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Taliban: Suicide army is ready

Story Highlights

• Taliban military chief says hundreds have volunteered for suicide attacks
• Mullah Dadullah says troops are assembled for anti-NATO spring offensive
• Commander says he has regular contact with Osama bin Laden
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The Taliban's top military commander said his forces have assembled a hundreds-strong army of suicide attackers poised for a spring offensive against NATO troops in Afghanistan.

In a rare interview with Britain's Channel Four, Mullah Dadullah -- the man in charge of day-to-day military operations for the hardline Islamic militia -- also claimed he had a regular line of communication with Osama bin Laden.

"The Americans have sown a seed. They will reap the crop for quite a long time," Dadullah said. "We will get our revenge on them, whether in Afghanistan or outside."

The Taliban military commander said he has readied his military to take on the 35,000-strong NATO force in Afghanistan.

"The suicide martyrs, those willing to blow themselves up, are countless," Dadullah boasted.

"Hundreds have registered their names already and are ready to go and we have hundreds more on the waiting list. Each is anxious to be the first to be sent."

Evidence of a resurgent Taliban is everywhere, along with the influence of al Qaeda-style attacks, according to CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen.

There were 139 suicide attacks in Afghanistan last year, up four-fold from 2005, the U.S. military said. Roadside bombings doubled in 2006 to more than 1,600.

During the past year, NATO forces have fought a number of bloody battles against Taliban forces in the southern city of Kandahar, once the stronghold of the extremist movement, and the surrounding region.

In the interview, Dadullah restated earlier claims that he communicates with bin Laden on a regular basis and works directly with al Qaeda in the field.

"We exchange messages with each other to share plans," the Taliban commander said of bin Laden "We actually meet very rarely -- just for important consultations. It's hard for anyone to meet bin Laden himself now, but we know he's still alive."

"His comrades stand shoulder to shoulder with us," Dadullah said, referring to al Qaeda fighters. "We also go to the battlefield together."

The Taliban harbored bin Laden and al Qaeda in the days after the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States and refused to turn him over to Washington, prompting an invasion that wrested their control of Kabul.

Dadullah said the Taliban did not regret standing by al Qaeda.

"For the Taliban, Islam is more important than anything else," he said. "It's our religious duty to shelter any Muslim brother who's on the run from the infidels, even at the cost of our government."

Mullah Dadullah says he has regular contact with Osama bin Laden.


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