Afghanistan: Taliban leader says Osama bin Laden still 'alive'
Date of Publication : Wednesday 15 April 2009 11:11
Kabul, 14 April - A top Taliban leader has said that fugitive Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is alive and leading operations against foreign forces in Afghanistan. "Osama bin Laden is still alive and is directing the Jihad (holy war) against American and western forces in Afghanistan," said Taliban commander and Pashtun warlord Sirajuddin Haqqani, quoted by Saudi daily Al-Watan.
However, Haqqani, who leads Taliban militants in the Afghan provinces of Baktika and Khost, said he had not had any contact with bin Laden for a long time.
"It has been a long time since I lost contact with Al-Qaeda's leader, but I know he is still alive and leading Al-Qaeda combatants against foreign forces."
Haqqani, who is wanted by the United States and has a five-million dollar bounty on his head, did not rule out cooperating with Al-Qaeda in fighting foreign forces.
"The doors are open for all mujahadeen who fight to apply Allah's will, just like the government in Kabul has opened the doors to foreign troops. We are ready to receive all foreigners, including Arabs, who want to fight alongside us."
Sirajuddin is the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani a veteran of the 1978-1989 Afghanistan war against the former Soviet Union and one of the most respected tribal figures and mujahadeen in southeastern Afghanistan.
He has built up a well-organised group in Afghanistan, known as the Haqqani network which has its roots in Pakistan's tribal areas.