Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2012

Mullah Mohammed Omar and Sheik Moktar Ali Zubeyr

The hypnotic appeal of establishing God's kingdom on earth propels two of these men: Afghanistan's Mullah Mohammed Omar, 52, fugitive leader of the Taliban, and Sheik Moktar Ali Zubeyr (also known as Ahmed Abdi Godane), 34, the purported emir of al-Shabab, an Islamic militia that has germinated in the rot of Somalia. Varying degrees of allegiance to al-Qaeda have made both men constants on global terrorist lists. But their politics, though resonant, are local: the sheik feuds with local warlords (and neighboring Kenya) to make his strategic country ever more unstable; the Taliban chief has re-emerged as a player in Afghanistan a decade after the U.S. invasion, resurrecting nightmarish visions of his theocratic rule even as America withdraws.