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Tajik Diary: A Homegrown Bin Laden -- Fact Or Fiction?


Some say Mullo Abdullo's name is just being used as a pretext by the government for trying to keep the remote and volatile Rasht Valley, a former opposition stronghold, under control.

Some say Mullo Abdullo's name is just being used as a pretext by the government for trying to keep the remote and volatile Rasht Valley, a former opposition stronghold, under control.

If there is one name you hear a lot, and which always causes anxiety in Tajikistan, it is Mullo Abdullo.

Some have dubbed the elusive former Islamic opposition commander "Tajikistan's Osama bin Laden."

Mullo Abdullo, also known as Abdullo Rahimov, rejected the peace accord between the secular government and its Islamic opposition in 1997, and left for Afghanistan.

And ever since there has been speculation about when he might return to cause trouble in Tajikistan.

"Mullo Abdullo has returned to his native Rasht Valley along with foreign militants and they might cause trouble in our country" -- this is the message you hear both from the local media and people in streets.

And the authorities' constant mention of him being back in the Rasht Valley doesn't help to put anyone at ease.

"Mullo Abdullo's return" has also been given as a reason by the authorities to justify the large ongoing military operation in the Rasht Valley, which has so far killed at least 60 troops.

Ordinary people in the street say no one knows for sure where Mullo Abdullo really is, or whether he is dead or alive.

There were rumors he had joined Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. There were also reports he was arrested in Kandahar.

He has never made any public statements, hasn't given any interviews, and no one has said on record that they'd seen Mullo Abdullo this century.

Very few people know what he looks like. Mullo Abdullo's wife, Shamsiya Rahimova, says her husband never liked having his photo taken.

His six children say they haven't heard from their father in nearly 10 years. His only son makes a living teaching English in a village outside Dushanbe.

The 60-year-old former Islamic commander was believed to be in poor health and had one kidney removed long before he joined the opposition.

Many people in Tajikistan fear Mullo Abdullo poses a real threat to stability, at least in the Rasht Valley.

Others say Mullo Abdullo's name is just being used as a pretext by the government for trying to keep the remote and volatile Rasht Valley, a former opposition stronghold, under control.

-- Farangis Najibullah

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