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.