Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai declared as "a fact" on Al Jazeera Thursday that 9/11 wasn't planned in Afghanistan and called into question the very existence of al-Qaeda in the country.
Karzai, president of Afghanistan for a decade, told Al Jazeera's "UpFront" that the reason the United States launched its anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan was false. When the interviewer asked Karzai if he agreed that al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was behind the coordinated terrorist attacks resulting in the deaths of 2,977 people, Karzai said no.
"I can tell you for a fact that the operation was neither conducted from Afghanistan, nor were the Afghan people responsible for that," said the once U.S.-backed Afghanistan leader. Al-Qaeda, said Karzai, is "for me a myth."
"I don't know if al-Qaeda existed and I don't know if they exist," he said. "I have not seen them and I've not had any report about them, any report that would indicate that al-Qaeda is operating in Afghanistan. It is for me a myth […] For us, they don't exist."
Karzai's relationship with America deteriorated during his decade-long presidency amid allegations of election fraud and corruption. He has also reportedly received millions from Iran.
As The Guardian outlines, the evidence of al-Qaeda's strong presence in Afghanistan and role in 9/11 is "overwhelming":
Bin Laden claimed responsibility for the attacks on several occasions, and videoed testaments of participants in the attacks were recorded in Kandahar, where the men trained in al-Qaida camps.
Bin Laden arrived in Afghanistan in 1996, flying from Sudan where he had been living in exile since 1991. He was based first in hills south of the eastern city of Jalalabad before moving south to Kandahar, the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Taliban.
Many witnesses have described Bin Laden’s movements in Afghanistan during 2001, while vast quantities of al-Qaida-related material was recovered from training camps across Afghanistan by journalists, soldiers and spies.
Only last month an audio tape surfaced including a segment of a speech made in Afghanistan by Bin Laden in the summer of 2001 in which he promises a significant operation in the US soon.