A veteran leader of the Taliban has expressed strong doubts the group can win the war in Afghanistan, adding he's relieved Osama bin Laden is dead and that a large majority of insurgents consider al-Qaeda "a plague."
"It is in the nature of war that both sides dream of victory. But the balance of power in the Afghan conflict is obvious," said the unidentified Taliban member, in an interview with The New Statesman
"It would take some kind of divine intervention for the Taliban to win this war."
The interview was conducted by former diplomat and author Michael Semple, who described the Taliban leader as “one of the most senior surviving Taliban commanders and a confidant of the movement’s leadership."
The commander also had harsh words for al-Qaeda, saying at least 70 per cent of the Taliban are angry at the group.
"Our people consider al-Qaeda to be a plague that was sent down to us by the heavens. Some even concluded that al-Qaeda are actually the spies of America."
'Relieved' about bin Laden's death
He said the Taliban initially welcomed al-Qaeda, but al-Qaeda members abused the Taliban's hospitality, and it was while he was in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba that he realized al-Qaeda's disloyalty.
"To tell the truth, I was relieved at the death of Osama. Through his policies, he destroyed Afghanistan. If he really believed in jihad he should have gone to Saudi Arabia and done jihad there, rather than wrecking our country."
The Taliban commander added that capturing Kabul "is a very distant prospect," and any Taliban leader expecting to be able to capture Afghanistan capital "is making a grave mistake."
"The leadership knows the truth – that they cannot prevail over the power they confront."
But the commander said insurgents will continue to fight as long Taliban leader Mullah Omar remains alive.
Al Qaeda Attacks Timeline
Feb. 26, 1993 - A bomb explodes in the garage of the World Trade Center.
Aug. 7, 1998
Truck bombs hit the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Oct. 12, 2000
The U.S.S. Cole came under attack in the Yemeni city of Aden.
Sept. 11, 2001
Planes fly into the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. Another plane crashes in Pennsylvania.
April 11, 2002
Explosion in the El Grhiba synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia.
Oct. 12, 2002
Bombs explode in a nightclub in Bali, killing 202 people.
Nov. 28, 2002
Suicide car bombers hit a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.
May 12, 2003
Al Qaeda bombers hit Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
May 16, 2003
Coordinated explosions hit Casablanca, Morocco.
Aug. 19, 2003
The U.N. headquarters in Baghdad are hit by a truck filled with explosives.
Nov. 9, 2003
Al Qaeda suicide bombers target a residential compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
March 11, 2004
More than 130 people are killed by bombs in four trains in Madrid.
July 7, 2005
Bombs explode in the London subway, killing 52 people.
Nov. 9, 2005
Attacks on hotels in Amman, the Jordanian capital, are claimed by Al Qaeda in Iraq.
April 11, 2007
Suicide bombs explode in the Algerian capital Algiers.
Dec. 11, 2007
Al Qaeda claims responsibilities for attacks on U.N. offices in Algiers.
Dec. 25, 2009
Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is accused of attempting to bomb a U.S.-bound plane.
Jan. 25, 2010
Suicide bombers hit hotels in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
A French tourist is killed by al Qaeda in Morocco after being kidnapped in Niger.
Oct. 31, 2010
Gunmen attack a church in Baghdad during Sunday mass.
Nov. 5, 2010
Parcel bombs on their way to the United States are intercepted on planes in Britain and Dubai.
Two Frenchmen were found dead in Niger after being abducted by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
April 28, 2011
A bomb explodes in Morocco's tourist hub Marrakesh.