Monday, November 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Rabbani not averse to Taliban
ex-officials in interim govt

Rabbani‘Hand over’ non-Afghan troops to UN
Kabul, November 25
Ousted Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani held out an olive branch to his enemies on Sunday, saying individual former Taliban officials could join a future government for the ethnically split nation.
(28k, 56k)

Laden’s ‘varsity of terror’ uncovered
Khost, November 25
Abu Said al-Kurdi is gone. So are his students. And so are their guns and their bombs and their chemical warfare kits. All that remains of the training camp that was Abu Said’s home for the past five years are four blocks of drab grey bungalows, an empty library and, in a corner where a bank of computers once stood, a small stack of documents.

Omar flees to Pak?
Quetta (Pakistan), November 25
The leaders of Arab and other foreign fighters defending Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in his southern Afghan stronghold of Kandahar may have fled to Pakistan, a former warlord said. Muhammad Akbar Khan Khakrazi, who went into exile in Pakistan three years ago but still visits Kandahar often, said on Sunday he saw Mullah Omar driving through the city around nine days ago but had heard the Taliban chief was now trying to leave.

Taliban office in Karachi sealed
Karachi, November 25
The police has sealed an office of the Taliban in Karachi in an overnight raid and arrested 15 Afghans, the police said today. There were no details about the charges, but a police official said Pakistan’s intelligence service ordered the arrests.


Firefighters assess damage at St. Anne's Roman Catholic Primary School following an early morning attack in South Belfast on Sunday. Street violence erupted in this flashpoint area of Belfast just two days after Protestant hardliners suspended their controversial 12-week sectarian blockade of the Holy Cross Girls' Catholic Primary School in Ardoyne district. — Reuters photo



Protesters carry placards as they join the annual Men's March against violence towards women and children on Sunday. Several thousand men took part in the march to show their frustration at South Africa's extremely high levels of abuse. Tensions around the issue have been enflamed by several recent incidents of child rape, including the brutal gang rape of a nine month old baby. — Reuters photo

EARLIER STORIES

 
24 killed in Swiss plane crash
Birchwil (Switzerland), November 25
A Swiss airliner crashed on its approach to Zurich airport late yesterday after a flight from Berlin, killing at least 24 of the 33 persons aboard and injuring others. The police at the wintry crash scene near the town of Birchwil, a few kilometres from the runway, said nine persons had so far been found alive.
Firefighters examine the wreckage of a Crossair jet on November 25, 2001, that crashed into a forested area near Birchwil, outside Zurich, late on Saturday. — Reuters photo


Monkeys eat fruit from a platform-shaped cake during the monkey buffet festival at Lothburi, 85 km north of Bangkok, on Sunday. — Reuters photo

Settlement gives Nicole mansions, Cruise jets
Los Angeles, November 25
Box office idol Tom Cruise kept his fleet of planes and country retreat in his divorce settlement with ex-wife Nicole Kidman, who won mansions in California and Australia, People magazine said.

Gorbachev floats party
Moscow, November 25
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has launched a new social democratic party to pave a ‘third path’ for Russia’s “social and spiritual progress in the post-Communist era.”



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Rabbani not averse to Taliban ex-officials in interim govt
‘Hand over’ non-Afghan troops to UN
Michael Steen

Kabul, November 25
Ousted Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani held out an olive branch to his enemies on Sunday, saying individual former Taliban officials could join a future government for the ethnically split nation.

Northern Alliance soldiers on hilltops watch a convoy of defecting Taliban fighters cross the frontline near Amirabad village between Kunduz and Taloqan on Saturday. — AP photo

He also pledged that his troops would not kill non-Afghan Taliban troops who surrendered in Kunduz, the last northern city outside Northern Alliance control, and elsewhere.

Rabbani was speaking ahead of U.N.-sponsored talks in Bonn scheduled Tuesday, where representatives of four loose Afghan groups will seek to lay out a roadmap for a broadbased post-Taliban government.

“I should emphasise that as an organisation or party the Taliban will not be included,” said Rabbani, who nominally heads the Northern Alliance, which has driven the Taliban out of most of the northern Afghanistan with the help of seven weeks of heavy U.S. bombing.

“But as individuals they will not be held guilty. Those that don’t have very obvious guilt and are elected by a Loya Jirga are acceptable,” he told a news conference.

The Northern Alliance has said it backs the idea of a traditional Loya Jirga, or grand assembly of tribal chiefs and elders, to agree a broad-based government to replace the Taliban.

Rabbani said Mullah Khaksar, a former Taliban Deputy Interior Minister, was a good example of his Tajik and Uzbek-dominated alliance’s readiness to work with others, including ex-Taliban officials whose powerbase is the Pashtun south of the country.

Khaksar made his first public appearance on Saturday since defecting to the alliance when Kabul fell on November 13.

Pakistan in particular has pressed for “moderate Taliban” to be given a role in a future government.

Suspicious of the intentions of the Alliance’s backers — Iran, Russia and arch-foe India — Islamabad is also concerned that the Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group, will not be adequately represented at the U.N. talks.

Rabbani dismissed as “propaganda” claims that Northern Alliance troops indiscriminately killed Arabs, Chechens, Pakistanis and other non-Afghans fighting for the Taliban.

“These foreigners who ask for pardon from us, we will hand over to the United Nations, they will know what to do,” he said. “(But) if they are killed in fighting, that is their destiny.”

Concern over Northern Alliance treatment of foreign Taliban was raised after the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said last week it had found up to 600 bodies in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Rabbani said he had ordered his troops besieging Kunduz, defended by thousands of Taliban and foreign fighters, to observe international law when taking prisoners.

“Yesterday 500 people surrendered to our forces (near Kunduz),” he said. “Some of them were Chechens who had hand grenades, which they exploded and in doing so killed General Nadir Ali and injured commander Assad.”

“Still, I emphasised to (Northern Alliance) General Dostum, don’t harm them, they must be saved,” he said.

Rabbani did not say who would be representing the Northern Alliance, (United Front) at Bonn, but made a point of repeating that his delegation should be in the majority.

“Regarding the composition of the delegation, the conversations we had with Mr (Fransesc) Vendrell, the U.N. Deputy Representative on Afghanistan, agreed that 50 per cent plus one would be from the United Front, and 49 per cent would be from all other circles,” he said.

There should be 11 Northern Alliance representatives; four from the so-called Rome group, which supports exiled King Zahir Shah; three from the Peshawar group of Pashtuns living in Pakistan; and three from the Cyprus group, set up in the late 1990s by Iran to rival the king’s group.

“They will agree on a provisional shura (council) which will talk about forming a provisional administration,” he said.

The next step would be to convene an emergency Loya Jirga and seek its endorsement. “Once the provisional shura has been approved by the Loya Jirga, the Islamic state of Afghanistan will hand power over to that administration,” Rabbani said.

Captured foreigners who had fought for the Taliban could be handed over to the United Nations, Mr Rabbani suggested.

These foreigners who ask pardon from us, we will hand them over to the United Nations. They will know what to do, Mr Rabbani said. He said fears the Northern Alliance would massacre so-called “Arab Afghan” loyal to fugitive Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network were baseless. Reuters
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24 killed in Swiss plane crash

Birchwil (Switzerland), November 25
A Swiss airliner crashed on its approach to Zurich airport late yesterday after a flight from Berlin, killing at least 24 of the 33 persons aboard and injuring others.

The police at the wintry crash scene near the town of Birchwil, a few kilometres from the runway, said nine persons had so far been found alive.

U.S. pop singer Melanie Thornton, on tour to publicise her solo album “Ready to Fly”, died on Saturday night in the plane crash, police said.

“It is true that Miss Thornton was on the passenger list. She is not among the survivors, “Zurich police spokesman Karl Steiner told newsmen.

“At least 10 bodies had been recovered,” police spokesman Hans Baltensberger said.

“We’re still assuming there are other injured persons walking around the woods. At first daylight, we’re going in with the army to search for them,” he added. There was no immediate word on the victims’ nationalities.

Dozens of emergency workers with searchlights and dogs were combing the woods for possible survivors in the early hours of today.

The four-engined jet, operated by Crossair, was on an instrument landing approach when it crashed just minutes before reaching Zurich airport.

Crossair said the plane had been in service since 1996 and logged more than 13,000 flight hours. Reuters
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Laden’s ‘varsity of terror’ uncovered
Jason Burke

Khost, November 25
Abu Said al-Kurdi is gone. So are his students. And so are their guns and their bombs and their chemical warfare kits. All that remains of the training camp that was Abu Said’s home for the past five years are four blocks of drab grey bungalows, an empty library and, in a corner where a bank of computers once stood, a small stack of documents.

They are all that reveals this rambling compound in the outskirts of the dusty eastern Afghan city of Khost as perhaps the most significant terrorist training centre in the world.

The stack of papers includes letters addressed to “Khaldan camp” — known to law enforcement agencies worldwide as Osama bin Laden’s “university of terror”. Not only do the letters give an amazing insight into the lives and minds of the men who lived and trained in the Khaldan camp, but they also reveal startling new evidence about a string of terrorist atrocities that law enforcement officials have been trying for years to pin on the Saudi-born terrorist mastermind.

They reveal the extent of his international network, link him directly to the bombing of the American embassies in East Africa three years ago and to the murderous kidnapping in the Yemen in 1999, and prove that his men were interested in developing chemical weapons.

The Khaldan camp is where, according to their own confessions, the men who bombed the East African embassies were handpicked by Bin Laden’s lieutenants. At least two of the September 11 hijackers, possibly including Mohamed Atta, the group’s leader, are also believed by the FBI to have been trained there and in further camps around Khost.

This is the dark heart of Bin Laden’s terrorist network. For half a decade no Westerner has been to Khost, let alone to the Al-Qaida camps, safe houses, mosques, residence halls and workshops that litter the city and the surrounding areas.

Though the Taliban retained a governor and the semblance of an administration, Khost effectively fell under the control of Bin Laden and his group. Bin Laden has a house in the city from where he has issued statements and given interviews.

Hundreds of recruits in the Al-Qaida were living in Khost, many with their families, at any one time. It has long been considered the base of the Arab “international brigade” operating in Afghanistan.

But when Kabul fell to the opposition 12 days ago Khost became impossible to defend. The Taliban pulled back to their southern stronghold of Kandahar. Many of the Al-Qaida fighters fled across the border to Pakistan, two hours’ drive away, allowing a local warlord, Bacha Khan Zardan, to take control. To prove his hold on the city and to demonstrate that he had expelled the Arabs, he agreed last week to take The Observer to the town. The journey took two days.

The most obvious evidence of the Al-Qaida’s interest were English-language manuals left in a bundle in the former library. Many of the hundreds of pages of photocopied pages appear to have come from the infamous “terrorist’s cookbook” circulated by far-right extremists in the USA.

One 41-page document entitled “Assorted Nasties” is a guide to chemical weapons. It describes itself as covering `a myriad of lethal materials, ranging from those which may be cooked up (literally) in the kitchen, to those requiring a sophisticated lab set-up. Most are not beyond the range of anyone familiar with proper laboratory technique”.

Other manuals cover favoured bomb designs of Middle Eastern terrorists, car bombs and explosives manufacture. Several books in Arabic give details of similar topics. Most interesting are the personal

letters found at the site. Several mention Bin Laden by name. OBSERVER NEWS SERVICE
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Omar flees to Pak?

Quetta (Pakistan), November 25
The leaders of Arab and other foreign fighters defending Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in his southern Afghan stronghold of Kandahar may have fled to Pakistan, a former warlord said.

Muhammad Akbar Khan Khakrazi, who went into exile in Pakistan three years ago but still visits Kandahar often, said on Sunday he saw Mullah Omar driving through the city around nine days ago but had heard the Taliban chief was now trying to leave.

Khakrazi said the flight of the commanders of the Taliban’s foreign forces — the Al Qaida network tied to Osama bin Laden — had been a tactical decision to spare their lives for future battles.

“The commanders of these foreign elements there have fled. They came here to Pakistan,” Khakrazi said in the southwestern city of Quetta.

“They did that for future planning, so that they can retake Afghanistan again,” he said, adding that up to 5,000 foreign fighters and 12,000 loyal Afghan troops were still defending Kandahar.

Khakrazi estimated that the number of Arab, Chechen, Pakistani and other foreign radicals linked to bin Laden, Washington’s chief suspect behind the September 11 attacks, amounted to 4,000 to 5,000 in Kandahar. Reuters
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Taliban office in Karachi sealed

Karachi, November 25
The police has sealed an office of the Taliban in Karachi in an overnight raid and arrested 15 Afghans, the police said today.

There were no details about the charges, but a police official said Pakistan’s intelligence service ordered the arrests.

“We have sealed the office and deployed guards,” said Inspector Hasan Haider. “All their documents and literature have also been seized.” The detainees were blindfolded and shoved into vehicles. AP
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Settlement gives Nicole mansions, Cruise jets

Los Angeles, November 25
Box office idol Tom Cruise kept his fleet of planes and country retreat in his divorce settlement with ex-wife Nicole Kidman, who won mansions in California and Australia, People magazine said.

Details of the couple’s secret divorce settlement, which was finalised on November 12, appeared in this week’s edition of the celebrity weekly, which reported the pact was sealed with a warm embrace instead of angry words.

“Everyone was pleased and happy, maybe even a little warm and fuzzy,” Kidman’s lawyer Sorrell Trope told the magazine in an exclusive interview.

The superstar couple, whose joint fortune is estimated at $ 350 million, were divorced three months ago after their 10-year marriage fell apart in February in a public storm of acrimony. But the last hurdle in ending their celebrated union went off amicably on a rainy evening in Los Angeles, producing an agreement both stars are reportedly happy with.

Under the settlement, qualified pilot cruise retains control of his three aircraft, a $ 28-million Gulfstream IV jet, a $ 1.2-million Beech F90 and a $ 100,000 Pitts S-2b training plane.

He also gets custody of the couple’s 10,000 sqft country home in Colorado, which comes with stunning mountain views and 280 acres of land and a tennis court.

Australian-born actress Kidman won control of the family’s two main homes in Los Angeles suburb and Sydney. AFP
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Gorbachev floats party

Moscow, November 25
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has launched a new social democratic party to pave a ‘third path’ for Russia’s “social and spiritual progress in the post-Communist era.”

At a congress in Moscow, 18 smaller social democratic parties and groups merged under Mr Gorbachev’s leadership to form the United Social Democratic Party of Russia (SDPR).

The Liberal Governor of Russia’s third richest region Samara, Mr Konstantin Titov, has been elected Chairman of the European-style SDPR.

Claiming a membership of above 30,000, Mr Gorbachev said his party would contest the forthcoming local and regional elections.

Rejecting the totalitarian as well as extreme rightist paths, Mr Gorbachev said his party “stands for social partnership and historical compromise between labour and capital, society and state, individual and society.”

He declared selective support to President Vladimir Putin’s policies. PTI
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