Afghanstan war: Are some Taliban ignoring Mullah Omar's ethics code?
Last summer, Taliban leader Mullah Omar issued a new ethics code for Taliban fighters. But two killings of Taliban hostages indicate that those moral guidelines for conducting the Afghanistan war are being ignored by some fighters.
In fact, the killings of Nabiullah, a 29-year-old police colonel who'd been held for 10 weeks, and Junid Hejeran, a 26-year-old translator with U.S. special forces in southern Zabul province, who'd been held for days, violated a new set of ethical principles that Mullah Mohammad Omar, the top Afghanistan Taliban commander, issued last summer.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
In mid-November, around the time of the killings, American and Afghan forces arrested a Sunni Muslim cleric known as Mullah Naqib, the local Taliban strongman, who allegedly held both men and ordered their executions, officials of both countries said.
In January, U.S. special forces and Afghan commandos arrested two more top Taliban officials in Wardak, Ahmad Jan, the Taliban military commander, and Ali Marjan, his religious adviser, both of whom are maulavi, Sunni religious scholars. Both also were directly involved in the murders of the two security personnel, according to the top Afghan civilian official in the province.
"Mullah Naqib is not the killer. The killer is Maulavi Ahmad Jan and Maulavi Ali Marjan," Wardak Gov. Halim Fidai told McClatchy. He alleged that Marjan had issued the fatwa, or religious ruling, giving the authority to kill the prisoners.
What is Omar's code?
That would be a violation of Mullah Omar's code, which says that Taliban fighters who capture an enemy, whether local or foreigner, must turn him over to the provincial commander, who can free prisoners in an exchange but never for payment. Omar himself wields the power of life and death: "No one has the authority to execute the prisoners except Imam (Omar) and his deputy."
It wouldn't be the only violation, however, because two other Afghan security personnel held with Nabiullah — who like many Afghans went by only one name — reportedly were sold back to their families for ransoms.
Nor do such local Taliban leaders always pay heed to Shariah, Islamic law, although the group makes a point of sending in a judge wherever it holds a dominant position, to establish order under Shariah.
"We know that the Taliban are not that well organized," said the murdered Nabiullah's brother, Mohammad Taher. "They have no law. They are not following Shariah law." At the local level, "the commander is everything. He can do anything he wants to. He will not follow the rules of anyone."
Naqib's group "was involved in many killings, suicide attacks, roadside bombings and kidnappings," said Sayed Omar, a tribal elder in Maydan Shahr, the capital of Wardak. "He also acted like a judge and issued fatwas," said Omar, who met with the families of the two victims in November.
A spokesman for U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top NATO military commander in Afghanistan, said the International Security Assistance Force had no record of Naqib, Jan and Marjan being arrested or tried by American forces or put through ISAF detention processes. He said the International Committee of the Red Cross had been informed of their arrests, however, and that it was highly likely they were in Afghan prisons. He couldn't say whether they'd be charged with executing prisoners without due process.