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Don't expect Mullah Omar to walk into captivity



Published: Fri, January 4, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Anyone who thinks deposed Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar will surrender -- whether to the Americans or to the new Afghanistan government -- must have been smoking Afghanistan's principal cash crop. Surely, only in an opium dream could anyone imagine that Omar, like other villains of past and present history, will hang out the white flag, admit to being a bad guy and fling himself on the mercy of his captors.

Unless his protectors, among certain Afghan tribes, are willing to give Omar up in exchange for leniency for themselves, it is hard to imagine that Omar will give up of his own accord.

Men like Omar, who have a deluded sense of their own destiny, are not known to wake up of a morning and see the light of their own criminal activities. It took a cerebral hemorrhage to stop Stalin, murder to take care of Nero and an apparent suicide to halt Hitler. Why should anything less be expected of the man who brought the Taliban's evil down on Afghanistan.

False vision: Omar, who says he founded the Taliban after a dream in which Allah in the shape of a man told him to lead the faithful, never considered that Allah's idea of leadership may not have meant bombs and brutality.

When Abraham -- revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims -- went to slay his son Isaac on God's command, God's angel stopped his hand. Why should Mullah Omar, a self-professed holy man -- presume that God intended for him to show no mercy?

But then despots can always find a way to justify the slaughter of the innocent. Stalin killed millions in the name of Mother Russia. Nero acted for the glory of Rome. Hitler offered eternity in the fatherland. Slobodan Milosevic -- now on trial for war crimes -- promised his ethnic cleansers that they would be the heroes of a greater Serbia. It's just easier when they can promise their followers a special place in heaven for the death and destruction they wreak on earth.

Still, there are hundreds and thousands who flock to the demagogue's banner willing first to blame their own misfortunes on others, then to dehumanize those perceived enemies and then to kill them. Genocides thus gain momentum from their leaders' lusts for power. That was true for Hitler, for Pol Pot in Cambodia, for Milosevic in Bosnia and Kosovo, and would have been true for Omar had not the United States stopped him.

Narrow outlook: After all, he, like his followers, was trained to see the world with the narrow vision of fundamentalist religious schools -- free from the influence of moderate Islam. But at some point his piety gave way to violence and his assumption of the title "Amirul Momineen," or "commander of the faithful," put the influence less on faith and more on command.

There are those in the Muslim world who say that the uneducated Omar -- he never finished his schooling -- is unduly influenced by wealthy Gulf Arabs who have used him for their own purposes of destabilizing the Middle East and undercutting American influence around the world.

In fact, in a Voice of America interview reported by the Christian Science Monitor, Omar said & quot;God says he will never be satisfied with the infidels. In terms of worldly affairs, America is very strong. Even if it were twice as strong or twice that, it could not be strong enough to defeat us. We are confident that no one can harm us if God is with us."

He should heed the words of Pope John Paul II. In his New Year's Day sermon, the pontiff could well have spoken for all humanity when he said, "No one, for any reason, can kill in the name of God."




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