Friday, December 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India




National Capital Region--Delhi

W O R L D

USA pounds hideouts as deadline expires
Tora Bora (Afghanistan), December 13
U.S. Planes today blasted eastern Afghan mountain hideouts of Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida fighters as a fresh deadline for their surrender apparently expired.

The house belonging to Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of Taliban, is now in ruins.
(28k, 56k)
US President George W. Bush said the rule of the Taliban was "coming to an end" and that the USA is planning for its reconstruction.
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US radio station forced to apologise
Anti-Sikh remarks made on show
Washington, December 13
A US radio station has been forced to apologise for pejorative comments on Sikh Americans made on one of its shows. The comments, made by the hosts of the Opie and Anthony Show in WNEW radio, continually referred to Sikh Americans as “diaper” and “towel” heads and questioned whether they had died flying planes into the World Trade Center on September 11.



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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
 

Laden in Pakistan: report
Top aide says he is in Afghanistan

Washington, December 13

Suspected terror mastermind Osama bin Laden has eluded US-led forces seeking him in Afghanistan and fled to Pakistan with the help of friendly tribesmen, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

No problem for an Indian in Kabul
Kabul, December 13
“Are you Hindustani? There are no problems between us and the people of Hindustan,” says the immigration official sitting cross-legged on the tarmac of the devastated Bagram airport, as he stamps the passports of a group of Indian journalists.

Rescue workers continue to dig out bodies
New York, December 13
It has been over three months since terrorists unleashed violence in the USA but work is far from over for rescue workers who still continue to dig out mangled bodies.

Israel attacks Gaza, Nablus targets
To sever ties with Arafat
Gaza City, December 13
Israeli warplanes have bombarded Palestinian security buildings in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, in swift revenge for a deadly ambush on an Israeli bus and a double suicide attack.
A mourner is comforted during the funeral in Jerusalem on Thursday of Dov Moshe Gutman who was killed by Palestinian gunmen when they attacked a bus in the West Bank near the settlement of Imanuel on Wednesday night. —  Reuters photo 

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USA pounds hideouts as deadline expires
Sebastian Alison

Tora Bora (Afghanistan), December 13
U.S. Planes today blasted eastern Afghan mountain hideouts of Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida fighters as a fresh deadline for their surrender apparently expired.

Demonstrating that the political power of the former Taliban government and their Al-Qaida supporters has been crushed, the head of the new government that is to guide Afghanistan over the next six months arrived in the capital late last night.

U.S. bombers sent up huge plumes of smoke along a mountain ridge near the eastern village of Tora Bora.

The range of hills and valleys is home to networks of caves harbouring an unknown number of Al-Qaida fighters and possibly Bin Laden, the man Washington blames for the September 11 attacks on the USA.

After several days of relentless bombing, U.S. Planes have cornered the remnants of the movement in this barren region about 40 km (24 miles) south of Jalalabad.

Surrender talks fell apart yesterday and anti-Taliban fighters announced a new Thursday afternoon deadline which CNN said had passed without any sign of gunmen coming down from the hills.

Heavy cloud made the U.S. aircraft invisible on Thursday but they could be clearly heard at intervals. Occasional shafts of sunlight penetrated the mist showing a sprinkling of snow on the peaks and lush tree cover on the upper slopes of the White Mountains.

Tribal leader Hamid Karzai arrived in Bagram air base north of Kabul from Kandahar, where he had overseen the surrender of the late Taliban stronghold, a Northern Alliance spokesman, Mohammad Habeel, said.

He was greeted by his top ministers - interior Minister Yunis Qanuni, Defence Minister Mohammad Fahim and Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah - and was staying at an official guesthouse in Kabul.

U.N. Special envoy to Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi yesterday flew to Islamabad for talks with President Pervez Musharraf after meeting Afghan leaders in Kabul on Tuesday to discuss a transfer of power to a post-Taliban interim government agreed under last week’s power-sharing deal in Germany.

High on his agenda was a proposed U.N.-mandated multinational security force.

Brahimi travels to New York on Thursday where key U.N. Security Council members struggled with a resolution that would authorise a multinational force for Afghanistan.

The Security Council resolution, originally expected to be adopted on Friday, may not be voted on until Saturday or the following week.

Negotiations between unidentified Al-Qaida members and anti-Taliban military leaders Hazrat Ali and Haji Mohammad Zaman yesterday came to nothing. Zaman said Al-Qaida forces had originally promised to surrender from Wednesday morning.

Anti-Taliban fighters, backed by devastating U.S. air power and American special forces, made dramatic gains against Al-Qaida before calling a pause.

But CNN quoted Hazrat Ali as saying his forces would resume the assault unless Al-Qaida agreed to hand over Bin Laden and his 20 top aides in return for free passage for foot soldiers by this afternoon.

The Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) said a six-man Shura, or council, of officials from the eastern province of Nangarhar had been sent to try again to persuade the Al-Qaida to give up.

“The Shura has rejected the conditions put forth by Al-Qaida and the new delegation is trying to persuade them to lay down arms,” it said, quoting shura sources.

A U.S. coalition spokesman said in Islamabad a tiny number of Taliban may have reached Pakistan but Washington was confident the overwhelming majority were trapped in the mountains. Reuters
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US radio station forced to apologise
Anti-Sikh remarks made on show
Vasantha Arora

Washington, December 13
A US radio station has been forced to apologise for pejorative comments on Sikh Americans made on one of its shows.

The comments, made by the hosts of the Opie and Anthony Show in WNEW radio, continually referred to Sikh Americans as “diaper” and “towel” heads and questioned whether they had died flying planes into the World Trade Center (WTC) on September 11.

The Indian American Centre for Political Awareness (IACPA), a non-partisan body, took up the matter and asked WNEW to apologise for these remarks and also to air public service announcements opposing racial profiling and hate crimes. The controversial remarks were aired on November 21, 2001, during a 3-5 minute conversation between a Sikh American caller and the radio hosts.

He had called the radio show in response to the repeated use of the term “towel head” by the hosts. The caller asked them to stop using it in fear that it would lead to stereotyping and reprisal attacks against Sikh Americans.

The hosts refused to stop using the word “towel head” and began using “diaper head.” After several minutes of heated dialogue, the Sikh American tried to explain that members of his community, too, had died in the September attacks.

Over 225 Indian Americans, including many Sikh Americans, died in the attacks.

The radio hosts then asked whether Sikh Americans had died while piloting the hijacked planes into the buildings.

Opie & Anthony, a provocative satire show, is aired in over 15 major metropolitan markets, including Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston. WNEW is owned by Infiniti Broadcasting and is a subsidiary of media house CBS.

IACPA chairman Gopal Raju immediately sent a letter to WNEW calling for a meeting with their executives, IACPA, and Sikh American organisations, i.e. Sikh Media Watch, to discuss the comments and develop a strategy to resolve the matter. WNEW responded with a letter of apology, but has failed to schedule a meeting to discuss the matter.

Congressman Jim McDermott (Democrat), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, and Congressman Joe Crowley (Democrat), expressed concern over the incident and called for WNEW executives to meet with IACPA and Sikh American leaders.

While IACPA understands that the Opie & Anthony show is provocative satire, the centre and Sikh American organisations are concerned that misguided comments would perpetuate stereotyping and misunderstanding of the community and lead to further violent racial profiling and hate crime incidents.

While many groups have lost members of their communities, Muslim and South Asian Americans have also had to deal with the backlash towards their communities directly related to the attacks.

Two weeks after September 11, more than 200 hate crime and racial profiling incidents were reported against the Sikh American community. Balbir Singh Sodhi, a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, was the first victim of a hate crime unleashed in the aftermath of the terror strikes. IANS
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Royce attends memorial service for Sodhi

Washington, December 13
Terming his murder a tragedy that should never have happened, Republican Congressman Ed Royce, Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus for India and Indian Americans, said “we all mourn” the loss of Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh who was killed in a hate crime in the aftermath of September 11 attacks on the USA.

“We all mourn this loss. It is nothing short of a tragedy that someone would take his life in such a cold-blooded way,” Royce said at a memorial service for Sodhi at the US Capitol building on Tuesday night. PTI
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Laden in Pakistan: report
Top aide says he is in Afghanistan

Washington, December 13
Suspected terror mastermind Osama bin Laden has eluded US-led forces seeking him in Afghanistan and fled to Pakistan with the help of friendly tribesmen, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

The newspaper quoted a Saudi financier and senior member of Bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network named Abu Jaffar as saying only Bin Laden’s 19-year-old son, Salah Uddin, remains at the group’s base in the Tora Bora mountain cave complex.

“Osama bin Laden travelled out of Tora Bora two times in this Ramazan holy month. He left to meet Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar about three weeks ago and stayed with him near Kandahar,” Jaffar told the Monitor.

“He left again just over a week ago and was headed to Pakistan, where he was helped across the border by Pashtun tribesmen.”

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, dismissed the report published yesterday.

“It’s highly unlikely. Or to put it another way, I think it’s wrong,” the official said.

Bin Laden leads the list of those wanted in connection with deadly September 11 terror attacks on the USA. US officials believe he is in Tora Bora or nearby in eastern Afghanistan, although they acknowledge they do not know for sure.

DUBAI: An Arabic magazine on Thursday quoted Osama bin Laden’s top aide as saying the Islamic militant leader was still in Afghanistan.

Ayman al-Zawahri said Bin Laden’s Al-Qaida organisation would fight on, using suicide attacks against US forces in Afghanistan, the London-based al-Majallah magazine said in a statement ahead of publication.

It said Zawahri made the comments in a telephone interview organised through a mediator which would be published in full in Thursday’s edition.

“The real war has now started and we are now waging attack and retreat operations. It will be a long one. We will exact a high toll on the Americans and suicide attacks will be one of our effective methods,” the statement quoted him as saying. AFP, Reuters
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No problem for an Indian in Kabul
Rezaul H. Laskar

Kabul, December 13
“Are you Hindustani? There are no problems between us and the people of Hindustan,” says the immigration official sitting cross-legged on the tarmac of the devastated Bagram airport, as he stamps the passports of a group of Indian journalists.

Wearing a dirty camouflage jacket and khaki pants, he looks nothing like the ubiquitous immigration officials found in airports around the world. Sporting a stubble that is several days old and speaking in Urdu, he effusively greets the journalists who accompanied Satinder K. Lambah, India’s special envoy for Afghanistan, who made a quick visit to Kabul on Wednesday for discussions with leaders of the new Afghan government.

But the official fits in with the surroundings - Bagram is unlike any other airport. There are signs all over warning people not to stray off the tarmac as the surrounding areas are still littered with mines laid by the Taliban.

Every building in the airport, including the air traffic control tower, has been severely damaged in recent fighting between the Taliban and Northern Alliance, who held parts of the airfield.

Several damaged Russian-made MiG fighters and old transport aircraft are lined up along a section of the runway, next to two bombed out hangars. Nearby stand black Chinook helicopters that ferried in British commandoes who are currently hold the airport, a vital lifeline as Kabul airport is yet to be made functional.

On the hour-long drive from Bagram to Kabul, one passes scores of bombed out villages, the mud brick buildings bearing the scars of artillery duels and pitched close quarters combat.

Burnt-out shells of Russian-made tanks and armoured vehicles are more common than trees and the only buildings showing signs of habitation are those being used by Northern Alliance commanders as temporary headquarters.

Long stretches of the road are lined with stones painted red and white, a reminder to passers-by that areas on both sides are still mined. Dozens of men working for the mine clearance programmes of the Halo Trust can be seen fanning out into the minefields with their equipment.

Kabul is a city struggling to return to normalcy exuding warmth for Indians that was initially displayed by the immigration official.

“Anything Indian is greeted very warmly by Afghans. There is a lot of genuine friendship for Indians,” said Pradeep Shungloo, an Indian television reporter who has been in Kabul for the past two weeks.

In roadside shops, colourful pinups of Bollywood stars Shahrukh Khan and Dharmendra vie with posters of Ahmed Shah Masood, the slain Northern Alliance commander who has emerged as the favourite poster boy in Afghanistan.

At least three hotels in Kabul are currently screening Hindi films, including the Govinda-Divya Bharti starrer “Shola Aur Shabnam” and Sunjay Dutt’s “Khalnayak.”

There appears to be no shortage of fresh meat in the markets but vegetables and fruits look dried and far from fresh. Carpet-sellers are back with their wares on the roads leading to the famed Kabul hotel, their bright red carpets standing out in the dull winter afternoon.

Indian journalists who have made Kabul their temporary home for the past few weeks say they are often accosted in the streets by Northern Alliance fighters who want to know if they are Indians or Pakistanis. Once their credentials have been established, they are treated warmly.

At the same time, there is strong resentment and even hatred for Pakistanis, hundreds of whom were killed or captured while fighting with the Taliban. IANS
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Rescue workers continue to dig out bodies
Priya Malhotra

New York, December 13
It has been over three months since terrorists unleashed violence in the USA but work is far from over for rescue workers who still continue to dig out mangled bodies.

Rescue workers at the World Trade Center site are still digging diligently around the clock, clearing away the tonnes of wreckage and trying to find bodies. And some families are still waiting for something more tangible than memories to bid farewell to loved ones.

During the past few days, however, some bodies, or at least approximations of them, were found. Seven bodies had been recovered from December 7 to 12, according to Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the New York Medical Examiner’s Office.

And the body of an Indian national might have been amongst them, a senior member of the Indian Consulate told IANS.

Santosh Jha, consul, passports and visa, said he had not received official confirmation that the body of Anil Umarkar had been retrieved, but was basing his supposition on information given to him by Umarkar’s friends.

Umarkar (34) was an employee of eSpeed, a division of Cantor Fitzgerald and was working on the 103rd floor of the WTC, according to a New York Times tribute.

Jha was told that Umarkar was identified on the basis of DNA tests and blood samples. He was a resident of Hackensack, New Jersey, and is survived by his wife, Priti, and daughter, Vomika. Umarkar’s wife had left for India two or three weeks ago, said Jha. IANS 
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Israel attacks Gaza, Nablus targets
To sever ties with Arafat

Gaza City, December 13
Israeli warplanes have bombarded Palestinian security buildings in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, in swift revenge for a deadly ambush on an Israeli bus and a double suicide attack.

At least one person, a woman with a heart condition, died from shock during the raids, medical officials said.

Ten people were killed and some 30 injured when Palestinian radicals ambushed an Israeli bus near a Jewish settlement in the northern West Bank, while in the Gaza Strip two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a settlement bloc, injuring four.

In response, Israeli F-16 jets dropped at least nine bombs on Gaza City security buildings close to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s offices, Palestinian security officials said.

They hit naval police offices and the police headquarters which was already flattened in air raids last Thursday, and also bombed Gaza international airport’s control tower, they said.

The other Gaza City targets were not immediately identified but they were all in the same vicinity.

“A woman with a heart condition, Hayat Assad al-Haytham, has died of shock after the bombing,” the head of the emergency room at Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital, Mr Mouawiya Abu Hassaneyn, told AFP.

At least seven persons also had been hurt while fleeing the blasts, but no direct injuries were reported, the doctor added.

The F-16s and an Israeli military reconnaissance drone used to sight targets was continuing to circle the city. Large clouds of smoke were rising from the bombed buildings and a haze has covered the downtown area.

Shortly before the latest strike a senior Palestinian official said all the strikes hit an area near the compound housing Mr Arafat’s offices.

And in the northern West Bank, Israel sent F-16s to bomb Palestinian buildings in Nablus, following the bus attack near the Emmanuel settlement south of the town, Israeli military sources and witnesses said.

The fighter jets hit a prison and police station in the suburb of Jneid.

But Israeli army spokesman Gen Ron Kitrey denied the prison was hit.

“We raided a Palestinian Authority scientific laboratory in Nablus where they were developing arms and explosives. We emphasise we did not hit the prison,” General Kitrey said.

He said targets in Gaza compound included installations of Force 17, Mr Arafat’s elite personal guard, including the main office, ammunitions depots, magazines and apartments.

Meanwhile, a report from Ramallah said the Palestinian Authority had ordered the immediate closure of all Hamas and Islamic Jihad offices in the Palestinian territories.

“The Palestinian Authority decided (Wednesday) evening to close all the offices and institutions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad from today,” said a statement from the authority carried by the official WAFA news agency.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has been under enormous pressure from Israel and the USA to rein in extremists involved in anti-Israeli attacks.

A radical offshoot of Mr Arafat’s own Fatah movement, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, said it and Hamas’s military wing were jointly responsible for the bus attack.

Shortly before the Palestinian Authority’s announcement, the USA demanded that Mr Arafat “take every step possible” to quell violence in the Middle east.

“The latest violence underscores a need for Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to take every step possible to reduce the violence and bring an end to the terrorism that is plaguing the region,” said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

And the US special envoy to the Middle East, Mr Anthony Zinni, told Mr Arafat to jail extremists “immediately,” following the West Bank bus ambush.

“Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority must move immediately to arrest those responsible for these attacks and destroy the infrastructure of terror organisations that support them,” the retired Marine Corps General said in a statement.

JERUSALEM: Israel’s Security Cabinet on Thursday decided to sever ties with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and launch military operations to arrest militants and confiscate weapons in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The decision was reached at Isreali Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Tel Aviv office after Palestinian gunmen killed 10 Israelis in an ambush of a bus near a Jewish settlement. The attack followed a recent wave of deadly suicide bombings.

The Cabinet said Mr Arafat was “directly responsible for the series of terror attacks and has therefore decided... (that) Yasser Arafat is no longer relevant as far as the State of Israel is concerned and there will be no more contact with him. AFP, ReutersTop

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