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Ex-Taliban chief: Retaking Kabul 'distant prospect'

Ex-Taliban chief: Retaking Kabul 'distant prospect'
Marines conducted patrols in Afghanistan. One ex-Taliban chief doubts that the group could ever return to power in the country. UPI/Kowshon Ye/USMC | License Photo

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 11 (UPI) -- It would take "divine intervention" for Taliban insurgents to win the war in Afghanistan, a former leader of the movement in Afghanistan said.

"It would take some kind of divine intervention for the Taliban to win this war. The Taliban capturing Kabul is a very distant prospect," the official said during an interview published Wednesday in the British publication New Statesman. "Any Taliban leader expecting to be able to capture Kabul is making a grave mistake."

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However, Taliban leaders know they can't acknowledge this because it would "undermine the morale of Taliban personnel."

The high-ranking official in the movement's leadership spoke on condition of anonymity but New Statesman said the official was vetted and his account checked.

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The one-time detainee at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said "at least 70" of the Taliban are angry with al-Qaida.

"Our people consider al-Qaida to be a plague that was sent down to us by the heavens," he said, adding that some thought al-Qaida followers were U.S. spies.

He said he was "relieved" by the death of al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden.

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"Through his policies, he destroyed Afghanistan," he said. "If he really believed in jihad he should have gone to Saudi Arabia and done jihad there, rather than wrecking our country."

The Taliban are fighting to rid Afghanistan of "occupiers" and to enforce shariah, or religious, law, he said.

"If they fall short of achieving national power they have to settle for functioning as an organized party within the country," the one-time official said. "If the Taliban were ever to return to power they would face enormous problems. But they are a long way from having to grapple with the challenges of power ... ."

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The Taliban movement became notorious over its treatment of women, harsh enforcement of "petty rules" and international relations, he said.

"The priority now should be restoration of security," he said. "But on the other issues I anticipate that they would soften their tough policies."

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