The leadership council of the Afghanistan Taliban have issued a statement today strongly denying and condemning the December 6 bombings targeting Afghan Twelver Shi'is in the cities of Kabul and Mazar-i Sharif, which killed 80 people. The Kabul attack, a suicide bombing, is the country's first large-scale sectarian attack, which has raised fears of sectarian violence. However, this fear is likely overblown. The Afghan Taliban almost immediately denied responsibility and suspicion has fallen on Lashkar-i Jhangvi (LJ), whose name translates to the "Army of Jhangvi," referring to an assassinated militant Pakistani Sunni cleric., Maulana Haqq Nawaz Jhangvi, the founder of Sipah-i Sahaba (Soldiers of the Prophet's Companions).
The Afghan Taliban, though it is opposed to Shi'i theology and ritual practices, as it is opposed to many practices by Sunni Sufis and other Sunnis that don't conform to its rigid doctrinal outlook, has little to gain from perpetrating such an attack. Their leadership council's statement also expresses condolences to the families of the victims and survivors and urges Afghan Shi'i 'ulama (religious scholars) to help them ensure that these attacks will not lead to wider sectarian violence in the country. This, even granted that it is partly rhetoric, is significantly different to the ultra and even boastful sectarianism of Al-Qa'ida in the Land of the Two Rivers/Iraq (AQI) and the increasing anti-Shi'ism of Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), at least vis-a-vis the Huthi Movement.
Sipah-i Sahaba is also virulently anti-Shi'i and extremely violent. In fact it's sole purpose is violent sectarianism. The group arose in the 1980s, in part, as a reaction to increasing Pakistani Shi'i political mobilization following the Iranian Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran under the guidance of Grand Ayatullah Ruhullah Musavi Khumayni. The violent sectarian Pakistani groups, both Sunni and Shi'i, mix political motives with religious ones to create a particularly virulent strain of religio-political (or politicized religious) ideology.
Lashkar-i Jhangvi has denied responsibility for and condemned the attacks. A man named 'Ali Sher-i Khoda who claimed to be the spokesman for a new Afghan militant group told the BBC in an interview in Pakistani Baluchistan (Balochistan) that his group was behind the attacks. He said that they had been inspired by Lashkar-i Jhangvi. The truth of his claim is unclear and is currently being debated. The Afghan government has blamed the attacks on Lashkar-i Jhangvi. A number of leaders of the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella for dozens of Pakistani Pashtun militias in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), including Hakimullah Mehsud, were affiliated with sectarian Pakistani outfits like Lashkar-i Jhangvi and Sipah-i Sahaba.
I hope to write a new article about these attacks and the Afghan Taliban's response this week.
Report on the gathering of the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate and its statement regarding the
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
On the day of Ashura, 10th of Muharram 1433, inexplicable bombings took place in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif in which tens of our defenseless countrymen were soaked in their blood and their families left in utter grief. This incident was also strongly rejected and condemned by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in the initial hours. Yesterday on the 15/01/1433, the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate held an important council about this topic. Intense discussions were held regarding these incidents which were described as a pre-planned plot of the defeated enemy and it was stressed that our vigilant nation must pay astute attention to such actions of our enemy and nobody should be allowed to reach their sinister goals by creating rifts and divisions amongst our united people on the basis of religion, race, language or region.
Similarly, the political and religious sides of our country were asked to put the benefits of our country and people ahead of their own or organizations benefits and such actions not be undertaken to achieve their political aims which would mean nothing other then adding fuel to the fire which has been lit by our enemy against the unity of our people and country. It was also said that in these tender moments in which our enemy is on the verge of fleeing, it is going back to its natural habit and reaching for grief stricken moments like the day of Ashura so it can divide the unified Afghan people because the enemy wants to take revenge from our suffering people for their own failures. Our alert and unified nation will never be deceived by such plans of our enemy but rather they will also thwart this plan like all the previous ones. In the end of the gathering, the below statement was issued after much deliberation:
- The Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate wants to extend its condolence to the affectees and once against strongly condemns such acts.
- Islamic Emirate considers such incidents the plots and acts of the invaders and the enemies of Afghanistan and calls on all its countrymen to lend each other hands and cooperate with each other in preventing such incidents in accordance with their national and religious duty because such acts of the enemy are against all our countrymen and are detriment to our beloved Afghanistan.
- Islamic Emirate personally asks the scholars and leaders of Afghanistan’s Ahl Tashi’ (Shiite) to be very vigilant regarding this matter and they should inform their people that this incident can never be considered a topic of enmity between Sunni and Shiite. They should never lend an ear to the internal agents who want to paint this as an internal and religious strife for serving their own interests and for pleasing their masters.
- Islamic Emirate gives guidance to all of its Mujahideen to pay attention to preventing such acts from taking place alongside their other duties.
The Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan