The Afghan Taliban released a statement denying responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the US and claimed the group would not allow Afghanistan to be “be used to harm anyone.” The Taliban made the claim despite the fact that the attacks on the US were approved by al Qaeda’s top leaders in Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid released the announcement, titled “Statement Of Islamic Emirate On The Eleventh Anniversary Of The September,” on Sept. 9, and it was obtained by the SITE Intelligence Group. The statement has not been released on the Taliban’s official website, Voice of Jihad.
In the statement, the Taliban described the US and Coalition war as an “illegal and unjust crusade” and said “the Afghans have had no hand in the 9/11 incident and neither have you been able to provide any legitimate or logical proofs,” according to SITE.
The Taliban attempted to convince the international community that Afghanistan would not serve as a launchpad for future attacks.
“Availing this moment, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan once again clarifies to the entire world including America that we are neither a threat to anyone nor will we let our soil be used to harm anyone,” the Taliban said.
The Taliban’s claim that it had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attack is fantastic, as Osama bin Laden, the slain emir of al Qaeda who ordered the attack, and his organization were based in Afghanistan when the attack took place. Bin Laden himself admitted in an interview that he helped plan the attack. A video of the interview was found in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan after the US invasion [see PDF transcript here], and is believed to have been recorded in Kandahar province, where bin Laden had a compound.
In the interview, bin Laden admitted that he was “at a camp of one of the brother’s guards in Kandahar” when the “brother” told him of the dream he had about an attack that seemed to describe 9/11. Bin Laden said he was “was worried that maybe the secret would be revealed if everyone starts seeing it in their dream” and ordered the brother not to discuss it.
All of the 9/11 hijackers were trained in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. These same camps were used to train Taliban fighters, as well as al Qaeda operatives who fought alongside the Taliban. Similarly, terrorists involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, al Qaeda’s millennium bomb plots, the failed Dec. 2001 shoe bomb attack and numerous other plots were all trained in the Taliban’s Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s claim that it would not allow Afghanistan to be used for attacks against the international community rings hollow for additional reasons. The Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terror group closely allied to al Qaeda, has trained its operatives in Kunar province and then brought them to the Indian province of Kashmir and Jammu to wage jihad.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which has integrated its operations with the Afghan Taliban in northern Afghanistan, plotted to conduct Mumbai-styled attacks in Europe in 2010. The operation was discovered and foiled when a German operative involved in the plot was detained in Afghanistan.
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which professes allegiance to the Islamic Emirate’s of Afghanistan’s emir, Mullah Mohammed Omar, executed the failed Times Square bombing in New York City on May 1, 2010. The bomb failed to explode due to a problem with the detonator.
The Taliban refused to hand over al Qaeda’s top leaders after the Sept. 11 attack, and to this day has refused to denounce its support for the terror group. As recently as this February, Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesman, refused to renounce “international terrorism,” much less acknowledge any willingness to sever links with al Qaeda.
Senior leaders of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that operates in the east, have professed their support for al Qaeda. Siraj Haqqani, the operational commander of the network, released a training manual last fall that included portions praising al Qaeda and urging Haqqani Network members to support al Qaeda both locally and in its international operations.
Siraj’s deputy, Mullah Sangeen Zadran, told As Sahab, al Qaeda’s propaganda outlet, that “al Qaeda and Taliban all are Muslims and we are united by the brotherhood of Islam” in an interview in 2009. In July 2012, Sangeen called for foreign jihadists to join the Taliban’s ranks and said they would take the jihad beyond Afghanistan.
And in February, Abdullah al Wazir, the Taliban’s representative to jihadist forums, said that the Taliban will not renounce al Qaeda and that al Qaeda operates under the “Military Command of the Islamic Emirate.”
“They [al Qaeda] are among the first groups and banners that pledged allegiance to the Emir of the Believers [Mullah Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban], and they operate in Afghanistan under the flag of the Islamic Emirate,” Wazir said.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.