U.S. general says Bin Laden, al-Zawahri still issuing orders, al-Qaida linked to Kabul bombing

Saturday, September 11th 2004, 9:48 am
By: News On 6

BAGRAM, Afghanistan (AP) _ Three years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden and his deputy are still issuing orders for attacks by al-Qaida, a top American commander told The Associated Press Saturday.

Maj. Gen. Eric Olson said that an al-Qaida linked group was suspected of a deadly car bombing at a U.S. security firm in the Afghan capital last month. He said the attack was a suicide mission.

``There are senior leaders of al-Qaida that are working through operatives in Afghanistan,'' Olson told The Associated Press in an interview. ``They are involved in planning and in some cases directing attacks inside of Afghanistan.''

Olson, the operational commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, said the military had no fix on the whereabouts of either bin Laden or al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri. But the involvement of well-trained foreign fighters in attacks near the Pakistani border convinced him that the fugitive leaders were pulling the strings.

``What we see are their techniques and their tactics here in Afghanistan, so I think it is reasonable to assume that the senior leaders are involved in directing those operations,'' he said.

Olson spoke to AP after a ceremony at the main American base north of Kabul to mark the anniversary of the 2001 attacks, which sparked the U.S. campaign to oust the Taliban and drive al-Qaida fighters from Afghanistan.