US Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller shocked observers at a US Navy Department briefing when he made the tone-deaf claim that American forces and their Afghan partners are the mujahedeen in Afghanistan now.
Afghanistan is currently experiencing a resurgence of violence. During the spring, the country typically sees an uptick in insurgent activity as the winter is often spent harvesting poppies for opium production. However, violence during this year’s growing season didn’t dwindle as in years past, which experts believe signifies an even more intense fighting season. Already, a slew of terrorist attacks have left many Afghan security forces and civilians dead and civil infrastructure destroyed by bombs.
The Grand Mufti of the US Marine Corps, Shaykh Robert Neller, issues groundbreaking Fatwa declaring that the Taliban are apostates and that the American soldiers are the real Mujahideen. pic.twitter.com/13Oy1DXfOR
— زاهد أختر (@AHudhayfah) May 4, 2018
Neller’s statement was in response to a reporter’s question about how the US will deal with this uptick, as US officials have offered contradictory statements in recent weeks about the viability of coming to a political solution with the Taliban. For example, Acting Secretary of State John J Sullivan, in an April 25 press release in which he agreed with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, responded to the Taliban’s announcement of their spring offensive by noting that “the Taliban should turn their bullets and bombs into ballots. They should run for office. They should vote. We encourage Taliban leaders to return to Afghanistan from their foreign safe havens and work constructively for Afghanistan’s future.
But then after a local Daesh affiliate killed 25 people Monday, including nine journalists and 11 children in Kabul, and separate attacks were conducted elsewhere by the Taliban, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, “this is the normal stuff by people who cannot win at the ballot box, so they turn to bombs.”
Neller decided to respond to the question of US strategy by reminding everyone that they are the good guys, not the terrorists. “I mean we talk about, you know, the terrorists call themselves, you know, they’re the freedom fighters, they’re the mujahedeen. They’re not, they’re criminals. I think the Arabic word is takfiri. They are apostates. They hide behind Islam. They sell drugs. They kill innocent people. That’s not what Islam is. The Afghan army and the American, we’re the mujahedeen. We’re the mujahedeen.”