Afghan insurgent and former prime minister Gulbadin Hikmatyar has told Aljazeera that Usama Bin Laden is alive and well. Hikmatyar, once the recipient of 20 percent of all the funds disbursed by US intelligence for fighting the Soviets, is now fighting US troops in eastern Afghanistan. He condemned bombings against the Pakistani military, saying that only foreign, non-Muslim troops should be targeted. He also said his group refuses to coordinate with the Haqqani Network, a rival fundamentalist militia. He said that US troops could be given safe passage to leave Afghanistan if they would agree to go.
Online News reports of Hikmatyar: “he said that Taliban government came to end in Afghanistan due to the wrong strategy of Al-Qaeeda.”
This open criticism of Bin Laden by Hikmatyar points to a larger split between al-Qaeda on the one hand, and the Taliban & other insurgents on the other.
Analysts worried about al-Qaeda taking back over Qandahar should consider another possibility, which is that the neo-Taliban and neo-Mujahidin won’t be so stupid as to tolerate Arab al-Qaeda types in Afghanistan. As Hikmatyar noted, the mass murderers after all got Mulla Omar overthrown and exiled.
Note that the old Taliban and other insurgents are alleged by the US to control 10-15 percent of Afghanistan. Yet Jim Jones says there are less than 100 al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan.
Ipso facto neo-Talibanism does not imply the return of al-Qaeda.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday NATO announced that it had killed 140 Taliban in the northern Qunduz province during the first week of November.
As the nation awaits President Barack Obama’s decision on Afghanistan strategy, it should not be forgotten that the country’s poor and displaced face a hard and sometimes fatal winter. The Australian ABC reports:
Also, check out two recent strong essays on Afghanistan at Tomdispatch.com, by Nick Turse and by Dahr Jamail and Sarah Lazare.
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