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Pakistani Network Broadcasts Rare Interview of Al-Qaida Commander in Afghanistan

By Barry Newhouse
22 July 2008

A Pakistani television network has broadcast a rare interview with the top al-Qaida commander in Afghanistan. From Islamabad, Barry Newhouse reports Geo News says its interview with Mustafa Abu Yazid, an Egyptian, took place a few days ago in Afghanistan's eastern Khost Province.

Abu Mustafa al-Yazid is believed to be al-Qaida's third highest ranking leader, behind Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden. The official U.S. government investigation of the September 11 terrorist attacks named Yazid as the terrorist group's chief financial manager at the time of the attacks.

Last year, he was named head of al-Qaida's operations in Afghanistan and since then has claimed credit for a wave of deadly attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In an exclusive interview with a Geo reporter that was broadcast late Monday, al-Yazid said the group gets support from tribal areas of Pakistan. His remarks in Arabic were dubbed into Urdu in the broadcast.

He gave thanks that the group is receiving assistance from the tribal areas. He then urged all Pakistanis to support the effort as part of their religious duty.

Afghan officials and U.S. commanders have long argued that Pakistan's tribal areas along the Afghan border are a haven for al-Qaida and Taliban militants as well as a support base for the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Afghan officials have also accused parts of Pakistan's army and intelligence agencies of secretly supporting the insurgency in Afghanistan. Al-Yazid says no country supports the group and in fact the Pakistani government has caused more damage to al-Qaida than any other.

He said the government of Pervez Musharraf betrayed the Islamist fighters in Afghanistan when it sided with the United States.

Al-Yazid also repeated claims that al-Qaida was behind the June bombing of the Danish Embassy in Islamabad. He claimed the bomber was from Mecca and originally wanted to fight in Afghanistan or Kashmir, but later decided to attack the Danish Embassy to retaliate for Danish cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammed.

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