Apart from the relief that someone (meaning at least Omar) actually realizes that NATO holds the reins in Afghanistan, and not US commanders, of the most interest was the last paragraph in the article...
Omar promised no let up in Taliban activities during the usual lull in fighting that accompanies the harsh Afghan winter and denied there was any rift in his organisation.
Hello? Rift in the organization? Forget Omar's veiled threats and pompous bragging. To me the real story is what Hemming did NOT write about. And a subject that I've been craving more info on daily... to no avail.
And that takes us back to what I blogged on Ray Robison's suggestion that AQ and the Global Islamic Jihad Movement in general is fracturing in multiple places at the very foundations.
There should be more specifics on this "rift" that Mullah Omar goes out of his way to publicly deny... the more than curious want to know.
Also more feedback from Zawahiri on a few different subjects - courtesy of Threatswatch. He condemned the Arab leadership for "betrayal" for their Annapolis summit meeting in his latest Dec 14th video distribution.
“The czar of Washington invited 16 Arab countries… to sit in one room, at one table with the Israelis… (and) witnessed the betrayal deals to sell Palestine.” After calling upon Palestinians to not lose sight of the goal “to liberate every inch of Muslim land.”
But he's not done yet... remember Sayd Imam al-Sharif? He was Zawahiri's predecessor for the group, Egyptian Islamic Jihad. And, in mid November, fired off a new jihad manual with kinder, gentler jihad rules of engagement. Zawahiri, having no respect for his predecessor's views, had a few choice words for him as well..
Zawahiri turns to Egypt and rails against Sayyed Imam al-Sharif, a leading jihadi militant who last month recanted while in prison. Quoting Malcolm X he states that Islam must be defended against unbelief and then paints the Liberal Islam movement as a creation of the United States. “Those revisionists (including Sayyed Imam),” he says, “are in fact calling for a new American religion that violates God’s rules.”
Oh my... Omar creates a new moniker... "Liberal Islam". Think the liberal/progressives in the US will note the distinct similarity?
Last, but not least, this final excerpted Zawahiri rant is for those of you who think if we leave Iraq, the bad guys will leave us alone. In simpler words, those who are sure the only AQ battlefronts for their Caliphate are Iraq and Afghanistan. Another not-so-subtle reminder as to why it is called the "Global Islamic Jihad Movement".
Finally, Zawahiri discusses Algeria, reminding Algerian listeners that it sent representatives to the Annapolis conference, and then concludes with a shout-out to al-Qaeda’s other theaters, including Andalusia, Sebta, Melilla, Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus, Jerusalem, Haifa, Um Rashrash, Baghdad, Kabul, and Kashmir and Grozny.”
All in all, the signs of a disintegrating jihad movement, as we know it now, are there. But all too few media are actually putting two and two together on the sporadic news blurbs that fly fast and furious from Kosovo, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iraq and North Africa.
It must be remembered that it is documented that Mullah Omar and UBL have had power tiffs in the past... From a 2004 Atlantic Monthly feature by Alan Cullison, email translations from an Arab-AQ laptop the journalist purchased in Kabul in the fall of 2001. Turns out the laptop was used mostly by Zawahiri. From one email in particular, an admonishment from Taliban leaders sent to OBL, via Zawahiri, dated July 19, 1999...
The Leader of the Faithful, who should be obeyed where he reigns, is Muhammad Omar, not Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden and his companions are only guests seeking refuge and have to adhere to the terms laid out by the person who provided it for them. This is legitimate and logical.
Not a lot of love lost there.
It should be remembered that the major stronghold for the AQ umbrella organization, that encompasses more than 18 named subgroups, lies in Pakistan/Afghanistan - with strong threads to Egypt. So to experience a large crevice in the heart of the jihad organization is a severe blow indeed.
We need to learn more of this Taliban "rift" Omar touches on.. and find a way to feed it's fury further. In the world of jihad, friends and allies today are the enemies tomorrow. They bond long enough to achieve a common goal, then again turn to feast on their own for power and control.
And that suits the rest of the world just fine.