A Taliban spokesperson on Wednesday said no proof exists that implicates Usama bin Laden in the Sept. 11 terror attacks despite a mountain of evidence that connects the deceased al Qaeda leader to the airline hijackings that hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
During an interview with NBC News’s Richard Engel from Afghanistan, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid made the claim in response to a question about whether the country will again become a base for terrorism as the Biden administration prepares for the withdrawal of U.S.troops.
“When Usama bin Laden became an issue for the Americans, he was in Afghanistan. Although there was no proof he was involved, now we have given promises that Afghan soil won’t be used against anyone,” he said.
Usama bin Laden. A Taliban spokesman said Wednesday there is no proof bin Laden ordered the Sept. 11 attacks despite evidence to the contrary. (Reuters)
When asked if he really believes bin Laden wasn’t involved in Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, Mujahid doubled down.
“So it sounds like, even now, after all this, you’re accepting no responsibility,” Engel responded.
“There is no evidence. Even after 20 years of war, we have no proof he was involved,” Mujahid replied. “There was no justification for war. It was [an] excuse for war.”
In a taped message released in 2004, Bin Laden admitted he ordered the Sept. 11 attacks in which 19 hijackers took over four American commercial planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon. The fourth jet crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after a passenger revolt.
American troops invaded Afghanistan after a bombing campaign in response to the 2001 attack and the Taliban’s refusal to hand over al Qaeda leaders, who were provided sanctuary, including bin Laden.
The terror leader was killed May 1, 2011 by Navy SEALs in Pakistan.
A 9/11 Commission report noted that the “9/11 attack was driven by Usama Bin Laden.”
“As final preparations were under way during the summer of 2001, dissent emerged among al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan over whether to proceed,” the report said. “The Taliban’s chief, Mullah Omar, opposed attacking the United States. Although facing opposition from many of his senior lieutenants, [bin Laden] effectively overruled their objections, and the attacks went forward.
“Upon this political and ideological foundation, [bin Laden] built over the course of a decade a dynamic and lethal organization,” the report continued. “He built an infrastructure and organization in Afghanistan that could attract, train, and use recruits against ever more ambitious targets. He rallied new zealots and new money with each demonstration of al Qaeda’s capability. He had forged a close alliance with the Taliban, a regime providing sanctuary for al Qaeda.”
Evacuations are underway in Afghanistan as Afghans who worked with U.S. forces are fleeing the country amid a swift takeover by the Taliban. Biden said this week that he is sticking to an Aug. 31 deadline for American troops to leave.
“These are our happiest moments,” Mujahid said.