Taliban knows the whereabouts of bin Laden
The U.S. confirmed Sunday that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the suspected perpetrator of the Sept. 11 attacks, is in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban.
The Taliban’s ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, told reporters in Islamabad Sunday the Taliban knows bin Laden’s location and is hiding him for his own safety.
“Osama is in Afghanistan, but he is at an unknown place for his safety and security,” Zaeef said. “Osama bin Laden is in our control. He is under the control of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, and because of his safety, only security people who are responsible for his safety know about his whereabouts and no one else.”
Earlier statements from the Taliban denied any knowledge of bin Laden’s locale, saying he had di
The terrorist leader’s exact location may not be known, but in an interview with CNN, Zaeef said bin Laden’s general vicinity is known.
“We have said that we don’t know exactly where he is. That doesn’t mean that we are not aware of his whereabouts,” Zaeef said. “The location is shifting all the time, but we know where he is.”
Zaeef said Taliban security officials are assigned to bin Laden at all times.
Taliban will not hand over bin Laden
Despite the Taliban’s knowledge of bin Laden’s hideout, as of yet, they will not comply with U.S. demands to hand him over.
The Taliban sent a message to bin Laden telling him to leave at his own leisure. However, bin Laden has still not responded to the Taliban’s letter.
“The ulema (council of clerics) recommendation was handed to him,” Zaeef said. “There has been no response.”
The Bush administration insists the Taliban turn bin Laden over. Government officials in Afghanistan said they would not cooperate without strong evidence that bin Laden was the perpetrator of the attacks.
“As long as they are not taking the way of negotiations and talks, we are not going to discuss any surrenders,” Zaeef said.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was not hopeful bin Laden would be turned over.
“We haven’t been able to succeed in moderating their views on surrendering Osama bin Laden,” Musharraf said in an interview with CNN.
In many speeches following the attacks, Bush promised a military response if the Taliban does not turn over bin Laden and those involved in the terrorist network al Qaeda.
Already, Bush has retaliated by freezing the Taliban’s assets.
“We condemn the Taliban, and welcome the support of other nations in isolating that regime,” Bush said in a radio address Saturday.
Taliban says U.S. won’t attack
The Taliban’s leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, told Afghani citizens in a radio broadcast Sunday not to worry about the possibility of a U.S. military strike, citing the cowardice of the American people.
“Americans do not have the courage to come here,” Omar said.
U.S. military forces have already been deployed to various areas around Afghanistan.
In the interview, Omar warned the United States against attacking Afghanistan and the Taliban and compared any attack by the United States to the previous attack on Afghanistan by the U.S.S.R.
“If you attack us, there will be no difference between you and the Russians,” Omar said. “We are peace-loving and we hate terrorism. The murder of one person is the same as the murder of all humanity.”
The leader of the Taliban also called U.S. policies into question.
“Whatever the Americans are facing is a result of their policies,” Omar said. “And the U.S. authorities should review their policies and should not unnecessarily create problems for Muslims.”
Bush has been careful to direct response to the attacks to the suspected responsible party and not the entire country of Afghanistan.
“The United States respects the people of Afghanistan, and we are their largest provider of humanitarian aid,” Bush said.
Bush addresses Americans
In a radio address Saturday, Bush reported to Americans on the progress of the ongoing “war on terrorism.”
With each speech Bush gives, he more clearly reveals the government’s intentions.
“This is a different kind of war, which we will wage aggressively and methodically to disrupt and destroy terrorism,” Bush said.
Bush also acknowledged preparations for a military response have begun.
“In recent days, many members of our military have left their homes and families and begun moving into a place for missions to come,” Bush said.
“Thousands of reservists have been called to active duty. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardmen are being deployed to points around the globe, ready to answer when their country calls.”
International cooperation has been a key part of Bush’s plans, and he will continue to negotiate with world leaders to acquire allies around the world.
“International cooperation is gaining momentum. This week, I met with the prime ministers of two of America’s closest friends, Canada and Japan,” Bush said. “Other countries, from Russia to Indonesia, are giving strong support as the war against terrorism moves forward. America is grateful to the nations who have cut off diplomatic ties with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which is sheltering terrorists.”
Bush also announced his request to Congress for new law-enforcement authority to allow better tracking of terrorist communications. However, some groups are concerned these measures could infringe on Americans’ civil liberties.
As in previous speeches, Bush assured Americans the government is in control and will win the war against terrorism.
“We did not seek this conflict, but we will win it. America will act deliberately and decisively, and the cause of freedom will prevail,” Bush said.
Bush announces two anti-terror positions
In response to the attacks, Bush and Congress have acted quickly to create legislation that will allow the president to use force, help the economy, aid the airline industry, provide victims and families with economic aid and provide emergency funds to New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Most recently, Bush has announced the creation of high-level anti-terror government positions.
On Sept. 20, Bush addressed Congress and the nation and announced the creation of a new position in response to the attacks.
“Tonight, I announce the creation of a Cabinet-level position reporting directly to me, the Office of Homeland Security. And tonight, I also announce a distinguished American to lead this effort, to strengthen American security: a military veteran, an effective governor, a true patriot, a trusted friend, Pennsylvania’s Tom Ridge,” Bush said in his address Thursday, Sept. 20.
In addition to this position, three administration officials told the Associated Press the government will create a position to oversee “cybersecurity” and a position to coordinate anti-terror efforts with military and intelligence counterparts.
Richard Clarke, who currently heads the government’s counterterrorism team, will now head the new Office of Cyberspace Security. He will be responsible for protecting the nation’s information infrastructure from attack.
Retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing will fill the second position and coordinate intelligence and military resources for the anti-terror campaign.