Mullah Omar's idea of moderation.

Mullah Omar's idea of moderation.

Mullah Omar's idea of moderation.

Arts and arguments in the news.
Nov. 15 2001 12:28 PM

A Sense of Moderation

Do everything with moderation, the ancients said—at least that was the refrain repeated in my schoolboy Classics lessons. Now comes word from Afghanistan, courtesy of an interview conducted by the BBC's Pashto language service, that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban leader, has offered us his definition of "moderation."

Question:If some of your forces decide to join the future government as representatives of the Taliban in general or to moderate Taliban, will you oppose it?

Answer: There is no such thing in the Taliban. All Taliban are moderate. There are two things: extremism ["ifraat," or doing something to excess] and conservatism ["tafreet," or doing something insufficiently]. So in that sense, we are all moderates—taking the middle path.

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As the rest of the interview reveals, Mullah Omar's sense of the "middle path" of all Taliban includes the complete destruction of the United States.

The current situation in Afghanistan is related to a bigger cause—that is the destruction of America. ... The plan is going ahead and, God willing, it is being implemented. But it is a huge task, which is beyond the will and comprehension of human beings. If God's help is with us, this will happen within a short period of time; keep in mind this prediction.

How moderate can you get?