MOLLAH MOHAMMAD OMAR ORDERS JIHAD IF THE US ATTACKS IRAQ

ISLAMABAD, 9 Feb. (IPS) Mollah Mohammad Omar, the supreme leader of the ousted Taleban regime of Afghanistan has called on all Muslims to attack Western interests and individuals in case the United States attacks Iraq.

Informed sources in Islamabad said the statement, the first issued by the Taleban leader, was "genuine" and was faxed to news media from inside Pakistan.

The one-eyed Mollah went into hiding at the same time as Osama Ben Laden, the leader of the al-Qa’eda terrorist network, believed to be behind the 11 September 2001 attack on New York, after the United States started bombing Afghanistan in late October that year.

The statement said that Taleban considered the possible US attack on Iraq as a continuation of the crusades against Muslims and an onslaught on Islam.

The statement appealed to the Islamic countries to forge unity in their ranks to rid Muslims from the "yoke of the Western imperialism" and to win the rights of the peoples of Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya and Afghanistan.

The order also urged Afghans to take part in a jihad (holy war) against US-led coalition forces based in the country.

The spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Mohammad Mokhtar Mojahid, signed the message.

The communiqué accused the US of committing aggression against Afghanistan, turning it into a colony, and said all Afghans should join in the Jihad against the forces of evil and their puppet government of Hamed Karzai, the American and UN-installed President-Prime Minister of the war ruined Asian nation.

The countries that had sent their troops to Afghanistan in support of the US were also threatened with reprisals and reminded of the fate of the British and Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

It said Omar had appointed two Taleban leaders - Mollah Biradar and Mollah Obaidollah (a former defence minister) - as commanders of the new jihad. ENDS OMAR ORDERS JIHAD 9203