[SEE: Pakistan Arrests Mullah Rasoul After He Outs CIA/ISI Taliban Mansour ; US Claims Proof of Indian Pathankot Base Attackers Linked To Dadullah Group ; Dadulluh’s Nephew Assumes Reins of Breakaway Mahaaz-e-Dadullah Faction ]
ISLAMABAD: A breakaway faction of the Afghan Taliban is struggling to survive due to the uncertain fate of its chief, Mullah Muhammad Rasool.
Rasool was arrested in Pakistan after he fled infighting in the southern and western parts of Afghanistan, in March this year.
Mullah Abdul Rahman Niazi, a spokesman for the rebel group, confirmed last week that Rasool had been missing. Niazi, who now lives somewhere near Kabul and is accessible to the Afghan media, had earlier denied such reports.
Pajhwok news agency had quoted Niazi as saying that his splinter group has appointed Mullah Abdul Rauf Arif as the new chief last week. However, Niazi later dismissed the report as false.
Arif, a former governor of Khost, is among the few Taliban, who have not yet declared allegiance to Haibatullah. Another leader, who is known by the name of Ghazi, is also associated with the breakaway faction, a Taliban leader says. He is of the view that the remaining dissident leaders are reluctant to declare support for Haibatullah.
Taliban loyal to Haibatullah claim that the Afghan security establishment fully supports the rebel group, a charge the dissidents deny.
The rebel group faced a major blow this month when its deputy Maulvi Baz Muhammad quit and declared allegiance to Haibatullah. He was one of the few prominent dissident leaders who had refused to support Mullah Akhtar Mansoor until his death in May and Habiatullah.
In a series of interviews, Niazi claimed that former deputy foreign minister Mullah Abdul Jalil and Anwarul Haq Mujahid, son of senior former Mujahideen leader Maulvi Younas Khalis, are part of the dissidents. However, both had rejected Niazi’s claims. Jalil had supported Mansoor days before he was killed in a US drone strike.
The anti-Haibatullah Taliban faced another setback when the father and brother of Mansoor Dadullah declared support for Haibatullah that ended another breakaway faction – the Dadullah Mahaz (Front). Dadullah led the group until his death in late November last year, when fighters loyal to Mansoor attacked him in Zabul.
A section of the media had reported this month that the Dadullah had appointed Mullah Emdadullah Mansoor, nephew of Mansoor Dadullah, as the new leader of the faction. However, the group’s spokesman, Rehbarmal told The Express Tribune that he does not know Emadullah and that now the father, brother and family of Mansoor Dadullah support Haibatullah.
Another Taliban leader said Emadullah is not the nephew of Mansoor Dadullah.
Haji Abdullah, father of Mansoor Dadullah and his son, Mullah Ehsan, said in a video message said their family supports Haibatullah and that they have no relations with any other group and all claims are baseless.