Taliban Leader Says He Will Not Hand Over Bin Laden

The supreme leader of Afghanistan's Taliban militia ruled out handing over terror suspect Usama bin Laden to the United States and appealed again to Muslims everywhere to help defend his country, a news agency reported Saturday.

"We have not agreed with America to hand over anyone," Mullah Mohammed Omar said in a statement issued in his home base Kandahar and distributed by the Afghan Islamic Press, which is based in the capital of neighboring Pakistan.

The statement came two days after President Bush offered a "second chance" to the Taliban to surrender bin Laden, the main suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks. At a Thursday press conference, Bush said that if Afghanistan's ruling Islamic militia were to "cough him up and his people today," then the United States would "reconsider what we're doing to your country."

Omar said his country was being unfairly targeted by the U.S.-led bombardment, which entered its seventh day with strikes Saturday around Kabul and Kandahar.

"The only sin we have committed is we have enforced Islamic laws in our country and we have provided peace to the oppressed," Omar said. "But ordinary Muslims are being targeted. America attacked Afghanistan without giving any solid proof and to cover the failures of its spy agencies. It has attacked Afghanistan to eliminate Islamic countries."

The Americans and their British allies are "making our children orphans and they are making our women widows," Omar said.

He appealed for help to the worldwide Islamic community, saying that the Muslim people "have seen these cruelties upon Afghanistan with their own eyes."

"Does your faith allow you to remain silent spectators or to support America?" he asked. "We will not accept a life of slavery."

The United States launched its airstrikes Oct. 7 after weeks of efforts to get the Taliban to hand over bin Laden and dismantle his Al Qaeda terror network. The Taliban have reported dozens of dead from the bombardment, but the claims are impossible to verify independently.