10. Soon after that attack, Mohammad Hanif told a Peshawar-based news agency Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) that the killing was carried out by a Paktiya resident. He added that he had "no further details" beyond the attacker's name. Similarly, on the day of the Taniwal assassination, the "Islamic Emirate" website posted a report that identified the attacker as a heroic "seeker of knowledge" (mujahed talib al-'ilm) of the Islamic Emirate -- using the term "talib" in its traditional linguistic, not political, meaning.
On September 11, another suicide bomber targeted a number of Afghan security officials attending Taniwal's funeral in neighboring Khost Province, killing six people. The website indicated that a "heroic mujahed of the Islamic Emirate" carried out a "martyrdom-seeking" attack against high-level officers at the funeral.
But speaker Mohammad Hanif, speaking to AIP, expressed "strong condemnation," and said his movement had not committed the attack on the funeral.
The stark contrast could be related to conflicting ideologies within the ranks of the neo-Taliban. But it might also indicate a lack of any centralized command and control of the activities or policies of the far-flung movement.
A majority of neo-Taliban militants and sympathizers might well have viewed the assassination of Governor Taniwal as legitimate. He was a close confidant of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, after all. But an attack on the attendees of any funeral service is generally disdain as running counter to Pashtun tribal norms.
A rift arose under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan between many traditional Taliban and elements who identified themselves with Arab Islamists -- namely Al-Qaeda. Allies of the Arab elements eventually gained the upper hand.
But the same ideological split could be resurfacing, if indications are correct of increasing contacts between some neo-Taliban and self-proclaimed "jihadists" operating in Iraq.
The "Islamic Emirate" website refers to the insurgents as "mujahedin" -- the same term being applied to insurgents and terrorists in Iraq. That -- and the existence of an Arabic version of the same website -- could indicate a link between the people behind the website and more radical global Islamists who are not sensitive to Pashtun traditions.
It is interesting that, among other things, a website was created by - apparently - a more al-Qaeda-aligned strand of the Taliban. All seriousness aside, the effectiveness of this communication method may be questioned within Afghanistan if communicating with the masses is the aim. I could be quite wrong, but Afghanistan may be the least internet-connected country on the planet.
Regardless, noting the non-monolithic nature of the Taliban in Afghanistan is worth a few lines of text in RapidRecon.