For months, several pieces of evidence have lent support to the theory that Abdul Kabir, whom former Taliban describe as "Usama's most resolute supporter" within the hierarchy, was in the Khost area, the soldier monks' final sanctuary. In this province, largely supportive of the Taliban, which has the twin merits of adjoining the tribal Pakistani area of Waziristan and of still being under the control of the warlords hostile to Kabul, the former deputy prime minister is apparently very busy: under the logistical guidance of Jalaluddin Haqqani [name as published], the Taliban's former commander-in-chief, whose capture the Americans have treated as a priority, Abdul Kabir has apparently been organizing in each village small cells of highly mobile fighters. In February, Abdullah Jan Tawhidi [name as published], deputy head of the Afghan interim government's secret services, said that his men had located the Taliban's third-in-command in a small neighboring village. "He was preaching in the mosque," he said. "I immediately notified the Americans." Shortly after that, 50 km southwest of Khost, a Predator drone fired a missile at a group of fugitives that may have included Abdul Kabir. However, his corpse was not among the three combatants that were killed.
It was in this same region of Khost that we made contact with the Taliban's third-in-command, following lengthy negotiations. He refused to meet with us in person, fearing that we might be followed. He suggested that a mutually trusted go-between record his answers to our questions, written down in advance. We subsequently had his voice identified by a reliable sources. Though the method was far from ideal, it has the merit of corroborating that which was hitherto mere supposition. It is indeed the first time that a senior Taliban official has spoken out since the end of the regime. The former deputy prime minister confirmed that he had taken refuge in this province in southwestern Afghanistan, with two tribes loyal to him -- the Hazar Buz and the Gur Buz. He leads a watchful existence there, making sure to change refuge every two or three days. He has not shaved off his beard, but he no longer appears with his turban, or only wears a yellow one, as worn by his hosts. His fugitive status is affecting his health, he said: he claims to be weakened. Like most of the Taliban with whom we met, who still bear the blame for a defeat without fighting, Abdul Kabir began by looking back over the circumstances of the retreat that he himself ordered. "The bombardments were very heavy, and civilians suffered as a result, allowing themselves to be massacred in vain. Afghanistan has experienced several wars, but that one that was waged on us last October and December was outrageous." However, he denied that the Taliban refused to fight at Tora Bora, leaving it to the Arabs to make a last stand. "Everyone here knows that we stayed until the last moment. It is not the Arabs that call us cowards; it is our enemies that are trying to demoralize us in this war!" Though he evaded all questions concerning Bin Ladin, the Taliban's third-ion-command reaffirmed his unfailing loyalty to Mullah Omar. "He is our emir, or, rather, the emir of all Muslims." Repeating a well known line of argument, Abdul Kabir preferred to set his struggle within the broader context of the events connected to 11 September. "What happened is part of a plan designed to discredit Muslim society and particularly the Taliban regime. We had our own problems, which we were on the point of overcoming by establishing peace in a durable fashion. All the ulemas (religious teachers -- Paris Match editor's note) have stated resolutely that we could not have been the instigators of all that happened in the United States. We have on several occasions condemned those events, which conflict with human rights. Just as we condemn, from the depths of our hearts, the Karachi attack, which killed 11 French citizens. We respect life -- that of Muslims and non-Muslims alike." He has no doubt about the Afghans' reaffirmed support for the cause. "Everyone has their own opinion, but what characterizes our people is their love of religion. It is for the sake of Islam that Afghans sacrificed their lives and are willing to do so again and again. Nobody here is unaware of the extent to which the end of our regime was a heavy loss for the Muslim world." Without denying the difficulty of his situation -- "We all have friends and enemies, but I must say that the pressure to which Almighty Allah is subjecting us is very great and that I personally never feel safe" -- Abdul Kabir said he knows no fear: "We have never feared anyone, either in the past, or now." This is why he rules out the possibility of surrender: "In order to avert a massacre, we preferred to withdraw rather than to fight. That was, and will be, our only surrender." Does this mean that the Taliban are willing to resume the fight? That, as some of them told us, they are envisaging conducting actions against foreign troops, on a larger scale than the rockets that are regularly fired on the allies in the Khost area? This time the former deputy prime minister confined himself to a laconic: "No comment."
[Description of Source: Paris Paris Match in French -- right-of-center weekly magazine of French and world affairs, featuring photojournalism and society news]
AIP: US forces find arms cache in eastern Afghanistan
IAP20020703000058 Peshawar Afghan Islamic Press in Pashto 0400 GMT 03 Jul 02
Text of report by Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency
Peshawar, 3 July: US forces have seized a large amount of light and heavy weapons in an area south of Gardez.
According to Afghan Islamic Press [AIP] sources from Gardez, the centre of Paktia Province, US forces - informed by their agents - dug out a large amount of arms in Sarana, 50 km south of Gardez, two days ago on 1 July.
According to the same sources, the arms were dug out in the village of Sarana near the house of a prominent jehadi commander, Mowlawi Jalaloddin Haqqani.
According to the sources, the arms included thousands of heavy machine guns, rifles and bullets. Moreover, some British-made Blowpipe antiaircraft missiles, which were given to the mojahedin at the time of the jehad against the Russians, were also seized. It has been said that the seized arms include American-made Stinger missiles.
According to eye witnesses, the arms were being carried towards Gardez by at least six big trucks.
The Blowpipe missiles were considered as ineffective during the time of the jehad, that was why the mojahedin had not used them.
Mowlawi Jalaloddin Haqqani was the minister of border affairs during the rule of the Taleban and now he is on the US wanted list.
[Description of Source: Peshawar Afghan Islamic Press in Pashto -- Peshawar-based agency, staffed by Afghans; used to have good contacts with Taliban leadership; following the fall of the Taliban is seeking a new role for itself as a news agency; describes itself as independent and self-financing]
Pakistan: People of Kohat turn police, al-Qa'ida clash site into 'shrine'
SAP20020708000055 Islamabad The News in English 08 Jul 02 pp 18
[Report by Rahimullah Yusufzai: "Slain al-Qaeda fighters revered as martyrs"]
Peshawar -- The place where four suspected al-Qaeda fighters were killed last week outside Kohat is becoming a shrine for the faithful who believe the slain men were martyrs.
Eyewitnesses said people driving on the Kohat-Bannu road often stop at Jarma village to pray at the place where the shootout between the al-Qaeda fighters and the police took place.
Of particular interest to them is the spot where the blood of the fighters was spilled after they were hit by the shooting cops. Certain people encircled the dried blood with stones sometime after the incident and lighted candles in memory of the dead.
A match-box was kept there for use by those wanting to light candles. Several flags were hoisted in a nearby tree as a mark of respect for the deceased. Subsequently, the site of the shootout in Jarma was named the Shuhada-i-Islam Chowk (Martyrs of Islam Square).
Villagers alleged that law-enforcement personnel uprooted the signboard at night and took it away. But the new name is gradually catching on and the little-known Jarma village is becoming known.
Jarma is the second place in the NWFP [North West Frontier Province] with a shrine for al-Qaeda fighters. Last January, a place near Arawali Fort in Kurram tribal agency bordering Afghanistan quickly turned into a shrine when several al-Qaeda men killed in a clash with Pakistani troops were buried there.
The al-Qaeda fighters had been captured while trying to enter Pakistan from the Tora Bora mountains to escape the relentless US bombing. They were being shifted from the Parachinar to the Kohat jail when they overpowered and killed some of the guards and tried to flee. Tribesmen who considered bin Laden a hero of Islam and sympathized with the Taliban decorated the graves with flags and started praying there. It has reportedly become a much frequented place.
In neighbouring Afghanistan, a madressa near Khost and a cemetery for Arabs in Kandahar have also become popular shrines. More than a dozen young Huffaz [those who memorize Koran by heart] of the Holy Quran were killed when US warplanes bombed the madressa in a bid to kill Taliban leader Mulla Jalaluddin Haqqani. Many Afghans pray at the spot where the innocent teenagers lost their lives. The cemetery in Kandahar is revered because some of the Arabs buried there were patients at the Mirwais Hospital in that city and were killed when US troops and their Afghan proxies attacked their barricaded ward. The Arabs, undergoing treatment at the hospital after being wounded in US aerial strikes, had refused to surrender. Authorities in Kandahar have now deployed police to prevent the faithful from praying at the cemetery.
In Kohat, pro-bin Laden and anti-US protestors last week demanded possession of the bodies of the four al-Qaeda fighters so that they could be given a decent and proper burial. They held a protest meeting in the Kotwali Mosque, staged demonstration and kept vigil outside the Combined Military Hospital in Kohat to pressure the military authorities to hand over the bodies to them. The markets in Kohat were also closed to protest the shying of the al-Qaeda men.
Speakers at the protest rally argued that the police should have nabbed the suspected al-Qaeda men instead of killing them. They were also critical of the Musharraf government for toeing the US line and sending troops to the tribal areas to capture al-Qaeda members at the behest of Washington.
To defuse the situation, the authorities reportedly shifted the four bodies to Peshawar at night and quietly buried them at a cemetery on Shami Road.
At least four organizers of the protest rallies in Kohat including former PML-N [Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz Group] MNA [member of National Assembly], Javed Ibrahim Paracha, Dr Abdul Rab, Maulana Mursalin and Haji Abid Paracha were arrested and booked on several counts. The charges against them ranged from treason to terrorism. They were dispatched to the central prison, Dera, Ismail Khan, where living conditions are stated to be terrible.
The use of strongarm tactics by the government may have calmed down the Kohat situation but there is little that can be done to contain the resentment against the US and its allies. There is a wide gap between the perception of the government and a section of the population with regard to al-Qaeda.
The official media has been referring to the slain troops and cops as martyrs while a sizeable number of the public think otherwise. They believe the slain al-Qaeda men were martyrs. The two sides are unlikely to agree with each other anytime soon.
[Description of Source: Islamabad The News in English -- Independent daily, member of the Jang Publishing Group]
Al-Qa'ida Field Commander on Mulla Omar, Bin Ladin, Future Plans
GMP20020710000134 Afghanistan -- FBIS Report in Arabic 10 Jul 02
["Telephone" interview with Abu-al-Layth al-Libi, al-Qa'ida "field commander" in Afghanistan, by unidentified speakers -- date not given]
The Islamic Jehad On Line website at http://www.jehad.net/ carries on 10 July a 30-minute recording of a telephone interview with "a brother field commander" called Abu-al-Layth al-Libi in Afghanistan. Date of interview is not given. The following is a full translation of the recording:
[An unidentified speaker introducing Abu-al-Layth al-Libi] In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate, praise be to Allah the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds.
May the peace and blessings of God be upon the leader of the valiant and the imam of the mujahidin, Prophet Muhammad, may a thousand prayer and blessing be upon him.
Following the suspension of contacts with the brother mujahidin in Afghanistan, there were many questions and great concern about their fate in the country. But, thank God, here is a glimmer raising hope and life in our hearts.
Amid the fierce [western] misinformation campaign, there reappeared once again the mujahidin, who have accustomed us to hold our heads high in the battlefield. Here is an interview with one of the brother field commanders replying to many questions and relating on the Shahikot battle, about which the US media have misled the whole world.
It was the biggest battle faced by the infidel forces on the land of Afghanistan. They clearly saw the power and might of the mujahidin, and therefore they revised their calculations and ran to make statements on television screens and in newspapers.
God said: "It is He who got out the unbelievers among the people of the book from their homes at the first gathering of the forces. Little did ye think that they would get out, and they thought that their fortresses would defend them from Allah. But the wrath of Allah came to them from quarters from which they little expected (it), and cast terror into their hearts, so that they destroyed their dwellings by their own hands and the hands of the believers. Take warning then, O ye with eyes to see."
[Al-Libi] In the name of God, and may be the peace and blessings of God be upon the noblest of mankind. O God, nothing is easy, but you have made it easy, just as you made pilgrimage. O God, facilitate our actions for your sake and reward us for them on the Day of Judgement, Amen, Amen, Amen.
My dear brothers in Afghanistan, my dear brothers among the generous, the people of the good lands that produced the mujahidin and the defenders of justice, may the peace and blessings of God be upon you.
Regarding your questions on the graces that God has bestowed upon us in the beloved struggler country of Afghanistan and the victories that He achieved through the hands of the mujahidin and that were witnessed by the whole world, we pray to God Almighty to increase His graces. The mujahidin made the whole world witness how US forces, the forces of the so-called biggest power on earth, were humbled and disgraced.
I would like in my brief talk to underline several points, which, I think, are basic and of interest to all mujahidin outside the land of Afghanistan. The first basic point is that I would like to reassure the lovers of jihad and mujahidin everywhere that the symbols of jihad they know are all well and in good health. Their affairs are as God has wished them. All of them are preparing and equipping themselves and arranging their affairs. We pray to God to bless their actions, insure their safety, guide their steps and opinions, and make us soldiers under their leadership and flag.
I would like to reassure everyone that the Amir of the Faithful, Mulla Mohammad Omar, is well and in good health. He has now almost taken control of all the groups, which were scattered. He is reorganizing his ranks. Praised be God, matters are at their best. We pray to God to bless his time so that it would be spent as God wishes.
It is the same with the other symbols that you know, such as the great honorable brother, Shaykh Usama Bin Ladin, and we pray to God to preserve him and make him hold fast; Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Shaykh Sulayman Abu-al-Ghayth. Their affairs are fine and blessed. We pray to God Almighty to guide their steps.
The other symbols that you know, the trainers and the powerful brothers with a long history in jihad, are all well and in good health.
This is the first point, which is to reassure the beloved ones everywhere about their brother mujahidin.
The second point is that the people of Afghanistan have not changed. Many of those who experienced the first phase -- the fall of the Amirate -- witnessed a big change among the people and population. People were afraid of the coalition forces, which came in powerfully. Many brothers left, thinking that the situation would never return as it was. But, praised be God and thanks to the efforts exerted by our brethren and the blood they shed for the sake of God, as demonstrated by the mujahidin's strong steadfastness and resolve, the people's attitude and nature changed. They became more certain that the mujahidin have the power to take the initiative once again.
I would like to mention in particular the Shahikot battle. According to the reports received from our Taliban brethren, this battle completely reversed the situation. It encouraged the mujahidin who were scared and reassured the people who dreaded the Americans. Praise be to God alone.
We the mujahidin in general are getting ready to begin the next phase in what is termed in military science the phase of guerilla warfare. We are trying to develop the fronts, where fighting was marked by skirmishes. We are now developing the fronts along all lines to make it a large-scale war -- the war of ambushes, assassinations, and operations that take place in the most unexpected places for the enemy. We are succeeding in that, thanks to God's graces and the cohesion, affiliation, solidarity of the mujahidin, both Arab and Afghan.
What we see is full cohesion. We have succeeded in establishing bases behind the enemy and inside its collapsing fortresses. Thank God also we have succeeded in reaching the phase of destroying bases and ammunition dumps and carrying out combat operations and assassinations. We have managed to carry out successful operations, praise be God. We ask God Almighty to bless our new operations, guide our shooting, straighten our opinions, and consolidate our steadfastness. For He is Omnipotent.
In this talk also, I ask the brothers to support the mujahidin with prayer. Truly, brothers, all we want is prayer and more prayer. Prayer will fulfill the aim and benefit the mujahidin first and foremost. Other things would follow. Thanks to our good brethren's earnest prayers, situations that looked gloomy and disastrous in our eyes became relief, support, and victory, God be praised. I call upon all brethren to beseech God Almighty through prayer and to never forget their brother mujahidin.
Here are some good tidings. Just before your contact, my brothers contacted me from inside and told me about the operations they carried out today and not yesterday or the day before. They shot down a helicopter. They also entered a US barrack and fought the Americans. But, we still do not know the results of this battle.
I also bring you the good tidings that in a day or two you will hear about a new epic. I pray to God Almighty to accept the deeds of the mujahidin.
I say that we have only succeeded in these operations thanks to jihad and the solidarity of Muslims everywhere. Today's jihad is a world jihad. It is an international jihad. Just as they face us with their power and might and say that they are waging a Crusade, we with our weakness, poverty, and resoluteness say that it is an Islamic jihad by all Muslim fronts and classes. We do not rule out anyone. We call upon God to bless their efforts, make their offers beneficial, and direct their hits. We pray to God for success for your actions and ours. For He is our Lord.
I hope that once you have prepared your questions, you would contact us once again. May the peace and blessings of God be upon you.
[Question not given]
[Al-Libi] Of course, having been greatly hurt by the Pakistani Government, let down by Pakistani intelligence, and powerfully hit in the fighting, Taliban got scattered. But, once it absorbed the shock, the Amir of the Faithful succeeded with God's graces in appointing a number of reliable brethren to reorganize matters for the coming phase. They keep us continuously informed. Among the main things they decided to do and pursued in their policies was to gather all the righteous and true mujahidin, including those they ignored in the days of the first Taliban state. They said, we learned a lesson from ignoring many mujahidin, including such leading figures as Shaykh Jalaluddin Haqqani and others who were known to the old jihad arena in the days of the parties. Now, praised be God, their reorganization is good and their affairs are improving day after day. We pray to God to guide their steps. The recent operations in Kandahar and other states were organized by the Taliban, may God bless them. The Amir of the Faithful threatened several people, including Qul Agha. He threatened him that if he continued with his policy of persecuting the mujahidin and hurting their families he would kill him. Qul Agha fled from the whole region. We do not know where he is now. Some say he left for the UAE and others say he left for Saudi Arabia. Only God knows where he is. As to the situation in Afghanistan, the people yarn for the old days of Taliban and the state of Taliban. This is due to the violations that are taking place in the north. These are not violations of theft, but violations of sanctities. It is not correct, as mentioned in the false reports several days ago, that a big group of Qulbuddin Hikmatyar followers were arrested. True, many of these Pushtun leaders belonged to Hikmatyar's organization, but they came to complain to Karzai that the northerners, Fahim and his henchmen, were violating the sanctities of the Pushtun. Fahim's friends in Kabul lied and covered up the case -- hence the assassination attempt in Jalalabad. You must have heard about that. The situation in general is moving in favor of the Taliban. Perhaps, you have heard that in the news. All analysts, except for those of the CNN and other suspicious networks, say that the situation in Afghanistan is critical and deteriorating. Thank God, as far as the Taliban are concerned, things are proceeding well and their affairs are fine. I would like to reassure the brethren that we are in direct contact with the Amir of the Faithful, Mulla Mohammad Omar. We put our demands to him, and he entrusts us with other demands. His affairs are at their best. [Question not given]
[Al-Libi] First, I would like to point out that we have spoken with the brethren in the Taliban Government about the symbols of jihad, including Qulbuddin Hikmatyar. We said that the man has shown good will and adopted a good stand in the last days of the Taliban state. They said, we have learned a lesson from our previous policies and we must cooperate with these leaders and pursue a policy that is in harmony with the policies of the other parties, but under one basic condition that this would take place according to the shri'a. We were told by the brethren in Taliban that there they are now in direct contact with Hikmatyar. To be honest, Hikmatyar is not an easy or simple man. He still has many followers due to his past record and history. His party was once the first in Afghanistan. Taliban would do well to deal with and coordinate with him. But, if he went against the legitimate government of Taliban or tried to pursue policies that are not acceptable under the shari'a, his situation would be the same as in the past. This is what the Taliban themselves said. We pray to God that Taliban and Hikmatyar have benefited from the previous phase and that Hikmatyar has become convinced that Islam is the solution. Taliban also knows that it has no other choice but to unify efforts and ranks, as the cause is bigger than everything else.