The leader of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban regime Mullah Mohammed Omar said in an Algerian newspaper interview on Sunday the "real war" against the United States has not yet begun, and promised to give the US "a bitter lesson".
"We will give (the Americans) a more bitter lesson than the one we gave the Russians," he said in an interview published in daily newspaper El Youm.
"We have not yet begun the real war against the United States because of their technological superiority," he said, adding that United States troops "will not be welcomed with flowers."
The Soviet Union suffered a crushing military defeat when it invaded and occupied Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989.
Omar also charged that the US-led war in Afghanistan was not targetted at Osama bin Laden, suspected mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks which devastated the United States, but was intended to destroy Afghanistan and "concretise its hegemonistic objectives in this region of the world."
Referring to negotiations on establishing a post-Taliban government, centred around former Afghan king Mohammed Zahir Shah and the opposition Northern Alliance, he said he "categorically refused that Washington and other western countries impose on us, people who have abandoned us."
"The fate of anyone who collaborates with (the United States and Northern Alliance) will be death...and those who hope to be brought to power by US tanks will be disappointed, because we will use jihad (holy war) to ensure that the Afghan people remain the sole rulers" in the country, Omar said.
He denied that there are internal rifts within the Taliban regime or its army, saying "our soldiers are mujahedin who have chosen the cause of their religion" and "any attempt to divert them from this will fail."
On Friday exiled Afghan leader Abdul Haq was executed by the Taliban as an American spy. A hero of the Afghan resistance to the Soviet Union and a leader of the dominant Pashtun tribe, he had entered Afghanistan last week in a bid to encourage elements of the Taliban to rebel against the leadership.
The leader of the Taliban also said that diplomatic relations between the Taliban and neighbouring Pakistan are still intact, and praised the Pakistani people and "the people of all Muslim countries" for their support.
Omar expressed his wish that Muslim countries "act to reduce the pressure on us and to make the United States understand that any act of aggression against a Muslim state will not go unpunished."
Referring to the fate of bin Laden, Omar asked that "Washington supply us with proof of his guilt" for the September 11 attacks.
"We are prepared to try him in Afghanistan or before a group of Muslim ulemas (council of learned clerics) in three Arab countries," Omar said of the Saudi-born dissident, without specifying the countries.
Omar denied that members of his family or other Taliban leaders had been killed or injured in the US-led attacks on Afghanistan, which began three weeks ago, but did confirm that his home had been hit.
"My family is in good health, despite the fact that my home has been bombed," he said. "I challenge the United States to give the name of just one (Taliban) leader who they say has been killed, whereupon we will prove that he is still undertaking his duties" -- Algiers, (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)