Cliff May

We've heard a lot in recent days about how conservatives and liberals are responding to President Obama's plans for Afghanistan. But what does the enemy think?

Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Afghan Taliban leader, clearly would have been happier had Obama taken Michael Moore's advice and begun to withdraw, rather than increase troop levels in Afghanistan. Just before the President took the stage at West Point, Mullah Omar issued a message calling upon his fighters not to be discouraged but to continue the jihad until every American and European troop is driven from Afghanistan.

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Ahmed Rashid, the well-known Pakistani journalist, called the 10-page message, delivered to him and a few other reporters by e-mail in English and two Afghan languages, "an unprecedented propaganda blitz." Rashid observed: "Mullah Omar has previously denied that the Taliban are allied to al-Qaeda, although it is apparent that the Taliban's new media strategy has emanated from al-Qaeda tutoring." Also significant: Mullah Omar urged his fighters to avoid civilian casualties. Rashid notes that, according to the United Nations, "more than 1,000 Afghan civilians were killed in the first six months of 2009 - 70 per cent of them due to Taliban attacks." Evidently, this has not been helpful to the Taliban from a public relations perspective.

Soon after Obama's West Point address, a statement was issued by the "administrator" of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. That is what Taliban leaders call the entity they mean to create because Islamists reject nation-states and nationalism as Western and un-Islamic. Their goal, instead, is a global caliphate, sub-divided into territories, each ruled by a Muslim monarch taking guidance from a caliph, a supreme leader of the faithful.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan website is decorated with photos of what are, apparently, killed Western soldiers, as well coffins draped in American and British flags. At the bottom it recommends: "Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites."


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.