Taliban not an ally of Al Qaeda: Report

Taliban have been wrongly perceived as close ideological allies of Al Qaeda.

Last Updated: Feb 07, 2011, 19:14 PM IST

New York: Afghanistan`s Taliban have been
wrongly perceived as close ideological allies of Al Qaeda and
they could be persuaded to renounce the deadly global
terrorist group, American scholars say.

According to a report by New York University (NYU),
there was substantial friction between the groups` leaders
before the 9/11 attacks and that hostility has only
intensified.

The prevailing view in Washington, however, is "that the
Taliban and Al Qaeda share the same ideology," said Tom Gregg,
a former United Nations official in Afghanistan and a fellow
at the Center on International Cooperation at NYU, which is
publishing the report.

"It is not an ideology they share; it is more a
pragmatic political alliance. And therefore a political
approach to the Taliban ultimately could deliver a more
practical separation between the two groups," he was quoted as
saying by the New York Times.

"Al Qaeda is an organisation that has a clearly
articulated vision of global jihad, and that is not the case
with the Haqqanis and the Taliban," Gregg said. "Their focus
is on Afghanistan, the country they are from."

The report argues that Taliban leaders did not know of
the September 11 attacks in advance and that they appeared to
have been manipulated by Osama bin Laden, who then lived in
Afghanistan.

The report, "Separating the Taliban from Al Qaeda: The
Core of Success in Afghanistan, "cautions that the US-led
military campaign may make it harder to reach a settlement in
Afghanistan.

It says attacks on Taliban commanders and provincial
leaders will leave the movement open to younger, more radical
fighters and will give Al Qaeda greater influence.

The authors suggest that the US should engage older
Taliban leaders before they lose control of the movement. They
do not oppose NATO`s war, but suggest that negotiations should
accompany the fighting. A political settlement is necessary to
address the underlying reasons for the insurgency, they write.

Otherwise, they warn, the conflict will escalate.

PTI