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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Taliban leader Mullah Omar audiotape surfaces

A private Pakistani television channel on Sunday broadcast a purported audiotape from former Taliban leader Mulla Omar.

In the tape, the authenticity of which could not be independently verified, Omar asserted that Taliban militants now control large areas of Afghanistan.

Dawn reported on June 26 that the network received the audio file in an e-mail from the Afghan capital Kabul.

Pakistan's Afghan Islamic Press quoted purported Taliban spokesman Mohammed Hanif as denying Omar had issued a new audiotape.

The purported Omar clip was taped when he addressed a Taliban military council in Helmand province, where he told his audience, "Losing the capital of Afghanistan does not mean that Taliban have finished."

Later in the audio file Omar indirectly addressed Afghan President Hamid Karzai, saying, "If today the American military abandons you, you have no standing. Russia's military also came to Afghanistan -- remember its fate. The rulers of Kabul would not be able to run the country with the wisdom of others, and God willing they would be destroyed."

Karzai replied to the audio file by labeling Omar a coward, taunting him to come out of hiding and face justice. Karzai told CNN's Late Edition, "It needs guts to do what he's talking about and he doesn't have it. They are no match for our power."

Karzai said that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and Omar are definitely not in Afghanistan, noting, "They don't dare come to Afghanistan. We are looking for them constantly. There is no way that they can hide forever."

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