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Thursday, June 29, 2006


Tehran, 29 June (AKI) - Qari Mohammed Yousuf, who was appointed spokesman for the Taliban in October 2005, has told the Tehran-based Fars news agency in an exclusive interview that Afghan militants are preparing a new offensive against the government of Hamid Karzai. "Anarchy reigns in the country and only we can be bring back stability," the spokesman told the news agency, considered close to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian government tacitly supported the US-led coalition which removed the Taliban from power in late 2001 but Tehran's traditional hostility towards them appears to be changing.

The new Iranian government of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was elected last year, sees Karzai's cabinet as too pro-Western and the US and Western presence is now considered a threat by Tehran, which feels itself surrounded by US troops. This is perhaps why some Taliban leaders have reportedly moved to Iran in the past few weeks. The leaders could include Yousuf, who was appointed spokesman after the arrest of the Taliban's former media link, Latifullah Hakimi in the Pakistani city of Quetta in October 2005. Fars said the interview had been conducted outside Afghanistan and not in Pakistan.

Yousuf last year became the new spokesman along with two other militants. Abdul Hai Mutmain, culture and information chief for Kandahar during the Taliban regime, was named head of the media section. Another man commonly referred to as Dr Hanif was appointed with Yousuf as spokesman on militant activities. Mutmain said at the time they were appointed directly by Mullah Mohammad Omar, the leader of the Taliban.

In the interview to Fars, Yousuf describes the situation of forces loyal to president Karzai as "chaotic and out of control." "The United States have invaded Afghanistan and overthrown an authentic Muslim regime to replace it with a group of traitors and pro-Western servants who have no right to govern the country and are unable to do so," said the Taliban spokesman.

Karzai's government, Yousuf told Fars, is acting at the behest of the West and "has organized presidential and parliamentary elections, tribal assemblies and meetings while pursuing only one objective, the de-Islamization of Afghan society to transform the country in a land to be conquered."

However, he added, "the Afghans have uncovered their plot to destroy the country and, as they did with the Russians in the past, this time too they have reacted with courage and strength kicking Western invaders out."

The Taliban spokesman went on to tell the Iranian agency that "Western invaders" have already been "punished by Allah" defining the September 11 terror attacks on the united States as a "divine punishment" and a "response of the Islamic community to the anti-Muslim plots of the United States."

After claiming that the US are "responsible for all the evils and disgraces that afflict Muslim societies" and that Washington had planned its military intervention in Afghanistan before September 11, Yousuf denied that the Taliban played a role in the attacks on New York's Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

"The Taliban have never carried out an initiative out of Afghanistan's borders and aren't even capable of such attacks," he said. The spokesman also denied that Mullah Omr was aware of al-Qaeda's plan against the US. "We gave hospitality to a group of Muslim brothers who were at the time in a difficult situation," he said. "We did it in the name of Muslim charity and don't feel therefore in the least responsible for their plots and actions."

Though he distanced the Taliban from the September 11 attacks, Yousuf however justified them saying that "if the Islamic ulema authorized such actions, they had their good reasons."

"It is not my role but that of the ulema to indicate the means and roads to vindicate the wrongs suffered by the Islamic community." "The fact that only few ulemas condemned these attacks means that Al-Qaeda's strategy is not that wrong."
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