Afghanistan: Where Even the Taliban Don’t Care About Bin Laden

Afghanistan: Where Even the Taliban Dont Care About Bin Laden
Considering how closely tied their histories have been, the Taliban in Afghanistan have yet to release a statement on the death of Osama bin Laden. The group isn’t being uncommunicative; it just doesn’t quite know what to say for now. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told TIME: “We have not received any word from our leadership on Osama’s death. I can’t confirm that he is dead or alive. Because of some security problems, the Taliban has not had much contact with Osama bin Laden for the past 10 years.” In a striking show of the divisions that had crept up between the Taliban and bin Laden’s organization, Mujahid added that, “The activity of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was unimportant. All activities were and continue to be conducted by the Taliban.”

The distinction is one that is not lost on Afghans and may explain why — at least in the capital, even in Pashtun areas most sympathetic to the Taliban — the response to the news of bin Laden’s death was so muted in the hours after it was announced. If anything, Afghans exhibited a kind of vindication that the arch-terrorist had been killed by U.S. Special Forces in Abbottabad, a town on the territory of their hated neighbor, Pakistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai echoed that sentiment at a press conference on Monday. “We have said time and again that al-Qaeda sanctuaries do not exist in Afghanistan. Its hideouts are located elsewhere. And the killing of Osama bin Laden has proved that our claim was right,” said Karzai.