Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Good News: More Troops, The Bad News: Haqqani

Asia Times reports of the surfacing of a legendary mujahadeen long thought dead who has joined the Taliban to lead its spring offensive.

The guy is Jalaluddin Haqqani and his recently released video, coinciding with the NATO conference, is said to mark the unification of a network of resistance groups with Mullah Omar's Taliban.

"Along with his son Sirajuddin, Jalaluddin Haqqani has built up a well-organized group, known as the Haqqani Network, with roots in Pakistan's tribal areas, that, now firmly allied with Mullah Omar, will pose a dangerous challenge to the coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Haqqani soundly dismissed any notion - as touted by senior NATO officials - that the Taliban were weakened and might forego their spring offensive. "All 37 allies [in NATO] will be humiliated and driven out of Afghanistan - jihad is compulsory and will continue until the end of time; we are without resources, but we have the support of God."

Haqqani said the Taliban and their allies in Afghanistan had come up with new plans to fight against NATO, but these did not have any room for reconciliation. "We are geared for war," Haqqani stated.

The long speech by the Pashtun leader, who made his name fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s and remains the most-respected tribal figure in southeastern Afghanistan, is the most sophisticated yet of the Taliban's presentations to Pashtun people.

Copies of Haqqani's speech have spread all over eastern Afghanistan and are available in various formats, including on cassette tape and through cell phone downloads. After being silent for so long, and having been reported dead on numerous occasions, the impact of people listening to Haqqani is immense and will undoubtedly work as a galvanizing force among Pashtuns."

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