The Taliban are almost synonymous with the typical terrorist organisation along with ISIS and al-Qaida. But unlike the other two, the Afghan Taliban is not an officially listed organisation in the USA.
The Taliban are racing across Afghanistan capturing key areas and cities. With nearly the entire country in their grasp, the capital Kabul isn’t far. Disturbing reports of brutality against women, execution of soldiers, restrictions on journalists are announcing the return of the fundamentalist authoritarian Islamist regime.
But even as an organisation which been responsible for harbouring one of the most wanted persons in the world, Osama Bin Laden, it hasn’t been declared a terror organisation by the US or India.
What is a terrorist organisation?
A terrorist organisation is one that supports and propagates acts of terrorism either internationally or at a domestic level. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation defines terrorism as “violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups".
Terrorist organisations that threaten the national interests, security and citizens of a nation are listed as banned or recognised terrorist organisations in that particular nation. It is for that reason that a terror organisation in one particular country may not carry the label in another, even though it clearly is a terrorist organisation.
Even with this definition the Taliban, or the Afghan Taliban as it is called to distinguish itself from the Tehrik-I Taliban of Pakistan, should be considered a terrorist organisation. But the group is missing from the US State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations and even in the first schedule of India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Taliban was involved in the Indian Airlines Flight 814 hijacking, when the plane landed in Taliban-controlled Kandahar and its militia surrounded the plane to prevent Indian special forces from storming the aircraft.
Why are the Taliban not considered a terrorist organisation?
The US recognises the Taliban as an insurgency, a revolutionary group, instead of a terrorist organisation. But the reason why the group has not been designated an official terror group by governments is political.
Also read: Taliban wrecks havoc in Afghanistan; humanitarian crisis likely as Kabul could be taken over in 90 days
Officially negotiating with a terrorist organisation is much more legally fraught than doing so with an insurgency group. The label of a terrorist organisation would have made diplomatic contact and peace talks with the Taliban more challenging.
Taliban’s diplomatic status is further complicated by the fact that the US considers the organisation a terror group for the purposes of immigration by laws passed in the senate and special executives orders signed in the past.
But with very slim chances of peace talks being brokered between the Aghanistan government and the organisation, it is possible that the Taliban may be designated as a terror organisation if it propagates acts of terror on the US or India.
Governments had already announced that they won’t be internationally recognising the Taliban government if it comes to power through forces in Afghanistan.
(Edited by : Jomy Jos Pullokaran)