Nic Robertson: The Taliban's tenacity
SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The Taliban declared their religious duty to fight for Kandahar and the surrounding provinces under their control and said they have no communication with suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden or his al Qaeda network.
CNN's Nic Robertson attended a Taliban press briefing Wednesday in Spin Boldak near Kandahar. He filed the following report:
ROBERTSON: It's interesting and important as well that Syed Tayyad Agha was the spokesman chosen to give this press conference. He is a close ally of the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Perhaps it's an indication that this message is coming directly from the top.
He told journalists that the Taliban now control about four to five provinces in Afghanistan -- those provinces around the city of Kandahar, to the south, to the west, to the southeast and the north and perhaps about halfway to Kabul.
He said that the Taliban were able at this time to militarily defend those provinces. He also said that the people in those provinces had requested that the Taliban defend them and that it was their religious obligation to ensure the safety and security of those people. He said the Taliban leader, Mullad Omar, was being held at a secret location for his safety. When he was asked about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, he said that the Taliban did not know that at this time.
AGHA: I have no information, and I have not seen that there are still al Qaeda members in Kandahar and provinces controlled by us. They are now not in contact with us due to information problems. We have no information about their leader or its members.
ROBERTSON: He also said that the Taliban denied rumors that they had been negotiating to hand over those provinces that they now control and their spiritual capital, Kandahar. He said that the Taliban were opposed to dividing Afghanistan and would fight to unite it. He also said that any foreign intervention would not bring peace and stability to the country.
AGHA: Foreign intervention and the foreign interference can never bring peace and stability in the country, and this is something that we are seeing nowadays in Afghanistan. There is anarchism, and there are commanders ruling, and they are cruel toward our people and nation.
So any program or efforts taken by foreigners or foreign forces for stability in Afghanistan will not give any result. This will lead Afghanistan to anarchy and internal fighting.
ROBERTSON: He also explained in the press conference how the Taliban had risen to power in the country. He said that this was at the request of the people -- that in the mid-1990s they had controlled Kandahar; they had brought peace and stability to Kandahar and that they had been requested by the people of the country to bring that to the whole of Afghanistan. He said that now he did not believe that the Northern Alliance could bring the same peace and stability to the country.
Taliban spokesman defiant
November 21, 2001
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