ISLAMABAD – Osama bin Laden is in good health, a Taliban commander said, dismissing speculation the fugitive al Qaeda leader was sick.
The commander, Mullah Akhtar Usmani, also said Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar was well and in direct command of Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
“All praise to Allah, he is all right,” Usmani told Pakistan’s GEO, a private television station, when asked about bin Laden in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.
Asked about reports bin Laden was sick, he said: “No, no, he is all right. There is no problem.”
The private television station did not say where or when the interview was conducted. Usmani, who is on a 10-member Taliban leadership council and has been identified by the government as a top rebel commander, has in the past met reporters.
In the interview, his face was partly concealed by a black turban. An assault rifle was propped up at his side.
There has been speculation about the health of bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, who has been reported to be suffering from a kidney ailment.
Usmani declined to comment when asked about bin Laden’s whereabouts. He said Taliban leader Omar was also well.
“He is still our commander and we are still getting instructions from him,” he said of Omar. “Rumours of his illness have been spread by our enemies.”
Asked if he could be sure the instructions were from Omar, Usmani said: “I can listen to his voice … I am sure he is alive.” He did not elaborate…