Wednesday, October 3, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Move for Afghan elders’ meeting gains momentum
Uzbek airspace opened to US forces; limited action likely

Khoja Bahawuddin (Afghanistan), October 2
The Northern Alliance, battling to oust Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban, said today a grand council, or Loya Jirga, called by the former king should meet as soon as possible.


Abdul Sattar Sirat, senior adviser to former king Zahir Shah, and Mohammed Younus Quanooni, head of a delegation of the Northern Alliance commanders, and press conference coordinator Amin Arsalat, listen to questions during a press conference in Rome on Monday. The Northern Alliance and the former king agreed to convene a meeting of tribal elders to select a new head of state. 
— AP photo


The UNHCR in Pakistan has said that the 30,000 estimated Afghans who had massed on the border crossing in Chaman last week are believed to have made their way back to Afghanistan.
(28k, 56k)

UN calls for concerted action
United Nations, October 2

The United Nations today called for a concerted action to fight terrorism even as differences cropped up between member states on its definition while India’s call for a global convention on the subject drew a favourable response from European states.

Laden called mother before attacks
New York, October 2

Osama bin Laden telephoned his mother in Syria the day before the September 11 terrorist attacks to tell her that he could not meet her there because ‘‘something big’’ was imminent that would end their communications for a long time, The New York Times reported today.


Afghan suspects accused of hijacking
Afghan suspects accused of hijacking an airliner and forcing it to land at London's Stansted Airport in February 2000, arrive at London's Central Criminal Court for the start of their retrial on Monday. The retrial was ordered after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on all of the suspects. 
— Reuters

 

EARLIER STORIES

Pressure mounts on Pak to replace Taliban govt
October 2
, 2001
Focus shifts to hijackers’ European links
October 1
, 2001
Taliban not averse to talks with USA
September 30
, 2001
UN chief for $ 584 m to feed, shelter Afghan refugees
September 29
, 2001
Liberate Kabul from Taliban yoke: ex-king
September 28
, 2001
7.5 m Afghan refugees will suffer from hunger, cold: UN
September 27
, 2001
Attack plan bid to install pro-US govt: Omar
September 26
, 2001
Kazakh support for US action
September 25
, 2001
Bin Laden’s men leave Al-Qaida camps, disperse
September 24
, 2001
London a haven for international terrorists
September 23
, 2001
FRG arrest warrants for two Arabs
September 22
, 2001
 

30 bodies found from WTC rubble
New York, October 2

The bodies of 30 persons have been recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center since yesterday, New York City officials said today.

Mohammad Atta$ 100,000 sent to Atta from Pak?
Islamabad, October 2
Pakistan’s involvement in the September 11 terrorist strikes in the USA has surfaced after an American television network claimed that Egyptian hijacker Mohammad Atta received $ 100,000 through a wire in the past year from the country. The news, quoting CNN sources, said today.

Pak firm copies Russian arms
Moscow, October 2

A Pakistani defence firm has been caught blatantly duplicating Russian arms at an international exhibition in Turkey, according to reports here. Representatives of state-owned Bazalt found ammunition being displayed by the Pakistan Defence Factories was quite similar to their own product, Russian news agency Ria-Novosti reported.

A girl rides on a cart with food
A girl rides on a cart with food supplies from the World Food Programme and USAID in Kabul on Tuesday. — AP

Saudi, Irish aid for refugees
Riyadh, October 2
Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd has pledged $10 million humanitarian aid to help Afghan refugees in the event of a US military strike on Afghanistan, SPA agency reported. The Saudi assistance, mainly in terms of food, medicines and clothes, was aimed at “easing the suffering of the Afghan people and helping the Afghan refugees”, the SPA said yesterday. 

Pro-Taliban march a big draw
Quetta (Pakistan), October 2

Thousands of supporters of Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers marched through the streets of the Pakistan border city of Quetta today denouncing US President George W. Bush as a “terrorist” and Pakistan’s military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf, as a traitor.
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Move for Afghan elders’ meeting gains momentum
Uzbek airspace opened to US forces; limited action likely

Khoja Bahawuddin (Afghanistan), October 2
The Northern Alliance, battling to oust Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban, said today a grand council, or Loya Jirga, called by the former king should meet as soon as possible.

The Northern Alliance, which holds the Afghan seat at the United Nations even though it controls only a small part of the country, said the council should be convened with or without the fall of the Taliban.

The Loya Jirga, a gathering of tribal elders that has met from time to time throughout Afghan history to decide on matters affecting the nation, would consist of 120 people, said Northern Alliance Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

Half would come from the Northern Alliance and half from other Afghan groups, including those living abroad, Abdullah told a news conference in this town near the frontline in northern Afghanistan.

“It should meet in Afghanistan as soon as possible,’’ he said.

“Those people from within Afghanistan, we can bring them together in a matter of days,’’ he said.

Ex-king Mohammad Zahir Shah struck a deal yesterday in Rome with the Northern Alliance designed to oust the Taliban and establish a moderate government in Kabul. However, the king himself is seen more as a unifying force than a pivotal player.

Echoing those who do not want a return of the monarchy, Abdullah said of the king’s expected role: “He will use his influence and introduce people who are influential to the council.’’

Under the terms of the ground-breaking accord, drawn up in a bid to end more than two decades of war, the Northern Alliance and the ex-king said they had established a Supreme Council for National Unity.

They would shortly convene a traditional grand assembly or Loya Jirga, which would elect a new head of state and establish a transitional government ahead of free elections.

Supporters of 86-year-old former King Mohammad Zahir Shah, who has lived in Italy in exile since 1973, said the Taliban would not be barred from the assembly but made it clear they expected the hardline Afghan regime would soon be ousted.

Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf told the BBC yesterday the Taliban’s days appeared numbered because they would not hand over Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in last month’s devastating attacks in the USA.

Abdullah has hinted at contacts already taking place between the USA and his own forces, which have been struggling to make headway against the Taliban.

But he gave no concrete evidence of the timing of any attack on the Taliban. “Of course, it is not today, it is not tomorrow, but in days,’’ he said.

While America appears to be keeping its distance from the Northern Alliance, which is widely disliked for its internecine battles in the early 1990s that virtually destroyed Kabul, some form of cooperation might be possible, analysts say.

Reinforcing the impression that the USA would like to see the Taliban removed, a senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington would support a meeting of the Loya Jirga.

In the meantime, the Taliban today raced to prop up old alliances, woo new friends and retain their own men as they dug in behind Bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man.

Abdullah said desertions by Taliban troops were on the rise. Several hundred had switched sides on Sunday amid fighting in western Badghis province near Turkmenistan, and they had been followed by more desertions from the Taliban in Laghman, northeast of Kabul. The reports could not be independently verified.

Meanwhile, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov today gave the USA the green light to use the Central Asian republic’s airspace for reprisal strikes against neighbouring Afghanistan.

Speaking after a meeting of the former Soviet republic’s security council, Karimov said he backed Washington’s decision to “end the scourge of the 21st century,” a reference to international terrorism.

Karimov was an offer first made last week when he said that Uzbekistan wanted a security guarantee from the United Nations in return for helping to destroy suspected Afghan terrorist bases.

Uzbekistan’s neighbours, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have offered their airspace to the USA while Russia and Turkmenistan have said they would allow the use of their airspace for humanitarian missions .

Meanwhile, the USA was expected to launch “limited” military strikes on Afghanistan, diplomats in Islamabad said, after the ruling Taliban adamantly refused to hand over terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden to Washington.

With the militia demanding proof that bin Laden was involved in last month’s terror attacks in the U.S. and terrorist camps in Afghanistan quickly emptying, diplomats believe Washington may not go for any large-scale offensive.

“Until and unless we are provided with solid proof of his involvement in the U.S. attacks, we cannot extradite him,” Sohail Shaheen, deputy chief of Taliban mission here, told newsman.

Shaheen dismissed reports of Taliban defections to the opposition Northern Alliance.

Islamabad-based diplomats said the growing stalemate had raised the likelihood of “limited” military strikes, which one Western diplomat said could start in a few days.

Unconfirmed reports say nearly 300 commandoes have entered Afghanistan through Tajikistan. But Shaheen said: “If these reports are to be believed, they may be in Northern Alliance area, but none of them can enter our land.” Reuters, AFP, IANS
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Omar warns Zahir Shah

Islamabad, October 2
In a most direct and stinging attack on former King Zahir Shah, Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has warned of a long war against him if the Afghan Government was toppled in the event of an attack on Afghanistan.

The Dawn reported today quoting the Taliban supremo as saying that the militia would retreat to the mountains and wage a long war against Zahir Shah if the Taliban Government was toppled.

“The Taliban are an organised force. Theirs is not a government like that of Zahir Shah whose government was toppled and his forces surrendered before another authority. If the Taliban Government is toppled, they would retreat to the mountains. How will he rule then? How will he survive, don’t ruin yourself, don’t drown yourself,’’ the Taliban supreme leader was quoted as having said in a radio address to the nation.

Zahir Shah lives in self-exile in Rome since his government was toppled by his cousin, Sardar Muhammad Daud, in 1973. UNI 
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UN calls for concerted action

United Nations, October 2
The United Nations today called for a concerted action to fight terrorism even as differences cropped up between member states on its definition while India’s call for a global convention on the subject drew a favourable response from European states.

As the world body met to seek unanimity for a “concerted action” against terrorism, General Assembly President Han Seung-soo of South Korea said, it “transcended cultural and religious differences”.

India’s proposal asking for a global convention on terrorism drew support from French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte and his British counterpart Jeremy Greenstock who urged member states to accelerate work on it.

In his opening address, Mr Annan told the delegates that the governments had a “clear agenda before them”, and as a first step, they should sign and ratify the legal instruments.

He made a special reference to the convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings, and the 1999 convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism, which needs another 18 ratifications before it comes into force.

New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, specially invited to address the week-long meeting, said the UN should hold any country accountable if it supported or condoned terrorism and ostracised it.

“Otherwise you will fail in your primary mission of peacekeeper,” he told a packed General Assembly.

Despite the facade of unity presented in the 189-member Assembly, the negotiators on the comprehensive convention against terrorism were, however, facing a difficult time, especially on the definition of terrorism and how to differentiate it from liberation movements.

DAMASCUS: German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer opened talks with Syrian leaders on Tuesday on joint efforts to combat terrorism following last month’s suicide attacks on the USA, officials and diplomats said.

They said that Fischer and Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara also discussed issues related to latest developments in the region and the stalled Arab-Israeli peace process. PTI, Reuters
Top

 

5 US navy ships head for Gulf

US navy amphibious assault ship, ‘‘Essex’’
US navy amphibious assault ship, ‘‘Essex,’’ departs from Sasebo port as the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force destroyer, ‘‘Tone,’’ keeps guard in southwestern Japan on Tuesday.  — Reuters photo

Tokyo, October 2
Five US navy warships left a port in Japan today, a day after the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk left its base near Tokyo to support the US military response to last month’s attacks on New York and Washington. 

Kyodo, citing Sasebo base sources, said the ships would head for their destination after picking up marines in Okinawa. 

Heavy US bombers, warships and elite special forces have already moved to the Gulf, and Central Asia near Afghanistan. Reuters

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Laden called mother before attacks

New York, October 2
Osama bin Laden telephoned his mother in Syria the day before the September 11 terrorist attacks to tell her that he could not meet her there because ‘‘something big’’ was imminent that would end their communications for a long time, The New York Times reported today.

The paper quoted a senior foreign official, speaking on condition of not being named, as saying that the account was obtained through interrogation of Bin Laden’s extended family in Saudi Arabia.

If accurate, the account would represent the clearest evidence to date tying Bin Laden to the attacks.

But senior American law enforcement officials told The Times they knew nothing of the conversation, although they acknowledged some information was so tightly held in the Bush Administration that only a handful of people at the White House, FBI and the CIA might be aware of it.

The foreign official said the telephone call did not come to light until after September 11 and was uncovered only as investigators for a foreign intelligence agency searched for evidence relevant to the attacks.

Details of the conversation were first reported by NBC News.

Bin Laden’s mother, a member of the Alawite sect in Syria, took the phone call from her son while she was vacationing in Damascus, the capital, where she has met with him in the past, the official said.

After she returned home to Saudi Arabia on September 12 and learnt of the terrorist attacks in the USA she and members of her travelling party were interrogated by the police. DPA 
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30 bodies found from WTC rubble

New York, October 2
The bodies of 30 persons have been recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center since yesterday, New York City officials said today.

This brings to 344 the number of confirmed fatalities in the September 11 attacks when two hijacked aircraft crashed into the twin towers. A total of 289 bodies have been identified.

The number of missing and presumed dead is 5,219, a figure which has been adjusted several times.

Among the bodies recovered since yesterday are 16 firemen, media reports said. Altogether, 343 New York firemen died trying to help people out of the burning buildings. DPATop

 

$ 100,000 sent to Atta from Pak?

Islamabad, October 2
Pakistan’s involvement in the September 11 terrorist strikes in the USA has surfaced after an American television network claimed that Egyptian hijacker Mohammad Atta received $ 100,000 through a wire in the past year from the country.

The news, quoting CNN sources, said today.

The TV channel claimed that the wire transfers from Pakistan were sent to Atta through two banks in Florida.

Atta allegedly would then obtain money orders - a few thousand dollars at a time - to distribute among others involved in the plot in the months before the hijackings.

The newspaper said Atta lived in Florida much of that time. He took flight training on the west coast of Florida in the summer of 2000, and then rented a series of apartments in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area this year.

CNN, quoting sources in West Asia, had said that Atta and two other men wired more than $ 15,000 back to the United Arab Emirates just before the attacks - what may have been leftover cash from the terrorism funds.

The money went to a man who flew out of Dubai for Karachi, Pakistan, on September 11 - the day of the attacks, The News said quoting CNN.

Atta sent $ 5,000, according to the sources. His Florida roommate, Marwan al-Shehhi, wired $ 5,400. A third man, Waleed Alshehri, sent slightly more than $ 5,200. The FBI has listed all three as being aboard the two planes hijacked in Boston and flown into the World Trade Centre. Atta and al-Shehhi are thought to have been the pilots on those two jetliners.

The newspaper, quoting officials in the UAE, have identified the recipient of those wire transfers as Mustapha Ahmad al-Hawsawi. Investigations were on to find whether he may have any ties to the Al-Qaida.

The News said the transfers took place september 8 and 9 - only a couple of days before the hijackings. Quoting CNN, it said Atta and one unidentified accomplice visited a Florida store several times between mid-July and mid-August and purchased money orders on at least two occasions. UNI
Top

 

Pak firm copies Russian arms

Moscow, October 2
A Pakistani defence firm has been caught blatantly duplicating Russian arms at an international exhibition in Turkey, according to reports here.

Representatives of state-owned Bazalt found ammunition being displayed by the Pakistan Defence Factories was quite similar to their own product, Russian news agency Ria-Novosti reported.

Bazalt Director-General Vladimir Korenkov then sent specialists to examine the ammunition in question. These experts said there was absolutely no difference between Bazalt products and those of the Pakistani firm.

When confronted, Mr Havar Nawaj, Export Manager of the Pakistani firm, admitted to duplication and immediately removed the products from the exhibition.

The Russian company has registered a copyrights violation case against the Pakistani firm. Nawaj agreed to legal proceedings and pay compensation for illegal trading in Russian arms, the agency reported.

While this is the first time Pakistan has been caught for clandestine arms manufacturing and trading, the Russian media has often accused Islamabad of illegal arms production with China’s connivance. IANS
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Saudi, Irish aid for refugees

Riyadh, October 2
Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd has pledged $10 million humanitarian aid to help Afghan refugees in the event of a US military strike on Afghanistan, SPA agency reported.

The Saudi assistance, mainly in terms of food, medicines and clothes, was aimed at “easing the suffering of the Afghan people and helping the Afghan refugees”, the SPA said yesterday. The money would go to help some 7.5 million Afghans whose situation has worsened since the September 11 attacks

DUBLIN: Ireland is giving further humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, making this year’s assistance package the country’s biggest ever for a single emergency, the government has announced.

The new grant, worth 2.8 million punts ($ 3.2 million) will bring the total to 4 million punts ($ 4.66 million). AFP, DPA
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Pro-Taliban march a big draw

Quetta (Pakistan), October 2
Thousands of supporters of Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers marched through the streets of the Pakistan border city of Quetta today denouncing US President George W. Bush as a “terrorist” and Pakistan’s military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf, as a traitor.

In a carefully stage-managed piece of political theatre scores of foreign journalists confined to their hotel by the armed police, watched through wrought-iron gates as the chanting crowds of Afghans and Pakistanis passed by beating an effigy of Mr Bush with sticks, waving portraits of Osama bin Laden and screaming “Death to America”.

The rally started as a welcome for Fazlur Rehman, head of Pakistan’s radical Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI). The white silk turbans of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban were much in evidence. So-called “jihadis” — young Pakistani radicals, many of them students at Pakistan Islamic schools or madrassas who often volunteer to fight in disputed Kashmir or Afghanistan — waved green-and-white flags and called for a holy war against the USA. Reuters
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