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Taliban leader pledges 'victory or death'

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has pledged "death or victory" in the battle against the United States and other nations bombarding Afghanistan. And he says the Taliban will never hand over suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

"The situation where we are now, there are two things: either death or victory. And God will watch over us," Omar said in an interview with the Saudi magazine Al Majalla about 48 hours after the United States and Britain launched their air strikes.

"To those who are fighting and bombarding us, they should understand the Afghan man is a fighter willing to die for jihad, and the geography of Afghanistan will make our land become a graveyard for the infidels," he said.

Omar said the Taliban "have enough weapons" and the "coalition will face the same fate as the Soviets before them."

He said there is no evidence that proves bin Laden is guilty of the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States. "We want solid evidence that bin Laden is guilty. And we will not hand him over since he fought with us against the Soviets, and he also supported us financially," Omar said. "The Islamic religion and the Afghan law prohibit handing over bin Laden. Bin Laden is our guest and there are others who are our guests, too. They can stay as our guests as long as they respect our customs and laws."

He went on to say of the terrorist strikes that destroyed the World Trade Center and heavily damaged the Pentagon, "I do believe that the terrorists or the people who committed such an act are Americans."

The Al Majalla interview will be on newsstands Saturday.

The Taliban said one of Omar's homes was attacked in the first night of bombing, but he left 15 minutes before it was struck.

U.S. officials believe that among the Taliban leaders killed so far were "two adult male" relatives of Omar.


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