US Says Afghan Taliban Not Terrorists, ISIL Is

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In this file photo, a former Taliban fighter places bullets before surrendering it to Afghan authorities. The has called the Afghan Taliban “an armed insurgency”, while terming the Islamic State as a “terrorist” group, drawing a controversial distinction between the two outfits.

In this file photo, a former Taliban fighter places bullets before surrendering it to Afghan authorities. The has called the Afghan Taliban “an armed insurgency”, while terming the Islamic State as a “terrorist” group, drawing a controversial distinction between the two outfits. AP

WASHINGTON — “The Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups,” White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said.

The U.S. does not consider the Afghan Taliban as a terrorist outfit, describing it as “an armed insurgency”.

It called the Islamic State as a “terrorist” group, drawing a controversial distinction between the two outfits.

“The Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups,” White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters in response to questions at the daily press briefing on Wednesday.

When asked for a second time whether the Taliban is a terrorist group, he replied, “I don’t think that the Taliban, — the Taliban is an armed insurgency.”

Asked whether the Jordanian government’s decision to swap prisoner with the ISIL was similar to the U.S. trading five Taliban members for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, he said, “As you know, this was highly discussed at the time and prisoner swaps are a traditional end-of-conflict interaction that happens.”

“As the war in Afghanistan wound down, we felt like it was the appropriate thing to do. The President’s bedrock commitment as commander in chief is to leave no man or woman behind. That’s the principle he was operating under,” he said.

“This was the winding down of the war in Afghanistan and that’s why this arrangement was dealt,” he added, referring to the prisoner swap deal with Taliban brokered through Qatar.

Though the State Department has not designated the Afghan Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation, it has designated its allies — the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Haqqani Network — so.

The U.S. is offering up to $10 million for information leading to the capture of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

ISIL or Islamic State is an al-Qaeda splinter group and it has seized hundreds of square miles in Iraq and Syria, declaring an Islamic caliphate.

 

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