Al-Qaida supporters lash out at Taliban for straying from global jihad

Al-Qaida supporters on the Web have unleashed an unprecedented flood of criticism of Afghanistan's Taliban, once seen by extremists as the model of an Islamic state. Now extremists accuse the Taliban of straying from the path of global jihad after its leader Mullah Omar issued a statement saying he seeks good relations with the world and even sympathizes with Shi'ite Iran. In February, the Taliban announced it wanted to maintain good and "legitimate" relations with neighboring countries. Then, last week online militants were outraged when the movement expressed solidarity with Iran, condemning the latest round of sanctions imposed on Teheran by the UN Security Council over its nuclear enrichment. The Shi'ite Islamic state of Iran is viewed as anathema by the Sunni militants of the al-Qaida and other extremist movements. "This is the worst statement I have ever read ... the disaster of defending the (Iranian) regime is on par with the Crusaders in Afghanistan and Iraq," wrote poster Miskeen, whose name translates literally as "the wretched" and who is labeled as one of the more influential writers on an al-Qaida linked Web site.