Abdul Salam Rocketi

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Mullah Abdul Salam Rocketi is a former Mujahideen "freedom fighter" and Taliban military commander who renounced his allegiance to run for the Parliament of Afghanistan in 2005, and for the Presidency in 2009.[1][1] The Asia Times described him as one of the former Taliban who: "...act as the Taliban's political wing in Kabul."[2] Rocketi is an ethnic Pashtun from Zabul Province in Afghanistan.

Soviet invasion of Afghanistan[edit]

During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the eighties, Rocketi earned his surname fighting with rocket-propelled grenades against Soviet helicopters and tanks.[3]

Afghan Civil War[edit]

In 1995, his residence was raided by Pakistani forces who uncovered a cache of Stinger missiles, and arrested his brother. Rocketi retaliated, kidnapping the deputy commissioner of Ziarat, Atta Mohammad, and several Pakistani militiamen.[4]

U.S. invasion of Afghanistan[edit]

By the time of the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Rocketi was serving as the top commander in Kunar, Nangarhar and Laghman provinces.[3] In the opening days of the bombardment, it was suggested that his residence may have been a target of three bombs dropped in mid-October.[5] However, by December 2001, he was reported to have surrendered Zabul to the American forces.[6] The following month, it was reported that he may have been killed in the attack that also killed Taliban Interior Minister Qari Ahmadullah.[7]

In May 2002, after renouncing the insurgency, Rocketi was arrested by American officials during a meeting in Kandahar.[8]

Relationship with militant leaders[edit]

According to the Sydney Morning Herald Rocketti, commenting on a recent Taliban offensive in 2006, said:[9]

"They don't have the power to take territory and hold it for a long time. But they can disturb the peace and, day by day, that causes instability ... they can't fight the foreigners for long periods, but they can take on the Afghan military."

In the summer of 2007 Rocketti and Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's former Ambassador to Pakistan were reported to have entered into negotiation with the more moderate factions within the Taliban.[10][11] According to the Asia Times:

"An official of a Kabul-based European body that has had a major role in facilitating the talks between the Taliban and coalition forces confirmed to Asia Times Online, on condition of anonymity, that high-level talks between Taliban commanders and coalition forces through Rocketti and Zaeef had taken place in an attempt to find a broader political settlement."

Although he has publicly described Mullah Omar as "a dumb person, illiterate [and] ignorant", he also claims that the former Taliban leader would negotiate with him if he were elected President.[3]

2009 Presidential bid[edit]

Rocketti was a candidate in the 2009 Afghan Presidential election.[12] Preliminary results placed him 7th in a field of 38.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Former Taliban leaders renounce past to stand in Afghan elections, The Independent, September 15, 2005
  2. ^ M K Bhadrakumar (May 19, 2007). "Afghan battle lines become blurred". Asia Times. Retrieved 2007-11-03. 
  3. ^ a b c Dimanno, Rosie. Toronto Star, Taliban turncoat's got a new mission, August 13, 2009
  4. ^ Khyber.org, Mullah Abdul Salam Rocketi Archived April 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ The Independent, Explosions rock eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, October 15, 2001
  6. ^ Cape Times, Bin Laden's men putting up a blistering fight, December 10, 2001
  7. ^ The Guardian, "Taliban security chief dies in raid", January 3, 2002
  8. ^ Keath, Lee. Associated Press, US Captures ex-Taliban commander, May 14, 2002
  9. ^ Paul McGeough (July 15, 2006). "Afghanistan wakes to false dawn". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2007-11-03. 
  10. ^ Syed Saleem Shahzad (August 24, 2007). "Talks with the Taliban gain ground". Asia Times. Retrieved 2007-11-03. 
  11. ^ M.K. Bhadrakumar (October 6, 2007). "Staying the course in Afghanistan". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 2007-11-03. 
  12. ^ "Preliminary Result of Afghanistan Presidential Contest". Sabawoon online. 2009-08-20. Archived from the original on 2009-08-03.