Tuesday, November 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

UN envoy presses on at talks with Afghan factions
Taliban mission in Peshawar closed
Kabul, November 19
UN special envoy Francesc Vendrell pressed on with a round of meetings with Afghan leaders here today but his spokesman said there had been no breakthrough in organising a political gathering to discuss the war-torn country’s future.

Northern Alliance Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah listens to the U.S. Representative to the Afghan opposition, Mr James F. Dobbins. Northern Alliance Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah (left) listens to the US Representative to the Afghan opposition, Mr James F. Dobbins, after a new conference in Tashkent on Sunday.
— AP photo

Bin Laden splits with Taliban?
Teheran, November 19
An Iranian daily reported today that suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden has separated himself from the Taliban but was still in Afghanistan.

ON THE AL-QAIDA TRAIL
Laden’s link with black Tuesday hijackers revealed
Jalalabad/Kabul/Quetta/London
It is the evidence that the world, and in particular the administration of President George Bush, has been seeking for two-long months, the evidence that would silence the doubters and place the Taliban and Osama bin Laden at the centre of a global terrorist conspiracy.



EARLIER STORIES

 

Afghans fight to enter Bakhtar cinema in central Kabul to see the first public film shown, since the fall of Taliban.Star-struck Kabulites scuffle to see film
Kabul, November 19
A near riot broke out in front of Kabul’s main cinema today as Afghan men fought their way in to see the first film shown in public since the now-defeated Taliban took the city in 1996.

Afghans fight to enter Bakhtar cinema in central Kabul to see the first public film shown, since the fall of Taliban. A riot broke in front of the cinema as Afghan men fought their way in to see the Afghan movie Urur (Ascension) on Monday. — Reuters photo

In video: Kabul TV is back on air after five years. (28k, 56k)

55 die in Filipino army, rebels clash
Zamboanga City, November 19
At least 55 persons were killed and scores of others wounded when Muslim rebels attacked military headquarters on a southern Philippine island, triggering fierce clashes with government troops.

Young Muslims demonstrate against the war in Afghanistan at Trafalgar Square in London.
Young Muslims demonstrate against the war in Afghanistan at Trafalgar Square in London. The police estimated that 15,000 protesters joined the march from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square.
— Reuters photo
In video: 28k, 56k

10 cops die of food poisoning
Dhaka, November 19
Ten policemen died and 16 others fell ill due to suspected food poisoning after they broke their Ramadan fast at a camp in south-eastern Bangladesh.

Thai scribe guns down 3 colleagues
Bangkok, November 19
A reporter for Thailand’s biggest newspaper gunned down three fellow journalists and then killed himself after an argument at a restaurant in the northeastern province of Mukdahan, the police said today.

4 held for blast
Beijing, November 19
Four mining officials have been detained after a blast at a coalmine in north China which killed 33 persons, the police said today as reports emerged of three more accidents, killing or trapping another 31 miners.

Salon to pay $ 2m to widow
Hong Kong, November 19
A Hong Kong beauty salon owner and her husband were today ordered to pay back almost half of the $ 4.2 million they persuaded a wealthy widow to spend on skin treatments.
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UN envoy presses on at talks with Afghan factions
Taliban mission in Peshawar closed

Kabul, November 19
UN special envoy Francesc Vendrell pressed on with a round of meetings with Afghan leaders here today but his spokesman said there had been no breakthrough in organising a political gathering to discuss the war-torn country’s future.

UN spokesman Eric Falt said Vendrell had yet to reach an agreement with the Northern Alliance, now in control of the capital, on a meeting of all Afghan political groups that the United Nations hopes to arrange outside Afghanistan.

“We would like to convene this meeting as fast as is humanly possible,” Mr Falt told reporters. “When we get an agreement with the Northern Alliance it could happen in a matter of days.”

Mr Vendrell met Northern Alliance Defence Minister Muhammed Fahim today. Since his arrival on Saturday he has also held talks with Alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani, Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and leaders of the majority Pashtun community.

The Northern Alliance has said it would prefer round-table talks on a framework for a future broad-based government to take place in its Kabul stronghold.

But Dr Abdullah said in Tashkent yesterday the meeting could take place abroad, as demanded by the UN to allay the concerns of ethnic and political factions deeply suspicious of the Alliance. Possible neutral venues in Europe include Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Mr Falt said Mr Vendrell would meet diplomats from Russia, Iran and Britain later.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan today said the Taliban’s consulate in Peshawar was being closed, leaving the Islamabad embassy and a consulate in Quetta as the only diplomatic missions of the embattled fundamentalist militia.

Asked whether the Taliban’s consulate in Peshawar was being closed, the military government’s top spokesman, Major Gen Rashid Qureshi, said: “Yes, I think the orders are being issued today.”

Peshawar is the major town on the road through the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan and Kabul.

Earlier this month Pakistan asked the Taliban consulate in Karachi to close down.

Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher held talks here today with his Pakistani counterpart Abdul Sattar on plans for the formation of a broad-based government in Afghanistan, officials said.

“They had detailed talks on various aspects of the Afghan situation, especially the need for the success of the political process as soon as possible,” a Foreign Ministry official said.

Mr Sattar said the Northern Alliance should honour international conventions in dealing with its armed opponents. He told reporters that the United Nations Security Council had called on warring Afghan factions to refrain from reprisals.

“We have no role in this matter but hope the UN and the US-led coalition will act together to prevent reprisals,” he said commenting on reports that Taliban fighters and their Pakistani and Arab supporters trapped in Kunduz (northern Afghanistan) faced a bloodbath at the hands of the Alliance.

“It was their choice. Pakistan always told its citizens that it was not their business to fight on one or the other side,” he said about the Pakistanis.

Still governments were responsible for their citizens even when they break the law, he said.

TEHERAN: Iran reopened its consulate in the western Afghan city of Herat today, following last week’s ouster of the hardline Taliban militia from the city, state radio reported.

“The consulate in Herat has taken up its activities in Herat again,” Mr Mohammad Alavizadeh, head of the consulate, told the radio.

“The consulate was closed since May 4 because of attacks by the Taliban,” he said, adding however it would take two months before the mission could start to issue entry visas for Afghans.

Iran recalled its diplomats and closed the consulate in Herat after protesters attacked the mission following a bomb blast outside a mosque, which it blamed Iranian shia hardliners. An exiled Iranian Sunni scholar, Moussa Karimpour, and nine others were killed in the blast. Reuters, AFP, DPA
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Bin Laden splits with Taliban?

Teheran, November 19
An Iranian daily reported today that suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden has separated himself from the Taliban but was still in Afghanistan.

The daily Entekhab quoted an unnamed Taliban official as saying that Bin Laden was in south-western Afghanistan trying to form new guerrilla groups to confront US forces.

Taliban leader Mulla Mohammad Omar was also alive and in the Kandahar area which remains under its control, the Taliban official said.

The Iranian television network, Irib, had reported earlier that the USA was trying to pushing Bin Laden and Omar into a trap in the Filkuh mountains in south-western Afghanistan.

Bin Laden and the Taliban leader were apparently attempting to get into Pakistan and hide in areas dominated by Pashtun tribesmen. DPA
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ON THE AL-QAIDA TRAIL
Laden’s link with black Tuesday hijackers revealed
Jason Burke, Tim Judah, David Rohde, Paul Harris and Paul Beaver

Jalalabad/Kabul/Quetta/London
It is the evidence that the world, and in particular the administration of President George Bush, has been seeking for two-long months, the evidence that would silence the doubters and place the Taliban and Osama bin Laden at the centre of a global terrorist conspiracy.

It has occupied the FBI and international police forces in their thousands since September 11. Last week that evidence finally emerged as the Taliban’s cities fell, scattered in drifts of yellowing paper across the floors of offices, training camps and the homes of senior figures in the Al-Qaida network of Bin Laden and the Taliban.

The scraps of half-burnt paper, meticulously kept notebooks and pages torn from magazines and technical manuals reveal the vast and terrifying scale of the terrorists’ ambitions to launch a jihad against the West. They reveal plans to assassinate world leaders in their cars; to bomb the power stations of the USA, Europe and Asia; and to make weapons of mass destruction from chemicals and smuggled nuclear material.

Critically, too, they reveal Al-Qaida’s plans to send some members to the USA to learn how to pilot passenger jets, and the Taliban’s support for such plans.

In two houses in Kabul last week, one belonging to the Taliban Ministry of Defence, the New York Times turned up the most compelling evidence yet of Al-Qaida’s link to the September 11 attacks.

Among the finds was a flight-simulator computer programmes, a list of flying schools in the USA and documents describing chemical, biological and nuclear warfare. Other documents revealed desperate efforts by the Pakistani Government — even before the September 11 attacks — to warn the Taliban that its support for terrorism was dangerous.

Among the key documents retrieved is a notebook discovered by The Observer and written by an Al-Qaida student at an explosives laboratory in a training camp at Darunta, 15 miles from the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. It is, in effect, a textbook of terror.

Much of the 100-page book, written in Turkish, focuses on urban guerrilla tactics, particularly assassinations against targets in cars. The favoured mode of attack is from a series of motorbikes, or from other cars, which would approach the target vehicle and force it off the road.

The book also includes detailed descriptions of the organisation of a terrorist cell. Such cells, split into four units covering intelligence, logistics, security and execution, bear a clear resemblance to those described by the Al-Qaida men convicted of the 1998 bombings in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam, and thus provide a key element of evidence linking Bin Laden to the blasts. The notebook was started on February 23, 1998, less than four months before the attacks in East Africa.

The notebook starts with important advice. `Help each other’ is the first injunction, followed by `during lessons, listen carefully’. If one person makes a mistake then the whole group pays for it, it says.

Terrorists are advised to take time planning their escape routes - a trademark of the Al-Qaida organisation.

But the strongest evidence for Al-Qaida’s involvement in the attacks of September 11 is in the documents found by New York Times reporter David Rohde in two houses in the Karte Parwan area of Kabul, the former diplomatic district, after the city’s fall. Green and yellow forms in Arabic labeled ‘Al-Qaida ammunition warehouse’ were scattered throughout both houses. The apparent Al-Qaida presence, particularly in a Taliban Defence Ministry building, suggested that Bin Laden’s organisation and the radical Islamic government regime were closely linked.

The most satisfying finds for President Bush’s administration are likely to have been a page torn out of Flying magazine listing flight schools in Florida, including Walkwitz Aviation in Titusville and Phoenix East Aviation in Daytona Beach, two schools linked to the hijackers of September 11 — and a form that comes with a Microsoft Flight Simulator 98 computer programme. The programme, which simulates the experience of flying commercial jet, is often used by pilots and is similar to one found in the luggage of Mohammed Atta, one of the hijackers.

The houses were adorned with maps, including one listing the location of power plants in Europe, Africa and Asia.

The papers include addresses of individuals living in Canada and Italy, letters listing the names of young recruits hoping to join Al-Qaida, and lists of people who lived in the houses. It is not known whether false names were used on the documents. One of the visiting cards was from U-Enterprises, a Vancouver-based company that was founded in April 1998. One of its directors is Essam Hafez Marzouk, who was arrested in Egypt two years ago and sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for links to a militant Islamic group.

Other papers appeared to be copies of a letter Bin Laden sent to Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban, asking not to be turned over to the Americans and a reply granting his request. Both men cited religious teachings to justify their position.

The documents suggest there was a broad network, including Somalis, Algerians, Bosnians, Uzbeks, Sudanese and natives of the Dagastan region of Russia.

America’s case that Al-Qaida is intimately linked to the Taliban is also supported by evidence gathered since last week’s military campaign. In particular, papers also seen by The Observer reveal the efforts made by Pakistan to curb the Taliban’s support for terrorism even before September 11.

The papers, which include private correspondence between the leaderships in Kabul and Islamabad, were seen by The Observer in the chaotic hours following the flight of the Taliban from Kabul and after the sacking of the Pakistani Embassy, when files and papers were strewn over the street outside. They show that in the build-up to September 11 the Taliban brushed off messages from the US threatening to bomb them. They also reinforce the emerging evidence of how closely intertwined the Taliban was with Al-Qaida.

Earlier this year, Pakistan had protested to the Taliban because Arabs wanted on charges of terrorism had been given special visas to enter Afghanistan and even Afghan passports.

Some of the documents give details of meetings recording how the head of the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, acted as a messenger between Mullah Omar and the US administration. On May 26 last year, the Pakistanis briefed the US Under Secretary of State, Thomas Pickering, on the results of their spy chief’s mission to Mullah Omar at his base in Kandahar, to which several messages from the Americans were conveyed.

In reply, Omar told the Pakistanis that `he wanted to get rid of Osama but did not know how’. He also said he was `ready to close terrorist training camps’.

The camps were not closed and on January 16 of this year, after Pakistan intensified its demands for action and the UN brought in new sanctions against Afghanistan, Mullah Omar personally threatened President Musharraf. The Observer, London
Top

 

Star-struck Kabulites scuffle to see film

Kabul, November 19
A near riot broke out in front of Kabul’s main cinema today as Afghan men fought their way in to see the first film shown in public since the now-defeated Taliban took the city in 1996.

The military police beat back the crowd and broke up scuffles between film-goers desperate to get into the 600-seat Bakhtar Cinema to see the popular Afghan film “Uruj’’ or “Ascension’’.

Two men were arrested as the show began at 10 a.m. (7 a.m. IST). Inside, the audience cheered and clapped as the speckled celluloid film started to roll.

Film and television were banned under the five-year rule of the Taliban.

Uruj tells the story of three Mujahideen heroes who fought the Soviet invasion of the 1980s. The audience booed and hissed an Afghan Communist leader shown swigging vodka and cheered when a Mujahideen fighter knocked him to the ground.

Before the film ended the crowd surged through the police lines and broke into the cinema. Some even climbed a metal gate to enter through a first-floor balcony. Reuters
Top

 

55 die in Filipino army, rebels clash

Zamboanga City, November 19
At least 55 persons were killed and scores of others wounded when Muslim rebels attacked military headquarters on a southern Philippine island, triggering fierce clashes with government troops.

Lieut-Gen Roy Cimatu, chief of armed forces, southern command, said 51 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels and four soldiers were killed in the hostilities on Jolo island, 1,000 km south of Manila.

General Cimatu said 27 soldiers and 13 MNLF rebels were also wounded as government troops repulsed the attackers, who fired several mortars rounds at the army camp at Busbus village in downtown Jolo.

A radio report quoting local Red Cross officials said at least 13 civilians were injured in the mortar attacks.

“Our troops launched a counter-offensive and inflicted casualties on the rebel forces,’’ General Cimatu told a news conference in nearby Zamboanga City. ‘Skirmishes continued in the outskirts of Jolo, but the town is already secured by the military.’’

The fighting started before dawn when hundreds of MNLF rebels overran several army detachments in the outskirts of downtown Jolo, disarming Muslim soldiers who were former comrades integrated into the military.

Mortars also hit the Jolo airport, located just outside the army camp, and a bank in the downtown area.

By early afternoon, military helicopter gunships pounded MNLF positions in the village of Tanjung in the adjacent town of Indanan.

Senior Superintendent of Police Akmad Omar said hundreds of civilians fled their homes fearing being caught in the crossfire.

The military blamed the offensive on MNLF leader Nur Misuari.

When asked if Misuari would be arrested, General Cimatu said, “This will be a political decision, and we are awaiting this political decision. So far, there was no order yet.’’ DPA
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10 cops die of food poisoning

Dhaka, November 19
Ten policemen died and 16 others fell ill due to suspected food poisoning after they broke their Ramadan fast at a camp in south-eastern Bangladesh.

The incident occurred in Rangmati district yesterday when the policemen at the Bilaichari camp fell ill after they broke the fast, on the second day of Ramadan, by taking the food prepared at their kitchen, a journalist stationed at the camp in the district said. The victims were rushed to nearby Chandragona Christian Hospital. But, since there were no physicians there, the policemen were taken to Chittagong Medical College Hospital.

However, 10 of the cops died on the way, while the rest were battling for life. An investigation has been ordered into the incident. PTI
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Thai scribe guns down 3 colleagues

Bangkok, November 19
A reporter for Thailand’s biggest newspaper gunned down three fellow journalists and then killed himself after an argument at a restaurant in the northeastern province of Mukdahan, the police said today.

Another journalist and a lawyer involved in the argument were wounded in the shooting spree last night.

Mukdahan police chief Colonel Sakda Saengduen said colleagues had arranged a meeting to reconcile long-term business conflicts aboard a boat restaurant on Mekong River.
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4 held for blast

Beijing, November 19
Four mining officials have been detained after a blast at a coalmine in north China which killed 33 persons, the police said today as reports emerged of three more accidents, killing or trapping another 31 miners.

The four held were the owner, Deputy Manager and production chief at the Podi coalmine in Shanxi province, along with the leader of a mine construction team there, said a spokesman for the Jiaocheng county police. AFP
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Salon to pay $ 2m to widow

Hong Kong, November 19
A Hong Kong beauty salon owner and her husband were today ordered to pay back almost half of the $ 4.2 million they persuaded a wealthy widow to spend on skin treatments. Ho Yin-Yuk, 77, spent almost all her life savings and mortgaged her house to pay for equipment and treatment from the beauty parlour run by Bevan Ho over a period of three years, Hong Kong’s High Court heard. DPA
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