The man said to be responsible for bringing al-Qaeda to Afghanistan announced he was running for president on Thursday,a move likely to be greeted with apprehension by the international community.
President Hamid Karzai is barred from running by the constitution,and the new government is seen as an opportunity to push the country away from years of damaging allegations of corruption and maladministration.
Today I nominate myself in order to serve my countrymen and my nation I want to stand alongside the true servants of Afghanistan, Abdul Rassoul Sayyaf told Reuters minutes before he registered at the offices of Kabuls Independent Election Commission.
Next year,millions of Afghans will vote in what is being hailed as the most important election since the US-led war against the Afghan Taliban began 12 years ago.
Western diplomats have previously told Reuters of their concerns regarding Sayyafs nomination,given his deeply conservative views regarding womens rights and social freedoms,and his deep ties to militant Islam.
The Philippine insurgent group Abu Sayyaf is named after him and he was mentioned in the 9/11 commission reports as mentor to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad,the operational mastermind of September 11,2001,attacks. A conservative Islamic scholar,Sayyaf ran paramilitary training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1980s and 1990s,and it was there he meet al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
In 1996,Sayyaf helped bin Laden return to Afghanistan after he was ejected from Sudan. Bin Laden stayed in the country under the protection of the Taliban until the American-led invasion of late 2001. Sayyafs nominee for first vice president,Ismail Khan,will also worry the countrys Western backers.