Theodore's World: Mullah Razayar ~ Taliban Commander's Threats

« Police Close Temple Mount to Jews | Main | UNC-Chapel Hill SUV-Attack Jihadi’s Suicide Letter »

March 27, 2006

Mullah Razayar ~ Taliban Commander's Threats


By Massoud Ansari in Qamaruddin Karaiz, south-west Pakistan

The senior Taliban commander in Afghanistan's lawless Helmand province has vowed to unleash a brigade of 600 suicide bombers against the British Army when it arrives in the area this summer.

In a rare interview given at a hideout on the Pakistani border, Mullah Razayar Noorzai said the chance to take on British troops was a "great honour". Taliban commanders had already recruited hundreds of willing martyrs for suicide operations, he claimed, aiming to repeat the notorious defeats inflicted on British troops in Afghanistan during Victorian times.

A price of $2,000 (£1,150) has also been put on the head of any captured Westerner - a bounty that threatens a re-run of the Iraq-style kidnappings and beheadings.

"We are happy that they are coming to Helmand," said Mullah Razayar, who lost a leg while fighting the Russians in the 1980s. "It is both a trial and a great honour for all Muslims. We will now get a fair chance to kill them.

"We have already prepared 600 suicide bombers alone for the Helmand, and you'll see that we will turn it into their graveyard."

Mullah Razayar's threats will fuel concerns for the safety of the 3,300 troops who will arrive in Helmand over the coming months to hunt Taliban remnants and help Afghan forces to tackle drugs barons. A regiment of 600 Royal Engineers, protected by 150 Royal Marines, arrived last month to begin building a base for the troops in the Helmand capital, Lashkar Gah.

The province, in southern Afghanistan, is close to the site where more than 900 British soldiers were slaughtered by 25,000 Afghan tribesmen at the Battle of Maiwand in 1880 - a humiliation Mullah Razayar is keen to inflict again.

"They are children of the same army who were killed and buried in Helmand, and they will soon be reunited with their grandparents," he said.

Mullah Razayar, 48, has been assigned to lead the Taliban's operations in Helmand by Mullah Mohammed Omar, the movement's one-eyed spiritual leader.

The Sunday Telegraph came face to face with Mullah Razayar after weeks of lengthy negotiations with intermediaries aimed at securing an interview with the Taliban's senior ranks. So security conscious were his aides that they would not even reveal in advance which commander it would be.

After meeting at a rendezvous at 11pm, a reporter was driven for almost three hours to a modest, mud-built homestead in a remote valley. The vehicle took a deliberately circuitous route in order to avoid being followed and to confuse the reporter.

Inside the hut, Mullah Razayar sat cross-legged, surrounded by guards wearing traditional baggy trousers and carrying AK47 assault rifles. Others quietly positioned themselves on the rooftops of nearby houses and on the dusty track, ready to hustle the mullah away at the slightest alarm.

Mullah Razayar said that, contrary to the British insistence that the Taliban had no popular support, locals were queuing to join its ranks.

"Men are coming to sign up to fight at the frontline," he claimed. "Women are bringing their sons, and giving us their jewellery to sell and buy weapons to enable us to fight these infidel invaders. We have so much support here from the locals - more, probably, than the British soldiers have back in London."

There has already been a marked increase in suicide attacks across Afghanistan, where once they were almost unheard of. There have been 19 across the country since last November, killing more than 80 people, including a Canadian diplomat and American and Afghan soldiers.

Volunteers for suicide operations were being schooled in how to maximise the impact of their attacks, said Mullah Razayar. In addition to car bombs, they were being given explosive-laden vests, which can enable attackers to get much closer to their victims. A determined campaign using suicide vests would hamper any British "hearts-and-minds" strategy, which involves mingling with locals in shops and streets.

Posted by Wild Thing at March 27, 2006 12:27 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)