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November 13, 2011

Taliban Claims to Have Afghan Jirga Security Plans

by Jennifer Glasse

The Taliban is claiming it has a copy of the top-secret security arrangements for this week's traditional assembly, or loya jirga, in the Afghan capital. Some 2,000 tribal elders and community leaders are gathering in Kabul to discuss the way forward in Afghanistan. 

The Taliban posted what it claimed to be the security arrangements for this loya jirga on its website, just three days before hundreds of Afghans gather to discuss a strategic agreement with the United States and efforts to reconcile with the insurgent group.

Afghan security officials say the documents posted by the Taliban are fake. The insurgent group has vowed to disrupt the jirga in threatening letters sent to potential participants in several areas of the country and has attacked the tribal assembly in previous years.

Gran Hewad is a researcher with the Afghan Analysts group in Kabul. He says the Taliban announcement is part of their propaganda war.

"If it was not a propaganda technique, they did not need to release it, they did not need to circulate it, they just could implement it and use the concept of the plan," said Hewad.

Hewad says the Taliban is using propaganda techniques because international and Afghan forces have been successful in degrading the Taliban’s military capability.

"As a result of these last year's attacks, night raids and so on, it is almost clear that they are not as strong as they were in 2008 and -9 and -10," added Hewad."So they want to show themselves up and show that they are there and they can do something effective from an intelligence point of view."

NATO officials have dismissed the documents published on a Taliban website as a "fabricated piece of propaganda." Afghan officials say the material is a scare tactic, designed to intimidate participants coming to Wednesday's meeting.

Still the threat of violence has not dissipated. On Monday, the Afghan Interior Ministry said security forces shot and killed a suicide bomber outside the academic campus where the meeting is to be held.  At least two other would-be attackers were arrested in Kabul.