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Dead or alive? Taliban denies rumors of Mullah Omar’s death, blames…hacking

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 20, 2011 12:03 AM

What a day, huh?

Late-breaking news tonight is that Taliban “supreme leader” Mullah Omar may be dead. Or not.

In an uncanny turn of current events, the Taliban reportedly claims its phones have been hacked:

KABUL: Two Taliban spokesmen said their mobile phones had been hacked and false text messages sent out on Wednesday reporting the death of the movement’s supreme leader Mullah Omar, who is still alive.

“This is the work of American intelligence, and we will take revenge on the telephone network providers,” said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, when contacted by Reuters to confirm the veracity of one text message.

The messages came from phone numbers used in the past by both Mujahid and a second spokesman Mohammad Qari Yousuf and said “spiritual Leader Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid has died” and “May Allah bless his soul”.

No word on whether any graphic photos accompanied the “hacked” messages.

In related news: New Study Asserts Taliban Faction Closely Linked to al-Qaida

A new study says a key faction of the Taliban has been far closer to al-Qaida than some previous analyses have suggested, raising fresh questions about Pakistan’s alleged support for terrorist groups and the prospects for peace negotiations on Afghanistan.

Most terrorism experts have long believed that the Taliban and al-Qaida, while sharing a radical ideology, have markedly different goals.

According to this notion, the Taliban fight primarily for local or national issues and is not that interested in the al-Qaida agenda of global jihad against the West.
But a just-released study by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point seeks to dispel that notion, at least in regard to one key Taliban group. Don Rassler, lead author of the report, says the Haqqani network shares al-Qaida’s ideology and ambition.

“We challenge the conventional assumption or perception that the Haqqani network is primarily a local actor. And we find that the organization over its three-decade-long evolution in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region has functioned as a strategic enabler of regional, local, and global forms of militancy,” says Rassler. “So what we’ve come down and found was that the Haqqani network while, yes, being a local actor and pragmatic as well, is also committed to the philosophy of expansive and global jihad as perpetrated by al-Qaida.”

The Taliban is not a single monolithic organization, but more of a collection of networks. Of those, the Haqqani network is seen as the most dangerous, believed responsible for some of the most spectacular and bloody terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.

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End note: Speaking of hacking, here’s the story of a Harvard fellow and ethics scholar charged today with “hacking into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s computer network to steal nearly 5 million academic articles.”

And here’s another federal hacking crackdown…on a mob of intruders/”hactivists” operating under the shady “Anonymous” banner.

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