March 1, 2007

Move Over, Omar

The Taliban have a new commander and a new public face for their terrorism. Mullah Dadullah has become the new rock star of the jihad in Waziristan, and his emergence could portend an especially tough spring for Afghanistan and its NATO defenders:

If Osama bin Laden likes being in the global spotlight, he's likely a bit depressed in his hideout these days. The leader of the al-Qaida terrorist organization hasn't made an appearance on the evening news for quite some time. What's more, the Taliban no longer need bin Laden as a figurehead. Western intelligence agencies warn that the Taliban now have "their own star" in their struggle against Western soldiers and the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai. The new nightmare from the Hindu Kush Mountains is called Mullah Dadullah. He sports a pitch black beard, always wears a military jacket and these days, he is omnipresent in the media. ...

Western intelligence agencies believe the Taliban have used the winter to thoroughly tighten their organizational structure. Some Taliban commanders are even reporting that Taliban leader Mullah Omar -- who disappeared from the scene entirely for years -- is once again writing letters to his supporters, congratulating successful commanders and the parents of suicide bombers and reminding militants of their "Islamic duties" via audio recordings. For years, one-eyed Omar had disappeared without a trace -- likely afraid of being tracked down by the CIA.

But Mullah Omar seems to be feeling more secure these days -- as does Mullah Dadullah, who only recently outlined his vision for the coming months. Behaving almost like any normal politician, he invited al-Jazeera journalists to visit him in the mountains. His words were alarming despite being full of rhetoric and propaganda. Dadullah said he commands 6,000 men who have volunteered for suicide attacks, and that their offensive is "imminent." He added that some of his men are already set off on their mission, which he described as a "bloodbath for the occupiers." This week's symbolic attack on US Vice President Dick Cheney is reason to fear that Dadullah is issuing more than just empty threats.

The Taliban have taken comfort in the internal divisions within the NATO alliance, especially those which demonstrate a lack of enthusiasm for manning the front lines. As a whole, they have engaged their supporters much more openly than any time since their ejection from Kabul. The films of their camps feature far more open faces, and the jihadis seem unafraid to give their full names.

Some of this is patently fake. Last week the terrorists tried to float a video showing that the Taliban had overrun a NATO camp, but it turned out to be a badly-produced hoax. The videos feature grenade launches ad nauseam, interspersed with some stock footage of damaged American military vehicles. Insh'allah, the tapes inform the viewer, the terrorists will hit us again. However, they don't appear to note that five years after they got unceremoniously booted out of Afghanistan, they're still on the outside looking into their former stronghold.

NATO faces some hard choices nonetheless. Dadullah plans on a strategy of suicide attacks across the country, a terrorist favorite that is hard to defense. Commanders at NATO announced that they would quickly mount an offensive to meet the threat, but fighting them in Afghanistan after they disperse will be nearly impossible. If NATO wants to do something effective, they're going to have to attack their bases in Pakistan, if the Pakistanis continue to refuse to do it themselves. It's no different than our own forward strategy to engage the terrorists on their home turf rather than fight them on our home ground.

Otherwise, we'd better be prepared to see the legend of Mullah Dadullah grow. Every successful suicide bombing will be seen as a major victory against the NATO forces by the jihadists -- and by defeatists in the West. The time to act has arrived.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Move Over, Omar:

» Rise Of A New Taliban Leader from The Strata-Sphere
Ed Morrisey writes today on the new Taliban Leader, Mullah Dadullah, who is eclipsing Mullah Omar and possibly even Bin Laden in the Afghan-Pakistan region. Let’s just say I have not found people who have rhyming names all that effective. Morri... [Read More]

» Move Over, Omar from Bill's Bites
Mullah Dadullah Rocks!Jules Crittenden He’s got the latest, flashiest pajamas. Double barrelled disco tiger-stripe RPG. MTV pimped his technical. No way Rule No. 19 applies to Mullah Dadullah … you know he’s gotta have mobs of beardless boys swoo... [Read More]