Taliban supreme leader remains defiant, says he would rather die than join coalition government

Thursday, November 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ Defiant in the face of stunning setbacks, Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar said in a radio interview Thursday that he'd rather die than join ``an evil government'' with Afghanistan's former leaders.

``We will not accept a government of wrong-doers. We prefer death than to be a part of an evil government,'' Mullah Omar told the British Broadcasting Corp., dismissing a U.N. proposal for a multiethnic Afghan government.

Mullah Omar also warned of a larger strategy _ the ``destruction of America'' _ without specifying what actions may be taken.

The BBC asked the Pashto-language questions by satellite phone through an intermediary who passed them onto the Taliban leader through a hand-held radio. His exact location was unclear, but the private Afghan Islamic Press agency reported earlier Thursday that Omar was in a safe place and in charge of his troops.

Northern alliance advances, backed by U.S.-led bombing, have cost the Taliban their grip on the Afghan capital, Kabul, and deprived them of huge swaths of territory.

Mullah Omar acknowledged that his forces ``may have made some mistakes,'' and was in control of only four or five Afghan provinces.

``But it is not important how many provinces we have under our control,'' he said. ``Once we did not have a single province, and then the time came when we had all the provinces, which we have lost in a week.''

He called the Taliban pullback from urban centers part of a larger strategy.

``The current situation in Afghanistan is related to a bigger cause _ that is the destruction of America.''

``If God's help is with us, this will happen within a short period of time _ keep in mind this prediction,'' he said. ``The real matter is the extinction of America, and God willing, it will fall to the ground.''

``I tell you, keep this in mind. This is my prediction,'' he warned. ``You believe it or not _ it's up to you. But we will have to wait and see.''