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Senior Taleban Official Defects - 2001-11-24

The former Deputy Interior Minister of the Taleban says Afghans should unite to help move the peace process forward. The former senior leader of the Taleban announced he was throwing his support to Afghanistan's Northern Alliance at a news conference late Saturday in Kabul.

Mullah Khaksar, the former Taleban Deputy Interior Minister says when the Taleban deserted Kabul recently he decided to stay behind and try and work for peace. A former security chief of the Taleban, Mullah Khaksar says the U.S.-led strikes against Taleban and terrorist targets in Afghanistan transformed Afghanistan's political landscape to the point where Afghans can now "unite for peace."

Mullah Khaksar says he personally wants to participate in efforts to develop a broad-based government in Afghanistan but he would not say whether he intends to try and join a U.N.-brokered conference next week in Germany aimed at developing a post Taleban interim Government.

The ex-Taleban minister says he believes Osama bin Laden is an international terrorist, and the United States is justified in carrying out attacks against the al-Qaida network.

He says he believes the Taleban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and Osama bin Laden are still in contact with each other somewhere near the Taleban stronghold of Kandahar but he had no further details.

Mullah Khaksar also says he urged the Taleban cabinet to ask foreign fighters to leave Afghanistan and to accept the peace process.