BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: South Asia
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 10 October, 2001, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Interview: Taleban ambassador Zaeef
Abdul Salam Zaeef:
Abdul Salam Zaeef: We want to keep the dignity of Islam
In the first interview with a Western broadcaster the Taleban ambassador in Islamabad, Abdul Salam Zaeef, tells the BBC that his government will resist US attacks. But in these extracts from the interview with Zubeida Malik he begins by saying there is little they can do defend against the air campaign.

Zaeef: "We should wait ... at the moment we are weak, we cannot defend [ourselves] from the aircraft, from the cruise missiles and this is stronger than our capability," he said.

"We can fight with them when they enter into Afghanistan. We are waiting for them to enter Afghanistan [where] they should find a very strong reaction from the people."

Malik: Are you disappointed by the lack of support so far from other Muslim countries?

Zaeef: "Yes. The attack on Afghanistan is not against Afghanistan this is against Muslims, any Muslim in the world. They have responsibility to help the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in this situation.

"And this situation can happen in other Muslim countries in the future."

Malik: Can you explain to people, is it really worth the deaths of so many people and the destruction of Afghanistan all for one man - Osama Bin Laden?

Zaeef: "We believe that the attack on Afghanistan is a cruel attack and heavy handed attack from these countries ... and they prepare this thing for one man.

We believe that [the US] wants to snatch the Islamic system from the Muslim people in Afghanistan

Abdul Salam Zaeef

"We believe that from the Afghanistan side this is not for one man - this is the dignity of Islam. We wanted to keep the dignity of Islam. We accepted these problems.

"This is not the issue of Osama only. We are not [able] to do anything for one man. We want to keep the Islamic law highly."

Malik: But for all this principle, if you handed over Osama Bin Laden, your country would be saved?

Zaeef: "Yes, and this is not true. Religious scholars in Afghanistan called Osama to leave the country and immediately. Bush denied that. No that is not the issue of Osama. We have other problems with Afghanistan ... the education of women and the other problems of Afghanistan ...

"We believe that they wanted to snatch the Islamic system from the Muslim people in Afghanistan."

Malik: Do you know where Osama Bin Laden is at the moment?

Zaeef: "He is Afghanistan at the moment. I don't know where in Afghanistan he is at the moment."

Malik: What about Northern Alliance claims that they are gaining territory, and that the Taleban are on verge of collapse?

Zaeef: "The Northern Alliance with supporting foreign countries don't have any love among the people of Afghanistan.

"They are trying to attack in some places, but they are not successful. They cannot do anything in Afghanistan."

Malik: At this stage in the war, is there anything you are prepared to do to negotiate with America and her allies?

Zaeef: "Only which we believe - we have said before, the way of solving a problem is negotiation, understanding and dialogue."

Abdul Salaam Zaeef
"Any Muslim in the world has a responsibility to help Afghanistan"
See also:

10 Oct 01 | Middle East
In full: Al-Qaeda statement
09 Oct 01 | Americas
America on high alert
10 Oct 01 | South Asia
US claims air supremacy
07 Oct 01 | South Asia
Bin Laden defiant
18 Sep 01 | South Asia
Who is Osama Bin Laden?
08 Oct 01 | Media reports
Al-Jazeera goes it alone
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories