Taliban commander: Bin Laden 'extremely healthy and active'
A top Taliban commander said Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden is alive and well, according to US-based analysts monitoring extremist publications.
"All praise be to Allah, he is extremely healthy and active," the commander Mansour Dadullah said in a video interview, according to a transcript of the video's English subtitled translation, released Tuesday by the analyst IntelCenter.
Dadullah, whose brother Mullah Dadullah was also a top commander in the Afghanistan-based militants and was killed this year, said he had been contacted by Bin Laden, the man blamed for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
"I received a message from him in which he advised me 'I must follow Mullah Dadullah and continue the same activities so that the mujahedeen (Islamic fighters) may not weaken," he said, according to the transcript.
The video is dated June 15, 2007, IntelCenter said.
After the attacks the United States led an invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime allied with Al-Qaeda and believed the Saudi-born Bin Laden was hiding there. But after pounding the mountains where his den was thought to be, US-led forces failed to find him.
Bin Laden, who has a 50-million-dollar US bounty on his head, has appeared in a series of video and audio clips since the 9-11 attacks but has not been heard from since May 2006, when the CIA authenticated a voice recording on the Internet as his.
In the recording, which was accompanied by an online text, the terror network chief said Zacarias Moussaoui, a 37-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan origin and the only man convicted in the 9-11 attacks, had nothing to do with the operation.
The recording surfaced on May 23, 2006, about two weeks after Moussaoui was sentenced at a court in Alexandria, Virginia to life imprisonment.
"He has no connection whatsoever with the events of September 11th, and I am certain of what I say, because I was responsible for entrusting the 19 brothers -- Allah have mercy upon them -- with those raids, and I did not assign brother Zacarias to be with them on that mission," bin Laden said.
In that voice message, bin Laden also said that the prisoners being held at the US base at Guantanamo in Cuba had "no connection with the events of September 11th and knew nothing about them, with the exception of two of the brothers."
Some Al-Qaeda analysts said the recording marked the first time bin Laden unequivocally claimed responsibility for the 9-11 attacks.
Other undated videos featuring bin Laden, who was last spotted in the Tora Bora mountains of eastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan in 2001, have circulated on the Internet since the May 2006 audio clip but analysts have said those images are not new.
In an Internet video posted July 15, bin Laden says: "The happy (person) is the one chosen by Allah to be a martyr," according to the Washington-based SITE Intelligence Group, which said the footage was old, but did not give an estimated date.