Transcript: Afghan Taliban spokesman discusses war
(CNN) -- Zabiullah Mujahid, one of two spokesmen for Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, spoke recently with CNN's Nic Robertson about the war in Afghanistan and the Taliban's relationship with al Qaeda.
Mujahid almost never gives TV interviews and he initially said the interview with CNN would last 15 minutes, but spoke to Robertson for 45. Here is an edited transcript.
CNN: Can you tell me what the Taliban strategy is in Afghanistan?
Zabiullah Mujahid: The policy is quite clear. We ask from the beginning and we say once again to enforce the sharia law and Islamic government in Afghanistan, to remove foreign forces from our country. This is our country; we have to govern it.
CNN: Do you want to take over the government in Kabul or do you want to work with others?
Mujahid: I want to tell you clearly when we rose up in Afghanistan in 1994 we did not rise up to be the government ... you know the mujahadeen government ... and when the Russians flee Afghanistan. But the mujahadeen were fighting each other, the people were being killed. So we rose up not for power and government we rose up just ... to force Islamic law and to help our widows in Afghanistan. We did jihad for the Islamic government. And No. 2 I want to tell you clearly our Afghan nation is held hostage by foreign troops. We don't fight the government. We fight for the sake of our country, for the sake of our nation, for Islamic law and also to rescue our country from the crusader
CNN: There are going to be elections in Afghanistan this year. Does the Taliban support those elections?
Mujahid: First I want to tell you this is not an election, it is selection. People are selected from the White House. This is just a joke and we ask from our Muslim brothers and our population not to take part in this election because this is people selected from the White House before the election.
CNN: Will you try to stop the elections?
Mujahid: We announce clearly from the beginning for our Muslim brothers not to take part in this election. We want to disturb this election; it is not the election of the Afghan nation. It is not the will of the Afghan nation. I told you clearly it is what the U.S. wants in Afghanistan, and yesterday as announced by our leader Mullah brother we will target the Afghan parliamentary members and government officials so if there are elections yes it is clear we will target them.
CNN: And will you target them using suicide bombs?
Mujahid: I want to tell you clearly we have different kinds of tactics. One of them yes is suicide attack. We will not target everyone with a suicide attack. We will see the place. Yes the suicide attack is part of our war with the crusader so when we need a suicide attack we will do the suicide attack. When we need a target attack we will do a target attack, when we need the bomb blast we will do the bomb blast. Where there is the combat war, we will do it in that place. According to the situation we will do the things that work.
CNN: What is your policy toward Afghan civilians?
Mujahid: First we give the proof from the beginning of our jihad against crusader we do not want to kill civilians. We sacrifice ourselves for the safety of the civilians; we never want to kill the civilians. Also we ask of the civilians don't be close to the troops, be away from them not to be targeted.
CNN: How do you justify suicide bombs?
Mujahid: This is from the history of Islam from the days of Prophet Mohammed, from the history of those days. They sacrificed some people, friends of Mohammed, for the sake of Islam. This is part of the jihad and part of the fighting. We will fight them and we will target them.
CNN: Are the Taliban in Afghanistan supporting the Taliban in Pakistan with their fight?
Mujahid: We do not want to interfere in the Pakistan Taliban affairs. We are Afghan Taliban and our policy is clear against the foreign troops. The second thing -- yes there are sympathies between the two sides.
CNN: Do the Pakistan Taliban come to Afghanistan and help you in your fight?
Mujahid: I ask you do only Americans come to Afghanistan or are there 40 other countries with them? So we are Muslims. If they come, we will say welcome to them -- our Muslim brothers in the Pakistani Taliban.
CNN: President Obama is sending 20,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Will that defeat your forces, the Taliban?
Mujahid: I will clearly tell you. If there are more we will kill more; if there are few we will kill fewer.
CNN: The United States is sending more troops; is that going to change the war?
Mujahid: If the Pentagon is thinking of changing its policy, we, too, are thinking of changing our policy. If they want to send 20,000 to start a new campaign, this is a war and we will see the war and make our policy. We also have the good players; we have the good experts of the war.
CNN: Some people say President Obama has made Afghanistan a very big part of his foreign policy. Some people have suggested it may be his Vietnam. What is your opinion?
Mujahid: If they want to send the troops and change things we believe they can't do anything because the 40 countries don't make any good achievements inside Afghanistan. Yes Afghanistan will be the Vietnam for them. Concerning their policy it is the same policy; there are no changes in this policy. I want to tell you clearly we will win, and they will die.
CNN: Can the Taliban win by military means alone or does there have to be some kind of talks?
Mujahid: We believe by both, by negotiation and also by war. We ask them to leave the country; we are ready to talk. So if they are not ready to leave and they want to talk by the mouth of the gun, we will talk by the mouth of the gun.
CNN: What are your terms for talking. What are the Taliban terms for talking?
Mujahid: Our conditions are clear. We want to negotiate and they will not interfere in our affairs. Secondly, they will leave the country. Third, leave the Afghan people to do what they want to do, like the Islamic government they want to establish.
CNN: The talks last year in Saudi Arabia -- were they helpful?
Mujahid: I want to tell you clearly there is no peace talks or negotiations in Saudi Arabia.
CNN: Are there any talks at all with the Afghan government?
Mujahid: The Taliban under the field commander Mullah Mohammed Mujahadid do not have any representatives in peace talks. I want to tell you two things clearly. First I want to tell you some people take the former Taliban to Saudi Arabia to negotiate. They are not our representatives. Some people they sit in Kabul and talk. They are not our representative. [When] one wants to talk with us and we want to talk, it will be clear. Our representatives' names will be clear. We will announce the people.
CNN: So how long is this war going to last?
Mujahid: I want to tell you clearly it is war. Some people will be very weak but we will win. We will win. This is war. I cannot tell you who is going to win but I can tell you one thing. [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel when she is coming to Kunduz -- before she is coming we had intelligence reports tell us she is coming, we had the information she is coming. We did the rocket attack and she escaped, so will show them and they escaped. I will tell you we will win; we have the support of Muslim nations and this is what we believe.
CNN: How do you get this intelligence? Do you have people inside American bases?
Mujahid: The people who work with [Afghan President Hamid]Karzai they help us. Inside the American bases there are more people who help us, and we have intelligence from A to Z inside the foreign installations and the Afghan government. For example, on the day of the Afghan celebration [when a parade attended by President Karzai was attacked in April 2008] in the same team that work with Karzai they gave the information that he is coming. Then we attacked.
CNN: So you have people inside American bases and you have people inside the ministers and you have people right next to President Karzai?
Mujahid: Yes, certainly
CNN: So how come President Karzai is still alive?
Mujahid: I ask you how strong the intelligence the United States has about Mullah Omar but they still don't kill him. We detect and if he is not killed this is something that belongs to God. He will be finished quickly.
CNN: What is the relationship between Taliban and al Qaeda?
Mujahid: Taliban is one thing and al Qaeda is another. They are global we are just in the region.
CNN: Can you explain the differences between Taliban and al Qaeda.
Mujahid: We are not under the command of al Qaeda. Some people are coming to fight and we say welcome.
CNN: They come from al Qaeda.?
Mujahid: Even any place including al Qaeda, but we don't fight under their instruction.
CNN: But they help you, al Qaeda helps you?
Mujahid: We are from this country; we are the boss. We do not have any link with them -- they do not have any link with us under the command of al Qaeda. If mujahadeen freely want to do jihad they can come.