Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 4 Issue: 42
TALIBAN’S MULLAH UMAR CALLS FOR INTENSIFIED WINTER CAMPAIGN
In a message delivered to the Afghan people on the occasion of the Eid al-Adha festival, Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Umar called for the intensification of Taliban military efforts to expel foreign occupation forces this winter (Afghan Islamic Press, December 18). The mullah claimed that the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan were suffering the same “heavy financial and human suffering” as the Afghans and Iraqis. He called on the rulers of those countries to “respect public opinion” of those who do not want their economies “to be sacrificed for the interests of America.” Mullah Umar mocked the allies’ “minor victory” at Musa Qala, describing it as the seizure of “a few shops.” Noting that the Taliban has taken new measures to equip their troops, the mullah stated it was “essential for the mujahideen to further intensify their decisive attacks in order to harass the enemy and to throw them off balance.”
The Taliban leader’s statement came just as reports emerged from Pakistan that 20 Pashtun tribal elders had appointed Pakistani cleric Baitollah Masud as the new leader of the Taliban, with Mullah Umar being demoted to deputy leader. These reports were denounced by Taliban spokesman Zabihollah Mojahed, who proclaimed that Mullah Umar was still in charge and that “a Pakistani national can never be the Afghans’ leader” (Aina TV, December 18).
SUNNI RESISTANCE LEADER DENOUNCES AWAKENING COUNCILS IN IRAQ
Sheikh Dr. Harith al-Dari—leader of Iraq’s Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS)—has denounced the participation of Sunni tribesmen in the anti-al-Qaeda “Awakening Councils” that are cooperating with Coalition forces in Anbar province and elsewhere. The sheikh described the alleged success of these groups as a “media exaggeration” that ignored the real cause of the decline of violence in regions where the Awakening Councils are active: “al-Qaeda made big mistakes and committed grave errors in dealing with the people in al-Anbar and other places. Therefore, some were displeased with it and the United States and its collaborators exploited this displeasure. So the indignant ones cooperated with those who wanted to work in exchange for certain wages. They were grouped [together] and al-Qaeda withdrew to some other areas. Indeed, not only al-Qaeda but the resistance as a whole withdrew” (interview with al-Jazeera TV, December 16). Al-Dari maintained that 95 percent of al-Qaeda in Iraq are actually Iraqi nationals, “therefore, declaring war against al-Qaeda is a declaration of war against the entire resistance.” The sheikh added that many new recruits to the resistance now avoid operating in named organizations for security reasons. The Association of Muslim Scholars is a grouping of Sunni clerics active in the Iraqi resistance. Their offices and radio station were closed in November for alleged support of al-Qaeda (RFE/RL, December 6). Al-Dari is now believed to reside outside Iraq.