WH: 'Taliban Is an Armed Insurgency,' Not a Terrorist Group

By Susan Jones | January 29, 2015 | 5:28am EST

White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama won't use the term "radical Islam," and his spokesman won't call the Taliban terrorists.

At Wednesday's White House briefing, deputy spokesman Eric Schultz said, "The Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don't make concessions to terrorist groups."

The comment came after a reporter asked Schultz about the Jordanian government considering a prisoner swap -- exchanging a convicted terrorist for one of its pilots held hostage is ISIS/ISIL.

"Our policy is that we don't pay ransom," Schultz said. "We don't give concessions to other -- to terrorist organizations."

The reporter, ABC's Jon Karl, followed up: "You say the United States government does not give in to demands...does not pay ransom. But how is what the Jordanians are talking about doing any different than what the United States did" (when it swapped Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay). Karl noted that the Taliban "is clearly a terrorist organization."



"As you know, this was highly discussed at the time, and prisoner swaps are a traditional end-of-conflict interaction that happens," Schultz responded. "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."

"Isn't that what the Jordanians are operating under?" Karl asked. "The Taliban is still conducting terrorist attacks. You can't really say that the -- I mean, the war has ended as far as they're concerned."

"Well, I'd also point out that -- that the Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don't make concessions to terrorist groups. We feel--"

"You don't think the Taliban is a terrorist group?" an incredulous Karl asked.

"I don't think that the Taliban -- uh, the Taliban is an armed insurgency. This was the winding down of the war in Afghanistan. And that's why this arrangement was dealt.

"Our view is, as the president said at the time, which is, as the commander in chief, when he sends men and women into armed combat, he doesn't want to leave anyone behind. That was the commitment he was following through on this (Bergdahl swap)."

Schultz said White House counterterrorism director, Lisa Monaco, is currently reviewing the U.S. hostage negotiation policy, a review that began in November.

"This is a review that takes a look at our internal processes on this. It was prompted by the increasing number of U.S. citizens taken hostage by terrorist groups overseas, the extraordinary nature of recent hostage cases. And that's why the president directed this review to be conducted.

"I don't have a status update for you on that. But as soon as we do, we'll let you know."

According to the Associated Press, "a spate of Taliban attacks across Afghanistan overnight and on Thursday morning killed at least 17 people." The report said the terrorists increasingly are targeting local police and Afghan forces after most foreign troops withdrew at the end of December.

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