Friday, September 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

NATO draws plan on Bin Laden

Brussels, September 13
The 19 NATO allies, in a powerful message of solidarity with the United States of America today agreed to invoke the collective defence clause of the North Atlantic Treaty, if Washington determined that yesterday’s terrorist attacks were masterminded from abroad.

BEIJING: NATO should consult countries outside Europe before launching action following the terrorist attacks in the United States of America, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya said today maintaining anything done beyond Europe “will have implications” elsewhere.

“Any action taken will have its implications for other regions, so it’s better that consultation be conducted,” said Wang, answering questions at a press conference in Beijing on a separate issue.

“NATO is a regional military organisation within Europe, so if action is taken beyond Europe, it will have implications. So that’s why I think consultation is needed.”

In a powerful message of solidarity with the USA yeseterday, the 19 NATO members agreed the alliance would support any US response to the attacks under the terms of Article five of the Washington Treaty.

This states that an armed attack against any ally in Europe or North America should be considered an attack against them all.

LONDON: NATO is drawing up an emergency plan for a possible massive attack on Afghanistan if evidence emerges that Osama bin Laden and his network were responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington, Britain’s Guardian newspaper said in its edition today.

The newspaper said Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban would come under intense pressure from Washington to hand over Bin Laden, the Saudi-born dissident now living there, “or face the consequences”.

Quoting NATO defence sources, the Guardian said that under contingency plans being prepared, an assault would involve tens of thousands of ground troops.

Such a taskforce, which could take weeks to assemble, would not preclude an initial US cruise missile attack, it quoted the sources as saying.

Any multinational offensive would require the active support of Russia, but the NATO countries appeared confident of securing it, the paper said.

British forces would almost certainly be involved in such an attack, it said.

NATO yesterday invoked its mutual defence clause for the first time in its 52-year history, opening the way for a possible collective military response.

Senior US officials have said initial evidence points to the organisation of Osama bin Laden, who is blamed for bombing two US Embassies in East Africa and other anti-American attacks.

The Guardian said intelligence sources ranging from the CIA to Britain’s MI6, the French, Germans, Russians and Israelis were unanimous “in pointing the finger of suspicion at supporters of Osama bin Laden’’, though they stressed that they did not have proof.

In Kabul, Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban said it was premature to talk about extraditing Bin Laden until evidence was presented.

The Urdu-language Khabrain daily in Pakistan said Bin Laden had told the newspaper through “sources close to the Taliban’’ that he was not involved in the attacks on New York and Washington. AFP, Reuters


Bin Laden’s network being probed in Britain
Sanjay Suri

Recruits of Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden
Recruits of Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden are seen training in this frame from an undated training video at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. Stalls in Pakistan have been selling VCDs issued by Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda which show Muslim youths being trained to fight.

Recruits of Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden wave their guns and display Korans.
Recruits of Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden wave their guns and display Korans in this frame from an undated training video at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. — Reuters photos

London, September 13
Britain is becoming a focal point for investigations into Saudi renegade Osama bin Laden’s global network of terrorist activities, according to well-placed sources in London.

The investigations involve Indian intelligence officials tracking British youths allegedly being trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan to carry out terrorist attacks in Kashmir.

Intelligence sharing has been stepped up in recent months following reports that Bin Laden’s group Al-Qaeda has been recruiting youths actively in London. Bin Laden’s hand is being seen behind the terrorist attacks in the USA on Tuesday.

Al-Qaeda was among the groups banned by the British Government earlier this year. That ban followed information that London was being used by the group as a centre for raising and managing funds for global terrorist operations.

London newspapers have been used by Bin Laden’s group to pass messages. An Arabic newspaper in London was given a note by Al-Qaeda prior to the attacks on US embassies in 1998.

Al-Qaeda has been recruiting British youths through several other terrorist organisations. A spokesman for such a group, Al-Madad, said it had been recruiting Muslim youths “in thousands every year” to be sent to training camps in militancy.

“We fully support Osama bin Laden.” “We have facilitated movement of youths who want to work for him.”

An associate of Bin Laden, Khalid al Fawwaz, was arrested in Britain over the embassy bombings in Africa. He is due to be extradited to the USA for trial. Al Qaeda continues to operate in Britain through an underground network, officials suspect.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been tracking the London office of a group called the Advice and Reformation Committee with which Al Fawwaz was connected. This office was until recently at least the British arm of Al-Qaeda.

Fawwaz has appealed to the House of Lords against his extradition. His appeal is due to be heard next month.

The trial of four men in New York charged with the embassy bombings kept bringing up talk of Bin Laden’s network in London.

According to reports here, the court in New York was given evidence that dozens of telephone calls were made to Bin Laden operatives from addresses in London. A terrorist handbook, Military Studies in the Holy War Against Tyrants, was found in a house in Manchester. IANS

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