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8/7/03 - DEFEATING TALEBAN REMNANTS - 2003-08-07

Remnants of the Taleban have been carrying out sporadic attacks against coalition and Afghan government troops in southern Afghanistan. Now, Taleban diehards are assassinating Muslim clerics in the Kandahar region. Maulavi Abdul Manan, a member of the local district religious council, was shot as he left his mosque. He was the third cleric killed by Taleban terrorists in the last forty days.

According to Maulavi Muhammad Haq Khattib, deputy head of the Kandahar clerics’ council, the religious leaders were targeted “because of their support for the government.” The clerics’ council is a supporter of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and has welcomed the presence of coalition troops in Afghanistan. The clerics’ council in Kandahar has also denied the legitimacy of the Taleban’s claim to religious authority. “The Taleban are saying they are religious people, but they are using force to get their aims and are using the cover of Islam,” Maulavi Khattib said. “But we say this is not Islam. Islam does not support the use of force, and we are telling people not to [listen to the Taleban].”

In January, the Kandahar clerics’ council issued a religious edict denouncing the Taleban’s call for jihad against coalition forces. U.S.-led forces, the council said, had come to root out terrorists and bring peace. Moreover, the new government of Afghanistan had been elected, and a religious council has no right to call for a jihad against a government chosen by the people.

U.S.-led coalition forces together with Afghan troops continue to hunt down Taleban remnants. Following a military operation north of Kandahar, three Taleban commanders were captured: Mullah Abdul Hakim, Mullah Abdul Hamid, and Mullah Abdul Zahir. In the north, Afghan security forces have captured Zabihullah Zahed, a former deputy minister under the Taleban. As Sergeant Richard Breach, a spokesman for the coalition forces at Bagram air base said, coalition forces are committed to fighting the Taleban:

“We are showing them that we are still out to win this war on terror and get rid of the remnants of the Taleban and whoever else is around.”

As Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai said, it is necessary “to fight [terrorism] in earnest, to fight it in truth and to finish this menace.”