A blood-soaked letter has been recovered from the pocket of the assassin who killed former Afghan President and peace council Chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani on September 20. The assassin has been identified as Maulvi Esmatullah, a resident of Kandahar.
The message appears to be a transcript of an audio message delivered to Afghan leaders. The carefully crafted message shows how the planners of the attack lured their eventual target. It is strikingly similar to Taliban messages issued to the media on important Islamic holidays.
The four-page Pashto-language message is apparently a transcript of an audio message, recorded in the voice of Maulvi Enayatullah Makhdoom, a Taliban representative. Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed that he had urged Rabbani to meet the purported Taliban emissary after listening to the message.
The letter refers to previous exchanges of messages between the peace council and the Taliban in an apparent effort to gain the trust of Rabbani. The message first highlights Taliban political positions, which are very similar to those outlined in the message delivered by Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar to mark the end of Ramadan.
Following the pattern of most public Taliban messages, the letter calls for the immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan. "The withdrawal of foreign forces cannot fully resolve the problem of Afghanistan," it says. "The occupying powers should immediately withdraw all their troops to pave the way for an acceptable and lasting solution of the problem." It also opposes permanent U.S. military bases in Afghanistan.
The assassin's letter also echoes Mullah Omar's message on negotiations with Washington: "The contacts we have made with various sides for prisoner exchanges cannot be called negotiations for a comprehensive settlement."
The letter says that the Taliban are happy to talk to the Afghans without foreign intermediaries. "What Pakistan has promised you regarding talks with us is wrong. Pakistan is neither our master, nor our lawyer [representative]."
The letter opposes the second Bonn conference to be held at the end of this year. "This conference will not be any different from the conference 10 years ago because the true representatives of the Afghan people will not be included. It will not address the fundamental problems and real conditions in Afghanistan."
In the last part, the letter addresses Rabbani as "respected teacher" and requests him to personally answer six questions in light of his "knowledge and political wisdom."
"Do you consider the current system of the country better for the new generation, given all the obscenity, debauchery, corruption, and oppression? Or was the path the [Taliban] Islamic Emirate chose for the new generation preferable?
-- Abubakar Siddique