A new Taliban group named after Tora Bora has been set up by the son of late Afghan mujahedeen leader Maulvi Yunis Khalis to organize resistance to U.S.-led foreign forces primarily in eastern Afghanistan.
Qari Sajjad, a spokesman for the new Taliban group, told ABC News that their fighters are active in the eastern Nangarhar province and other parts of Afghanistan. He explained the group is named Tora Bora because it had old bases in the Tora Bora mountain range dating from the days of the Afghan "jehad."
Tora Bora became known worldwide when U.S. warplanes bombed it for several days in December 2001 to kill Osama bin Laden, who was believed to be trapped there, and his al Qaeda fighters. Most of the Afghan fighters hired by the U.S. military to lay siege to Tora Bora were once members of Maulvi Khalis' Hezb-i-Islami.
Speaking from an undisclosed location, he said Maulvi Khalis' eldest son Anwarul Haq Mujahid was head of the Tora Bora Nizami Mahaz, or Tora Bora Military Front. He pointed out that Mujahid was a former Taliban military commander and was presently leader of Hezb-i-Islami, which barely exists after becoming faction-ridden and weak.
Mujahid had gone underground after the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Later, he prevailed upon his ailing father to join hands with the Taliban and declare "jehad" against the foreign forces in the country.
Mujahid was able to hide his father until his death but was unable to attend his funeral in a village near Jalalabad. A bomb exploded during the funeral, killing several people. The Taliban, which apparently wanted to kill the governor of Nangarhar, Gul Agha Sherzoi, and other top government officials, were blamed for the attack.
Qari Sajjad said Mujahid's group was formed sometime back, but it, until now, had been maintaining a low profile. "We have now decided to step up our operations and approach the media to publicize our cause," he said.
He claimed that Taliban fighters aligned with the Tora Bora Military Front recently attacked the district headquarters in Kot in Nangarhar and inflicted losses on its defenders. He also claimed responsibility for some other attacks in Nangarhar.
According to Qari Sajjad, his group would take revenge for the recent killing of innocent Afghans during raids by foreign troops on homes in Jalalabad and nearby villages. He alleged that common people were killed, injured and arrested in those raids.
Qari Sajjad also issued a threat to Western journalists either to stop siding with the foreign forces in Afghanistan and the Hamid Karzai government or be ready for the consequences. "The Western media serves as the spokesman of the U.S.-led occupying forces in our homeland. It never gives the Taliban version of events in Afghanistan. This must stop or we would start targeting the so-called Western reporters who in reality are spies," he stressed.
He pointed out that Taliban spokesmen Dr. Hanif, Latifulllah Hakimi and Ustad Yasir were in the custody of the Karzai government even though they weren't fighters, but Western journalists, who are the mouthpiece of the Western armies, were being allowed a free run to spread propaganda and file biased reports.
In reply to a question, Qari Sajjad said the Tora Bora Military Front was a Taliban group loyal to Taliban leader Mulla Mohammad Omar. "Though Anwarul Haq Mujahid was leader of Hezb-i-Islami, he was also head of the Taliban shura for his native Nangarhar. He is very much part of the Taliban movement," he contended.