Two Arabs arrested for alleged espionage have admitted they were spying for the United States and Israel, Afghanistan's Taliban militia said Sunday.
Taliban Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal told AFP the detainees were collecting information on the ruling Taliban, Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden and other "foreigners" living here.
"They have admitted that they had been assigned by the United States and Israel to go to Afghanistan to have a close observation of the situation and to report back to them," Jamal said.
The Taliban militia controls most of the country and harbors bin Laden despite international pressure to hand him over to US justice.
Bin Laden has lived in Afghanistan since 1996 and is wanted by Washington for allegedly masterminding the bombings of two US embassies in East Africa in 1998, which claimed more than 200 lives.
The two Arabs, detained last month in Kabul and then shifted to the southern province of Kandahar, were Kurdish in origin hailing from Iraq and Syria, Jamal said.
"Their main aim was to spy on the Islamic Emirate (Taliban). Of course they had plans to gather information on Osama and other foreigners here," the minister said.
The investigation of Syrian national Abdur Rahim is complete, while the Iraqi, identified as Arkan, was still being questioned by the Taliban intelligence officials, he added.
Jamal said that so far the Taliban had not been in contact with the alleged spies' families nor their countries of origin.
The pair enrolled in Kabul's Abu Hanifa seminary pretending they had come to Afghanistan for Koranic studies, he added.
Jamal said Abdur Rahim was presented to a select group of foreign journalists in Kandahar a few days ago.
He quoted Rahim as telling the reporters that he was hired by Israeli intelligence agents working under cover in the US embassy in the United Arab Emirates where he was studying in the Sharia faculty of Ras Al-Khaima University.
He reportedly said he was blackmailed and forced to go to Afghanistan for espionage after he was raped and filmed as he was sodomized by these agents.
Rahim claimed he was told that the video would be shown to his father if he refused the order.
Pakistani daily The News quoted Rahim as saying he had to contact Arkan in Kabul and through him one American identified only as Richard working for a western aid group here.
The information minister said that Richard had not been picked up yet.
"They had said that Richard was working in an agency in Kabul whom they should contact after they arrived in Kabul," Jamal said, adding that he was not sure whether Richard was still around or had escaped.
Jamal dismissed recent press reports that two Arabs were hanged in Kandahar recently -- KABUL (AFP)
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