Tags: Taliban | Won't | Extradite | Bin | Laden | Without | Evidence

Taliban Won't Extradite Bin Laden Without Evidence

Thursday, 13 September 2001 12:00 AM

"All we know is that he (bin Laden) is somewhere in Afghanistan, but we are not aware if he is under house arrest," a Taliban diplomat said Thursday in Pakistan on condition of anonymity.

Within hours of the terrorist strikes in New York and Washington on Tuesday, the Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, cautioned the United States not to reach any hasty conclusion about the suspects.

Asked if the Taliban anticipated U.S. retaliation, he said that while it had no reasons to fear any attack, strikes could not be ruled out.

Asked about bin Laden's possible extradition, Mullah Zaeef said on Wednesday it would be "premature" to talk about it. "If any evidence is presented to us, we will study it. About his being handed over, we can talk about that in the second phase (after receiving evidence).''

Previously, the Taliban refused to extradite bin Laden without conclusive evidence that he was involved in the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and last year's bomb attack on the USS Cole at a harbor in Yemen..

The U.S. has been trying to negotiate bin Laden's extradition for several months. As part of those talks, Taliban representatives suggested at least three specific proposals, including an agreement to try bin Laden under Islamic law as interpreted by the Taliban. That was not acceptable to the United States.

Bin Laden reportedly has denied involvement in Tuesday's terror attacks, but he has warned that new trouble could erupt if the United States attacks him.

On Wednesday, the Ausaf newspaper (written in Urdu, Pakistan's official language) carried a statement quoting Bin Laden as saying, "I do not have any hand in the attacks in the U.S. But I support it."

The report in the newspaper said that bin Laden's statement was handed over by one of his special envoys. That same envoy, the newspaper report said, also translated the statement from Arabic to Urdu.

Bin Laden is quoted as heaping praises on those who carried out the attacks even though he admitted that most of the people killed were innocent.

"But those being killed in Palestine are also innocent. Who cares about those innocent people? The terrorist U.S. is fully behind those killings," said the statement attributed to him.

Bin Laden also warned that more danger could follow if the United States attacks him.

"The U.S. will be in more danger if they tried to kill me. If they will kill one Osama, hundreds of Osamas will stand against them."

Bin Laden said that he was on a "holy mission" to liberate the Palestine from the Jews. "I promise to fulfill my mission with the help of my followers," he said in the statement published in the Urdu newspaper.

The Islamic fundamentalist leader further said that thousands of Muslim youths were committed to stand by him. "They are even ready for suicidal missions. Moreover dozens of Muslim scientists who are experts in different fields have assured me their knowledge and expertise against anti-Islam forces."

He said the jihad against anti-Islamic forces would continue, "until atrocities against Muslims stopped. There are many Muslims like me who, after quitting luxurious life, have come to the path of jihad. And we will continue the jihad against infidels.

"We don't possess any chemical weapon but our morale is even higher than all those who have nuclear bombs. We'll force the U.S. to change its policies and quit the anti-Islam agenda."

The Taliban, Afghanistan's ruling Islamic milita, has warned that any retaliation against Kabul would be "a big mistake." However, President Bush has made it clear he will not distinguish between the terrorists and the countries that harbor them.

"We condemn the attack and make it clear that we are not involved in it any way," Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef said on Tuesday in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

"Osama bin Laden has no facilities to [plan such a big strike]. We don't expect the U.S. to attack us on mere assumptions," said the Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef.

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All we know is that he (bin Laden) is somewhere in Afghanistan, but we are not aware if he is under house arrest, a Taliban diplomat said Thursday in Pakistan on condition of anonymity. Within hours of the terrorist strikes in New York and Washington on Tuesday, the...
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Thursday, 13 September 2001 12:00 AM
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