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Mullah Omar warns Western forces
Can Merey/DPA | October 23, 2006 15:32 IST
"With the grace of Allah, the fighting will be increased manifold and it will be much more organized," Mullah Omar said on the eve of the Eid al-Fitr festival that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramzan.
Mullah Omar has been in hiding ever since he refused to hand over Osama bin Laden to the Americans after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. But he's hoping the days of the mujaheddin aren't over yet.
It is not the first time that Mullah Omar has predicted the defeat of Western forces in Afghanistan. This time around, however, the international community has been put on the defensive and the Taliban are at their most powerful since their rout from power in late 2001.
Experience has taught Mullah Omar it is possible to win against occupying forces. He lost an eye in a battle which sent the Red Army packing back to Russia in the 1980s.
In combat he also met Osama bin Laden, later reportedly marrying one of the al-Qaeda leader's daughters. The bond between the two men is deep - Mullah Omar offered bin Laden hospitality even when it was clear that this would provoke the invasion of US troops.
While bin Laden is today perceived to be more of a symbolic figure, Mullah Omar is still regarded as an active leader of the Taliban.
The ethnic Pashtun, born in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan sometime between 1958 and 1960, launched the Taliban movement with 20 Islamic students in Pakistan in 1994.
Two years later, he was at he head of a powerful movement that had captured the capital Kabul.
By the time it was ousted by the US military and Afghan opposition forces in 2001, the Taliban fundamentalist regime had gained control of 90 per cent of the country.
Mullah Omar dreamt of an Islamic emirate at the foot of the Hindu Kush and instructed people to call him Amir-ul-Momineen (leader of the faithful).
In his two-and-half page Eid message, carried in Pakistan Sunday by the domestic news agency NNI, the mullah warned rulers of Muslim countries siding with the US to "stop the betrayal of the Muslim Ummah (world community)."
The last time Mullah Omar addressed the press he encouraged young Muslims to follow in the footsteps of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by US forces in June.
In Afghanistan, his appeal appears to have fallen on fertile soil. Even if international forces have killed hundreds of rebels in recent months, the Taliban seem to be have a constant supply of fighters and suicide bombers.
One Taliban commander recently told a BBC journalist that hundreds of suicide bombers were ready to leap into action. DPA