WASHINGTON: A Taliban spokesman has said that there was no justification for the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 as Osama bin Laden’s involvement in the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were never proven.

Zabihullah Mujahid made the claim during an interview with NBC Nightly News on Wednesday, less than two weeks after the Taliban captured Kabul. The Taliban, however, have pledged not to allow Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group to use Afghanistan for attacking the United States and its allies.

The Washington Post, while reporting the spokesperson’s claim, pointed out that “Bin Laden’s well documented role as the plotter of the attacks made him the most wanted fugitive in the world until he was killed by US Navy Seals in 2011.”

“When Osama bin Laden became an issue for the Americans, he was in Afghanistan. Although there was no proof, he was involved” in 9/11, Mr Mujahid told NBC News. “Now, we have given promises that Afghan soil won’t be used against anyone.”

Pressed again on Bin Laden’s role in the 9/11 terror attacks, he said: “There is no evidence. Even after 20 years of war, we have no proof he was involved.”

NBC’s Richard Engel commented on the spokesman’s claim, asking: “So it sounds like, even now, after all this, you’re accepting no responsibility?”

“There was no justification for this war, it was an excuse for war,” the Taliban official said.

Asked if the Taliban expect the Biden administration to fulfill its promise of withdrawing all Ame­rican troops by Aug 31, as promised, he said: “The withdrawal is almost finished. These are our happiest moments.”

The Post also quoted from the 9/11 Commission report, which concluded that the “9/11 attack was driven by Osama Bin Laden.”

According to the report, “final preparations (for the 9/11 attacks) were underway during the summer of 2001, dissent emerged among Al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan over whether to proceed.”

The Bush administration, which invaded Afghanistan, blamed the Taliban government for providing a safe harbor in Afghanistan for bin Laden.

President George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban hand Bin Laden over and dismantle terrorist training camps. When the Taliban refused, US forces invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban regime.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2021

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