The fugitive leader of the Taliban, Mullah Muhammad Omar, has reportedly issued a warning to foreigners in Afghanistan, as well as in Europe, that new Taliban attacks are imminent.
Afghan President Karzai is also promised a bad end in the message, which assures readers that the new Afghan government will be brought before an Islamic court. Mullah Omar's reappearance may confirm the growing recognition that the Taliban, ousted from leadership by the U.S. in 2001, were never fully eradicated.
Some oddities surrounding the origins of the web message may have counterterrorism officials puzzled, though, and no one has confirmed the message's veracity.
The warning was issued on a website claiming to represent the "Islamic emirate of Afghanistan," the Taliban's moniker for the country. The original official website of the "Islamic emirate" has not been in use, however, since August 2001. The current site emerged recently. Frequently updated, the site has some characteristics that observers of the "neo-Taliban" expect:
a neo-Taliban trend of exaggerating the number of losses to Afghan or foreign troops and minimizing its own casualties, it also contains updated information on operations -- including suicide missions -- carried out by the insurgents.
The site has also revealed potentially telling linguistic discrepancies, according to Amin Tarzi, reporting for Radio Free Europe. While self-proclaimed spokesmen for the neo-Taliban typically refer to their group as the Taliban, the website tends to use the term mujahideenthe label that anti-Soviet guerrillas used to describe themselves in the 1980s. (The Taliban, who did come out of the mujahideen ranks, called themselves Talibanstudentsto distinguish themselves).
Tarzi speculates that the website's use of the mujahid label, as well as the fact that the website is maintained in Arabic as well as Pashto, suggests a link between the website creators and those associated with global jihadist groups of Arab origin. This does not necessarily speak to cooperation between the Taliban and these groups, who have historically been at odds.
The website itself, images of which are available on a Reuters video shows images from a website in Arabic, Sawt Al Jihad (the voice of jihad). The website's administrators are not accepting new registrants (I tried), and the site maintains large disclaimers in English and Arabic that views within the site don't necessarily reflect those of its administrators.