Afghanistan Will Remain A "Graveyard For Foreigners"

This report was filed by CBS News' Peshawar-based reporter Sami Yousafzai and edited by Tucker Reals in London.
A former government minister from the Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan says the United States can throw as many soldiers into the country as it wants, they will just meet the same fate as all previous "foreign invaders."

A day after President Obama announced a massive increase in the U.S. troop presence — an additional 17,000 pairs of boots on the ground, coming soon — the former minister told CBS News he couldn't understand, "why the U.S. relies on figures and the number of troops in a country such as Afghanistan, where the number of foreign invaders has never made any difference, and the winners have always been the freedom fighters."

CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reported that America's senior commander in Afghanistan plans to send the new troops straight to the heart of the battle, in the violent southern part of the country, and he plans to ask for even more forces to join the fight. Click here to read the story.

The former government official, who is now a Taliban commander and member of the movement's Military Council, pointed to the drawn-out war Russian forces fought to win control of Afghanistan, only to be turned back by a relentless insurgency.

"The more troops that the U.S. and NATO send, the more they will get deeper stuck in Afghanistan," said the former minister, who spoke to CBS on condition that he not be identified.

He still has ties to the militant group, which was toppled from power by the 2001 U.S. invasion, and he claims the number of armed of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan is set to grow by at least a third this year, to 10,000. He said last year they had 5,000 fighters and another 3,000 Kuwa Zarbati (reserves). The largest concentration of militants, he said, was in the southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces.

He said the increase was not related to the influx of new U.S. troops, but had already been decided due to a change in tactic; moving the fight from the countryside to do battle in settled areas. "The numbers aren't significant, what's important is the new strategy and tactics," he said.

The former government minister boasted of suicide bombers in waiting. "Bombers are our main assets, and still we have a number of suicide bombers."

The compassion of Muslims worldwide toward the Taliban's cause has increased significantly in the wake of "Israel's Zionist attack in Gaza," he said, claiming that donors from many nations have been sending cash to buy cars and explosives, which would be used in bombs aimed at the soon-to-arrive American forces.

America and NATO are "certainly losing their minds," by increasing their troop presence, "while we almost blocked the supply routes coming via Pakistan, and have already sent about 1,000 Taliban to cut new supply routes from the north into Kabul, via central Asia and Russia," he said.

The former minister said Western governments and media were constantly painting the militant movement in Afghanistan as a group of terrorists from other countries, but he argued it was almost entirely a homegrown insurgency.

"We don't have more than three to four hundred volunteers, but all of them are under our command, not al Qaeda," he said.

"The history of Afghanistan will never take a full U-turn, and we are not used to being defeated by foreigners. For a hundred years, Afghanistan has remained a graveyard for foreigners. There's no way for it to suddenly become a land of victory for the U.S. It never can happen, and history won't be changed in this century either."
  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.

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