Afghanistan backs US claim about Osama, Omar

KABUL, Feb 10: Afghanistan said on Sunday it backed a senior US official’s assertion that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar were operating from Pakistan.

The US official said Osama, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri and other Al Qaeda members were operating out of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), bordering Afghanistan.

Mullah Omar and other ousted Afghan Taliban leaders, meanwhile, were directing operations in Afghanistan from Quetta, said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pakistan has rejected the charge, but a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed it.

“We are glad that finally a high-ranking American official confirmed this matter,” said spokesman Humayun Hamidzada.

“The government of Afghanistan has said for years the administration centres, havens and regrouping bases of the enemies of Afghanistan and Taliban are outside Afghanistan.”

Hamidzada said the problem had to be dealt with at source.

“The government of Afghanistan in the past has repeatedly said the roots of terrorism, its original sources and bases should be dealt with,” he said.

“Certainly, the war in Afghanistan should continue, but the war should be taken to the source of terrorism where it is. We are not naming any country,” He said.

A Taliban spokesman said Mullah Omar was leading the insurgency from within Afghanistan and said the US official was preparing the ground for a military operation in Pakistan.

“This is false. Mullah Omar is not in Quetta but present in Afghanistan and commanding the Taliban,” Qari Mohammad Yousuf told the Afghan Islamic Press.

“The claims that Mullah Omar is in Quetta or any other place are aimed at finding a pretext for conducting an operation in the concerned area.”—Reuters

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