A newly circulated document urges members to "treat civilians according to Islamic norms and morality"
An updated Taliban code of conduct urges fighters to avoid killing civilians and forbids them from seizing weapons and money, a directive aimed at winning hearts and minds of Afghans also being courted by international forces.
But the document declares that people working for international forces or the Afghan government are “supporters of the infidels” and can be killed. Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar took a similar hard line in orders to insurgents that NATO forces said they intercepted in early June.
Mullah Omar urged fighters to kill anyone working with international forces or the Afghan government, including women, according to NATO.
The Taliban began distributing their new code of conduct in southern Afghanistan a little over a week ago, shortly before the top NATO commander in the country, Gen. David Petraeus, issued guidelines that also urged soldiers to avoid civilian casualties.
“The Taliban must treat civilians according to Islamic norms and morality to win over the hearts and minds of the people,” said the 69-page Taliban booklet, which was obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday from a Taliban fighter in the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak.
“All efforts must be made to avoid harming civilians in attacks,” said the booklet, which the insurgent said began circulating in Afghanistan 10 days ago. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted.
International forces have also stressed that protecting the population is key to winning the nearly 9-year-old war and have highlighted U.N. findings that the Taliban are responsible for most civilian deaths through suicide attacks and roadside bombs — a message the insurgent leaders are likely trying to counter with their new directives.
On Monday, a suicide car bomber near Kandahar blew himself up near a vehicle taking an Afghan official to work, killing six children instead, police said.
The new code of conduct, which was published at the end of May, is an update to a similar set of directives released a year earlier that limited the use of suicide bombers and mandated that prisoners cannot be harmed or ransomed without the approval of a Taliban regional commander.
NATO and Afghan officials criticized last year’s code as propaganda and insisted it does not reflect how the Taliban really fight. Analysts familiar with the Taliban said it was more of a political statement than a military textbook, meant to counter the international coalition’s own attempts at winning hearts and minds.
Petraeus reinforced that effort by distributing revised “Counterinsurgency Guidance” to NATO troops in Afghanistan this week, about a month after he took command in the country.
“The people are the center of gravity,” said the document. “Only by providing them security and earning their trust and confidence can the Afghan government and (international forces) prevail.”
Petraeus also advised the troops to “hunt the enemy aggressively” but use the minimum amount of force necessary to avoid civilian casualties. The commander’s predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, placed strict limits on the use of airstrikes and firepower.
“We can’t win without fighting, but we also cannot kill or capture our way to victory,” said the guidance. “Moreover, if we kill civilians or damage their property in the course of our operations, we will create more enemies than our operations eliminate.”
At least 2,412 Afghan civilians were killed in fighting last year — up 14 percent from 2008, according to the United Nations. But the U.N. found that the percentage of civilian deaths attributed to NATO and Afghan government forces had dropped. About two-thirds of the civilian deaths were a result of actions initiated by the insurgents.
NATO commanders hope that keeping pressure on the Taliban will force their leaders eventually to negotiate and will push lower-level fighters to lay down their weapons and accept government reintegration offers.
The Taliban urged their fighters not to surrender in their new code of conduct, saying “such acts enhance the morale of our enemies.”
The insurgents also declared that all fighters must have beards unless given special exemption and are prohibited from smoking cigarettes, which are often viewed as un-Islamic by radical groups like the Taliban.
More Related Stories
- If Alex Pareene was a cable news executive...
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
- UK officials: Radical Islam behind London attack
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- London machete attack could be linked to terrorism
- Conservative group blames military sexual assault on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal
- Lois Lerner, IRS disaster
- Donald Rumsfeld worried that marriage equality will lead to polygamy
- Experts: Fox News spying scandal a game-changer
- San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt apologizes for homophobic past
- 9-year-old slams Rahm over Chicago schools
- Stockholm riots rage for third day
- Wall Street firm's "Golden Pitchbook" is totally sexist, full of lies
- Must-see morning clip: Toronto's eccentric and allegedly crack-smoking mayor
- Federal court strikes down Arizona abortion ban
- Jodi Arias: I deserve a second chance
- Oklahoma residents return home to pick up the pieces
- Florida man with connection to Tsarnaev killed by FBI
- FBI identifies 5 Benghazi suspects
- Here come the tornado truthers. Already
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11