Taliban fighters regroup and attack coalition
Kabul: Resurgent Taleban forces have reorganised their command structure to fight against coalition troops in Afghanistan and the US-backed Government of President Karzai.
The Taleban has stepped up attacks on coalition forces and Al Qaeda is displaying a “new boldness” despite efforts by the United Nations to crack down on both groups, according to a UN report obtained by The Times.
As thousands of Pakistani, American and Afghan government troops continued operations against the rebel fighters along Afghanistan’s eastern borders with Pakistan, Mullah Muhammad Omar, the fugitive supreme leader of the former Taleban regime, has named a ten-man leadership council Mullah Omar announced the formation of a “Rahbari Shura” (leadership council) in an audio tape message said to have been sent from his hiding place in Afghanistan. The council comprises former military commanders, including Jalaluddin Haqqani, Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Usmani and Mullah Dadaullah, who are being hunted by the US and Afghan government troops.
Mukhtar Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taleban movement, said that the Pashto-language tape contained Mullah Omar’s message urging Afghans to intensify resistance against foreign troops.
The UN team that is tracking UN sanctions on the two groups says that the present travel ban, arms embargo and financial restrictions have had little effect on curbing Al Qaeda. Its report says: “Despite the travel ban, members of the Al Qaeda network have retained a high degree of mobility, and have been able to carry out and contribute to terrorist attacks in several countries around the world.”
Al Qaeda has been able to exploit “loopholes” in the international banking system, using charities and informal transfer mechanisms such as “hawala” Islamic banking, to receive and transfer funds. “Many of the Al Qaeda sources of funding have yet to be uncovered and frozen,” the report says. Despite the worldwide arms embargo, Al Qaeda and its members are also “still able to acquire adequate quantities of weapons and explosives” and continue “attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction”.
The UN team, chaired by a British expert named Michael Chandler, says that a recent assault on a guarded foreigners’ housing complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, suggests that Al Qaeda “may be willing to expand its activities beyond ‘soft targets’ to underscore its continued strength”.
But the team warns of a “third generation” Al Qaeda drawing support from young Muslims, from many countries, who have been subjected to teachings of an extreme form of Islam, who are willing to attack even fellow Muslims.
“The image that is emerging of the network is of a new generation of Islamic fundamentalism such that Al Qaeda can be viewed both as an organisation and an ideology,” the report says.
The UN team recommends that everyone known to have been trained in an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan or elsewhere should be added to the UN travel ban, which now covers little more than 200 people and entities. A report published in Islamabad’s English language newspaper The News said that Mullah Omar had exhorted his supporters to offer sacrifices for eviction of US and allied troops from Afghanistan.
“Now jihad will be waged against the US and allied forces under a new military strategy,” the Taleban leader was quoted as saying. Mullah Omar is believed to be hiding in southwestern Afghanistan since the expulsion of his hardline Islamic regime by US-led coalition forces 18 months ago.
According to Afghan officials the Taleban have established bases in Pakistan’s tribal border region which is controlled by a hard-line coalition of Islamic parties. Despite increased patrolling by US troops cross-border guerrilla movement has not stopped. —The Times