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Abdul Salam Rakity

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Abdul Salam Rakity

A former Mujahideen "freedom fighter" and former Taliban military commander, Mullah Abdul Salam Rocketi renounced his former 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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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