Taliban: 500 Suicide Bombers Ready to Attack

In a rare interview, the Taliban's top military commander told ABC News he has 500 suicide bombers at his disposal and could launch them at any time.

Speaking by satellite telephone from an undisclosed location, Mulla Dadullah Akhund told ABC News the suicide bombers will target Kabul, the capital, because it is the headquarters for U.S. and NATO forces.

"They attacked us. We didn't go to the U.S. to fight them. We are fighting for our religion and homeland," he said.

THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS

Mulla Dadullah, who lost a leg in earlier fighting, said he also commanded 12,000 Taliban fighters, which he claimed were actively engaging U.S.-led forces in four southwestern Afghan provinces.

"We have no shortage of fighters," he said. "In fact, we have so many of them that it is difficult to accommodate and arm and equip them. Some of them have been waiting for a year or more for their turn to be sent to the battlefield," Mulla Dadullah contended.

According to Mulla Dadullah, the Taliban would be launching new and bigger attacks in Afghan cities in spring next year.

This weekend 13 suspected Taliban militants were killed and four wounded in a clash with police in a southern Afghan province, and just today three suicide bomb attacks killed at least 18 people and injured more than 60, many of them children, in one of the most violent days for Afghan civilians.

In the interview, he said he visited North Waziristan and South Waziristan in Pakistan's tribal areas about three months ago and advised the Pakistani Taliban not to fight their country's armed forces. "I told the Pakistani tribal militants that fighting in Waziristan was in the interest of America. My argument was that we should fight the U.S., U.K. and armies of other Western countries," he told ABC News.

The Pakistani government announced a "peace agreement" in the area earlier this month, based on promises Taliban fighters would not cross into Afghanistan to attack U.S., NATO and Afghan troops.

"As for President General Pervez Musharraf, we know he has been siding with President Bush against fellow Muslims. At the behest of the U.S., he waged war against the Pakistani Taliban in Waziristan and is now publicly proposing to Mr. Karzai to jointly fight the Taliban and Talibanization," he maintained, referring to the Afghanistan president.

Mulla Dadullah said the deployment of more NATO troops in southern Afghanistan would not make any difference to the Taliban. He said he was of the opinion that the U.S. had cleverly handed over dangerous provinces to the British, Canadian and Dutch troops and withdrawn their own troops from there.

He said only 14 Taliban fighters, and not 500 as claimed by NATO, were killed in the recent fighting in Panjwai district in Kandahar. "You know in an earlier battle the Afghan government announced my capture from Panjwai. They tell lies to raise the morale of their demoralized soldiers," he maintained.

Regarding the Taliban claim that they had acquired new weapons, Mulla Dadullah said it was true only in the case of anti-aircraft missile. He said the missiles were effective against low-flying U.S. and NATO aircraft.

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