WOLVES IN WOLVES’ CLOTHING: The Myth of a Friendly Taliban …

“We’ve discussed a lot with the Taliban. They’ve been cooperative ….”

“[W]e’re in constant contact with the Taliban, working to ensure civilians have safe passage ….”

“We’ve made an agreement with the Taliban ….”

“I also urged [the previous Afghan government] to engage in diplomacy, to seek a political settlement with the Taliban.”

The above statements were all made by Joe Biden during his three press conferences over the course of a week, suggesting the Taliban is a new and reformed potential diplomatic partner of the United States.

When pressed on whether or not the U.S. “trusts” the Taliban, and if it would apply sanctions “if they misbehave,” Biden replied: “So far, they have, by-and-large, followed through on what they said …. It depends on the conduct.” This theme has been carried throughout the press conferences, with sentiments such as: a Taliban uniting and providing for the well-being of the Afghans; cooperation and constant contact; engaging in diplomacy; possibility of economic assistance and trade.

Are we witnessing a new, responsible, “prodigal son” Taliban that deserves a second chance? Has there been any evidence of “misbehavior”? After all, as Biden emphasized in his August 20 press conference, America’s relationship with the Taliban “will depend on … how well they treat women and girls, how they treat their citizens.”

Let’s look at how well America’s new potential partner has treated Afghanistan’s citizens over the past several weeks.

Bloomberg reported two weeks ago that in parts of Afghanistan, the Taliban are going door-to-door, “compiling lists of women and girls aged between 12- and 45 years old for their fighters to forcibly marry.” Other reports affirm that girls as young as 12 are being turned into sex slaves for Taliban fighters (seen as qhanimat, or “spoils of war”).

Village women are also being forcibly drafted to prepare food for Taliban militants. In an incident reported by the Telegraph, Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan last week set a woman on fire for “bad cooking,” an incident described by former Afghan judge Najla Ayoubi. Several weeks earlier, in July, another woman, whose story was detailed to cnn by her 25-year-old daughter, was unable to provide food for Taliban fighters due to their family poverty. She was summarily beaten to death with the butts of AK-47s, and grenades were tossed into the house.

Numerous reports detail the ongoing Taliban door-to-door hunt and execution of any they consider enemies, such as Afghans who supported the American war effort. One such individual, a translator, had his U.S. Department of Defense identification card melted into his chest, his arms removed, was hung in the street, and his whole family killed (all but his 10-year-old daughter, who was handed over to leadership). Other such individuals on the Taliban hit list include reporters, such as a Deutsche Welle journalist and editor, who after the Taliban failed to find him, had one member of his family killed and another seriously injured. The reporter is now in Germany, and his relatives are on the run. Thus far, the homes of at least three Deutsche Welle journalists have been raided. And a translator and contributor to another German publication, Die Welt, was executed in the middle of the street by men the report states were “presumably Taliban.”

Then there is the Taliban hunt for Christians. The following official statement was put out by Leaders in the Underground Church in Afghanistan:

The Taliban has a hit list of known Christians they are targeting to pursue and kill. The U.S. Embassy is defunct and there is no longer a safe place for believers to take refuge. All borders to neighboring countries are closed and all flights to and from have been halted, with the exception of private planes. People are fleeing into the mountains looking for asylum. They are fully reliant on God, who is the only one who can and will protect them.

The Taliban are going door-to-door taking women and children. The people must mark their house with an “X” if they have a girl over 12 years old, so that the Taliban can take them. If they find a young girl and the house was not marked they will execute the entire family. If a married woman 25 years or older has been found, the Taliban promptly kill her husband, do whatever they want to her, and then sell her as a sex slave.

Husbands and fathers have given their wives and daughters guns and told them that when the Taliban come, they can choose to kill them or kill themselves—it is their choice.

The Middle East media ministry SAT-7 reported, Taliban militants are “pulling people off public transport and killing them on the spot if they’re Christians or considered ethnically ‘unpure’ …. We’re hearing from reliable sources that the Taliban demand people’s phones, and if they find a downloaded Bible on your device, they will kill you immediately.”

The list of crimes goes on and on. Amnesty International reported that in July, “Taliban fighters tortured and murdered at least nine ethnic Hazara men after capturing the province of Ghazni.” One victim, according to multiple witnesses, had the muscles sliced off his arms. Another individual was hauled away to an uncertain fate for displaying an Afghan flag on his car dashboard. A group of young Afghan youths were held at gunpoint and flogged across their necks for the “crime” of wearing jeans. And all Afghan women have been forced out of civil servant jobs, to be replaced by men.

Schooling for girls and women is coming to an end. The sight of burning schools has returned. In one reported case, a girls’ boarding school has been hurriedly burning its records to protect the identities of attendees. In addition, mandatory burka-wearing has returned—with reports of women not being able to acquire them fast enough and the garments reaching sky-high prices. A distressing image made headlines last week of parents clutching their daughter, lying in a pool of her own blood, after the young woman was publicly executed for not wearing a burka.

Consider the résumés of the individuals leading the new, “moderate” Taliban. Hibatullah Akhundzada heads the movement; he first joined in the early 1990s. He is seen more as a spiritual head rather than military leader, authoring many religious fatwa rulings (including those that relate to public executions). His son is well-known for joining a large-scale suicide bombing in the Helmand province in 2017, packing three stolen U.S. Humvees full of explosives and ramming them into Afghan military outposts.

Underneath Akhundzada are three deputies, one of which, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was a cofounder of the Taliban. He presently serves as the political head of the Taliban, and was the deputy leader to the Taliban’s primary founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar, who closely supported Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda two decades ago (a support that led to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11).

The second deputy leader is Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the terrorist Haqqani network, Afghanistan’s so-called “most-feared militants,” famous for its suicide bombings. Haqqani is personally responsible for a number of attacks, one of which took place near a school in 2008, killing seven children. He has links to al Qaeda, which has cooperated with the Haqqani network.

The third deputy is Mullah Yaqoob, the son of the Taliban’s founder, Omar. He served as head of the Taliban in 2020 while Akhundzada recovered from covid-19. During that period, he failed to fulfill a pledge renouncing al Qaeda.

Further down the chain is one of the top commanders who conquered Kabul, Gholam Ruhani. He was an inmate at Guantanamo Bay prison for six years, where he bragged to a prison guard, “We’ll get you on the outside.” Then there’s the Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, who sternly warned the U.S. that there would be “consequences” if the U.S. dared to stay beyond the August 31 withdrawal deadline.

These are the individuals with whom the United States is in “constant contact” and “cooperation.” This is the “new, moderate” Taliban, much-removed from the terrorist organization of past decades. Yet its leadership makes up the original founders of the Taliban. According to Biden in his August 20 conference, we have a new, clean-slate situation in Afghanistan “with al Qaeda gone.” Yet that is ignoring the ties to al Qaeda of the current Taliban leadership.

The narrative is that “the Taliban … have so far sought to strike a more moderate tone.” But have we witnessed “moderation” the last few weeks? Such a delusional assessment is simply flabbergasting. And we’ve heard this all before from the Taliban—just before 9/11.

Notice what Spectator published in its article titled “Don’t Be Fooled, the Taliban Hasn’t Changed”:

Twenty-five years ago, when the Taliban took over Kabul, they declared that it was not going to take revenge, instead offering amnesty to anyone who had worked for the former government. The exact statement assured the population that the “Taliban will not take revenge, we have no personal rancor.”

Soon after that promise was made, the ousted President Mohammed Najibullah was castrated and strung up from a lamppost at the center of Kabul. … The Taliban have always returned to their core identity and beliefs.

Taliban are in the streets acting as “guarantors of public order.” This is exactly the message that Mullah Omar tried to impart in 1996, telling residents of Kabul to resist the temptation to flee and that the Taliban will keep them safe.

They, of course, lied. But this should be no surprise—Sharia law is often interpreted as allowing for lying to the “infidel”—and who more than the “Great Satan,” America?

A reporter asked Biden at a press conference earlier this week: “Because the United States is now negotiating with the Taliban over airport access and such, do you now trust them?”

Biden replied: “Look, the Taliban has to make a fundamental decision. Is the Taliban going to attempt to be able to unite and provide for the well-being of the people of Afghanistan[?] … If it does, it’s going to need everything from additional help in terms of economic assistance, trades, and a whole range of things. The Taliban has said, we’ll see whether they mean it or not. … So far, they have, by-and-large, followed through on what they said …”

Given what we’ve seen over the past several weeks—let alone years—the fact that this is still presented as a “we’ll have to wait and see” scenario is shocking.

It would seem, from the position of the Biden administration, there are no signs of “misbehavior” that would call into question a diplomatic relationship between the United States and the new, friendly Taliban—a relationship contingent upon “how well they treat women and girls, how they treat their citizens.”

What is resoundingly obvious to the world is that the United States—the “number one superpower”—is being played for a fool. The Taliban have fully embraced their opportunity to humiliate the United States: In one recent example, staging a photo shoot with their troops, dressed in their new American military gear and weapons, raising the Taliban flag in mockery of the iconic American World War ii image from Iwo Jima.

And China’s official state-controlled Xinhua news agency released a cartoonish video mocking the fact that after 20 years, $2 trillion, and 2,300 soldiers’ lives, the U.S. has successfully replaced the Taliban regime with a Taliban regime and has seen the number of terrorist groups in the region increase from single digits to now over 20. “America is back,” the news network mocked of Joe Biden’s motto.

It’s a painful truth: 20 years after America entered Afghanistan to deal with a Taliban-backed al Qaeda, the Taliban is now back in power, only this time armed with billions of dollars’ worth of high-tech U.S. military equipment and firepower.

Clearly, what we have seen just over the past two months—and the past two decades—shows that the Taliban cannot be trusted. But conversely, what the world has also seen is that the U.S. cannot be trusted. As one Turkish general summed it up: “The real problem with having the Americans as your allies is you never know when they will turn around and stab themselves in the back.” A burqa-clad cnn reporter in Afghanistan, perhaps unwittingly, characterized the floundering, nonsensical American position best, as she stood alongside Taliban militants outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul: “They’re just chanting ‘Death to America,’ but they seem friendly at the same time. It’s utterly bizarre.”

Utterly bizarre—certainly—but not the behavior of the Taliban. Rather, the behavior of the United States. The U.S. is bizarrely leading the way into a post-American world, making repeatedly foolish, ignorant, blind and self-destructive decisions. Why?

The Trumpet tells you why. We explain world news as it relates to the Bible, the “more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19). We first warned of what we are seeing now in Afghanistan 20 years ago, when America first entered the conflict—despite the optimistic reporting at the time that we were witnessing the “last days” of the Taliban. It was a similar case just following World War ii, when Herbert W. Armstrong, editor in chief of our predecessor publication, the Plain Truth, declared: “America has won its last war.”

Since then, the world’s number one superpower has witnessed a string of humiliating incidents, withdrawals, failed states and tragic defeats against much weaker forces. These conflicts—Korea, Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Libya—have ultimately empowered our enemies. Now, after the most expensive one of them all, Afghanistan, America is left desperately peddling the notion of the Taliban as reformed moderates, all the while pleading with them to allow safe evacuation.

Luke 21 details end-time events culminating in the return of Jesus Christ. The time just prior to His Second Coming is described as the “times of the Gentiles”—a post-American world of vicious, dog-eat-dog powers vying for world domination. In many Bible chapters detailing these end-time prophecies, the term used to describe America is nowhere to be found. That is because the nation will become a nonentity on the world scene. That may have been hard to believe barely a year ago. Now, though—especially with what we are seeing in Afghanistan—the picture of a post-American world is becoming clear. Mighty America has fallen, and as the Bible describes, though it currently has the world’s most powerful military, the pride in America’s power has been broken (Leviticus 26:19).

Despite the Biden administration’s platitudes, there is assuredly no hope or trust that can be had in the Taliban. And there is also no hope or trust for Afghanistan in America. As Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in “The True Lesson of Afghanistan,” there is a clear explanation for what is happening in Afghanistan and what is happening to America—and as he wrote, there does exist a clear, reliable hope for Afghanistan—from another source entirely.

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