How Taliban Revisionism Helped Doom Our Mission in Afghanistan

Speaking on August 30, Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the end of America’s role in the war in Afghanistan. He spoke of America’s diplomatic dealings with the Taliban, including the thorny issue of future terrorist threats emanating out of the country. “The Taliban has made a commitment to prevent terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a base for external operations that could threaten the United States or our allies, including al-Qaeda and the Taliban’s sworn enemy, ISIS-K,” Blinken said.  “Here too, we will hold them accountable to that commitment.”  

Three days later, Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), a national Afghan television network, aired a disturbing video across the country. The nearly 40-minute film, titled Victorious Force 3,” was produced by the Taliban’s propagandists. As one might expect, the Taliban’s men celebrate their victory over the U.S.-backed government. But they do something else—something that should have drawn at least a rhetorical rebuke from Foggy Bottom. 

The Taliban says America deserved to be struck on September 11, 2001. A Taliban narrator explains to Afghans that the 9/11 hijackings, the deadliest terrorist attack in history was “the result of the United States’ policy of aggression against the Muslim world.” 

Much of the rest of the production is devoted to glorifying the Taliban’s own suicide bombers. These “martyrdom seeking” units are divided into specialized squads, each responsible for different aspects of the jihadists’ kamikaze missions. Ominously, a narrator explains that these suicide terrorists will continue to play a large role in the future, as the defense of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate will be placed in their hands.   

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