|Mullah Omar: US in
Fri May 17, 5:17 PM ET
By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Writer
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Osama bin Laden (news
- web sites) is alive and the future of
the United States in Afghanistan (news -
web sites) is "fire, hell and total
defeat," fugitive Taliban leader
Mullah Mohammed Omar was quoted as saying
by a pan-Arab newspaper Friday.
"We don't consider the battle has
ended in Afghanistan ... The battle has
begun and its fires are picking up. These
fires will reach the White House, because
it is the center of injustice and
tyranny," Omar was quoted as saying
by the London-based Asharq al-Awsat.
"As for the United States' future in
Afghanistan, it will be fire and hell and
total defeat, God willing, as it was for
their predecessors - the Soviets and,
before them, the British," Omar
"The sheik (bin Laden) is, thank God,
still alive and this hurts (President)
Bush who promised to his people to kill
Osama," Omar reportedly asserted.
Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, editor-in-chief of
the paper, said Omar answered questions
delivered by reporter Badie Qorhani to the
mullah's media adviser in northern
Pakistan. Omar's responses were recorded
on tape and returned to the reporter, the
Al-Rashed told The Associated Press his
newspaper ran the story only after a
Taliban official confirmed the tape's
authenticity in an e-mail. The Taliban
said on its official Web site that the
interview was Omar's "first with an
Arab newspaper after his pullout from
The authenticity of the quotes could not
be independently confirmed. The language
in the quotes mirrored that of leaflets
circulated in Afghanistan and some earlier
statements by the Taliban.
In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld said he had no "current
information on the whereabouts or even the
existence" of bin Laden or Omar.
"We continue to see scraps of
information" that claim "they
are alive or they're dead or they're sick
or they're hiding or they're
running," Rumsfled said. "But
none of it seems to prove out."
State Department official said he would
have no comment, including whether the
interview was genuine, but said it
provided no new information.
Omar, who led the Taliban between
1994-2001, has been a fugitive since a
U.S.-led force overran his stronghold of
Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December.
Authorities want to know, among other
things, what support the Taliban gave to
bin Laden's al-Qaida network, the prime
suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Asked if he denied that bin Laden was
behind the attacks, Omar said, "Those
who carried out the operation ... had a
clear goal and this goal was dearer to
them than their lives, and they achieved
it. Asking about them, who they are, is
The interview, illustrated with a blurred
archive photo of Omar, ended with a
message to the Palestinians.
"I tell my brethren in Palestine: be
patient and continue your blessed struggle
.... We did not forget you. We are still
healing another wound in the Muslim
nation, which is the occupation of our
land by the Americans. Your battle and
ours are one and the same," Omar was
quoted as saying.
Back to the Stories &