Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Taliban Leader Calls Urgent Meeting, Asks for Help

KABUL (REUTERS) – On Sunday, the spiritual leader of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban movement called an urgent meeting of senior Islamic clerics to discuss the defense of his isolated nation. His main appeal was to Muslim nations for help.

The people of the landlocked and conflict-ravaged land that has given refuge to prime terror suspect Osama bin Laden braced for war. The threat of war has sent residents fleeing Kabul or stocking up on food, prices are soaring and the Afghani currency is sliding.

“As regards the possible attack by America on the sacred soil of Afghanistan, veteran honorable ulemas (clerics) should come to Kabul for a Sharia decision,” Mullah Omar said in a statement broadcast on the Taliban’s Voice of Shariat radio.

“The valorous nation can defend Islam and their country in the light of their verdict,” he said.

Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal told Reuters the meeting would take place by Wednesday, and that Omar, who rarely ventures outside the southern city of Kandahar, would not attend. Up to about 1,000 delegates could be there.

In a sign of mounting nervousness among the purist Taliban, the movement appealed to the Organization for Islamic Conference (OIC) and Muslim states for help in case of an attack by the United States, a Taliban official in Kandahar told a Reuters reporter in the western Pakistani city of Quetta.


The decision to appeal for help from the OIC was taken at a special meeting of the Supreme Council of the Taliban, which convened in Kandahar late on Saturday with the reclusive Omar in the chair, the official said. The OIC does not recognize the Taliban.

“We should unite against our enemies who want to crush us because we are Muslim,” the official quoted Omar as saying.

A team of senior Pakistan officials is flying to Kandahar on Monday to press the ruling Taliban to hand over fugitive bin Laden and help prevent a potential catastrophe in the region.

The Taliban has said it cannot hand him over without proof. On Saturday, Omar issued a call for jihad, or holy war, against the United States – and neighboring states such as traditional supporter Pakistan – if they attacked or assisted an attack on Afghanistan.

On Sunday, Omar said on Shariat radio that all Afghans should unite in prayer “to come out victorious in the current situation.”

Omar’s call came as almost all remaining Westerners in the capital evacuated ahead of expected U.S. attacks aimed at exacting retribution on Saudi-born Islamic zealot bin Laden and his Taliban protectors.

With Iran announcing it was sealing its eastern border with Afghanistan, opposition fighters controlling a narrow northern corridor and Pakistan pledge to support U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, Kabul residents were feeling increasingly vulnerable.

“It is a very fearful situation, and I have definitely to admit it is something I never felt before,” Robert Monin, head of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation, said as they joined the exodus from Afghanistan.

Even as the ICRC – the most reluctant of aid organizations to leave danger zones – pulled out of Afghanistan, momentum toward a confrontation between the United States and the Taliban appeared to be growing.

President Bush has said bin Laden, who has been sheltered by the Taliban despite U.N. demands he be turned over, was the prime suspect in last Tuesday’s suicide attacks that killed an estimated 5,000 people in New York and Washington.

With Bush emphatically stating that Washington would target not only those behind the terror attacks but those who shelter them, the Taliban urged Washington not to attack.

“The stance of the Islamic Emirate (Afghanistan) … toward the probable American attack is that they should use logic and wisdom,” Information Minister Jamal told reporters in Kabul.

The Taliban insist neither they nor bin Laden had the capacity to organize an international plot that saw trained pilots hijack large passenger jets and crash them into the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

Bin Laden tried to deflect U.S. retribution for the attacks, issuing a fresh denial of responsibility.

“I am residing in Afghanistan. I have taken an oath of allegiance to [Omar], which does not allow me to do such things from Afghanistan,” the multi-millionaire was quoted as saying in a statement.

“We have been blamed in the past, but we were not involved,” said the statement in Arabic, sent by an aide from an unknown location in Afghanistan to the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press.

The United States had been demanding the surrender of bin Laden even before the latest attacks, accusing him of masterminding the simultaneous destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998.

His exact location in Afghanistan has always been a mystery, and he is thought to move continually. But it is assumed that he is based near Kandahar, which is home to the senior Taliban leadership and the effective capital city.

The United States failed to hit bin Laden with a 1998 cruise missile attack on training camps for militants that he operates in Afghanistan, but Bush emphasized that those behind last week’s suicide assaults on New York and Washington would be “smoked out” wherever they were.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *