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Taliban say it's time to 'forget' about Sept. 11 attacks

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Associated Press WriterSPINBOLDAK, Afghanistan (AP) -- It is time to "forget" about the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States, a Taliban spokesman said Wednesday, as they have been superseded by the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan.

Syed Tayyad Agha, spokesman for Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, also told a news conference that the Islamic militia doesn't know where Osama bin Laden is.

"You should forget the Sept. 11 attacks because now there is a new fighting against Muslims and Islam, and the international and global terrorists like America and Britain, they are killing daily our innocent people," he told journalists in the Afghan border town of Spinboldak.

He said the Taliban have lost contact with bin Laden and that he is no longer under the militia's control.

"We have no idea where he is," Agha said. "There is no relation right now. There is no communication."

Agha said he knew of no members of bin Laden's al-Qaida network in areas under Taliban control and that contact with them had been lost "due to their communication problems."

Agha also said the Taliban would defend territory they still control after a week of retreats across Afghanistan, including their home base, Kandahar.

"They have decided to defend the presently controlled areas," he said. "We will try our best and we will defend our nation ... and we will not give any chance to anybody to disturb our Islamic rule in Kandahar and other provinces."

President Bush launched the military campaign against Afghanistan on Oct. 7 after the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden for his alleged role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed 4,000 people in the United States.

However, Agha told a group of foreign journalists in this southern border town that Sept. 11 was "America's problem" because it was carried out by people in the United States and that the Taliban was not responsible.

"This is the problem of Bush and (British Prime Minister) Tony Blair," he said. "This is not our problem."

Agha said the Taliban have no plans to abandon Kandahar and denied reports that local elders had asked them to leave, saying, "No tribal elders have contacted us."

"How could they ask for such a thing against the Taliban?" he added.


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