Monday, October 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D
U.S. President George W. Bush listens to the playing of the national anthem at an event to honor the nation's fallen firefighters, on Sunday in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
U.S. President George W. Bush listens to the playing of the national anthem at an event to honor the nation's fallen firefighters, on Sunday in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Bush honored the 101 firefighters who died in the line of duty last year and noted the courage and valour of the more than 300 New York City rescuers who died at the World Trade Center.
— Reuters

Mujahideen seek time to topple Taliban
Pak not averse to ex-king’s role
Peshawar (Pakistan), October 7
Mujahideen, or holy warriors, who helped drive the Soviet army from Afghanistan said today the USA should hold off attacking the country to give them time to push out the ruling Taliban.


Oppn claims defection of 400 Taliban troops
Islamabad, October 7
Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban Northern Alliance has claimed that 400 Taliban fighters defected to its ranks as its forces closed in on two cities in northern and central provinces, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) news service reported today.


Volunteers enlist for the Northern Alliance Volunteers enlist for the Northern Alliance on a frontline position near Hig Khinnu town in the north of Afghanistan on Saturday. US President Bush warned the Taliban on Saturday that time was running out for them to turn over Bin Laden or face the consequences of harbouring the world's most wanted man.
— Reuters photo


At least four persons have been shot dead and nine injured at a mosque in Pakistan.
(28k, 56k)


EARLIER STORIES
 

Two demonstrators hug each other during five minutes of silence in memory of the September 11 attacks in the United States, in front of a building marked "WTC," for Brussels World Trade Center, at the start of a peace march in central Brussels on Sunday. The protestors were demonstrating against violence as a response to the US attacks.

An Israeli tank which entered a Palestinian-ruled area
An Israeli tank which entered a Palestinian-ruled area of the West Bank city of Hebron, takes up a position in the Wadi Al-Hareyieh neighborhood in the West Bank city of Hebron  on Sunday. Israeli troops remained in position in Palestinian-ruled areas of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Hebron, raids condemned by Palestinians as a violation of the ceasefire deal.


An Afghan worker lifts a bag of wheat
An Afghan worker lifts a bag of wheat donated by Canada in Peshawar on Sunday. The USA would give $320 million in urgent humanitarian aid to ease a growing refugee problem in Afghanistan triggered by threatened US military action.
— Reuters photos

Saudi man emerges as key link
London, October 7
A Saudi man is emerging as a key link connecting international terrorist Osama bin Laden to the Pentagon attack and the bombings of the USS Cole and the two US embassies in Africa, intelligence officials say.

Atta, others ‘visited’ Bin Laden camps
Washington, October 7
The CIA has uncovered travel and financial documents that prove several of the suspected hijackers in the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA had visited camps of Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan, Time magazine reported on its website.

UK scribe to be released today
Islamabad/Kabul, October 7
Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban said they would release journalist Yvonne Ridley tomorrow, freeing her f rom a week’s captivity. The reporter for London’s Sunday Express was arrested in eastern Afghanistan last week for entering the country illegally.

UN fails to define terrorism
United Nations, October 7
Differences among member states over definition of terrorism prevented the UN General Assembly from adopting a resolution at the end of a five-day debate on it, even as the Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan empahasised the need for finalising an Indian-sponsored comprehensive convention to combat the menace globally.

2 Indians quizzed for WTC attacks
Washington, October 7
Two Indians, detained in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the USA, are being thoroughly investigated for sending $ 64,000 to their families in India two years ago despite holding low paying jobs.

Even ashes from WTC debris being sold
New York, October 7
Profiteers exploiting the World Trade Center atrocity were condemned this weekend as ‘sleazy hawkers’. They are making a fast buck by peddling ‘souvenirs’ from the wreckage and even selling ashes from the site to families of the dead.

Rescue operations end; 4979 still missing
New York, October 7
Almost 25 days after terrorists struck the World Trade Center, the federal authorities have officially ended the rescue operations with 4,979 persons still missing in the wreckage of the twin towers.

2 foreigners die in Saudi blast
Khobar (Saudi Arabia), October 7
Two foreigners were killed and four wounded when a bomb exploded in a busy street in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Khobar, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Asylum seekers jump into sea
Sydney, October 7
A number of people, including children, have jumped overboard as a standoff at sea between an Australian warship and up to 300 asylum-seekers escalated today.

Bamiyan Buddha being resurrected
Hong Kong October 7
A Chinese entrepreneur has begun a giant project in the heartland of Chinese Buddhism to resurrect one of the Bamiyan Buddhas, recently destroyed by Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders despite a worldwide outcry.

Maoists release 34 Nepal cops
Kathmandu, October 7
Maoist insurgents in Nepal have released 34 police officers they had held since the spring and summer, Nepalese newspapers reported.

 


An Afghan family sits in a roofless mud house in a refugee camp in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border city of Chaman, 130 km north-west of the Baluchistan's provincial capital of Quetta on Sunday. — Reuters


Mr Vyacheslav Filyov Director of Sibir Airlines, points at a hole in a fragment of the Tupolev-154 plane that crashed on Thursday en route from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk, Russia. Officials in Sochi displayed some of the debris from the crash, including a wheel, the mangled metal frames of seats, cushions, life vets and a metal fragment which had holes in it, supporting a Russian theory the plane had been targeted by terrorists. — AP


Afghan women refugee in "Burqa" beg at an Afghan market in Peshawar on Sunday. Thousands of Afghans have fled, mostly to Pakistan, for fear of possible retaliatory strikes by the United States and its allies. — Reuters

 

 

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Mujahideen seek time to topple Taliban
Pak not averse to ex-king’s role

Sayed Ahmad GailaniPeshawar (Pakistan), October 7
Mujahideen, or holy warriors, who helped drive the Soviet army from Afghanistan said today the USA should hold off attacking the country to give them time to push out the ruling Taliban.

Washington should refrain from hitting the Taliban for refusing to hand over militant Osama bin Laden, key suspect in the Kamikaze strikes on New York and Washington, because it will harm the Afghan people and make it more difficult to remove the Taliban, Pir Sayed Ahmad Gailani said.

“Basically we are against any kind of war, or military action,” said Gailani, a prominent Mujahideen leader who fought the Russians. “They should refrain from making the people of Afghanistan the victims of this war.”

Gailani said efforts were being made for a consensus among Mujahideen groups on what steps to take against the Taliban — who seized power in 1996 from Mujahideen groups — as well as putting some framework in place for a post-Taliban Afghanistan.

“The people of Afghanistan, the nation of Afghanistan, the heroic Mujahideen, they should do the job,” Gailani told reporters when asked how the Taliban should be removed.

Gailani, also a religious leader, had popular support in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan during the war but did not receive military aid from Pakistan and the USA because he advocated the return of the former King Mohammed Zahir Shah, to whom Gailani is related by marriage.

Gailani now leads the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, a pro-royal group that he said wanted some role for the king and sought to end differences between Mujahideen groups who have fought each other in the past.

Gailani was meeting other Mujahideen groups on Sunday and said they were committed to creating a common front.

“The majority of the Mujahideen groups are sitting in this room, so we have learned from the past,” he said. “None of us should take advantage of this crisis to turn it to one’s own benefit.”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has said it was not averse to former Afghan monarch Zahir Shah playing a role to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan due to the Taliban’s refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden, Online news agency reported.

“We have no objections to him (Zahir Shah) playing a role for peace. We are interested in the settlement of the issue and end to terrorism,” said Riaz Ahmed Khan, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman.

He said: “We are ready to hold talks with Zahir Shah and his envoys. They have visited Pakistan in the past and would be welcomed to make a future trip.”

He said Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs Shukran Sina had met President Pervez Musharraf and thanked him for his support to the “war against terrorism”.

Khan said a US delegation would visit Pakistan shortly to discuss the situation ahead of possible US military strikes in Afghanistan.

He said there was sufficient evidence to try Saudi fugitive Bin Laden in a court for his alleged role in the September bombings in New York and Washington.

Khan said the refugee problem was worsening with nearly 800 Afghans entering Pakistan daily. “This is a thorny situation for us but the UN and the donor countries have promised assistance.” Reuters, IANS
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Oppn claims defection of 400 Taliban troops

Islamabad, October 7
Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban Northern Alliance has claimed that 400 Taliban fighters defected to its ranks as its forces closed in on two cities in northern and central provinces, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) news service reported today.

In central Ghor province, opposition troops were within 1.5 km of capital Chakhcharan, Alliance spokesman, Mohammad Habeel, told the Pakistan-based agency.

In a two-pronged advance in northern Samangan province, opposition fighters moved within 8 km from its capital of Aybak in the south, and 18 km in the east.

Habeel spoke to the AIP from the northern Takhar province where the Opposition’s chief warlord General Mohammad Fahim is based.

Several Taliban-held areas like Samangan, including the strategic Panjdara and Gordara villages, have fallen to the Opposition, Habeel told AIP.

Around 30 Taliban fighters were killed in the battles fought on Saturday and Sunday and 150 others were taken prisoners, 400 Taliban defected to the Opposition in Chakhcharan fighting, he said.

The AIP said no Taliban official was available to comment on the claims by the Opposition, which the USA is planning to install into power in Kabul, in wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Meanwhile, The UK has promised Pakistan it will grant political asylum to 100,000 Afghan refugees over the next few months to ease the pressure on Afghanistan’s neighbour, Online news agency reports.

“British Prime Minister Tony Blair has given an assurance in this regard during his brief stay in Islamabad. He has also promised to provide adequate fiscal assistance for the refugees” Online said on Saturday quoting a source in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“The British premier also promised to talk to other countries in the region to accept some of the hundreds of thousands of Afghans refugees who have crossed over into Pakistan,” said the source.

Pakistan is expected to receive around 1 million Afghan refugees in case of U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan.

Though Pakistan has closed its border with Afghanistan and stepped up vigil, still some 100,000 Afghan refugees have sneaked into the country through unguarded points. Some 6,000-7,000 refugees have already been sent back to Afghanistan.

Pakistan is already home to nearly 3 million Afghan refugees who crossed over in the wake of the USSR invasion of the war-torn country. DPA, IANS
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Saudi man emerges as key link

London, October 7
A Saudi man is emerging as a key link connecting international terrorist Osama bin Laden to the Pentagon attack and the bombings of the USS Cole and the two US embassies in Africa, intelligence officials say.

Khalid al-Mihdhar, who died in the Pentagon attack, may have played a role in planning the events of September 11 equal to or exceeding that of Mohamed Atta, named as the principal organiser, American and British intelligence officials were quoted as saying by the Sunday Observer newspaper today.

Al-Mihdhar has taken on a ‘more prominent’ role in the probe, senior US administration officials said yesterday, confirming theories developed by British intelligence.

He appears to have the strongest connection to Bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network, because he is the only one known to have ties to the group’s previous attacks against US targets.

Since late last year, the CIA had been aware of a man called Tawifiq bin Atash, known by his alias ‘Khallad’.

Khallad was born in Yemen and had fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, going on to become Bin Laden’s bodyguard and a lieutenant in the Al-Qaida structure: a man deemed too precious to die.

According to US intelligence and federal investigators on Bin Laden’s trail, ‘Khallad’ was the pivotal figure behind last year’s attack on the Cole. In January, 2000, he was captured on video in a hotel in Malaysia with a group of men known to be part of the Al-Qaida network. One was Fahad al-Quso, who was assigned to shoot a film of the suicide attack on the Cole.

Two others were Nawaf al-Hazami, travelling under surveillance by US intelligence, and Khalid al-Mihdhar. Both these names would resonate on September 11, as being among the 19 hijackers. When one investigator saw their names, he uttered an expletive. PTI
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Atta, others ‘visited’ Bin Laden camps

Washington, October 7
The CIA has uncovered travel and financial documents that prove several of the suspected hijackers in the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA had visited camps of Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan, Time magazine reported on its website.

Mohammed Atta, believed to be the ringleader of last month’s attack, and some of the other perpetrators also visited top Al-Qaeda leaders, including Bin Laden’s number two man, Egyptian Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the news weekly said yesterday, quoting intelligence sources.

It added that the Central Intelligence Agency denied it has such evidence. But among the evidence released on Thursday by Britain implicating Bin Laden in the September 11 attacks was news that some of the suicide hijackers had met with Al-Qaeda leaders.

Atta was believed to have flown the first plane that struck the World Trade Center last month. DPA
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UK scribe to be released today

Islamabad/Kabul, October 7
Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban said they would release journalist Yvonne Ridley tomorrow, freeing her f rom a week’s captivity. The reporter for London’s Sunday Express was arrested in eastern Afghanistan last week for entering the country illegally.

“She has been released,” Abdul Hanan Himat, head of the Taliban’s Bakhtar news agency, quoted Taliban Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal as saying in Kabul today. But Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban Ambassador in Islamabad, told reporters that Ridley was still in custody and added: “She will be handed over to the British High Commissioner tomorrow”, in a reference to Britain’s Ambassador to Pakistan.

A Pakistani official in the north-western city of Peshawar said the hand-over would take place at the Torkham border crossing point near the Khyber pass. Mr Zaeef said earlier he had invited a British diplomat to his house to discuss procedures for Ridley’s release tomorrow. Reuters
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UN fails to define terrorism

United Nations, October 7
Differences among member states over definition of terrorism prevented the UN General Assembly from adopting a resolution at the end of a five-day debate on it, even as the Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan empahasised the need for finalising an Indian-sponsored comprehensive convention to combat the menace globally.

Though the participants condemned the September 11 terror attacks in the USA, there were significant differences on the definition of terrorism and distinction between the scourge and the freedom struggle.

While India and most other members were of the view that terrorism was defined by the act and not by the classification of the perpetrators, several delegates, mostly from Arab and Muslim countries, felt that it was important to come up with a clear definition of terrorism. A few countries wanted an exemption for fighters of what they considered as freedom struggle.

Despite the failure of the Assembly to reach a consensus, Mr Annan, described the debate as “only a beginning” and stressed that the member states had a critical, and not merely symbolic, role to play in fighting terrorism.

“What is important is that the entire international community has come together to fight the scourge of terrorism,” he told reporters. PTI
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2 Indians quizzed for WTC attacks

Washington, October 7
Two Indians, detained in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the USA, are being thoroughly investigated for sending $ 64,000 to their families in India two years ago despite holding low paying jobs.

Ayub Ali Khan and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath had wired the money to relatives in Hyderabad in instalments from July to September, 1999,

The Washington Post has reported. What provoked police suspicion was that the two were carrying $ 5,000 in cash, hair dye and box cutters. The terrorists behind the attacks were also suspected to have used similar box cutters.

Indian intelligence is also probing possible links between radical Islamic groups and the Pakistani wife of Azmath, whom he had married in March and later visited Hyderabad in July.

The money was sent through official channels and banks. It was said to have been accumulated over a long period of time and sent to their families to construct a house. The two came to the USA in 1993 and had held low-paying jobs in and around New York City.

In addition, the authorities are looking into how the two men obtained Indian passports with false information. Khan’s real name is Gul Mohammed Shah. UNI
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Even ashes from WTC debris being sold
Ed Vulliamy and Ed Helmore

New York, October 7
Profiteers exploiting the World Trade Center atrocity were condemned this weekend as ‘sleazy hawkers’. They are making a fast buck by peddling ‘souvenirs’ from the wreckage and even selling ashes from the site to families of the dead.

Tourists are again flocking to Manhattan’s financial district, where a mere two blocks now separate the surreality of not-quite-normal life — with its lunch-hour rush and sandwich bars — from a mass grave for more than 6,000 persons.

Ready to greet them is the ghoulish ‘souvenir’ market. Sidewalk stalls that usually sell ‘I Love NY’ T-shirts and fake Rolex watches are festooned with American flags and patriotic regalia for the locals and metal models or framed photographs of the twin towers for tourists.

The flag business has enjoyed a boom without precedent. On Fifth and Sixth Avenues, cutting the length of Manhattan, are gauntlets of flag-sellers assailing vehicles at every stop light. America’s biggest flag-maker, Old Glory, Annin of New Jersey, has quadrupled its weekly production from 30,000 to 120,000. And it gets progressively sleazier. Hawkers are harvesting big bucks by printing up the most dramatic pictures of the disaster for sale.

The usual scam is to clip photographs from magazines and sell enlargements of them. Some feature the explosions after the planes ploughed into the towers. Others, more nightmarish, show trapped office workers at the windows, caught as they are forced to choose between two ways of dying — in the fire or jumping from the building.

Looting has been limited, but a luxury watch store beneath the ruins of the center was stripped of its designer and diamond-studded timepieces by rescue workers.

The most dramatic piece of alleged looting was by the New York Mob, the Cosa Nostra, which is accused of stealing 250 tons of valuable scrap metal from ground zero. The metal turned up at three scrapyards believed to have past mafia associations.

The profiteers’ nadir came when the office of Mayor Rudy Giuliani reported that some people mourning those missing under the rubble were being offered pieces of the building and dust from the wreckage as souvenirs of their loved ones. Mr Giuliani’s response was to promise ‘every single family’ soil from ground zero in a wooden urn.

As New York returns to ostensible normality — with shock and distress replaced by fear and annoyance at the extra inconveniences of Manhattan life — a stream of New Yorkers is leaving the city for good. Estate agents predict the exodus will match the ‘white flight’ of the early seventies when thousands moved away to escape urban decay and rising crime.

“The phone hasn’t stopped ringing,” says Bridgit Freed, an estate agent 60 miles away in the town of Cold Spring. “People really want to get out of there. They fear for their safety in the city.”

Jen Posner, a 27-year-old entertainment publicist, is among those leaving. “I love this city and New Yorkers are the strongest people in the world, but this was a big one and it’s time to get out.” The Observer, London
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Rescue operations end; 4979 still missing

New York, October 7
Almost 25 days after terrorists struck the World Trade Center, the federal authorities have officially ended the rescue operations with 4,979 persons still missing in the wreckage of the twin towers.

As many as 393 bodies have been recovered from the rubble though only 335 bodies have been identified.

The number of the missing was revised downward from around 6,000 after authorities eliminated duplicate names from the list.

About 250 Indians are still estimated to be missing.

The last federal rescue team left the disaster area, angering some of the relatives of the victims but officials said the hope of finding any more survivors was almost impossible.

Local authorities would continue the painstaking work of removing millions of tons of debris which could take around a year, officials said.

New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said the withdrawal of the federal team would not affect the operations that would be continued by the police and the fire rescue units. PTI
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2 foreigners die in Saudi blast

Khobar (Saudi Arabia), October 7
Two foreigners were killed and four wounded when a bomb exploded in a busy street in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Khobar, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

A U.S. Embassy official in Riyadh said one American was killed and one wounded in the blast yesterday. Neither was in the military.

Khobar was the scene of a truck bomb attack in 1996 that killed 19 U.S. servicemen.

“It appears that a pedestrian threw a package bomb into the shopping area...The motives are completely unknown,’’ the U.S. Embassy official said.

In Washington, U.S. officials said they saw no immediate link with last month’s attacks on New York and Washington for which Saudi-born Osama bin Laden is the prime suspect.

The Saudi Press Agency quoted a senior police officer as saying two persons had been killed and four wounded, all foreigners, in the blast that occurred at about 8 p.m. (1700 GMT) in front of a shop on King Khalid Street in Khobar.

A witness said as many as six persons might have been killed.

In London, a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said one Briton was slightly wounded in the blast.

The USA sought to discount the idea that the explosion was linked to the suicide-hijack assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed nearly 5,600.

“Based on first reports, we believe this is an isolated incident, not related to September 11 also”. But we are continuing to collect facts,’’ a U.S. Administration official said. Reuters
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Asylum seekers jump into sea

Sydney, October 7
A number of people, including children, have jumped overboard as a standoff at sea between an Australian warship and up to 300 asylum-seekers escalated today.

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said the navy had told him children on board the people-smuggling vessel were deliberately thrown off to compel the Australian navy to rescue them. He said their decision to abandon ship was taken “with the intention of putting us under duress”.

“A number of people have jumped overboard and have had to be rescued. More disturbingly, a number of children have been thrown overboard,” he said, adding that they were believed to be wearing lifejackets. AFP
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Bamiyan Buddha being resurrected

Hong Kong October 7
A Chinese entrepreneur has begun a giant project in the heartland of Chinese Buddhism to resurrect one of the Bamiyan Buddhas, recently destroyed by Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders despite a worldwide outcry.

China’s version of the Bamiyan Buddha is now under construction. The project is the brainchild of Chinese entrepreneur Liang Simian who began work a month after the Taliban regime blasted two towering sandstone Buddhas off the face of a cliff in the Afghan desert in March. ANI
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Maoists release 34 Nepal cops

Kathmandu, October 7
Maoist insurgents in Nepal have released 34 police officers they had held since the spring and summer, Nepalese newspapers reported.

The mass-circulation Nepali-language daily Kantipur said 26 policemen were released on Thursday in Radijiula village in Rukum district, about 425 km west of the capital. In another release at the same village on Friday, the Maoists freed eight officers captured in an attack on a police post at Holleri in the adjoining Rolpa district in July. DPA
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