[The mystery surrounding the recent Pakistani arrests of Afghan Taliban leaders can best be seen in the following alleged pictures of Mullah Abdul Salaam. The first picture comes from Der Spiegel. It will be remembered that the northern Afghan territory of Kunduz is allegedly under Salaam’s command, a district under German NATO troops. This was the location of the US attack upon a gas tanker in support of German forces, which killed as many as 60 Afghans, most of them civilians. This implies that the German source should have a real photo of Salaam.
The next photo is supplied by the widely-read Long Wars Journal. This photo allegedly comes from an online Islamic militant site, Al-Samoud Magazine.
This is a photo of a former Taliban leader by the same name. He was one of those leaders who were dealing with British Envoy Michael Semple and EU diplomat Mervyn Patterson, when they were exposed and expelled from Afghanistan. Excerpts from these negotiations are included at the end of this article.
This Mullah Salaam became an official in the Karzai government. This next one is his photo from Reuter’s:
There are further questions that must be asked: (1) Which of these Afghans does Pakistan have in custody; –giving the German source the benefit of the doubt, due to its familiarity with the Mullah Salaam who has been leading attacks upon its troops– (2) Why would a respected news source like the Long War Journal put-out a photo of this mysterious figure without double-checking other sources, or put-out a purposely misleading photo? –NOTE–Long War Journal, along with Jamestown Foundation, proved to be original sources for this erroneous picture of Baitullah Mehsud.
By Tom Coghlan in Kabul
An Afghan tribal leader is in talks to defect from the Taliban and take thousands of armed tribesmen with him to fight alongside British forces in southern Afghanistan.
The Daily Telegraph has learned that the Afghan government hopes to seal the deal this week with Mullah Abdul Salaam and his Alizai tribe, which has been fighting alongside the Taliban in Helmand province.
Diplomats confirmed yesterday that Mullah Salaam was expected to change sides within days. He is a former Taliban corps commander and governor of Herat province under the government that fell in 2001.
Military sources said British forces in the province are “observing with interest” the potential deal in north Helmand, which echoes the efforts of US commanders in Iraq’s western province to split Sunni tribal leaders from their al-Qa’eda allies.
The Afghan deal would see members of the Alizai tribe around the Taliban-held town of Musa Qala quit the insurgency and pledge support to the Afghan government. It would be the first time that the Kabul government and its Western allies have been able exploit tribal divisions that exist within the Taliban in southern Afghanistan….
According to tribal elders in Helmand and Western diplomats in Kabul, Mullah Salaam had been attempting to negotiate with the Afghan government in secret.
But details of the talks were leaked late last week to his erstwhile allies and this reportedly led to a split in the Taliban ranks.
Other Taliban leaders have since plotted to assassinate Mullah Salaam. “Mullah Abdul Salaam is very influential and he has the support of thousands of our tribe,” said Haji Saleem Khan, the head of the Shura (or tribal council) of the Alizai in Helmand.
“When the Taliban found out that he planned to join the government three days ago they tried to kill him. But they have failed….
Some sections of the Alizai, by contrast, have been dominant within both the drugs trade and provincial power structures.
Sher Mohammad Akhundzada, the former provincial governor who was allegedly a kingpin in the local drugs trade, was an Alizai.
January 12, 2008