Tags: Report: | Taliban | May | Try | Disrupt | Council

Report: Taliban May Try to Disrupt Council

Tuesday, 28 May 2002 12:00 AM

The Times said al-Qaeda and Taliban forces are believed to be operating in the tribal areas of western Pakistan, citing an interview in Afghanistan with Maj. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, commander of the U.S. ground forces in Afghanistan.

He told the Times that intelligence reports indicate that a few Taliban leaders had returned to Afghanistan with the aim of setting up guerrilla operations to disrupt the meeting of the loya jirga, or traditional council, that is to select a permanent national government next month.

"They are looking for something that will gain them a lot of publicity," Hagenbeck told the Times.

"They are looking to do something violent that would be, in their eyes and internationally, so spectacular that it would convince the local populace who are now sitting on the fence or supporting us that they need to re-embrace the Taliban," Hagenbeck said.

He spoke to the Times in an interview on Monday at Bagram air base, a former Soviet base that serves as the headquarters for some 10,000 allied troops in Afghanistan.

Intelligence reports indicate that al-Qaeda and Taliban forces may resort to car bombings and suicide bombings to cause turmoil in Kabul next month, he said.

The Times said Hagenbeck, who heads the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, indicated that the United States believes that it is up to Pakistan to move more aggressively against the al-Qaeda fighters.

There are worries that the rising tension between Islamabad and New Delhi may occupy Pakistani resources that would otherwise have been aimed at hunting down al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

"We could be getting a lot more help from the Pakistanis if there were not the tense situation with respect to the two countries," the Times quoted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as saying last week.

"They have forces along the Indian borders that we could use along the Afghan border," Rumsfeld said.

Hagenbeck, who has been in Afghanistan for six months, will be relieved as commander of ground forces in Afghanistan by Lt. Gen. Dan K. McNeill, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C., the Times said. Hagenbeck will remain in Afghanistan for a while to help with the transition, the newspaper said.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The Times said al-Qaeda and Taliban forces are believed to be operating in the tribal areas of western Pakistan, citing an interview in Afghanistan with Maj. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, commander of the U.S. ground forces in Afghanistan. He told the Times that...
Report:,Taliban,May,Try,Disrupt,Council
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2002-00-28
Tuesday, 28 May 2002 12:00 AM
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