Taliban, allies form leadership council

Taliban, allies form leadership council

Pakistani Taliban commander Hakimullah MehsudPakistani Taliban factions and their allies have set up a council of elders in hopes of coordinating efforts against NATO troops in Afghanistan, a spokesman said Monday.

The five participating factions, including the Taliban branch led by Hakimullah Mehsud and the militant Haqqani network, announced the move in a leaflet circulated in the Pakistani tribal district of North Waziristan over the weekend.

The council’s creation was spurred by fugitive Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who urged the Pakistani Taliban and associated jihadist groups to put aside their internal disputes and work together to battle the U.S.-led alliance across the border, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told CNN.

Ihsan told CNN that Omar had sent three of his representatives to Pakistan to urge the jihadist movements there to put aside their differences and work together to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan. Ihsan said the insurgents would start moving across the mountainous border in March.

The Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan before the U.S.-led invasion that followed the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. The fundamentalist Islamic militia was quickly turned out of power but regrouped in the countryside and has been battling NATO troops and the Western-backed government in Kabul ever since.

The leaflet announcing the council calls for an immediate halt to the killings and kidnappings of innocent people. But the Pakistani Taliban will keep fighting Pakistani security forces as long as their attacks on the Taliban continue, Ihsan said.