The Taliban are making themselves felt in Afghanistan again. They are determined to set up a major bridgehead to resist the government and coalition soldiers in Zabul, eastern province bordering on Pakistan. The News newspaper has offered the information with reference to Mullah Dadullah, in command of the fundamentalist military. He is alleged to have made the advertisement on the telephone.
As many as 800 mojaheddin are active in the small town Dekh-i-Chopan. They straddle highways and mountain passes to ambush the enemy, and all their attacks have been a success for now, says Dadullah, long-known warlord, who lost a leg in fighting Soviet soldiers years ago.
The mojaheddin intercepted on the approaches to Dekh-i-Chopan all Afghan government and US troops from the neighboring Qandahar and Uruzgan provinces, and Qalat, center of Zabul, alleges Dadullah.
He intends to develop the bridgehead into a formidable fortified area on the pattern of the known Panjshir Valley, northeast of Kabul. Ahmad Shah Massoud, ethnic Tajik prominent on the anti-Taliban alliance, made it his stronghold, and repulsed Soviet and later Taliban forces. Before he died in battle, September 9, 2001, Ahmad Shah was Defense Minister on the Northern Alliance. The present Afghan government, led by Hamid Karzai, cherishes his memory as Afghan resistance hero.
Mullah Dadullah has considerable experience of military leadership. He commanded Taliban forces as they seized the Alliance-held Bamian province, in 1997-98, and later led fundamentalist troops in Afghanistan's north. As the Northern Alliance seized Mazar-i-Sharif, late in 2001, he managed to flee the town and reach Qandahar. The warlord is fighting on two fronts ever since in the Afghan south-the Karzai government and coalition troops. Inspiring him is Mullah Mohammad Omar, Taliban religious leader. That one, too, has been escaping a dogged hunt since 2001.
US air raids and missiles shot from a US base near Qangahar cannot hit the mojaheddin in their cave hideouts. They will fight to the end, says Dadullah.