The Taliban has published its first military field manual detailing how to spring ambushes, run spies and conduct an insurgency against coalition forces in Afghanistan.
At 144 pages, Military Teachings – for the Preparation of Mujahideen, is a minutely detailed “how to” book on subjects ranging from tactics and weapons to building training camps and spycraft.
The guide, which is similar in its aims to British and American military field manuals, was obtained by The Daily Telegraph from a source in Pakistan who claimed to be close to the Taliban. Its cover bears the image of two crossed swords and the Koran, the arms of the Taliban’s ousted government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
The book, written in the Pashto language, “will soon be made available to the commanders in Afghanistan as well as its adjacent tribal areas in Pakistan”, the source said. He added that copies of the manual had been circulated to the Pakistani tribal area of Bajaur. Its publication highlights the extent of the Taliban’s revival six years after it was deposed by a US-led invasion.
“This is the first of its kind and shows a significant level of organisation,” said Brigadier Mahmood Shah, a retired military intelligence officer who was in charge of security in the tribal areas.
Brig Shah said “soft” Pakistani government policy towards the pro-Taliban militants had allowed them to flourish in the lawless ethnic Pashtun tribal areas that straddle the Afghan-Pakistani border.
Maulana Nek Zaman, an MP from North Waziristan, where security forces and local pro-Taliban militants are engaged in daily skirmishes, said the manual had a potentially large readership. “It is not a case of just Taliban who are fighting but all the tribes are resisting because they have been attacked,” he said.
Last year the Taliban published a pocket-sized code of conduct which described suicide bombers as “Omar’s missiles”, referring to the Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Omar. It laid out the rules of daily life including a ban on relations with young boys – an activity favoured by some Afghan fighters.
The military manual is divided into 10 chapters and appears to be the result of a collaboration between religious scholars and specialists in terrorist, logistical and intelligence tactics. It is illustrated with simple formulas for the preparation of explosives, pictures and diagrams of light and heavy weaponry, ammunition and communication equipment.
The bulk of the manual details basic military skills such as firing positions and how to use different weapons. It advises on how to carry out remotely controlled attacks on enemy vehicles, and shows how to strike aircraft and armoured vehicles by targeting weak points.
It shows with diagrams how to target vehicles passing through rough terrain at low speed and how telegraph poles and trees can be used to range in on a target.
It also explores methods of blowing up bridges, railway tracks and power and telephone lines.
Its preface sets out the Taliban’s justification for war: “In a situation where infidels and their crooks are ruling the world, it is the prime duty of all the Muslims to take arms and crush those who are bent upon crushing the Muslims throughout the world.
“This is the best time to take on the usurpers and occupants of our holy land. They should be killed, slaughtered and destroyed.”
It sets out to convince women and children to join the Taliban with verses from the Koran.
“In this situation the children are not bound to seek the permission of their parents; a woman should go to jihad without the permission of her husband, a slave without the permission of his master, a student without the permission of his teacher, could go to jihad. And this is totally applicable in the prevailing situation where the infidels have occupied the land of the Muslims in Afghanistan,” it states.
It addresses the question of prosecuting jihad without one’s ruler’s permission, making a veiled reference to Pakistan’s president, Gen Pervez Musharraf, and the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. “Islam does not allow a person, group or an entity to announce jihad, without the permission of the ruler of the day (Khalifa).” However, it states “if a Khalifa is a puppet of the infidels, then there is no need to seek his permission for jihad.”
The manual also plays on the heightened Pashtun sense of virility. “Jihad is a man’s job. Those lacking qualities of being a man cannot do jihad.”
Military students are advised to run spy networks drawn from political prisoners, “criminals, especially murderers”, beggars, hairdressers and “international visitors – players, filmmakers, artists etc”.
“Is it fair to slaughter enemy spies?” it asks. The answer it gives, perhaps unsurprisingly, is yes.