Tags: Taliban | Leader | Wants | Evidence | First

Taliban Leader Wants Evidence First

Wednesday, 19 September 2001 12:00 AM

More than 600 Muslim clerics, now meeting in the Afghan capital, Kabul, made a similar demand Tuesday.

"We need evidence against bin Laden because we know that the United States is only using him as pretext to attack Afghanistan," said Mullah Mohammad Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban militia, in a statement to Muslim clerics.

Afghanistan, he said, was like "a thorn in the eyes of the West because it has an Islamic system," the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press quoted Omar as saying.

Although Omar and other Taliban leaders regard their rule as "a true Islamic system," the majority of Muslims around the world blame them for giving a bad name to their religion.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Muslim clerics resumed their meeting in Kabul Wednesday to decide whether to expel bin Laden, a prime suspect in the terrorist attacks.

A Taliban spokesman said the meeting will also consider a Pakistani proposal for handing over bin Laden to a country other than the United States.

Washington had rejected this proposal when some Muslim leaders first proposed it last year when the United States was seeking him for allegedly arranging twin-bomb attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa in August 1998.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, is scheduled to address his nation later Wednesday to inform them of his reasons for supporting the U.S. campaign against terrorism.

A former commander in chief of the Pakistani army, Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, was quoted by Pakistani newspapers Wednesday as saying that the United States had asked Pakistan to provide both air and ground facilities for operations inside Afghanistan and to share intelligence data about bin Laden and the Taliban.

There have been ongoing demonstrations in several Pakistani cities against the decision to support the United States.

In Washington, President George W. Bush met Tuesday with French President Jacques Chirac, who pledged support for Bush's call for an international coalition to "smoke out" terrorists. But Chirac stopped short of using Bush's description of the effort as "war."

Some European officials, including German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, have called for a cautious approach to the use of military force to avoid acts of revenge, as opposed to strategic efforts to strike at terrorist networks.

Bush, meanwhile, signed a joint congressional resolution, clearing the way for spending $40 billion in emergency funds for relief and U.S. military mobilization. The president also signed a joint congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force to retaliate and said in a statement the U.S. response would be "direct, forceful and comprehensive."

In its first public expression of grief over the attacks, Iraq sent its condolences to the United States and to families of the victims.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz conveyed his "sincere condolences" in a letter to former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the Iraqi News Agency reported Thursday.

"I would like to convey to you, as a friend and honorable American human being … my heartfelt condolences for the American victims of the incident that took place on Sept. 11," the letter said.

The number of dead and missing in the attacks has topped 5,000 and is expected to increase. A fourth plane, thought to be headed for other targets in Washington, crashed in rural western Pennsylvania, killing everyone aboard.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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More than 600 Muslim clerics, now meeting in the Afghan capital, Kabul, made a similar demand Tuesday. We need evidence against bin Laden because we know that the United States is only using him as pretext to attack Afghanistan, said Mullah Mohammad Omar, the spiritual...
Taliban,Leader,Wants,Evidence,First
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2001-00-19
Wednesday, 19 September 2001 12:00 AM
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