Slaughter of Captives and Brutal Torture of Surrendered Soldiers: Unveiling Hibatullah’s Command Secrets!
By: Amin Kawa
After at least two years of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada has issued a number of orders that have now been published in an official journal. These orders shed light on some of the covert actions carried out by Taliban members in the past two years. One of the published orders confirms the group’s leader’s involvement in the killing of war prisoners, with a strict prohibition on photography. Additionally, the group’s members have been instructed to refrain from torturing individuals who are exempted by the group. Several other orders address matters such as the cleanliness of Taliban militants and the division of government departments. Notably, Hibatullah has directed the Taliban Supreme Court to review cases and convict the accused based on the orders of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. Furthermore, the Taliban’s supreme leader has explicitly prohibited the reproduction of his orders and urged group members not to publish them on social media. These orders come at a time when the Taliban have been involved in various crimes, including mass killings of prisoners, despite their previous denials.
The Taliban have recently published a selection of orders issued by their supreme leader in an official journal. This journal comprises 144 pages and contains 65 orders by Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, covering a range of topics. The form and content of these orders differ depending on the subject matter, with some lacking clear explanations and implementation instructions. Moreover, Mullah Hibatullah maintains that the Taliban Supreme Court should align its principles, directives, and regulations with the orders of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, without providing specific details about the procedure.
Authorization to Kill War Prisoners
In the first issue of this Journal, an order has been published concerning “war prisoners.” Mullah Habibullah Akhundzada, in order number “85/J1,” has granted approval for the “killing and punishment of war prisoners.” Within this order, the authority to order the killing of prisoners has been delegated to either the Taliban leader or his deputy. The order acknowledges incidents of detaining war prisoners in certain parts of the country, which have led to instances of “arbitrary punishment” and “inappropriate punishment.” It emphasizes that the responsibility for punishing and seeking retribution against war prisoners lies with the leader, known as the “Amir,” or his deputy, and no one else has the right to punish or exempt them.
In this order, the Taliban supreme leader repeatedly approves the killing of prisoners but prohibits photographing the scenes of the killings. In the “Chapter of Prisoners” (articles 9 to 16), Akhundzada explicitly forbids capturing photographs of the scenes where prisoners are killed. While the authority to order the killings is delegated to the Taliban supreme leader or his deputy, Article 21 does not specify the instigator of the prisoner’s killing. The article states, “If a criminal is deserving of death according to Sharia and a sentence is issued for their execution, whether they are a spy or any other criminal, they should be executed by firearms, and photography of the execution is strictly prohibited.”
However, the Taliban supreme leader does not specify in this section who will issue the order to kill a war prisoner. Despite previous denials by members of this group regarding the killing of war and non-war prisoners, the explicit approval of killing war prisoners is stated in the order by the Taliban supreme leader. This order grants all Taliban militants the authority to issue orders for carrying out executions. It is noteworthy that over the past 22 months, the Taliban have executed dozens of war prisoners.
Implicit Reference by the Taliban Supreme Leader: Exempted Individuals Are Tortured
In one of his orders, Mullah Habibullah Akhundzada indirectly acknowledges the re-torture of individuals accused by the Taliban. Order number “86/J1” states that individuals with exemption documents should not be subjected to further torture. The order implies that the Taliban have previously tortured and, in some cases, even killed individuals who possess exemption documents. Additionally, the order emphasizes that individuals with documents and proof of “security” should not be subjected to interrogation. It explicitly states that any further acts of torture or killing would be considered “betrayal” in Islam and a grave sin. It concludes by urging the avoidance of similar actions.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice, which is under the control of the Taliban, has incorporated certain preexisting orders into Mullah Habibullah’s directives. In order number “87/J1,” the supreme leader of the group addresses the issue of military members joining their ranks. The order stipulates that these individuals should not be required to carry their weapons. It specifically states that in certain instances, when individuals abandon the previous corrupt administration, the Mujahideen would impose the condition of carrying weapons and prohibit them from leaving unarmed. Such practices are deemed incompatible with Sharia, and the order emphasizes that these individuals should not be subjected to punishment.
Division of Government Departments
Order No. 22, published on page 52 of the official Journal, reveals that the Taliban supreme leader has divided government departments among the deputy ministries of the prime minister in their cabinet. The order designates specific ministries and authorities, including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Ministry of Information and Culture, Ministry of Hajj and Endowments, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled, Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, Academy of Sciences, Directorate of Local Governance, Technical & Vocational Education & Training Authority (TVET-A), and National Examinations Authority, to be under the administrative deputy ministry of the Prime Minister. The order emphasizes that this division is based on work efficiency and differentiation.
The economic deputy ministry of the prime minister in the Taliban cabinet now oversees the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Public Work, Ministry of Urban Development and Land, Ministry of Energy and Water, Central Bank, National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA), National Standards Authority (NSA), Capital Region Development Authority, and all independent government companies. Additionally, the political deputy ministry of the prime minister is responsible for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Information and Culture, Ministry of Borders and Tribal Affairs, Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), Afghan Red Crescent Society, General Directorate of Physical Education & Sports, National Environmental Protection Agency, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution, according to this order.
The order includes the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution, but the Taliban revoked these two commissions shortly after assuming control of Afghanistan. It is unclear whether their inclusion in the division of government institutions among the deputy ministries of the prime minister was an error or intentional. However, it is important to note that the Taliban currently do not have a constitution and do not acknowledge the binding nature of human rights principles.
Miscellaneous Orders and Emphasis on Their Confidentiality
The Taliban supreme leader has issued orders addressing various matters, including the length of hair of their militants. In an order published in the Official Journal, it is emphasized that the hair of Taliban militants should not extend beyond their shoulders. The rationale behind this order is that when a militant’s hair surpasses their shoulders, it resembles that of women, leading to difficulties in distinguishing between them and causing problems. In Order No. “48/J4,” the Taliban supreme leader acknowledges that some militants are growing their hair in a manner contrary to tradition. The order highlights three categories of hair length specified in traditional laws: “1. Wafrah; reaching the ears, 2. Jumma; reaching the shoulders, and 3. Lamah; between the ears and shoulders.” The order justifies the prohibition of hair longer than the shoulders of Taliban militants by citing concerns about hygiene and the presence of women near rivers and springs. The text clarifies that Mujahideen wash and oil their long hair near rivers and springs, where women are typically present according to local customs.
In Order No. “427/J1,” the Taliban supreme leader addressed the prime ministers of the group, outlining the appointment of “committed Islamic scholars with a dignified demeanor” as teachers in the faculties of Religious Studies. The order also instructed the prime minister to establish a committee of “competent religious scholars” to oversee university education. Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada specified that the textbook of Islamic culture studies should include doctrinal content and the concept of heretical repentance. Additionally, he emphasized the need to include the obligation of ablution in the discussion of ablution in the jurisprudence of worship. Order No. 25, issued by the Taliban supreme leader, mandates the evaluation of educational and academic documents of scholars and graduates from religious schools. It states that religious certificates and documents obtained by scholars during the first reign of the group’s rule over Afghanistan are considered valid.
In Order No. “49/J2,” the Taliban leader mandates that Taliban courts must seek his permission before enforcing “limits and retribution.” Akhundzada also orders the Taliban to prohibit the capturing of photos and videos during the implementation of “limits and retribution.” The order explicitly states, “In addition to the triple courts, the supreme leader’s permission must be obtained for the execution of retribution, limits, and punishments. Filming and photography during the implementation of retribution, limits, punishments, and the beating of enemy soldiers are strictly forbidden and should not be taken or disseminated, as this contradicts Sharia law.”
In Order No. 35, Mullah Habibullah Akhundzada issued a command to the members of the group, citizens of the country, and the media, prohibiting criticism of their regime. He emphasized that engaging in criticism would result in “legal responsibility” and subject the critics to the provisions of Sharia law. The order explicitly states that “criticizing without factual basis is not permissible under Sharia law” since, according to the beliefs of the Taliban supreme leader, criticism spreads negative propaganda, creates anxiety in society, and aids the group’s enemies.
Lack of Clear Framework in Orders of the Taliban Supreme Leader
The published orders of the Taliban supreme leader reveal that, for the past two years, this group has not formalized the commands and rulings of their supreme leader through official administrative correspondences. The orders attributed to the supreme leader, published in the Official Journal, exhibit varying structures and formats. Some of these orders address the director of a specific institution instead of addressing the institution itself, despite clear working principles and frameworks established by administrations that involve multiple individuals with distinct responsibilities. Furthermore, there are structural issues and notable writing errors in Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada’s orders.
While the precise statistics of the Taliban supreme leader’s orders remain unknown, this Journal has published a range of orders pertaining to the regulation of administrative affairs, judicial rulings, and the assignment of responsibilities for both citizens and officials within the group. Akhundzada has explicitly instructed Taliban members to maintain the confidentiality of his orders, prohibiting their dissemination through platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter, and other social media channels. It is important to highlight that, as per Akhundzada’s order, both the Taliban and officials of this regime are obliged to treat his instructions as confidential and submit them to the relevant authorities.