KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghanistan's Taliban rulers said they were still capable of defending the country despite attacks Wednesday on their home base of Kandahar and U.S. claims of air supremacy. They also said terror suspect Osama bin Laden was alive and safe.
The Taliban's envoy to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, said the opposition northern alliance had failed to make advances against Taliban forces despite the U.S.-led strikes, which began Sunday night. Rebels trying to topple the Taliban claimed they were being bolstered by the American-led air campaign.
The United States launched the bombing campaign to force the Taliban to hand over bin Laden, chief suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
President Bush has vowed to pursue the campaign against terrorism despite the costs.
"Mr. Bush's claim that they destroyed the defense capability of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is not true," Zaeef said. "American planes are flying very high, and the defense system that we have, they are not in the range of what we have. As we know, we do not have that sophisticated and modern defense system. But that they have destroyed our defense capability is not true."
The Taliban, who had claimed to be restricting bin Laden's communications ability, also told the British Broadcasting Corp. there were now "no restrictions" on him.
In addition to bin Laden, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was also safe despite three days of attacks against his home and office in the Kandahar area, Zaeef said.
As the U.S.-led air assault against Afghanistan's rulers moved into a fourth day, bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network praised the "good deed" of hijackers who commandeered planes for the fiery air attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11.
"The Americans must know that the storm of airplanes will not stop, God willing, and there are thousands of young people who are as keen about death as Americans are about life," Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a spokesman for Al-Qaida, said in a statement broadcast on Qatar's Al-Jazeera television.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.