- The Taliban says it has detailed security plans of upcoming meeting with tribal elders
- The government has dismissed the Taliban's claims
- The meeting, known as the loya jirga, is considered significant
- Afghanistan's relationship with the U.S. and peace talks are among the topics to be discussed
A Taliban-affiliated website published on Sunday what it claimed was a leaked document containing confidential government security plans for a vital meeting of tribal elders in Kabul next week, one that is set to discuss Afghanistan's long-term relationship with the United States and possible peace talks with the insurgency.
The plans included a detailed satellite map of the area and purported details of the security arrangements, but the Afghan Interior Ministry immediately dismissed them as fake.
The tribal elder meeting -- or loya jirga -- is considered by many an important step in harnessing Afghan consent to both a long-term U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and any possible peace deal with elements of the insurgency. It is due to begin Wednesday and continue for several days; hundreds of community leaders have been invited from across the country. Their conclusions will likely influence Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The Taliban have long threatened to disrupt the event. Sunday's alleged leak was interpreted in Kabul as anything from a desperate insurgency resorting to fraudulent propaganda to a new sign of the Taliban's enhanced ability to elicit confidential information from government ministries. Regardless, they are a sign of the information war between coalition forces and the insurgency, both of which regularly trade blows and accusations on social media.
A translated statement on the website read: "The vigilant Mujahedeen of Islamic Emirate have acquired the security plans, maps and other documents related to the upcoming supposed loya jirga (National
Assembly) by means of its personnel embedded inside the enemy ranks."
The Interior Ministry dismissed the post, saying it only served as part of a failing propaganda campaign aimed at intimidating people from attending the loya jirga.
"This is yet another huge lie by the Taliban," said Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Seddiqi. "It is part of a propaganda campaign and it is what we can expect. The Taliban are under pressure -- they have tried to disrupt and have failed to do so. That is why they are resorting to this propaganda."
He rejected the notion of jirga delegates due avoiding the meeting because of the alleged leak.
The document said the following could be "probable threats" posed by the Taliban:
-- "Suicide attacks with new and dangerous tactics in one or several places continuing for several hours";
-- "Rocket attacks from Kabul city sub-districts or districts outside";
-- "Infiltration of enemy into the lines of security forces."
The statement on the website also said, "These important secrets which you will see in the below pages have been acquired by Mujahedeen of Islamic Emirate from two ministries and from the special security corps of the government. Our upcoming attacks will become even more lethal and precise with the acquisition of such intelligence material, if God wills it."
The statement went on to promise further details: "Note -- The original security plans which consist of 28 pages and six pictorial maps have been recomposed and rewritten by us for intelligence and policy purposes. We will release the second, third, 28th sides of the plan and a map to show its validation and will also release the pictorial part of it in the near future, if Allah Wills it."
NATO's International Security Assistance Force was aware of the message on the website, but could not confirm the accuracy of it, spokesman Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings said.
"The Taliban have said they would go to all extremes to disrupt the loya jirga," he said.