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TOI: US will suffer more than Russians: Mullah Omar
15/10/2001 12:15 pm Mon
RIYADH: Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar pledged
in an interview printed on Sunday that his Islamic militia
will teach the United States "a much more bitter lesson"
than that taught to the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
"It's true that we have not started our real battle against the
United States because of their technological superiority," he told
the Saudi daily Al-Watan. "But - God willing - we will not greet
them with roses," Omar said.
"They will be taught a much more bitter lesson than that taught to
the Russians," Omar said in a telephone interview from
Afghanistan, the Arabic-language daily said. Defeated Soviet
forces pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989.
He reiterated the Taliban's total refusal to hand over Osama Bin
Laden who is accused of masterminding the September 11
attacks on New York and Washington.
"We have said if Washington has the evidence proving his (Bin
Laden's) involvement and is confident of that, why don't they
give us this evidence and we are ready to try him in Afghanistan
or by a committee of Islamic scholars from three countries.
"By ignoring this proposal, the United States is humiliating Islamic
sharia law, and accordingly the current war is not targeting Bin
Laden but the destruction of the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan,"
"I reiterate our readiness for the trial to take place in the
presence of observers from the Organisation of the Islamic
Conference (OIC) and western countries," he said.
Omar denied reports that members of his family have been killed
in US air strikes which began on October 7, but admitted his
house was hit.
He said there had been huge loss of life and extensive damage.
"Afghan cities and villages have suffered huge losses. A large
number of women and children have been killed, and mosques,
hospitals and residential areas have been hit," said Omar,
describing the air raids as barbaric.
But he asserted that the Afghan determination to fight has not
been undermined. The Afghan people will reject any
Western-backed government in Kabul, said Omar, vowing that
death would be the fate of all collaborators.
"The (Western-backed) northern alliance is a group of
mercenaries who have decided a long time ago to make their
country hostage to foreigners. All realise that the people of
Afghanistan reject any attempt to force them to accept a
leadership that works against them," he said.
"We categorically refuse that Washington and Western countries
impose on our people persons who had left us decades ago to
fight our enemies," said Omar, in reference to Mohammed Zahir
Shah, who was king from 1933 to 1973. "The fate of any
collaborator with these (western) powers will be death," he
Al Qaeda vows revenge as U.S. warplanes hit Afghanistan
By Sayed Salahuddin and Stuart Doughty
14 Oct 2001
KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. warplanes pounded Afghanistan on Sunday in
a relentless campaign to root out Osama bin Laden and his shadowy al Qaeda
group which threatened to retaliate against Britain and the United States.
Waves of planes struck targets around the capital Kabul and three other key
cities into Sunday at the end of the first week of a U.S. air campaign
against Saudi-born militant bin Laden and Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.
CNN reported daylight raids on Sunday against southern Kandahar, the old
royal capital and Taliban redoubt.
U.S. warplanes swooped over darkened and curfew-bound Jalalabad in the east,
dropping some of their bombs on a military base, witnesses and news agencies
The first strikes hit an army installation and injured at least six people,
the private Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press said. Two more bombs
exploded on the outskirts, believed to be dotted with guerrilla camps.
"America has just wasted another $1,000," laughed Taliban fighter Hafiz
Ahmed Jan after the last bomb reverberated over the silent town, where the
Taliban say up to 200 people were killed in air raids last week. "All
Afghanistan is filled with mountains and rocks. There is nothing else.
America will find nothing."
The raids also brought defiant responses from al Qaeda and the Taliban.
STORM OF HIJACKED PLANES
Al Qaeda warned the United States and Britain to end the air strikes and get
out of the Gulf or suffer more violent attacks and a "storm of hijacked
planes," a threat the Bush administration dismissed as propaganda.
Hours earlier, U.S. President George W. Bush had sought to allay fears of
possible germ warfare attacks after several confirmed cases of anthrax, a
deadly biological bacteria that can be used as a weapon, in Florida, New
York and Nevada.
In his weekly radio address to the nation, Bush said authorities were taking
"strong precautions" as law enforcement agencies remained on high alert
after the FBI warned on Thursday of possible attacks in the coming days.
The Taliban flatly rejected the latest call by Bush to hand over bin Laden
in return for halting the air strikes.
"We once again want to say that their (the U.S.) intention is a war against
Muslims and Afghans," said Taliban Information Minister Mullah Qudratullah
Jamal. "Osama is not the issue and people have realised this by the crimes
they are committing."
In a statement broadcast on Qatar's al-Jazeera television network on
Saturday, al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Bu Ghaith told U.S. and British
"infidels" to leave the Gulf or else "fire will flare underneath their feet.
"We tell Bush and others in the U.S. administration that the storms will not
stop, particularly the storm of hijacked planes, until the strikes against
Afghanistan end and until Palestinian land is liberated," Bu Ghaith said.
"We also advise Americans and Britons, especially Muslims, children and all
those who oppose U.S. policy, not to ride planes or live in high buildings,"
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the statement was a clear admission
of responsibility for the September 11 attacks.
"It can leave no one in any doubt of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda's
intention to continue to conduct, incite and support acts of terrorism. This
is why we are determined to bring bin Laden, his al Qaeda network and those
who support and harbour them to account," Blair said in a statement.
Britain's Sunday Mirror newspaper quoted bin Laden's 18-year-old son
Abdullah in Pakistan as saying his father was hiding in a cave in the Afghan
mountains with 300 commandos and satellite equipment and would never be
"America and Britain will never track down my father," he said. "He has
vanished into the landscape -- he is invisible."
The Taliban estimates that more than 300 people, mostly civilians, have been
killed since air raids began on Oct 7 and on Saturday the Pentagon
acknowledged a 2,000-pound (900 kg) bomb had hit a house in Kabul after
missing its target at the airport. At least one person died and four were
wounded by the bomb.
"We regret the loss of any civilian life," the U.S. Defense Department said
in a statement. "Preliminary indications are that the accident occurred from
a targeting process error."
The strikes have cut off much of Kabul's communication links with the world,
Taliban officials said on Sunday.
With U.S. planes dropping smart bombs and missiles on one of the world's
most backward countries, Bush declared the first phase of the military
campaign a success.
"American forces dominate the skies over Afghanistan and we will use that
dominance to make sure terrorists can no longer freely use Afghanistan as a
base of operations," he said.
Bush had earlier assured jittery Americans the country's law enforcement
agencies were on high alert amid fears the postal system was being used to
wage biological warfare.
"I understand that many Americans are feeling uneasy," Bush said amid a
flurry of confirmed anthrax diagnoses and scares.
"But all Americans should be assured. We are taking strong precautions, we
are vigilant, we are determined, the country is alert, and the great power
of the American nation will be felt."
One person died from anthrax poisoning in Florida after receiving a letter
containing bacteria and seven colleagues tested positive. At least one
person tested positive at the NBC television network in New York.
And on Saturday authorities confirmed an envelope, mailed from Malaysia to a
Reno, Nevada branch of software giant Microsoft Corp, contained anthrax.
Malaysian police said on Sunday they are ready to help investigate that
While none of the cases has been tied to terrorism, Vice President Dick
Cheney said there could be links to bin Laden, and Washington had ample
evidence his Afghan-based followers were trained in how to spread biological
and chemical weapons.
Cheney said on Friday the U.S. had to "assume it (attacks) will happen
News of the NBC case led companies around the country to shut down their
mailrooms on Friday, sent people scurrying to hospital emergency rooms,
prompted patients to pressure doctors for the antibiotic ciprofloxacin and
the U.S. Postal Service to warn people to be vigilant for suspicious
In Canada, police were investigating circumstances surrounding a September
11 Air Canada flight from Toronto to New York after box-cutter knives were
found aboard the airliner which never left the ground, an airline
spokeswoman said on Saturday.
Box-cutters and knives were the weapons used by hijackers who took control
of four U.S. airliners on September 11 and smashed them into landmarks in
New York and Washington and a Pennsylvania field, killing nearly 5,400
AFGHAN OPPOSITION OFFENSIVE
As U.S. air raids in Afghanistan continued, senior Afghan opposition
commander General Abdul Rashid Dostum said anti-Taliban forces were
preparing a "fierce offensive" in the key northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
The U.S. airstrikes have yet to target the large concentration of Taliban
forces north of Kabul, which are blocking the advance of the opposition
Washington has promised Pakistan its military campaign will not give undue
advantage to the opposition, mostly made up of minority Uzbek and Tajik
"We are making preparations for a fierce offensive. In the near future a big
force will advance against the Taliban," Dostum told Uzbek television,
monitored by the BBC. "The Taliban have lost courage and there is panic
The U.S. military had Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in its sights on
the first night of its bombing raids but failed to kill him, according to
the New Yorker magazine.
In an excerpt released on Saturday from the forthcoming issue, journalist
Seymour Hersh cites intelligence and military sources on the incident, which
reportedly had Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "kicking a lot of glass and
Mullah Omar called on the world's one billion Muslims to decide between
supporting Afghanistan or the United States. "You the Muslims of the world,
who are watching with your own eyes the American atrocities on Afghanistan,
does your faith allow you to sit silent or to support America?" he said in a
message reported by the Afghan Islamic Press.
The call to arms by the Taliban and al Qaeda has been largely rejected in
the Muslim world, but anti-U.S. protests continued.
In Pakistan's southern Jacobabad, one person was killed and 12 injured on
Sunday when police fired in the air and used teargas against stone-throwing
demonstrators protesting against the presence of U.S. forces at the local
airport, witnesses said.
In Nigeria, authorities clamped a night curfew on the northern city of Kano
and issued a "shoot-on-sight" order after at least 20 people were killed in
anti-American riots in which churches, mosques and shops were set on fire.
In India, at least 12 people were injured when Hindus and Muslims clashed
over the burning of a bin Laden portrait.
About 20,000 people attended a protest march against the bombings in London and 14,000 protesters marched in Berlin.