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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Taliban Press Conference in Spin Boldak

Aired November 21, 2001 - 05:52   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANAND NAIDOO, CNN ANCHOR: Taliban officials are holding a news conference in Spin Boldak in Afghanistan. The spokesman for the Taliban leader Mullah Omar is addressing the media.

Let's listen in to that news conference.

SYED TAYYAD AGHA, SPOKESMAN FOR MULLAH OMAR: ... And these -- this fighting among the parties of Afghanistan caused anarchy in the country and caused the looting, killing and robbing the innocent people of Afghanistan. So it was a time for the sincere Muslim people to do something for the secure of the people in Afghanistan. So at that time, the Taliban Islamic movement, which was based in Kandahar, they started a struggle against the robbers, thieves and rulers torturing Islam, Islamic country and Muslims in different parts of the country. So this movement had a program, that's how to secure people from these problems. And with the help of almighty Allah and the support of the nation of Afghanistan, they could get control of Kandahar province and its surroundings by the support of people.

So then peace and security was brought in Kandahar and around provinces, and the people of other provinces saw the situation and security and other good things so they also requested the Taliban forces to enter the provinces and take control of those provinces. So stick by stick, our forces, they could control about 95 percent of Afghan land and implemented Islamic law or Sharia.

So these -- all things -- they were because of the compulsory of, from the religion side, that this group or this movement, they should do something for the people because this was their Islamic and religious duty. And the cause was the cruelty of different commanders and different rulers in different parts of the country.

So after the formation of the Islamic government in Kabul, 95 percent of Afghanistan saw this Islamic system and the implementation of Sharia in Afghanistan and the differences between our government of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan and between the United States of America. So the differences started from that day, and stick by stick, these differences did not confine (ph) only the first of papers and now on the channels of TV and radios. And eventually, these differences reached to the military attack on Afghan Muslim nation. And this was an attack against Islam and Muslims in Afghanistan by the name a strike on terrorism.

So this thing caused that our forces withdrawal from different provinces, and now they have reached to southern Afghanistan and control about four or five provinces. And you might have heard that there were rumors that the Islamic Emirate forces have to give up their control in Kandahar and surrounding provinces. But we can say that this is also a kind of fighting from our enemies on the Islamic Emirates, and they spread such kind of propaganda against Islamic Emirates.

But our forces, they are well disciplined, and they help the program, and they have decided to defend the presently controlled provinces by their own forces.

And because of this oath (ph) that we had started the movement and then the formation of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan before controlling Kabul and before controlling any other areas of Afghanistan and we had found Islamic Emirate in Kandahar.

And this was not to get power or to get other things in the country, but the sole purpose of our movement was to bring Islamic law in our controlled areas. And still our -- this responsibility remains on our shoulders. And this is not something of our choice, to give up power to someone, but this is a compulsory from our almighty Allah said that we should fight until we are alive to secure our religion and to secure our people, our innocent nation from the looting and robbing and killing of the people who want to enter the city.

And you saw the situation in other provinces presently left by the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan and controlled by our opposition and our oppositions in Kabul, northern Afghanistan and eastern Afghanistan. So these are things are experiences for us that these people cannot control the nation, but this will cause and will carry the nation Afghanistan to division and to other problems that was facing before 1994 and the time when there was fighting in different factions of Afghanistan.

AGHA: So we just wanted to satisfy our nation and the Muslim Omar in the world, but we will try our best, and we will defend our nation, and we will defend our religion until we are alive, and we will give any chance to anybody to entrap or to disturb our Islamic rule in Kandahar and other surrounding provinces.

QUESTION: [Speaking in native tongue.]

AGHA: [Speaking in native tongue.]

QUESTION: [Speaking in native tongue.]

AGHA: [Speaking in native tongue.]

QUESTION: [Speaking in native tongue.]

AGHA: [Speaking in native tongue.]

(CROSSTALK)

AGHA: Actually no tribal elders who contacted us to give or to transfer power to them in Kandahar. But these tribal elders, they are with us and they were with us and they will be with us, and they have given a lot of sacrifices for the implementation of Sharia and for the defense of their nation.

QUESTION: Sir, which elders are you talking about? I mean (OFF- MIKE)

AGHA: I told you that nobody has contacted us, and somebody who is abroad, he can not play a rule inside Afghanistan, and we see that, from 20 years, the people who are trying from abroad have not got any reason (ph) of their struggle.

QUESTION: Sir, is Kandahar (OFF-MIKE) and if so, would you be willing to allow (inaudible) to enter the city and see for ourselves so we can report back to the world that Kandahar (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: Yes, yes, we are going to have a program to take a group of journalists to see the atmosphere and the situation in Kandahar.

QUESTION: When will that take place?

AGHA: You will be informed.

QUESTION: Sir, what is the Taliban's relationship now with Osama bin Laden, and do you have any idea where he is?

AGHA: We have no idea of where he is, because, you see, that our areas, they are limited now to three or four provinces. So now we don't know where he is.

QUESTION: Does that mean that he is no longer your guest? What is your relationship with him?

AGHA: Sir, there is no relation right now.

QUESTION: None?

AGHA: There is no communication.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: Actually, we can say that, for the time being, there is fighting and bombardment on our innocent people, so we are no problem. The problem is the problem of America and its allies. So they are the people bombarding and fighting against our people. So we are not.

QUESTION: Sir (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: No, probably not.

QUESTION: Do you foresee a way that this fighting will end?

AGHA: This -- the question should be asked from the forces who have launched attacks on Afghanistan. So we have launched -- we haven't launched attacks on America and its allies, and they are the people who have come to our country and are killing our innocent people. So the question should be asked from America, that when they are going to give an end to the fighting in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Do you regret your friendship with Osama bin Laden...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: They said they would give an end to the fighting if you were able to turn over Osama bin Laden. So if you wanted to find an end to the fighting, would you be able or willing to turn over Osama bin Laden?

AGHA: This was not the right of America to hand over Osama bin Laden or somebody else to America. This was not and is not the right of United States of America or any country else to ask for the surrender of someone or a group, and there is no treaty between Afghanistan and these countries to hand over someone. So that's why we could not do that at that time.

QUESTION: [Speaking in native tongue.]

AGHA: [Speaking in native tongue.]

The people of Kandahar and the surrounding provinces, they are with us, and they have promised that they will fight in the favor of the forces of the forces of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and that's why we cannot leave our nation, especially the Kandahar and surrounding provinces, because they have given a lot of sacrifices, thousands of sacrifices, for the sake of Islamic rule and regulation in Afghanistan.

So that's why the nation living in Kandahar and surrounding provinces, they are with us, and they are ready for any kind of sacrifices to secure the Islamic Emirate and secure its nation.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: Yes, there is Kandahar, Zabul, Oruzgan, Helmand and a part of Ghazni province.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) province is no longer in your control?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: No, this is best list.

QUESTION: If the city of Kunduz falls, if (OFF-MIKE)

(CROSSTALK)

AGHA: Not only Kunduz, but you see that this is not important for us that whether a province falls or not. So according to reports from Kunduz, our elder (ph) Jihad commanders, they are negotiating a position with commanders over there, and right now, I don't have information that what they have discussed and their negotiations.

QUESTION: What impact would a surrender have on the situation in Kandahar? AGHA: Initially, there will be the impact of that on our forces in Kandahar. But at present, our forces in Kandahar and surrounding provinces, they are enough to defend the present controlled areas.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: How?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: This is something secret, but he is living under controlled areas of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, and he has announced his stand, that what he has to do in the future, and that his defense from the Islamic Emirates and defense from the religion of Islam. And the present province is controlled by Islamic Emirates. This is his thing.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) reports on the Afghan-Islamic (OFF-MIKE) and that Mullah Omar was supposed to leave Kandahar and hand over the power to someone else.

AGHA: This is just propaganda against us, and this is distributed by our enemies. He is not going to leave, and he is not -- never decided to leave Kandahar. And this is not something of his choice, but this is a compulsory from the religious side that they should defend wherever they are, because they were compelled to retreat their position in the beginning of the movement. So the same compulsory still remains on their shoulders, on the shoulder of our leaders and on the shoulders of our forces, that they should defend, and this is not their choice.

QUESTION: Have you heard about the conference that will take place in Berlin on the future of Afghanistan, and will you be trying to send a delegation there?

AGHA: No, never. We are sure and the world is witness of the 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, that there is anarchy and there are commanders ruling, and they are cruel to our people and to our mission. So any program or efforts taken by foreigners and foreign forces for the stability of Afghanistan will not give any result, and this will lead Afghanistan to anarchy and internal fighting in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) is going to lead to the (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: So this is something that the world or the great powers are trying to divide Afghanistan to north, east and west. But we satisfy our people, that we will try our best and defend the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, and we'll defend the freedom of Afghanistan and the situation and location of Afghanistan. And we will not allow any power or any force to divide our nation or to divide our country to different nations.

QUESTION: [Speaking in native tongue.] AGHA: [Speaking in native tongue.]

But when the times comes, the compulsory or the responsibility of taking other provinces lays on our shoulders, so we will do that, and we will take steps to view the same stability and security to our other nation that has been living with different problems and cruelty from different factions controlling different provinces that we have left.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: You see that the whole nation living under control of our provinces, they are our soldiers, and they are well trained, and they are ready for any kind of competition against our enemies. So there are thousands of people.

QUESTION: In the combination of American bombing and opposition from the Northern Alliance (OFF-MIKE) out of Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and other areas. What makes you so confident that you do not save face to save the peace in the provinces currently under your control?

AGHA: You see that, from the beginning of American attack on Afghanistan, we were not proud of our defense, and we were not proud of our money. But the only thing that we were satisfied, and we are satisfied, that is our faith in Omar and our religion and assistance from almighty Allah on our side, and right now, we are sure that our mighty Allah will help us to retreat with forces back, and this is not something new for Muslims and Muslim Omar. They were the holy prophets. They were killed in this way, and the followers of the Mohammed (inaudible) they were killed and retreated.

This is not something new for Muslims and Islamic Omar, but in the end, they have succeeded, and they have got victories in the world. So we are hoping, and we hope, that almighty Allah will help us to secure our nation and our religion.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE).

AGHA: No, we are certain.

QUESTION: [Speaking in native tongue.]

AGHA: As I mentioned before that this is compulsory -- our religious compulsory to defend our nation as much as we can, and this compulsory or based on this compulsory, we have to fight until we are alive, whether we are in the cities or not, whether we are in the provinces or not, but our compulsory will remain.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE).

AGHA: Well, there were no military losses when we were retreating from different provinces. Our forces there were disciplined, and they reached back to their own provinces, such as Kandahar and surrounding provinces. So there was not any loss for our forces and soldiers.

QUESTION: [Speaking in native tongue.]

AGHA: Well, it was (inaudible) different, you have seen also that hundreds of people that were killed and injured and at least almost 2,000 civilian casualties in different areas.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) AGHA: Well, why not? They were killed, a number of them, during the heavy bombing of American airplanes on different front lines. A number of our forces, they were killed or dead.

QUESTION: Syed Agha, you said earlier that no foreigner can divide Afghanistan. But truly you must have regrets having hosted the foreigners, Osama bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda, in your territory, because that's what invited in the American government?

AGHA: This is something different. Osama bin Laden, he came to Afghanistan during the Russian invasion in Afghanistan, and the American, they were also supporting, not only Osama, but Muslims from the world, they came and participated in Jihad against Russians. And he was there at that time, and he gives sacrifices for the sake of this nation who is living now and retreating and defeating the Russian troops from Afghanistan.

So he was living here as our guest of Afghan people regarding to his services and his sacrifices in Afghanistan. So that this -- he was the guest of our nation, and he was a Muslim, and he was a mujahedeen in fighting against Russians.

QUESTION: He's an old friend, in other words? You're not going to bump an old friend. (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: He was somebody who was giving and ready to give, even his blood, for the sake of this nation during the Russian interference. So what would be friendship more than that?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: This is -- I told you that this is not fighting against Afghanistan and against Taliban, but this is fighting of America and Britain against Muslims and Islam. So this is the duty of every Muslim in the world to help their brothers anywhere they are under the pressure of their enemies.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: They're not now in our controlled areas because they were in different provinces, and they were in the places where the fighting was going on. So, no, we don't know the number and the location that where they have left the Kabul and other provinces. So, not now -- right now we are not sure about the location and number.

QUESTION: But are you saying that no Al Qaeda members are in provinces under your control?

AGHA: The information that we -- I have -- I have no information and I have not seen there are still Al Qaeda members in Kandahar and provinces controlled by us.

QUESTION: Your not knowing their precise locations, does that mean they have a separate chain of command (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: I told you that they are not now in contact with us and due to the communication problems. We have no information about their leader and its members.

QUESTION: [Speaking in native tongue.]

AGHA: No, there is no negotiations right now between us and Northern Alliance.

QUESTION: There have been reports of friction between some of the Arabs and between Taliban fighters (OFF-MIKE) fighting between your guests as the -- as members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Is that true?

AGHA: No, this is something baseless, and this is a part of propaganda that our enemies are spreading. We have no reports that there was fighting, so it means that this is something baseless.

QUESTION: Give us an idea (OFF-MIKE) number of deaths (OFF-MIKE) AGHA: Yes, there might have been some losses to our forces due to the heavy bombardment in different front lines and provinces in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: I left today Kandahar city, so I saw the situation as very calm and normal. The people, they are living peacefully, and there is not any change in the normal life of our civilians in Kandahar city.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: We saw the situation of Kabul after the -- our control, that there is looting, robbing and killing innocent people. So this is something that our people of Kandahar and at surrounding provinces, they saw that if the Taliban forces they leave, so the same thing will return to Kandahar and the people will have a bad life. So they decide now they are with us, they're supporting us to be in the city.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: Why not? Our forces there are well disciplined and present in each and every area in the Kandahar provinces and at surrounding. So we are satisfied that our forces, they can give or provide security and stability to our people. And our people, they are also satisfied that they are secure.

QUESTION: Syed Agha, as we have discovered today, you are a very eloquent spokesman. How come it is taking you such a long time to address the international media, especially in a war where comments like this are extremely important?

AGHA: This is not something important. It's -- you see that we have our leadership, and this is Islamic leadership and its commands. We obey the commands of our leadership as our religious elders. So our responsibility -- responsible persons and personalities, they just -- they are awaiting the orders and commands from the leadership, and they obey.

So this is not something strange that I'm here and present here, and there is involvement. So this is something that we want to assist our people and to serve our religion and our nation whether the atmosphere of the situation is tough or not. But this is our religious responsibility to do so.

QUESTION: So why did you feel it was necessary to give a press conference now at this stage in the war?

AGHA: This is because you see that there were some rumors that the Kandahar province is going to be surrendered or the Taliban forces are going to leave Kandahar city. And this was something broadcasted from different channels, especially CNN and others, a long day. They were reporting that the Kandahar provinces give up and the forces of (inaudible) left the city. So that's why we decided to have a conference and to describe and clarify the real stand of the Emirate forces and the leaders. QUESTION: Well, how soon do you think you'll be able to take (inaudible) to Kandahar?

AGHA: Yes, we are trying and...

QUESTION: Can you explain why the cities of Kabul and Jalalabad fell almost overnight? That's how it appears West. How can you assure us that Kandahar will be any different?

AGHA: You see that this is a base of the Taliban Islamic movement, and most of our soldiers and the forces they have returned to Kandahar and surrounding provinces.

And the second thing is that there is attention from our people side and a request from our people side, from our public side that we should stay there. And they will be with us, and we will defeat our enemies. And because they saw the situation in Jalalabad and Kabul, that what is going on and the same people have returned to those provinces and there is no peace and stability.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: Actually the -- here, they have a secret life and everybody cannot see him, and there were special channels to contact him. So for the time being, we have not any communication with him.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: We do not need to see him so that is why...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: No, you should forget the 11 September attacks, because now there is a new fighting against Muslims and Islam. And the international and global terrorists, like Americans and Britains, they are killing daily our innocent people.

QUESTION: See, Prime Minister Tony Blair would say we can never forget September the 11th, and President Bush would say the same thing. So how can you hope that this will simply go away?

AGHA: This is their problem. This is not our problem. That takes - has taken place in America and the people who performed and do -- did attacks, they were in America. So this is not something connected with Afghanistan. So this is the problem of Bush and Tony Blair, and this is not our problem.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: Loya Jirgah or any other reforms cannot bring and cannot be wide and cannot bring peace and stability in Afghanistan. So that's why we will never take part in Loya Jirgah or any other efforts outside Afghanistan, and we are sure, and we have experimented these efforts of Loya Jirgah and others during 20 years. So this is something that we will never participate in these efforts.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: Actually, we have not started our struggle in fighting for the sake of power and for the sake -- for the sake to be in power. But we have started this struggle in fighting for the sake of implementation of Sharia and Islamic law and this is something compulsory. So due to this, we have to fight until we have power, and until we are alive, and this is not something of our choice, but this is something compulsory and something ordered by almighty Allah.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: The diplomatic cut from any country, this is not something new for Islamic Emirates for Taliban. They have been living since 1997, for the first time when we capture Kabul, so our government was not recognized and this was something cruelty with our government.

So this is not something new. We hope and we are (inaudible) that we are Muslims and due to our Islamic sanctions, we have to have good relations with the whole (ph) Muslim community, and that's why we will keep in touch, and we will continue our relations with Islamic Omar and with Muslims...

(CROSSTALK)

AGHA: No, Islamic Omar, I mean the public, their regards, and we will keep in touch with them. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: No, as you're well aware about the friendship of Afghan people and Pakistani people, and there, it is a history of their -- of their friendship, especially during the Russian interference, so our people, they might (inaudible) to Pakistan, and they were collectively living with their Pakistani brothers.

So we are the people that will never forget goodness of someone who has done with us. So we will continue our relations with our Muslim brothers in Pakistan.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: This is again not something new. This is an area controlled by our forces, and not only in Spin Boldak, but in each and every district, we have our armed forces.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: I told you that, after the strike, we have cut off communication and still we don't know that, where he is.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: (inaudible) he is someone who helped in the beginning, not only (inaudible) but other elders in the Kandahar provinces. They helped and assisted in the beginning of the Islamic movement of Taliban, and still, they assist and help our forces in Kandahar city.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: No, I told you that this is something baseless and a propaganda (inaudible) and the other elder would never ask for this thing because they have given sacrifices of their relatives and their friends for the sake of Islamic government and for the formation of Islamic Emirates. so how would they ask such thing against the Islamic Emirates, against the Taliban?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: How?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: We are not under the attack of the Northern Alliance, because our provinces, they are very secure, and no, there is no fighting.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

(CROSSTALK)

AGHA: Re-take Kabul and other provinces, do you mean this?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) AGHA: Actually not -- I discussed and I mentioned this thing earlier that any efforts and on any name abroad or outside of Afghanistan will not give any reason, and this thing has been experimented for years, that any efforts in abroad or any efforts led by foreign forces and America and British, it will not give any reason. So that's why we will not take part ...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: There is no presence of United Nations. Where was United Nations when America decided to fire -- to strike against Afghan people? So it means that there is no United Nations. When there is, so it is working under the instructions of America. Even the United Nations, they did not know that there is attack launching by Americans against Afghanistan. So we can say that there is no rule of United Nations and America is the one ruling the United Nations or the efforts of our position are also led by America and its allies.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: If you heard that, so we clarified this, saying very clearly that this is not -- the dissection or breaking from America is not something to be done by weapons. But this will be done by something on our side, and that's why we are still, and we hope, mighty Allah that he will break America and other powers fighting against Muslims in Afghanistan. So this is not something to be done by weapons.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: I told you that this is not something or a decision of someone, but this is a decision of all forces that they will fight against their enemies and for defense of their religion and their mission.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: The fighting -- starting fighting against America, I told you that this is not -- was not something that we had enough weapons or we had enough things to fight or to defeat America. But we are sure that certainly they will be help from almighty Allah on our side, and by that, we can defeat America.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: I told you that, for the time being, there are enough tribes and representatives of our nation. We have shared with them, and they are fighting in favor of us. So there is no need of more efforts in this connection.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: Why not? They were ministers. They were in our leadership Tajik, Uzbek and other minorities.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: Well, why not?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

AGHA: They were in our government (inaudible) he was Uzbek. QUESTION: Osama bin Laden, in an interview with a Pakistani journalist Hamani (ph), he disclosed that he had nuclear weapons. What is your information about that claim? AGHA: This was something printed in different newspapers, but we are not sure that he might have done this interview. And we don't see the chances of such a weapon with someone only who used to live as a refugee in Afghanistan.

ANAND NAIDOO, CNN ANCHOR: Syed Tayyad Agha, the spokesman for the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, addressing the media there in Spin Boldak in Afghanistan. Defiant words, tough words there from Agha saying that reports that that forces in Kandahar, Taliban forces will surrender is just propaganda. We had been reporting that Northern Alliance soldiers had surrounded Kandahar forces there -- Taliban forces, and negotiating the surrender of Taliban forces. But Agha telling us there that that was just propaganda, to use his words. We will not give power to someone else. That is our mission. The responsibility remains on our shoulders and that has been ordained by God, by Allah."

Now, some of the other headlines that came out of that news conference. He said that the Taliban has no idea of where Osama bin Laden is, especially in view of the fact that they are now restricted to two or three provinces. He said that there has been no communication and no relations with bin Laden or al Qaeda.

For our viewers in the United States, we will now be returning to scheduled programming. And for our viewers elsewhere around the world...

DONNA KELLEY: Anand, thanks very much.

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