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TOI: US will suffer more than Russians: Mullah Omar
By TimesIndia

15/10/2001 12:15 pm Mon

US will suffer more than Russians: Omar

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," Omar asserted.

"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 stressed.
( AFP )

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 said.

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.


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," he said.

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 caught.

"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 incident.

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 again".

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 packages.

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 people.


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 Northern Alliance.

Washington has promised Pakistan its military campaign will not give undue advantage to the opposition, mostly made up of minority Uzbek and Tajik ethnic groups.

"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 among them."

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 breaking doors".

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.