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Afghan rebel vows allegiance to al Qaeda - video

By Staff
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DUBAI, May 4 (Reuters) The leader of an Afghan rebel group allied with the Taliban has pledged allegiance to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and vowed to join its holy war, according to a video aired by Al Jazeera television today.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister wanted by the United States, said that by rejecting a truce offered by bin Laden, Western countries had proved that they wanted war in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories.

''We thank all the Arab mujahideen, especially Sheikh Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahri and other leaders who helped us in our jihad against Russia and ... made sacrifices for our sake,'' he said in then video, wearing a black turban and seated by a rifle.

''We ask God to help us to do our duty towards them. We hope to join their battle and we will be at their sides as allies.'' Hekmatyar and bin Laden are believed to be hiding along the rugged border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In January, bin Laden warned in an audio tape that al Qaeda was preparing new attacks inside the United States, but said the group was open to a conditional truce with the Americans.

Washington said it did not negotiate with terrorists.

''No doubt, Sheikh Osama bin Laden presented a logicalproposal.

Americans and their European allies forced us into warfare. Muslims present peace proposals and logical reconciliation plans but Western occupiers insist on continuing wars,'' Hekmatyar said in excerpts aired by Al Jazeera.

He condemned Afghanistan's neighbouring countries which include Muslim Pakistan, Iran and Central Asian states and Russia for helping the US occupation of Afghanistan.

''Four years and six months have passed since crusader forces occupied our country Afghanistan. Our neighbours helped the Americans and Moscow stood by their side.'' Hekmatyar's fighters back a Taliban-led insurgency which has in recent months unleashed a wave of roadside and suicide bombings, ambushes and raids, in the hope of to ousting foreign forces and the US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

Hekmatyar has urged Islamic groups to unite to expel them as they drove out Soviet forces in the 1980s.

US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in late 2001 after they refused to hand over bin Laden, architect of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The United States leads some 20,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Reuters SY RN2006

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