Tags: Adminstration: | Ultimatum | bin | Laden

Adminstration: No Ultimatum on bin Laden

Wednesday, 29 November 2000 12:00 AM

A story asserting that the ultimatum was issued in early November in a meeting in Frankfort between U.S. counterrorism officials and Taliban Deputy Foreign Minister Abdul Jalil is due to appear in Thursday's edition of The Far Eastern Economic Review, a widely respected publication.

But one U.S. government official told United Press International: "I've been reading the (cable) traffic -- it didn't happen," he said. He said the U.S. government doesn't have diplomatic relations with the Taliban.

But another official clarified this: "We have regular dialogue with the Taliban," meeting with them in various U.S. and overseas venues, he said. A recent meeting took place in October with US Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering and Jalil. The Taliban also met with the head of the State Department's Counterrorrism unit, Ambassador Mike Sheehan, and other senior State Dept. officials, he said.

Bin Laden's capture has been a constant agenda item of these bi-lateral discussions, and the Taliban have refused to agree to the extradition, saying they have no proof that the Saudi is involved in terrorism, he said.

This source confirmed a report in Wednesday's Washington Post that the United States and Russia are working on a joint U.N. Security Council resolution that would ban further arms sales to the Taliban militia, who currently control 96 percent of Afghanistan.

According to a U.S. government source who asked not to be named, the Russians want the ban because Bin Laden has been active in training forces to fight the Russian military in the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

A U.S. government counterrorism expert told UPI that Bin Laden has also spent some $5 million trying to purchase a nuclear suitcase bomb from Russian renegades in Kazakhstan. Although a lot of what was marketed was "junk" in the words of this source, some Chechens had claimed to have acquired a handful of nuclear weapons and bin Laden's connection with them is "close."

Bin Laden has been working hard to obtain chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction for use against "US and Israeli targets." An Egyptian member of the network, Ahmad Salabra Mahbruk, a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad told his Eygptian interrogators in 1998 that some of these weapons had been obtained," this source said.

United States officials believe that they have evidence that links bin Laden to the Oct. 12 bombing of the USS Cole which left 17 American sailors dead and which caused $150 million worth of damage to the ship.

Bin Laden was linked solidly to the bombings of two American Embassies in Africa in 1998 when, on Oct. 20, Ali A. Mohammed, a former Green Beret sergeant with Group V of U.S. Special Forces, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, admitting he had conspired with bin Laden and others to murder Americans anywhere they could be found, to attack the U.S. military posts in Saudi Arabia and Somalia, to kill Americans at unspecified embassies, and to conceal the conspiracy.

Mohammed said the goal of the conspiracy, which he joined the late 1980s, was to expel the United States from West Asia.

In the meantime, the Clinton Administration has ordered military planning for a possible strike at the Bin Laden network in Afghanistan, which could include Taliban military targets.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International.

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A story asserting that the ultimatum was issued in early November in a meeting in Frankfort between U.S. counterrorism officials and Taliban Deputy Foreign Minister Abdul Jalil is due to appear in Thursday's edition of The Far Eastern Economic Review, a widely respected...
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2000-00-29
Wednesday, 29 November 2000 12:00 AM
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