Saturday, October 20, 2007

Jihad v Jihad in Afghanistan?

The new kid on the block goes up against Mullah Omar...

An Al Qaeda-linked commander directing a brutal wave of violence in Afghanistan, Siraj Haqqani, is trying to rival Mullah Mohamed Omar for the Taliban leadership, the US-led coalition said yesterday.

Haqqani represents a “younger, more aggressive generation of Taliban senior leadership” and has extended his influence from his base in the east to central provinces near Kabul and into the volatile south, it said in a statement.

The coalition, leading the US “war on terror” in Afghanistan, has issued a $200,000 reward for the arrest of Haqqani as part of a Most Wanted campaign, which will see posters of about 12 wanted militants put up in the east in the coming weeks.

Haqqani, son of well-known Soviet resistance commander Jalaluddin Haqqani - said to be close to Mullah Omar, is one of the most influential insurgent commanders in the east, the statement said. “His reach now certainly exceeds that of his father and Siraj is working to rival Mullah Omar for the Taliban leadership,” said Major Chris Belcher, coalition spokesman.

And he's particularly brutal. Gruesome, some might even say.

“Kidnappings, assassinations, beheading women, indiscriminate killings and suicide bombers - Siraj is the one dictating the new parameters of brutality associated with Taliban senior leadership,” he said.

Perhaps that's why Mullah Omar (who's been in hiding for six years) recently crawled out of his rathole to issue a communique to the neighbors of Afghanistan to lend a hand.