Omar and Bin Laden: Defiant last words

Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden make defiant statements about destroying America but the reality is another – they are fighting for survival.

Although the Afghan conflict seems set to last for a long time, with total civil war more and more of a possibility as time passes, it would seem that only a miracle could save the Taleban regime from total destruction.

In the north, a reported 14,000 Taleban and Al Qaeda fighters are pinned into the enclave around Kunduz. Heavily armed and with nowhere to go, their final destiny is certain: a bloodbath, unless there is negotiation between the sides. In the south, Kandahar is still (November 16th, 17.30 MSK) in Taleban hands but all the main roads are controlled by Northern alliance or US Special Forces. The Taleban have two options: surrender, or take to the hills.

In neither case will they remain in power, for which reason, the words of Muhammad Omar to the BBC on November 15th, in which he promised “the immediate destruction of the USA”, seem more like words of desperation than a prophecy.

In the interview, he claimed: “The present situation in Afghanistan is associated to a great cause, the total destruction of the United States. This project will continue and, God willing, is being applied, but it is an immense task, which transcends the power of understanding of human beings”.

He went on to claim that “this will happen sooner than the Americans think”. Whether or not he was alluding to another biological weapons attack remains to be seen but as Omar speaks, his options are being reduced by the minute. Despite the wealth of conflicting reports (for instance, that the Taleban have recaptured Oruzgan (Eastern central Afghanistan or that Kandahar has been taken by the Northern Alliance).

With many disheartened fighters changing side, the Taleban are left with their hardcore of troops, enough to cause many problems for a long time to come, but not enough to assume the government of the country again as a single political grouping.

As for Osama Bin Laden, there are reports that he is in the mountains north of Kandahar, where special underground bunkers have been prepared underneath the mountains in the years leading up to the current scenario. On the other hand, as US Defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted, “He has enough money to do whatever he wants, or at least try to”. Donald Rumsfeld postulated the hypothesis that bin Laden could escape by helicopter.

With intelligence so patchy, it is impossible to know where he is. Even if a body is produced, there will be those who claim it is a double and that the real Osama is somewhere else planning his next deed. The last place people would expect him to be is New York City.


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