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Taliban Officials Outline Plan To Defeat U.S. in Afghanistan

By David Rohde

The New York Times -- NEW DELHI, India

The resurgent Taliban have embarked on a strategy of small guerrilla attacks intended to frustrate and steadily bleed U.S. forces in Afghanistan and to force the United States to expend billions of dollars in military costs, according to two Taliban officials interviewed recently.

Hajji Ibrahim, who identified himself as a Taliban commander, said the group’s goal was to tie down the United States in Afghanistan and force it to spend huge sums responding to limited attacks that draw U.S. forces “here to there, here to there.” He confidently predicted that the United States, sapped by a slow, costly and grinding conflict, would abandon Afghanistan after two to three years, and repeatedly compared the current situation with the defeat of Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

“How is it possible that America will continue to do these things for many years?” he asked, pointing out that it cost virtually nothing for a single Taliban fighter to plant a land mine. “Just think -- one plane -- how much is it to take off and land?”

Hajji Latif, who identified himself as a Taliban spokesman, said the fugitive Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, was commanding Taliban forces from his hideout in Afghanistan. While claiming that U.S. troops are overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan, Latif called for volunteers around the world to aid the Taliban and said he hoped the United States would open new fronts in the campaign against terrorism.

“We are offering prayers that they should start in one or two more places,” he said. “When America goes to open one or two more places it will be good for Muslims.”

The two men were interviewed separately and on the condition that the country in which they spoke not be identified. They also asked that their real names not be disclosed, and gave only their noms de guerre. Their claims could not be independently confirmed.