Ahead of 9/11, Taliban vow to keep fighting
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban on Saturday vowed to keep fighting against U.S. forces in Afghanistan until all American troops leave the country and stressed that their movement had no role in the Sept. 11 attacks.
In a statement emailed to media, the Taliban accused the United States of using Sept. 11 attacks as a pretext to invade Afghanistan and said the international community was responsible for killing thousands of Afghans during the invasion and ensuing occupation.
"Each year, 9/11 reminds the Afghans of an event in which they had no role whatsoever," the Taliban said. "American colonialism has shed the blood of tens of thousands of miserable and innocent Afghans."
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, after the Taliban, who then ruled the country, refused to hand over Osama bin Laden.
The late al-Qaida leader was at the time living in Afghanistan, where the terror network had training camps from which it planned attacks against the U.S. and other countries.
"The Afghans have an endless stamina for a long war," the statement also said. "Through a countrywide uprising, the Afghans will send the Americans to the dustbin of history like they sent other empires of the past."
The statement was issued by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the official title used by the Taliban when they ruled the country.
Although the Taliban were defeated by the U.S.-led coalition, they managed to use the fallow years of the Iraq war — when America focused its military strength on the conflict against Saddam Hussein — to regroup, rearm and reorganize.
They began winning back ground lost to an international military coalition until President Barack Obama decided to send it 30,000 troops last year to help.
Although there have been some gains in the Taliban's traditional southern strongholds, violence has not abated around the country.
The U.S. has begun withdrawing some of its 100,000 troops and will send home 33,000 by the end of next year. The international military coalition has already begun transferring security responsibilities to newly trained Afghan forces with the aim of removing all their soldiers by the end of 2014.
Bin Laden was killed in May, in helicopter-borne raid by U.S. Navy SEALs on his house in northwestern Pakistan.