updated 9/11/2004 8:11:18 AM ET 2004-09-11T12:11:18

Three years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden and his deputy are still issuing orders for attacks by al-Qaida, a top American commander told The Associated Press Saturday.

Maj. Gen. Eric Olson said that an al-Qaida linked group was suspected of a deadly car bombing at a U.S. security firm in the Afghan capital last month. He said the attack was a suicide mission.

"There are senior leaders of al-Qaida that are working through operatives in Afghanistan," Olson told The Associated Press in an interview. "They are involved in planning and in some cases directing attacks inside of Afghanistan."

Olson, the operational commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, said the military had no fix on the whereabouts of either bin Laden or al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri. But the involvement of well-trained foreign fighters in attacks near the Pakistani border convinced him that the fugitive leaders were pulling the strings.

"What we see are their techniques and their tactics here in Afghanistan, so I think it is reasonable to assume that the senior leaders are involved in directing those operations," he said.

Olson spoke to AP after a ceremony at the main American base north of Kabul to mark the anniversary of the 2001 attacks, which sparked the U.S. campaign to oust the Taliban and drive al-Qaida fighters from Afghanistan.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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