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Taliban Says Thousands Will Replace Al-Zarqawi

Taliban fighters captured in Afghanistan in 2002 ( June 9, 2006 -- A statement attributed to Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar says the death of Al-Qaeda militant Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi will not weaken the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan to "crusader forces."

The statement said Omar and "all Muslims of Afghanistan's resistance" were saddened by the loss of al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a U.S. air strike on June 7.

But it said al-Zarqawi -- the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq -- had achieved his "will and goals" and that there were thousands ready to take his place.

Al-Qaeda has long been an ally of the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until its ouster by a U.S.-led coalition in late 2001.

Omar has been in hiding ever since.

(compiled from agency reports)

Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi

Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi

Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi(undated AFP file photo)

COMMITTED TO TERROR: Jordan-born Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi has been among the most visible and ruthless leaders of Iraq's post-Saddam Hussein insurgency. In a tape released earlier this month, al-Zaqawi called on Iraqi Sunnis to fight against Shi'a and labeled Shi'ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani an "atheist."
Insurgents loyal to Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda-affiliated organization have regained control over much of Al-Anbar Governorate, and are posing a major challenge to U.S. and Iraqi forces. A local security force established by tribesmen under an agreement with the U.S. military has all but ceased operating, after nearly a dozen tribal leaders were assassinated in revenge attacks by insurgents loyal to al-Zarqawi's Mujahedin Shura Council since January. Local tribal leaders now say they are afraid to be seen associating with U.S. forces, lest they be targeted by insurgents....(more)


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