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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 March, 2003, 22:00 GMT
Taleban 'aims to regain power'

By Rahimullah Yusufzai
BBC correspondent in Peshawar

A senior Taleban military commander has told the BBC that the Taleban hope to regain power in Afghanistan, with popular support.

Mullah Dadullah also said more attacks were being launched against the US-led forces in the country as war continues in Iraq.

It was the first interview to be given by a leader of the Taleban regime in Afghanistan since its collapse in December 2001.

Mullah Omar, leader of ousted Taleban
The Taleban 'have regrouped' under leader Mullah Omar

But Mullah Dadullah offered to give a recorded interview to the BBC because he felt that rising anti-US sentiment in Afghanistan made it an appropriate time to challenge America.

A few weeks ago, former Taleban officials started issuing official statements by using emails and faxes.

Although he claimed to be somewhere in Afghanistan, he refused say exactly where or give any other contact details.

'No rift'

Mullah Dadullah, a known Taleban commander, said the Taleban had regrouped under the leadership of their supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and were now attacking US-led coalition troops with renewed vigour and ferocity.

He has previously led assaults on opposition strongholds in northern Afghanistan and elsewhere in the country.

Dadullah took credit for a number of recent attacks on coalition forces and said the Taleban would fight until "Jews and Christians, all foreign crusaders" were expelled from Afghanistan.

He claimed there was no rift in the Taleban ranks and that those opposed to the Taleban in the past - such as former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar - now agreed with their campaign against "foreign occupation troops" in Afghanistan.

'Jihad'

According to Dadullah, al-Qaeda did not exist in Afghanistan and he said he did not know the fate or whereabouts of Osama bin-Laden.

Afghan women in all-enveloping burqas
Women in particular suffered under the Taleban

During the interview Dadullah was reminded that most Afghan people were opposed to war and were unlikely to support the Taliban call for "Jihad".

However, he maintained that the Afghans were ready to fight the invaders to liberate their homeland.

In response to comments that Afghans wanted to see reconstruction in Afghanistan rather than more war, he remarked that the US and its allies were good at destruction as one could see in Iraq.

Mullah Dadullah said the Taleban were getting funding from the Afghan people and recalled how the Afghan Mujahideen began fighting the Soviet occupation troops in the early 1980s with very few resources and weapons.

He said Taleban fighters were making use of arms and ammunition that they were able to hide after losing power.


SEE ALSO:
US steps up Afghan operations
28 Mar 03  |  South Asia


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