Center for Strategic Communication

A top spokesman for the Afghan Taliban has denied a recent report in the Pakistani media that claimed the group opposes suicide attacks. The group also denounced as a fraud an individual who claimed to speak for the Afghan Taliban.

Zabihullah Mujahid, an official spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the official name for the Afghan Taliban, denounced an individual known as Mawlana Abdul Aziz who has purported to speak for the group. Aziz claimed two days ago that the Taliban’s top clerics have declared “martyrdom operations” as “unlawful.”

“The report stated that the head of Islamic Emirate’s Ulama (scholars) council, Mawlana Abdul Aziz, declared in a video interview that the Ulama (scholars) of Afghanistan consider martyrdom operations as unlawful and also remarked about various topics concerning Pakistan and India,” Mujahid said in a statement emailed to The Long War Journal today.

“That the Islamic Emirate does not have or recognize a scholar with such duties named ‘Mawlana Abdul Aziz’ in its ranks therefore it considers the above assertions as baseless and urges all media outlets to refrain from publishing such groundless and fabricated reports …,” Mujahid continued.

The Taliban have praised suicide attacks in the past. As recently as mid-June, the Taliban released an official statement on their website, Voice of Jihad, lauding “martyrdom operations” and justifying the use of the tactic. The statement was released just days before the Taliban opened their “political office” in Doha, Qatar that is serving as an unofficial embassy for the group.

Prior to the Taliban’s denunciation for his Oct. 28 statements, Mawlana Abdul Aziz appeared in the news on Oct. 25, claiming to speak for the Taliban. Aziz, who spoke from the Pakistani city of Quetta, told NBC News that the Taliban are encouraging Afghans to boycott the upcoming presidential election. But Aziz also held out the prospect that the Taliban would be willing to participate in elections after US and NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan.

“Neither we nor any Jihad forces will participate in any election to be held before the end of the occupation of Afghanistan by the U.S. and its allies,” Aziz told NBC News.

Oddly enough, Aziz contradicted statements he made to the Pakistani press just three days later, and said that suicide bombings against US and NATO forces are legal.

The Taliban have stated that they are uninterested in participating in elections as it allegedly violates sharia, or Islamic Law. They say they will accept only the return of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and warn that they are prepared to wage jihad, or holy war, until their goals have been achieved.