A top Taliban commander says his group "cannot prevail" in Afghanistan, and leaders know it. "Any Taliban leader expecting to be able to capture Kabul is making a grave mistake," the unnamed leader, a former Guantanamo detainee, tells the New Statesman in an interview previewed by the Guardian. Still, the group, which continues to foresee victory in public statements, is putting up a brave front to maintain morale.
These days, 70% of the Taliban "consider al-Qaeda to be a plague that was sent down to us by the heavens," the leader, called Mawlvi for the purposes of the interview, which was given to a former UN envoy, says. He cites "relief" at the death of Osama bin Laden, whose policies "destroyed Afghanistan." Mawlvi also reflects on Hamid Karzai, saying he has little power. "Real authority rests with the Americans," Mawlvi notes. It's not clear how many Taliban members would agree with the commander, however; many younger members have become more radicalized following US- and British-led assassinations.