Taliban commemorates 18 years of war that was fought to defend al Qaeda

Screenshot from video produced by the Taliban in Dec. 2016 that emphasized the ties between al Qaeda and the Taliban. Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and Taliban founder Mulla Omar (center, top) are shown side by side in an image that promotes the martyrs of jihad.

The Taliban remembered the 18 year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan by referring to an interview with its founder and first emir, Mullah Mohammad Omar, in which he predicted that the Taliban would outlast the U.S. In that same interview, Omar also steadfastly refused to surrender al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban commemorated the U.S. invasion in an article titled “7th October: A Black Day in the history of Afghanistan,” which was released today on its official website, Voice of Jihad. In the article, the author refers to Omar’s interview with Voice of America, which was published at The Guardian on Sept. 26, 2001, less than two weeks prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

In that interview, Omar notes that he is considering two “promises,” and that he believes the Taliban would prevail over the U.S. Omar’s statement on the two “promises,” below, is directly quoted in today’s article.

VOA: Do you know that the U.S. has announced a war on terrorism?

Omar: I am considering two promises. One is the promise of God, the other is that of Bush. The promise of God is that my land is vast. If you start a journey on God’s path, you can reside anywhere on this earth and will be protected… The promise of Bush is that there is no place on earth where you can hide that I cannot find you. We will see which one of these two promises is fulfilled.

In the interview from 2001, Omar follows up this statement by noting that “God… is helping the believers and the Muslims,” of which al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden clearly are included, as the Taliban would be defending them.

VOA: But aren’t you afraid for the people, yourself, the Taliban, your country?

Omar: Almighty God… is helping the believers and the Muslims. God says he will never be satisfied with the infidels. In terms of worldly affairs, America is very strong. Even if it were twice as strong or twice that, it could not be strong enough to defeat us. We are confident that no one can harm us if God is with us.

In that same interview with Omar from 2001, Omar explicitly stated that the Taliban would under no uncertain terms surrender Osama bin Laden. Omar notes that the Taliban has been asked to do so in the past, and also refused.

VOA: So you won’t give Osama bin Laden up?

Omar: No. We cannot do that. If we did, it means we are not Muslims… that Islam is finished. If we were afraid of attack, we could have surrendered him the last time we were threatened and attacked. So America can hit us again, and this time we don’t even have a friend.

Omar’s defense of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden is completely at odds with the revisionist narrative that the Taliban would have handed over the al Qaeda chief to a third country if evidence of his complicity in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the U.S. was provided. On Sept. 14, 2001, Haji Abdul Kabir, the Taliban’s deputy prime minister, said he wanted the U.S. to halt its airstrikes in return for the Taliban’s consideration to turn over bin Laden. Mullah Omar flatly rejected Kabir’s statement, noting that there were no discussions to “hand anyone over,” The Guardian reported.

To this day, the Taliban refuses to recognize al Qaeda as being responsible for carrying out 9/11, despite the fact that al Qaeda brags about executing the attack regularly.

“It is not known who is behind that [9/11],” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told CBS News during an interview in Aug. 2019. “If there is proof given to us, we are ready to try him [al Qaeda].”

As recently as July 2019, the Taliban justified the 9/11 attack on the U.S. by calling it a “heavy slap on their dark faces.”

In 2001, Omar was unwavering in his position that the Taliban was religiously obligated to protect bin Laden and his cadre. The Taliban has remained true to Omar’s words, and fought an 18 year long war to defend the terror group. By referring back to Omar’s 2001 interview, the Taliban reminds us that it remains close allies with al Qaeda to this day.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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