23 May 2011

Omar's death, if true, could ratchet up security

KABUL, Afghanistan—The university’s 2010 graduation, scheduled for a single student, was halted last May a few days after a suicide attack by minivan exploding across the road near a crowded bustop on the south side of Kabul, killing 17 people, mostly Afghan civilians, four NATO colonels, and injuring scores of others.

Later this week, with a class of less than 30, the first graduation is scheduled on campus amid mounting violence, including deadly attack on Kabul military hospital, an outdoor market in Laghman, and a government building Khost in recent days.

Multiple news sources yesterday and today are reporting Afghan claims that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the religious authority of the Afghan Taliban, has been killed by Pakistani authorities “while on the way from Quetta to North Waziristan.” Another reports said Pakistanis were rushing the body to Afghanistan to suggest he was killed there. However, the Taliban claim Omar is alive and Afghanistan. His death, if true, could have a greater impact on the war than bin Laden’s killing.

Al Qaeda was a global phenomena and bin Laden wanted to bring holy terror to the U.S., its western allies, Saudi Arabia and unfaithful Muslims around the world. Mullah Omar wants to create an Islamic theocratic state in Afghanistan. Those are very different goals and in Omar has much popular support in Afghanistan than bin Laden, much it tied to the former’s peasant origins in Maiwand area of Kandahar province, his success as anti-Soviet mujahideen and an Afghan anti-communist before he decided to hang up his guns to teach at a madrassah in Pakistan. The corruption and violence of the warlord era brought Omar and his students (Talibs) back to his homeland and they created the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which ruled from 1996 to 2001. For some Muslims, Mullah Omar is Amir al-Mu'minin, the highest possible Islamic title, often translated as "Commander of the Faithful."

Omar’s death, if true, will likely raise the security risk for the graduation ceremonies.

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