Afghan Taliban threaten death

2010-11-05 14:19

Kabul - Scribbled notes from Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar have surfaced in mosques all over Afghanistan's ethnic Pashtun heartland, threatening death to anyone who takes up a government offer to negotiate for peace, according to a longtime Taliban member.

Trying to quash rumors of a break in their ranks, the Taliban also have vehemently denied reports that representatives of the militant group were involved in negotiations with the Afghan government.

The leadership could be worried that commanders might strike separate deals that would threaten to undermine the insurgency and cripple the morale of their rank-and-file fighters.

President Hamid Karzai has made reconciliation a top priority and recently formed a 70-member high peace council to find a political solution to the insurgency. At the same time, the US-led coalition has ramped up its military campaign in an effort to pound midlevel commanders to the negotiating table.

There are no signs that either strategy is having much effect on the senior Taliban leadership.

A veteran Taliban member who recently visited the powerful shura, or council, in the Pakistani city of Quetta and controlled by Mullah Omar, said there was no talk of negotiation among those who control the insurgency.

Even if the top Taliban leadership did not participate, a number of exploratory talks have taken place with the militants over the past two years, according to lawmakers, peace council delegates and former and current members of the Taliban.

The talks were held in various places, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan, said Habibullah Fauzi, a peace council member who once served as the Taliban's ambassador to Saudi Arabia.