Friday, October 12, 2001, Chandigarh, India



W O R L D

OIC: convene global meeting on terrorism
Need for dialogue between Islam, West

Doha, October 11
The Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), strongly denouncing last month’s terror attacks on the USA, today called on the UN to convene an international conference on terrorism.

Sharif’s bid to help USA led to fall?
Anniversary of Pak coup falls today
I
T is obvious that General Pervez Musharraf, the 58-year-old self-appointed President of Pakistan, is having great difficulty distancing himself from Afghanistan’s Taliban regime. And for good reason.

 

 

Pakistanis living close to the Afghan border are rallying to the call of jihad.
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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Muslim Cleric Shafiq Ur Rehman (L), who is accused of recruiting British Muslims for terrorist training and raising money to fund a holy war in Kashmir, sits with his solicitor Amjad Malik in Rochdale, northern England, after losing the latest round of a long-running extradition battle, on Thursday. — Reuters

Florida reports third case of anthrax
Miami, October 11
A third person has been exposed to the anthrax bacteria that killed a man in Florida, Guy Lewis, acting US attorney here, said yesterday. Authorities did not release the person’s name but said that investigators believe the contamination was limited to a building belonging to American Media Inc., employer of the man who died.

Foreign scribes attacked in Pak
Islamabad, October 11
A group of foreign journalists in Pakistan was today attacked by Muslim extremists, including refugees from Afghanistan, near the Afghan border, at the highway between Quetta and Chaman in Baluchistan province.

Condoleeza Rice has asked US network news chiefs to exercise editorial judgment in the screening of pre-recorded tapes by Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organistation.
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TV channels to black out Osama's messages
New York, October 11
Major US television networks agreed to ban live broadcasts of messages from suspected terrorist- mastermind Osama bin Laden following talks with the White House.

 
EARLIER STORIES
 
US President George W. Bush unveiled posters of 22 "most wanted terrorists," as he broadened a world-wide hunt beyond Osama bin Laden.
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Atef, Zawahiri among 22 most wanted
Washington, October 11
A new 22-man list of the USA’s “most wanted terrorists” highlights Iran’s alleged links to guerrilla groups more than any other nation’s apart from Afghanistan, US experts have said.

Sri Lankan opposition United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremasinghe
Sri Lankan opposition United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremasinghe. — Reuters
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga
. — Reuters

Alliance puts off final assault
Moscow, October 11
The Northern Alliance, sitting just 20 km from Kabul, has postponed final assault to capture the Afghan capital until an interim government in Afghanistan was formed.

Lanka oppn forms broad alliance
Colombo, October 11
Sri Lanka’s main Opposition parties today announced, just hours after the dissolution of Parliament, the formation of a broad alliance to contest upcoming parliamentary elections and campaign for a solution to the country’s prolonged Tamil minority ethnic conflict.

 

 

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OIC: convene global meeting on terrorism
Need for dialogue between Islam, West

Doha, October 11
The Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), strongly denouncing last month’s terror attacks on the USA, today called on the UN to convene an international conference on terrorism.

“These terrorist acts are against teachings of divinely-revealed religions and against moral and human values,” said a statement issued after the meeting of the OIC Foreign Ministers here.

“The conference strongly condemned the brutal terrorist attacks in New York and Washington which caused heavy human losses from various nationalities and huge destruction and damage to the two US cities,” the statement said.

The statement rejected alleged attempts to link Islam with terrorism saying: “These bids would not serve collective effort to fight terrorism and harm relations between nations.”

“A common effort is needed to enhance dialogue between Islam and the West to reach a better understanding through extending bridges of communication between the two civilisations,” it said.

Opening the meeting the Qatari Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim Al-Thani, had stressed the urgent need to set up a fund for assisting Afghans under the umbrella of the OIC and announced a donation of $10 million to this fund.

Among leaders attending the meeting were Palestine Authority President Yasser Arafat and Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar.

Sheikh Hamad, who is the chairman of 57-member OIC, called on the international community led by the US and Russia to bear their responsibilities and provide international safety to Palestinians in the face of the Israeli war machine.

He said the recent statement of US President George Bush about setting up a Palestinian state have been welcomed by the international community to settle the conflict in the region. He hoped the USA would put this stance into effect and ensure lasting and comprehensive peace for countries of the region.

The meeting also discussed critical issues facing the world since US-led military strikes on Afghanistan began on October 7, terror attacks and the continuing Israeli aggression on Palestinian territories.

The OIC statement said it would be ready to contribute effectively in any collective international effort under the UN to define various forms of terrorism “without double standard” and “to tackle its reasons and whip out its roots” in order to achieve international peace and security.

“An international conference under the auspices of the UN should be convened to design an action plan against terrorism taking into account the respect for sovereignty of UN member-states under the international law,” the OIC said.

It also rejected links between terrorism and the legitimate rights of Arab and Islamic peoples (Palestine and Lebanon) to self-determination and self-defence, and to fight against Israeli and foreign occupation and aggression.

It hoped concern over the aftermath of the September 11 attacks would not derail the international community from shouldering its responsibility in regards to state terrorism committed by Israel against Palestinians.

It warned Israel against exploiting the current events as an excuse to pursue its aggression against Palestinians.

The OIC also urged the UN Security Council, major peace sponsors — the US and Russia, and the European Union, to exert utmost effort to halt Israeli savage practices, provide international protection to Palestinians, and end Israeli occupation of Arab lands. Indo-Asian News Service

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Sharif’s bid to help USA led to fall?
Anniversary of Pak coup falls today
Dilip Hiro

IT is obvious that General Pervez Musharraf, the 58-year-old self-appointed President of Pakistan, is having great difficulty distancing himself from Afghanistan’s Taliban regime. And for good reason. After all, the Taliban is the seven-year-old creature of the Pakistani’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate.

And Musharraf owes his position to the October 12, 1999, coup against the elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — an overthrow precipitated by failed attempts to restrain an Afghan regime with deep ties to Pakistan.

As head of the commando Special Services Group, Musharraf played a leading role in training and arming Islamic militants for a “jehad” against India in Jammu and Kashmir — an activity that brought him in close contact with fundamentalist elements in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

After being promoted to army Chief of Staff in October 1998, Musharraf revived a discarded plan to occupy the Kargil heights in Kashmir when a group of Islamic subordinates presented the idea to him.

Implementing the Kargil plan sparked a 10-week fight between India and Pakistan-backed militants and Pakistani soldiers from May to July 1999, which claimed 15,000 lives before Sharif withdrew troops under pressure from US President Bill Clinton. Pakistan’s withdrawal without consulting the military high command, after a three-hour meeting between Sharif and Clinton in Washington, angered the military top brass.

Selig Harrison, a long-time American specialist on South Asia and Afghanistan, points out that Muslim radical groups, especially the Lashkar-e-Toiba (army of the pious), had infiltrated Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies.

Because of better opportunities in civilian life, the sons of the moderately Muslim, well-educated class had lost interest in an army career, thus making it easier for the less educated and more religious applicants to become officers. The deep involvement of Islamabad’s military and intelligence agencies in the anti-Soviet Afghan jehad in the 1980s had also Islamicised these institutions.

The Sharif-Clinton meeting also covered the issue of Bin Laden, the chief suspect in the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York and Washington — was then accused by the USA of masterminding the bombings of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, which killed 224 people.

Bin Laden, regarded as hero of the victorious Afghan jehad against the Russians, was given asylum by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in eastern Afghanistan when he arrived there in May 1996, and later by the Taliban when they captured Kabul in September.

Sharif reportedly agreed to cooperate in nabbing Bin Laden in return for Clinton’s concessions on US sanctions against Pakistan and his recommendation to the IMF not to withhold its next loan to Islamabad.

On the night of August 9-10, 1999, two planeloads of US commandos arrived in Islamabad and Quetta, a city near the Afghanistan border. Their reported target was Bin Laden, known to be hiding near the border. But the independent Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV leaked the story, torpedoing the plan. Washington strenuously denied the Al Jazeera story, breaking its protocol of not commenting on intelligence operations.

But since the September 11 terrorist attacks, Clinton has publicly acknowledged that he had authorised Bin Laden’s assassination. Apparently, following his meeting with Clinton in 1999, Sharif made Bin Laden’s capture his top priority.

In this a crucial role was to be played by General Khwaja Ziauddin, a family friend Sharif promoted to ISI Director in 1998. In early October 1999 the President despatched Ziauddin to Washington, ostensibly to coordinate the next move to seize Bin Laden.

Alongside, Sharif orchestrated a strategy to put the Taliban regime on the defensive. He alleged that Sunni extremists in Pakistan, who had killed some 40 Shias in the previous two months, were trained in Afghan military camps. He sent Ziauddin to Kandahar, the base of Taliban supremo Mullah Muhammad Omar, to pressure the Taliban to shut down the camps.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Azia’s claim that there was “concrete evidence” that Sunni terrorists had entered Pakistan from Afghanistan was seen by many as a preamble to despatching commandos into Afghanistan to close the camps and capture Laden.

On October 10, 1999, Maulana Fazalur Rahman, leader of the fundamentalist Jamiat-e Ulema-e Islam, accused Sharif of issuing “baseless, negative and irrational statements” against the Taliban regime.

A report in The News said: “Military sources said Sharif, on US insistence, had agreed to ‘compromise’ Pakistan’s long-standing strategic ties with Afghanistan’s Taliban militia, a situation that could have created an internal security disaster in Pakistan because the Taliban had deep roots in Pakistan’s powerful and increasingly militant clergy.”

It was the fate of Bin Laden and Islamabad’s ties with the Taliban that precipitated the military coup in Pakistan, which put Musharraf at the helm — a development that fundamentalists applauded.

Now, in the post-US bombings era, Musharraf has to do a 180-degree somersault and turn on his constituency in the military, intelligence and politics. For the alternative of seeing Pakistan on Washington’s list of terrorist nations would be unbearable. Gemini News

Dilip Hiro is the author of “Islamic Fundamentalism.”

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Florida reports third case of anthrax

Miami, October 11
A third person has been exposed to the anthrax bacteria that killed a man in Florida, Guy Lewis, acting US attorney here, said yesterday.

Authorities did not release the person’s name but said that investigators believe the contamination was limited to a building belonging to American Media Inc., employer of the man who died.

“We have not ruled out the possibility that this contamination was caused by a criminal act,” FBI agent Hector Pesquera said.

Earlier, sources close to the FBI investigation said the spores inhaled by late Robert Stevens may have been produced at a laboratory in Iowa.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources said the “unusual characteristics” of the bacteria pointed in that direction.

UNITED NATIONS: With the UN headquarters being considered a likely target of terrorist strikes, the world body has advised its staff to look out for any signs of anthrax and chemical attacks as also suspicious parcels and letters.

The anthrax alert comes in the wake of three persons contacting the bacteria in south Florida.

UN security chief Michael McCannsent said yesterday the advisory was issued in the light of the “current crisis”.

BOCA RATON (FLORIDA): Investigators in Florida searched for the source of the anthrax contamination that killed one man.

FBI investigators in protective gear scoured the sealed-off American Media Inc (AMI), offices here for clues to the source of the anthrax contamination. The company publishes the national enquirer and other sex-and-scandal tabloids.

On Sunday, mailroom employee Ernesto Blanco, was found to have been exposed to the disease, and traces of anthrax were also found on a computer keyboard in the AMI building.

WASHINGTON: Meanwhile the State Department has asked its diplomatic missions abroad to stock up antibiotics to counter the use of anthrax in possible terrorist attacks.

“We do not have any information to indicate that there is an imminent threat from the use of anthrax or other biological agents at our overseas missions. But as a precaution we have encouraged our missions to stock a three-day supply of the antibiotic,” spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Experts say the rare disease can be used as a biological warfare agent. But a senior government health official sought to allay any such fears in this case. ‘‘If this was a massive exposure, there should be lots of people sick. We are not finding that,’’said Dr. Scott Lillibridge, who is a Special Assistant for Bioterrorism to the US Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. AFP, PTI, Reuters

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TV channels to black out Osama's messages

New York, October 11
Major US television networks agreed to ban live broadcasts of messages from suspected terrorist- mastermind Osama bin Laden following talks with the White House.

Separate statements issued by ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CNN said organisations would review any statements made by Bin Laden or members of his Al-Qaeda network before deciding whether to put them on the air.

The decision followed a conference call involving members of the news organisations and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

‘‘NBC and the other networks’ news divisions agree that we will not air any pre-recorded messages from Al-Qaeda without screening them in their entity first,’’ said a statement from NBC.

The White House had warned that Bin Laden may be using videotaped statements to order his followers to kill Americans. AFP

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Foreign scribes attacked in Pak

Islamabad, October 11
A group of foreign journalists in Pakistan was today attacked by Muslim extremists, including refugees from Afghanistan, near the Afghan border, at the highway between Quetta and Chaman in Baluchistan province.

The journalists were on their way to the Chaman checkpoint to cover the situation concerning the refugees who were trying to cross the Afghan border and enter Pakistan.

A huge crowd stoned the cars though they were moving under the guard of three police jeeps. The correspondents had to return to Quetta.

Meanwhile, protests against the policy of the Pervez Musharraf government cooperating with the USA in the military operation in Afghanistan are continuing in Pakistan.

General Musharraf expressed dissatisfaction with the inaction of the local authorities in curbing the disturbances and the continuing demonstrations.

At a Cabinet meeting today, he stated: “All necessary measures would be taken to maintain national security and ensure normal life for the citizens of Pakistan.” UNI

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Atef, Zawahiri among 22 most wanted

Washington, October 11
A new 22-man list of the USA’s “most wanted terrorists” highlights Iran’s alleged links to guerrilla groups more than any other nation’s apart from Afghanistan, US experts have said.

The new list of “known terrorists” featured Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks. Bin Laden, already on the FBI’s regular “10 most-wanted fugitives” list, was included among the 22 for his indictment in the 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 persons.

Also listed for their alleged embassy-bombing roles were 12 indicted Bin Laden co-conspirators, including Muhammad Atef and Ayman Al-Zawahiri. They appeared in a videotape with Bin Laden broadcast on Sunday within hours of the first US-led air strikes on Afghanistan.

Also probably in Afghanistan, according to Mr Cannistraro, is Halid Shaikh Mohammed, who is included on the list of 22. He was indicted in the southern district of New York for his role in a January 1995 plot to blow up 12 jumbo jets flying Asia-Pacific routes.

Four others on the list and thought to be in Iran were indicted in the eastern district of Virginia for their alleged role in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 US servicemen in an alleged Iranian-backed effort to drive US forces from the Middle East.

Among these is believed to be Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Mughassil, a Saudi national who was the alleged ringleader of the Khobar plot.

The alleged plot ringleader, Imad Mugniyah, was “a tool of the Iranian intelligence service,” said Mr Cannistraro.

The sole person on the list known to be in Iraq was Bloomington, Indiana-born Yasin, a dual US Iraqi national indicted in the southern district of New York in the February 26, 1993, bombing that killed six persons in the first attack on New York’s World Trade Center. Reuters
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Alert to arrest 6 wanted in USA

Islamabad, October 11
The Pakistan government has instructed the immigration officials to apprehend six persons who figured in the ‘watch list’ of suspects wanted by US officials in connection with the September 11 terror attacks.

Milan: The police in Italy and Germany yesterday arrested three suspected Islamic militants believed to be linked to Osama bin Laden, Italian judicial officials said. PTI, Reuters

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Alliance puts off final assault

Moscow, October 11
The Northern Alliance, sitting just 20 km from Kabul, has postponed final assault to capture the Afghan capital until an interim government in Afghanistan was formed.

Novosti news agency said the offensive was postponed after consultations with the USA and other international representatives.

A conference involving 120 delegates from various Afghan political parties and ethnic groups is to take place in the Panjshir valley, the strong hold of slain Uzbek warlord Ahmed Shah Masood. Representatives of former Afghan King Zahir Shah are also expected to attend the conference. UNI

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Lanka oppn forms broad alliance

Colombo, October 11
Sri Lanka’s main Opposition parties today announced, just hours after the dissolution of Parliament, the formation of a broad alliance to contest upcoming parliamentary elections and campaign for a solution to the country’s prolonged Tamil minority ethnic conflict.

At least seven political parties, comprising the main Opposition, declared their intention to contest the elections under a joint electoral pact.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who led the ruling People’s Alliance Government, dissolved the 225-seat Parliament late last night after it was clear her party would lose an Opposition-initiated no confidence motion that was proposed for debate today.

Kumaratunga has fixed elections for December 5, with the deadline for submitting nominations for the poll set for October 27.

On the eve of the no-confidence motion as many as 13 government members defected to the Opposition, making it clear that the People’s Alliance would not be able to survive the no confidence motion.

The leader of the Opposition United National Party, Ranil Wickramasinghe, said the top priority of the combined opposition would be to find a solution to the ethnic issue and end fighting with LTTE rebels. DPA


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