Mullah Omar, the supreme leader of Afghanistan’s Taliban guerrillas, said in a statement that his movement is close to victory against U.S.-led forces, according to a monitoring group and an Afghan news agency.
In a message marking the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, Omar urged Afghans who fought the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, many now allied to the American-backed government of President Hamid Karzai, to join the Taliban’s campaign, the Afghan Islamic Press news agency said.
The 3,000-word declaration, published initially on jihadist websites, struck similar themes to past messages by Omar, said the Bethesda, Maryland-based SITE Intelligence Group. Omar focused on “rallying Afghans around jihad, urging U.S. allies to reconsider their roles in the war, and declaring the Afghan Taliban’s post-war objectives,” it said on its website.
Written in Pashto, the language of the Pashtun ethnic group to which Omar belongs, the statement tells the U.S. government it “should unconditionally withdraw your forces from our country as soon as possible because it is in your personal and national interests and is the best approach for ensuring regional stability,” according to a translation by the BBC.
Omar’s movement, composed of several factions, has mounted a growing insurgency since 2004, three years after U.S. bombing and rival Afghan groups toppled the Taliban regime. President Barack Obama says his administration will begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011 after having trained Afghan government police and soldiers to take over some security duties.