Afghan Tal­iban is­sues state­ment quot­ing Haqqani

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY RAHIM FAIEZ AND LYNNE O’DON­NELL

The Afghan Tal­iban is­sued a writ­ten state­ment Sun­day pur­port­edly quot­ing Jalalud­din Haqqani, the leader of the no­to­ri­ously bru­tal Haqqani in­sur­gent group, in an ef­fort to quell ru­mors of his death.

The state­ment, posted to the Tal­iban’s web­site, quoted Haqqani mourn­ing the loss of Mul­lah Mo­ham­mad Omar, the one-eyed leader of the group whose death the ex­trem­ists con­firmed last week. The Afghan gov­ern­ment says Mul­lah Omar died in April 2013.

The Tal­iban have an­nounced that Mul­lah Akhtar Mo­ham­mad Man­soor is their new leader and re­leased a pur­ported au­dio state­ment from him Satur­day. The state­ment re­leased Sun­day did not in­clude any au­dio of Haqqani speak­ing to prove he is alive, how­ever it comes as the Tal­iban tries to present a uni­fied front be­hind Man­soor as they con­tinue their nearly 14-year in­sur­gency against the Afghan gov­ern­ment.

Rel­a­tives of Mul­lah Omar, in­clud­ing his son Ya­coob, have said they do not sup­port Man­soor, hint­ing at fis­sures be­tween those who want to con­tinue fledg­ling peace talks and the move­ment’s more ex­treme el­e­ments. The state­ment Sun­day said Haqqani backed Man­soor as the Tal­iban’s leader.

“My par­tic­u­lar rec­om­men­da­tion to all mem­bers of the Is­lamic Emi­rate is to main­tain their in­ter­nal unity and dis­ci­pline,” the state­ment quotes Haqqani as say­ing, us­ing the Tal­iban’s name for Afghanistan. The state­ment added Haqqani said fol­low­ers should not be de­ceived by en­emy pro­pa­ganda.

Haqqani is the leader of the Haqqani Net­work, a ter­ror­ist group based in Pak­istan’s law­less tribal ar­eas that is be­lieved to have con­ducted many bloody at­tacks in­side Afghanistan. While it rarely claims re­spon­si­bil­ity for its at­tacks, they are usu­ally iden­ti­fi­able by their use of com­plex tac­tics, like a large num­ber of as­sailants in­clud­ing sui­cide bombers.

Ru­mors of Haqqani’s death have cir­cu­lated and been de­nied by mil­i­tants for the past year.

If Man­soor fails to ap­pease Tal­iban fight­ers and field com­man­ders on the ground, the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­ciary could be the Is­lamic State group. The ri­val Is­lamic ex­trem­ist group, which al­ready con­trols about a third of Syria and Iraq with af­fil­i­ates in Egypt and Libya, has es­tab­lished a small foothold in Afghanistan and is ac­tively re­cruit­ing dis­il­lu­sioned Tal­iban fight­ers.

Mean­while, as Tal­iban rep­re­sen­ta­tives have at­tended peace talks with Afghan gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, the ex­trem­ists have in­ten­si­fied their at­tacks on lo­cal se­cu­rity forces af­ter NATO and U.S. troops ended their com­bat mis­sion at the end of last year.

AP

News­pa­pers hang for sale at a stand car­ry­ing head­lines about the new leader of the Afghan Tal­iban, Mul­lah Akhtar Mo­ham­mad Man­soor, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Satur­day, Aug. 1.

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