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Afghan Taliban Say They Pose No Threat to the West

Sayed Salahuddin

Taliban fighters pose with weapons while detaining two unseen men for campaigning for presidential candidate Mullah Abdul Salam Rocketi in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan on August 19, 2009. A statement released by Taliban officials explained Washington was using the so-called war on terror in Afghanistan and in Iraq as part of its expansionist goals in the Middle East, central and southeast Asia.(REUTERS/Stringer)

KABUL - The Afghan Taliban
pose no threat to the West but will continue their fight against
occupying foreign forces, they said on Wednesday, the eighth
anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion that removed them from power.

U.S.-led forces with the help of Afghan groups overthrew the Taliban
government during a five week battle which started on October 7, 2001,
after the militants refused to hand over al Qaeda leaders wanted by
Washington for the September 11 attacks on America.

"We had and have no plan of harming countries of the world,
including those in Europe ... our goal is the independence of the
country and the building of an Islamic state," the Taliban said in a statement on the group's website

"Still, if you (NATO and U.S. troops) want to colonize the country
of proud and pious Afghans under the baseless pretext of a war on
terror, then you should know that our patience will only increase and
that we are ready for a long war."

U.S. President Barack Obama
has said defeating the militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a top
foreign policy priority and is evaluating whether to send thousands of
extra troops to the country as requested by the commander of NATO and
U.S. forces.

In a review of the war in Afghanistan submitted to the Pentagon last
month, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, in charge of all foreign
forces, said defeating the insurgents would likely result in failure
unless more troops were sent.

There are currently more than 100,000 foreign troops in the country, roughly two-thirds of who are Americans.


The Taliban
statement comes at a time when Western officials warn that deserting
Afghanistan could mean a return to power for the Taliban and the
country could once again become a safe haven for al Qaeda militants,
who could use it as a base to plan future attacks on Western countries.

The Taliban
have made a comeback in recent years, spreading their attacks to
previously secure areas. The growing insecurity has further added to
the frustration of ordinary Afghans with the West and President Hamid
Karzai's government, in power since the Taliban's ouster.

Since 2001, each year, several thousand Afghans, many of them civilians, have been killed in Afghanistan, with Taliban and al Qaeda leaders still at large despite the rising number of foreign troops.

In the statement, the Taliban
said the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan for its refusal to hand over al
Qaeda leaders, was hasty and unjustified. Washington had not given
leaders of the movement any proof to show the involvement of al Qaeda
in the September 11 attacks, it said.

Washington was using the so-called war on terror in Afghanistan and
in Iraq as part of its expansionist goals in the Middle East, central
and southeast Asia, it said.

It recalled the defeat of British forces in the 19th century and the
fate of the former Soviet Union in the 1980s in Afghanistan as a lesson
to those nations who have troops in the country.

Qari Mohammad Yousuf, a spokesman for the Taliban,
said the withdrawal of foreign troops was the only solution to a
conflict that has grown in intensity and has pushed some European
nations to refuse to send their soldiers into battle zones or to speak
about a timetable to withdraw from the country.

Some 1,500 foreign troops have also died in Afghanistan since the Taliban's
ouster causing many nations to question the presence of its soldiers in
the country and whether stability can ever be achieved eight years
after the overthrow of the militants.

(Editing by Sugita Katyal)

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