Taliban Zarqawi: Osama is directing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan

Color me skeptical.

Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is orchestrating militants’ operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a senior commander of Afghan Islamist group Taliban said in remarks broadcast on Wednesday.

Bin Laden has not made any video statements for many months raising speculation that he might have died.

“He is drawing plans in Iraq and Afghanistan … Praise God he is alive,” Mullah Dadullah told Al Jazeera television…

“Do you remember the martyrdom operation inside the Bagram base which targeted a senior American official … this operation was the result of blessed plans put by him,” Dadullah said. Jazeera said the U.S. official Dadullah was referring to was Cheney.

“He (bin Laden) guided us through it,” he said, adding that no Afghan would have been able to penetrate the base if it was not for the world’s most wanted militant.

That’s stupid. Plus, Cheney wasn’t even supposed to be at Bagram on the day it was attacked; by his own admission he stayed there for an extra day only after bad weather forced him to postpone his trip to Kabul. For Osama to have ordered the hit, a tipster inside Bagram would have needed to be privy to Cheney’s sudden change of plans, relayed the information somehow — presumably by courier — to Osama’s purported HQ in the Pakistani tribal areas, and then the order itself would have had to have been sent somehow to the bomber, who’d naturally need some time to prepare. All in the span of about 18 hours. Ain’t happening unless Osama’s using a cell phone, and I think it’s safe to say he isn’t. Makes for some good boogeyman propaganda, though.

The more interesting aspect of this is who Al Jazeera’s source is — Mullah Dadullah, the “Taliban Zarqawi” who’s supposed to be holed up in a village somewhere right now and surrounded by Afghan troops. The Reuters article doesn’t explicitly say when the interview was recorded, so it’s possible it’s been in the can for awhile and Al Jazeera’s just doing him a solid by airing it now, when the walls are closing in. AJ’s own report, however, states that “Dadullah said in the interview on Wednesday that Bin Laden planned and supervised the ‘suicide’ operation which targeted Dick Cheney, the US vice-president.” That seems to suggest it was recorded today. Which means he’s not in the village. As expected.