Taliban issues code of conduct
The Taliban in Afghanistan has issued a book laying down a code of conduct for its fighters.
Al Jazeera has obtained a copy of the book, which further indicates that Mullah Omar, the movement's leader, wants to centralise its operations.
The book, with 13 chapters and 67 articles, lays out what one of the most secretive organisations in the world today, can and cannot do.
It talks of limiting suicide attacks, avoiding civilian casualties and winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the local civilian population.The utmost effort should be made to avoid civilian casualties," the book says.
There are now clear guidelines on how the Taliban will treat its prisoners as well.
"Whenever any official, soldier, contractor or worker of the slave government is captured, these prisoners cannot be attacked or harmed," it says.
"The decision on whether to seek a prisoner exchange or to release the prisoner with strong guarantees will be made by the provincial leader.
"Releasing prisoners in exchange for money is strictly prohibited."
The book further states that if a "military infidel" is captured, the decision on whether to kill, release or exchange the hostage is only to be made by the Imam, a reference to Mullah Omar, or deputy Imam.This could be on the one hand a propaganda ploy, after properly assessing their support and popularity levels throughout the Afghanistan. On the other hand, I do have a wild proposition. The centralization could be an attempt to reign in local factions that are only loosely Taliban allied. Even further, centralized control would, or could, be used as a bargaining strength in further negotiations with the central government in Kabul, and NATO. I question the resolve of the Taliban at this time. While Bin Laden and co. may see their struggle in terms of decades, the Taliban have certainly never seen it as some great millennial struggle.The release of the rule book comes less than a month before Afghans head to the polls for a presidential election, which the Taliban has deemed an illegitimate system imposed by foreigners.
The timing may be just a coincidence, however, as rival presidential candidates detail their manifestos and the Taliban makes an effort to win over the Afghan public.