Mullah Omar speaks —again

A taped message purported to be from fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar was broadcast on Geo TV, a commercial station in Pakistan June 25. The voice on the tape issued a challenge to the Afghan government and foreign troops fighting insurgents in the country, saying “They cannot solve the issue of Afghanistan based on their wisdom and thinking.” Afghanistan is a Muslim country where believers are in a majority and outsiders will never be able to impose their ideology, the statement said. “The rulers of Kabul will not be able to run the country with the wisdom of others, and God willing they will be destroyed,” the tape said. Taunting President Hamid Karzai, the voice said: “If today the American military abandons you, you have no standing. Russia’s military also came to Afghanistan — remember its fate.” (NYT, June 26)

This was Omar’s second statement in a month. After the death of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi in Iraq, Omar said he brought “good news to Muslims around the world” and “the resistance against the crusader forces in Afghanistan and other parts of the Islamic world will not be weakened,” according to a new statement released on the Pakistani-based news agency, Afghan Islamic Press.

“Zarqawi achieved his will and goals,” the statement said. “He wanted to forge a massive resistance against Americans and he did that. Today if Zarqawi is not there, he has left behind thousands of youths who will even accelerate this resistance.” (Reuters, June 9)

Meanwhile, in a June 13 raid on a village in Siachave village, Uruzgan province, Afghan security forces killed 15 suspected militants—including Mullah Omar’s brother-in-law, Mullah Amanullah. Fighting and attacks elsewhere in the country left 25 people dead that day.

The violence extends three weeks of the fiercest fighting since the Taliban’s fall in 2001, and US Ambassador Ronald Neumann said the insurgents are proving to be better organized and more numerous than expected.

Thousands of British, Canadian and Dutch troops are preparing a new offensive to pacify the volatile south by next month, taking over for US troops. “I think you will now see a very strong press-back,” Neumann said. “I think a lot of unfortunate people who believe the Taliban and fight with them are going to die.” (AP, June 13)

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai called Omar a coward, saying he should come out of hiding and face justice, the Iranian news agency IRNA reported. He strongly implied that Omar and the Taliban are taking refuge across the border in Pakistan. “They don’t dare come to Afghanistan,” he said. “There is no way that they can hide forever.” (IranMania, June 26)

See our last posts on Afghanistan and al-Qaeda.