THE Taliban’s military commander, Mullah Dadullah, has been filmed executing eight men who were accused of spying for British and American forces in Afghanistan, it was claimed last week.
In a series of clips released by Dadullah to Geo, the Pakistani television station, the Afghan men are seen confessing their crimes and then being laid out in the dust with their arms and legs bound.
According to a Taliban statement that accompanied the video, Dadullah himself is then shown hacking off their heads and placing them on the victims’ torsos. The executioner’s face is not shown in the footage.
The video describes the men as spies working for the “Christians and crusaders”?. The footage, which was released in the midst of an intensive Taliban campaign against British, American and Canadian forces, appears to be an attempt to terrify Afghans out of co-operating with the coalition.
It also highlights the Taliban’s increasing use of suicide bombers, paying tribute to a number of militants who have died in such attacks and showing new suicide bomb volunteers receiving a “ticket to heaven”? from Dadullah at his campaign headquarters. The footage shows a black-bearded Dadullah wearing a white salwar kameez, black robe and turban, signing each “ticket”? while a clerk registers the new volunteer in a ledger.
Shots of the new bombers are followed by clips of eight men who were killed in suicide attacks between February and June this year. One of them, who is seen laughing in the film, was killed on February 24; another on May 18. Analysts said the video was at least six weeks old.
The Taliban tape emerged as President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan said he had received backing from London and Washington for his policy of striking peace deals with pro-Taliban militants who control large parts of North and South Waziristan, the tribal border provinces that have served as a haven for fighters returning from battles with coalition forces.
Musharraf made an agreement with rebels in North Waziristan last month after several years of fighting left more than 800 Pakistani troops dead. Under the deal, government soldiers withdrew from the area and Taliban prisoners were released. Militants agreed to stop attacks on Pakistani troops and cross-border assaults on coalition forces in Afghanistan; but while attacks on Pakistani forces have stopped, raids inside Afghanistan and assassinations of the Taliban’s Waziri opponents have intensified.
According to documents passed to The Sunday Times, Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, was the guiding hand behind acceptance of the deal. Letters sent to his Pakistani followers last May and June reveal that the Taliban wanted the agreement so that they could divert more fighters into attacks on the British and Americans.