Shame the leak didn’t come earlier, says Taliban
Taliban commander welcomes leak because it ‘proves US brutality in Afghanistan’
A Taliban commander in Afghanistan has said there is no truth in the allegations contained in the US military documents given to the Wikileaks website that the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, has been collaborating with the Taliban insurgents in neighbouring Afghanistan.
He also said he welcomed the Wikileaks exposure - published on Sunday night by the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel - because it helped the Taliban cause. But he wished the classified files had been leaked earlier because they provided evidence of American brutality in Afghanistan.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, oldest son of veteran Afghan Taliban leader Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, told Mushtaq Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based journalist writing for the Daily Beast: "Look, we're at war and would like to get aid from anyone to fight against the US and its allies who invaded our homeland." But it just wasn't true that his father and other Taliban leaders had links with the ISI, he said.
Haqqani, who has a $5m bounty on his head, told Yusufzai he had learned about the leaked documents through the media. He had made it clear in an interview with the same reporter in June that he never carries a radio or mobile for fear of it being used by the US to track him. Instead, junior Taliban members keep him informed. "We have a media section whose job it is to monitor national and international media outlets."
Haqqani's denial of any links with the ISI will not carry much weight in Washington or London, where it has long been recognised that the agency was involved in the founding of the Taliban and has been directly or indirectly connected with the insurgency in Afghanistan, despite claims to the contrary.
As US Defence Secretary Robert Gates told CBS last year, the ISI has links with the Taliban for strategic reasons and "to a certain extent, they play both sides".
Sirajuddin Haqqani's claim that the Wikileaks documents prove "American brutality" is presumably based on two factors apparent from the leaked files: first, the many incidents of Afghan civilians being killed mistakenly by US and other coalition troops, and, second, the use of special forces to hunt down and assassinate Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders.
As the Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former Army captain, warned yesterday, when he was asked about the potential impact of the leak: "Our enemies will be quick to exploit the propaganda element of it." ·
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