Religious motivations may have played role in latest Kabul attack

YUSUF SELMAN İNANÇ @yusufsinanc
ISTANBUL
Published 21.11.2018 19:39
Updated 22.11.2018 00:08

On Tuesday, the Afghan capital witnessed one of the deadliest attacks planned to target certain people specifically. The death toll has reached 50, according to the latest statement by Afghan officials. Among them were religious scholars, most were members of the Afghan Ulema Council. When the smoke dispersed, there were copies of the Quran everywhere apart from several religious texts, which were being recited by the participants.

The date of the attack and the people attacked in the incident seem to have been on the target lists of radicals – including the Taliban and Daesh.

There were three religious reasons for the attack. First, the militants targeted religious scholars who were against the Taliban and other radical movements. Many of them were, allegedly, aligned with the government. In fact, they were not mounting a struggle against the Afghan government and security forces. Secondly, the posts on social media indicated that some of the scholars were Sufi leaders, who are considered heretics by the radical movements. Thirdly, they had gathered at a wedding hall to mark and celebrate the Prophet Muhammad's birth date. The radical groups, who are inclined to a strict understanding of Islam and its jurisprudence reject such types of celebrations.

The Taliban rejected the claims that they were responsible. "Our men were not involved in the Kabul blast and we condemn the loss of human lives," the group said in a statement. There were no statements from Daesh. But it is a fact that Daesh has been increasing its activities across the country as several radical groups have declared their affiliation with the former in the last three years.

The attack came immediately after the U.S. admitted that the Taliban were advancing in the country. General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said last week that the Taliban was "not losing right now, I think that is fair to say." He added: "We used the term stalemate a year ago, and, relatively speaking, it has not changed much."

The U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, allegedly held talks with the Taliban in Qatar recently. After the meeting, in one of his statements, he said "I think there is an opportunity for reconciliation and peace. The Taliban are saying they do not believe they can succeed militarily, that they would like to see the problems that remain resolved by peaceful means, by political negotiations." These statements indicate that the radical groups, including the Taliban and Daesh, are enhancing their powers.

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