A recent report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) – which monitors and tracks global jihadist communications via open source intelligence collection methods – has detailed that last year the Taliban threatened the Biden administration with “a battalion of suicide bombers” sent to Washington D.C.
This was a threat and warning reportedly relayed simultaneous with prior Doha talks when it emerged the Pentagon was contemplating a massive security force of some 2,000 US troops to guard the at that time still operating American embassy in Kabul.
According to the MEMRI report, “In December 2021, it also emerged that the Islamic Emirate told the United States during talks in Doha that if the U.S. insisted on deploying 2,000 American troops at its embassy in Kabul, the Taliban would also deploy as part of any bilateral arrangement 2,000 fidayeen mujahideen [i.e., suicide bombers] at the Afghan Embassy in Washington D.C.”
During the chaotic and bloody events of August as the US evacuated forces from Kabul airport, the State Department was forced to abandon its sprawling Afghan embassy altogether amid the lightning Taliban advance on the capital city.
Once Taliban rule over the country was firmly established by September, some of the hardline Islamist group’s officials began to tout it had become “moderate” and “reformed”. This as the Taliban also sought international funds and lobbied the US and global powers unfreeze billions in sanctioned assets.
However, it has since emerged that Taliban leaders intend to establish a “martyrdom” battalion, or essentially a group of would-be suicide bombers:
“Our mujahideen in the Ishtishhadi Kandaks [martyrdom-seeking battalions] will be part of the army and [they] will be Special Forces and organized under the defense ministry,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a veteran terrorist and leader in the Taliban government, said in a recent interview, according to MEMRI. “The Special Forces will be established in a specific number and used for special operations.”
Bloomberg this week confirmed ongoing Taliban efforts to specifically recruit suicide bombers to be incorporated into its national army. “The Taliban will officially recruit suicide bombers to become part of the army as the militant group tries to contain its biggest security threat from rival Islamic State since forming government in Afghanistan four months ago,” the report detailed as the Taliban continues to battle Islamist rivals in some locales.
Office for suicide bombings in the #Taliban Ministry of Defense.
Yesterday #Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told RFE/RL that the #Taliban new army will also have a unit for suicide bombings to take part in special operations.#Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/ZifAJwjsJn
— Natiq Malikzada | ناطق ملکزاده (@natiqmalikzada) January 4, 2022
And more via Bloomberg:
“The special forces that include martyrdom seekers will be used for more sophisticated and special operations,” Karimi said by phone, without providing details.
The militant group is building a “strong and organized army to bolster defense” nationwide and at the borders with the suicide bombers becoming a integral part of the strategy, Karimi added. Some 150,000 fighters will be invited to join the military, Al Jazeera reported in November, citing the Taliban’s chief of staff Qari Fasihuddin.
Among the first major Taliban actions to re-organize government ministries in Kabul was to re-establish the Islamic “religious police”. These have returned to the streets, and ghastly practices such as hanging executed bodies in public have returned, including cutting off hands for criminal offenses – recent claims of a “moderate” Taliban notwithstanding.