Taliban Spokesman Mohammad Naeem said that the Taliban refused to hand over Osama bin Laden to the U.S. after 9/11 because the Americans refused to present evidence that he was responsible for the attacks. He made his remarks in an interview that aired on BBC Arabic TV (U.K.) on August 29, 2021. Naeem said that the Taliban condemned the attacks at the time and wanted to negotiate with the U.S., but the U.S. refused. He added that "if someone only uses force, and refuses to talk and reach understandings, he is the source of the problem," referring to the U.S..
Interviewer: "If you had been a member of the Taliban's Political Bureau in 2000-2001, would you have recommended to hand Osama bin Laden over to the Americans?"
Mohammad Naeem: "Why?"
Interviewer: "To avoid the 20 years that followed."
Naeem: "If someone says unjustly: 'If you do not accept what I say, I will cause you trouble,' are we supposed to accept this? We said to them back in the day: What's your problem? Come, show your evidence. We said that we wanted to sit at the [negotiations] table, but they refused. If someone only uses force, and refuses to talk and reach understandings, he is the source of the problem."
Interviewer: "But today you are saying that you will not allow Afghanistan to turn into a launching pad for [attacks] that will harm the security of others.
Naeem: "We did not allow this back then either. Who told you we did?
"Do you know when Osama [bin Laden] came to Afghanistan? He was in Afghanistan before we came [to power]."
Interviewer: "So why wasn't he handed over to the Americans, when he carried out the 9/11 attacks?"
Naeem: "Back in the day, we condemned the 9/11 attacks, and said that we were ready for dialogue and understanding. We said that it was not clear who carried out these bombings, and that whoever has any claim against any person or group – we were ready to sit down [to discuss this]. However, our call was not heeded.
Interviewer: "So if this situation repeats itself – obviously, with different details – you will also ask them to sit down to discuss things and to present evidence…"
Naeem: "If someone accused you of something, would you accept it silently, without asking for evidence?"