- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 3, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan A group that purports to be a new "Secret Army of Mujahideen" is taking responsibility for attacks on U.S. troops in Arabic leaflets that have surfaced in eastern Afghanistan in recent days.
Although similar pamphlets have appeared from time to time since the United States went to war in Afghanistan, this one is unusual because it is written in a language relatively few Afghans speak and even fewer can read.
That suggests the document could have been written for the several thousand Arabs, most of them suspected al Qaeda members, who still may be hiding in the remote mountains in the east.
The authors of the rambling six-page leaflet did not refer to their group as an offshoot of either al Qaeda or Taliban but said that it had three goals: "To avenge the innocent martyrs of the brutal U.S. bombing of Afghanistan; to continue jihad until the last foreign soldier is expelled from Afghanistan; and to defend the [Muslim] faith and freedom to establish an Islamic order."
The authors of the circular, which Arabic speakers said was written by someone with a good command of classical Arabic, said that they had carried out 21 attacks against the U.S. military in Afghanistan since June 1.
However, few could be verified, and some clearly did not take place.
At the U.S. military headquarters in Bagram, north of the Afghan capital, Kabul, U.S. spokesman Col. Roger King said he was unaware of the group and refused to discuss threats, if any, that American forces had received.
However, U.S. forces in Afghanistan frequently have come under fire from an unspecified source. Also, several bombings in Kabul have targeted installations such as the Telecommunications Ministry and the guesthouse of the United Nations.
The leaflets appear at a time when the Taliban is reported to be trying to regroup in northeastern Kunar province and other areas where the central government has difficulty asserting authority.
Afghans with contacts among disaffected groups said some Taliban figures, along with al Qaeda fugitives, were trying to forge an alliance with former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who maintained close ties with the Arabs even after he moved his headquarters to Iran during the Taliban's rule.
Mr. Hekmatyar, who speaks fluent Arabic, left Iran this year after the United States demanded his expulsion.
He is believed to be hiding in Kunar, where U.S. Special Forces and their Afghan allies have been conducting searches and limited air strikes against suspected Taliban and al Qaeda targets.
Afghan officials have speculated that some, if not all, of the recent bombings in Kabul may have been the work of his followers.
"He has met Taliban leaders in Afghanistan and in Pakistan," said Qasi Amin Waqat, a former Hekmatyar deputy who split with his organization.
Sur Gul, a security chief in Khost province of eastern Afghanistan, said he had reports that Mr. Hekmatyar was trying to arrange meetings with Taliban members in the east.


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