Tags: Taliban | Reject | Advice | Expel | bin | Laden

Taliban Reject Advice to Expel bin Laden

Friday, 21 September 2001 12:00 AM

"It's an advice, not an order," said the Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, Mullah Zaef. "We, as a religious government, will accept any order from a grand assembly of Muslim scholars. But they merely advised bin Laden to leave, did not order him to do so."

Asked if the Taliban government will hand over bin Laden as demanded by President Bush, he said: "No. We will not." When a reported asked him if bin Laden was still in Afghanistan, Zaef said: "We do not know where he is. We don't know his whereabouts."

Meanwhile, an official of the Bush Administration told CNN early Friday that they were "not surprised" by the Taliban's refusal to expel bin Laden.

The official also rejected the Taliban call for a jihad, saying that President Bush had made it very clear that the United States had no quarrel with Islam or the Muslims in general.

Reading a hard-hitting message, received apparently from the Taliban headquarters in Afghanistan, the Taliban envoy said those Muslims who support the anticipated U.S. attack on Afghanistan will "also be considered aggressors and their murder will become obligatory."

Although reading the message in Afghanistan's national language Pashto, Zaef read lengthy passages from Islamic holy books in Arabic, telling Muslims that whenever "an infidel attacks an Islamic country, it becomes obligatory for every Muslim to join jihad and defend that country."

"Once Afghanistan is attacked, the Muslims will have no choice but to defend it. Islam is very clear about it. It is a duty, not a choice to defend a Muslim country attacked by non-Muslims."

The message, broadcast by international television network, appeared more like a sermon urging Muslims to support the Taliban government against the United States. He did not respond to President Bush's demands for handing over bin Laden and other suspected terrorists blamed for last week's attacks on New York and Washington.

"His sermon may instigate Pakistani fundamentalists to come out in the streets and challenge the government's decision to back the U.S. campaign against terrorism," said Rasheed Khalid, who teaches politics at Islamabad's Quaid-i-Azam University. "He read over a dozen verses from the Koran, sayings of Prophet Mohammed and passages from other religious books. It clearly aimed at stirring trouble."

More than a dozen religious parties in Pakistan have called for a nationwide strike on Friday to protest the government's decision to support the United States and observers say that the envoy's message could instigate their followers to violence.

While condemning "all those who may support the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan," the ambassador urged the Pakistani government to reconsider its decision.

When a reporter asked him if Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf should also be 'murdered' for supporting the United States, he said: "We are sure that Pakistan will reconsider its decision. Like us, President Musharraf will also demand evidence from the United States for blaming Osama bin Laden for last week's attacks (on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon). If the Americans fail to provide the evidence, we are sure he will reconsider his decision."

Pakistan, he said, was a "brother and neighbor of Afghanistan and we do not expect Pakistan to participate in an attack on our country. There is resistance within Pakistan to the government's decision to back the Americans."

He repeated an earlier Taliban offer, already rejected by the United States, that if "America provides evidence against bin Laden, we are ready to try him in Afghanistan or in a third country."

He said the United States had many enemies in the world and "anyone could have been involved in last week's attacks in the United States. The Americans should hold a thorough investigation before laying blames on someone."

He also read the Taliban's version of the edict issued in Kabul on Thursday after a two-day meeting of Afghan clerics. The scholars, according to him, expressed sorrow at "the losses occurred in America and called on America to restrain from attacking Afghanistan and show patience and prudence.

"They demanded that the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Conference conduct a neutral and meticulous inquiry into last week's attacks.

"They also urged the United Nations to consider President Bush's remarks about imposing a war on Afghanistan as it has sparked the fury of the Muslims around the world.

"They encouraged bin Laden to leave Afghanistan on his own free will and at a time that suits him.

"They also called for a jihad if America orders an attack on Afghanistan, ignoring their plea for a thorough inquiry."

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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It's an advice, not an order, said the Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, Mullah Zaef. We, as a religious government, will accept any order from a grand assembly of Muslim scholars. But they merely advised bin Laden to leave, did not order him to do so. Asked if the...
Friday, 21 September 2001 12:00 AM
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