Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Amir al Mumineen (“commander of the faithful”) of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.
The Taliban called the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden a “great tragedy” and said his death will not weaken their will to continue the fight in Afghanistan.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Leadership Council, which is also known as the Quetta Shura, issued an official statement on the al Qaeda leader’s death on their website, Voice of Jihad. In the statement, the Taliban described the slain terror leader as the “Great Martyr Sheikh Osama bin Laden.”
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan extends its deep condolence to the family of the martyr, to his followers and to fighter Mujahideen of the way of Truth and to the Islamic Ummah [nation] on this occasion of the great tragedy,” the statement said. “We pray to the Almighty Allah to accept, in His Sight, the sacrifice of the martyr. May, the Almighty Allah, salvage the Islamic Ummah from the current situation of crisis due to the impact of the blessing of the sacred Jihad and martyrdom of the martyr.”
The Taliban described bin Laden as the leader of the global jihad, and said he led the “legitimate cause” against the Israeli state and the jihad “against the Christian and Jewish aggressions in the Islamic World.”
“The martyr took part in the Jihad against the Soviet invasion with great honesty and bravery shoulder to shoulder with the Afghans. He offered such sacrifices in this way that the history of the Islamic Ummah will for ever remain proud of,” the statement continued. “Sheikh Osama bin Laden was the ardent advocate of the legitimate cause of the first Qibla [direction] of the Muslims, the Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem] and the occupied Palestine . He was an indefatigable fighter against the Christian and Jewish aggressions in the Islamic World and was not sparing any effort in this cause. The life of this Mujahid, who felt the antagonism against Islam, was full of fatigues, sacrifices and hardships. The history of Islam will always keep their memory alive.”
The Taliban dismissed claims by US officials that bin Laden’s death would impact the war in Afghanistan, and said instead that his death would inspire jihadists to fight harder.
“The Islamic Emirate believes, the martyrdom of Sheikh Osama bin Laden will give a new impetus to the current Jihad against the invaders in this critical phase of Jihad,” the statement said. “The tides of Jihad will gain strength and width. The forthcoming time will prove this both for the friends and the foes, if God willing.”
The Taliban’s statement on bin Laden’s death follows days of speculation that the Quetta Shura would seek to distance itself from al Qaeda. The official Taliban statement was released five days after bin Laden’s death during a US raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The Taliban’s leadership council refrained from announcing it would avenge bin Laden’s death. But local Taliban commanders have come out in support of attacking in bin Laden’s name. One commander, Qari Dawran, who operates in the east, said several units will seek to avenge bin Laden’s death.
The Taliban’s ties with al Qaeda run deep. Years ago, Osama bin Laden swore bayat, or allegiance, to Mullah Omar, the overall leader of the Taliban movement, as the Emir al Munimeen, or the Leader of the Faithful. While some analysts have described bin Laden’s pledge as a cynical ploy to ingratiate himself with his Afghan hosts, the Taliban and al Qaeda have worked closely together before and after the US invasion of Afghanistan. The Taliban also refused to hand bin Laden and his followers over to the US after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and aided in his escape to Pakistan during the Battle of Tora Bora.
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