Ben Wedeman: Taliban claim leader OK
(CNN) – Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan, denied Wednesday that U.S. airstrikes hit a Taliban leadership compound in Kandahar and said the group's spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, is safe and unharmed.
CNN'S Ben Wedeman, in Kabul, Afghanistan, filed this report on Zaeef's statements, and a Northern Alliance claim that the United Nations security forces aren't needed in post-war Afghanistan.
WEDEMAN: Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan, said that Mullah Omar is safe and unharmed following this claim by the United States that they attacked a Taliban leadership compound. Zaeef says that the compound has no affiliation with either the Taliban or the al Qaeda organization.
Also, he said that, regarding the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, the Taliban did not know where he is, and they claim – and we cannot verify any of this – that he is not in the territory that they control. Of course, that territory is getting smaller and smaller by the day.
CNN: You may have heard the report out of the summit on the future of Afghanistan in Bonn, Germany, that the Northern Alliance said the U.N. is not needed as a security presence on the ground in Afghanistan. You've been in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan for weeks now – what is the security like there?
WEDEMAN: Security in Kabul seems to be relatively under control. But there is a good deal of uneasiness that there are loose Taliban elements around.
But I think, in the case of the Bonn talks, that they are referring to the general post-war situation in Afghanistan. Certainly if you look at Kabul in the north, the Northern Alliance does control it, but many people don't like that. There's a feeling that they've taken advantage of their military push, that they're basically saying we are here, we control it, and we're not going to talk about that anymore.
Others would like to see a more equitable sharing of the security responsibilities.
Taliban claim leader Omar safe
November 28, 2001
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