Mullah Dadullah Evades Capture Once Again
On May 19, General Rahmatullah Raufi, an Afghan army commander in the south, announced the possible capture of Mullah Dadullah, one of the Taliban’s key military leaders, during an operation in Kandahar province (PakTribune, May 22). After the announcement, however, a man claiming to be Dadullah called a reporter with Afghan Islamic Press, refuting the reports of his capture (Afghan Islamic Press, May 20). After asking Dadullah certain identifying questions, the reporter with AIP stated that he “was completely sure that it was Mullah Dadullah” (Afghan Islamic Press, May 20). On May 22, U.S. military spokesman Major James Yonts confirmed the capture of “a high-ranking Taliban who does fit the general description of Mullah Dadullah but I can confirm to you it is not Mullah Dadullah” (BBC, May 22). This is not the first time Dadullah has evaded capture. For instance, in February, the Afghan Interior Ministry announced that they had killed Dadullah during an operation in Helmand province (Tolo TV, February 3). Ten days later, however, Dadullah was seen on al-Jazeera television announcing his support for Osama bin Laden (al-Jazeera, February 13). According to a Terrorism Focus profile piece of Mullah Dadullah, the military commander is “able to evade capture because of his friendship with mujahideen commanders and due to the support he receives from his Kakar tribe in the southern provinces of Afghanistan and Pakistan” (Terrorism Focus, March 21). In the AIP interview, Dadullah claimed that the Taliban now control 20 districts in four Afghan provinces, have recently shifted to more frontal assault tactics against government security forces and have contact with the “mujahideen in Iraq” (Afghan Islamic Press, May 20).
Al-Qaeda in Palestine Claims Responsibility for Assassination Attempt
An Internet statement posted by a group calling itself the Al-Qaeda Organization of the State of Palestine took credit for the assassination attempt against Palestinian intelligence chief Tareq Abu Rajab on May 20 (Middle East Times, May 21). The attack involved a bomb placed in the elevator at the Palestinian intelligence services’ headquarters in Gaza; Abu Rajab was seriously injured in the blast and his bodyguard killed. The Internet statement also accused other Palestinian Authority officials of being “apostates” (AFP, May 21). The fact that the militants were able to plant a bomb in the intelligence services’ headquarters has concerned other PA leaders. This latest incident comes against the backdrop of growing tension between Hamas and Fatah after the former’s landslide victory in January’s general elections. Despite the claim of responsibility, analysts are divided over whether al-Qaeda has established itself in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and whether or not this latest attack was truly the work of al-Qaeda operatives or of internal elements within the Palestinian factions (al-Jazeera, May 22).