Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Bin Laden forces cornered, student pilot charged

KABUL/WASHINGTON (REUTERS) — Afghan fighters cornered Osama bin Laden’s troops in “one last base” Tuesday as the United States honored those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks.

In Washington, more details of a videotape of Osama bin Laden discussing the Sept. 11 attacks at a dinner emerged after a special screening for members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. President Bush is expected to release the tape Wednesday.

Bin Laden, the Saudi-born militant accused by the United States of masterminding the deadly September attacks and long protected by the now-routed Taliban, may be making a last stand with his followers.

In Afghanistan, tribal forces, aided by a rain of U.S. bombs, said they pushed diehard fighters from bin Laden’s al Qaeda network into a final stronghold near Tora Bora in the east. “Bin Laden’s supporters are now confined to one last base,” said commander Mohammad Amin.

Amin and a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition both played down media reports that the fighters had offered to surrender by a Wednesday morning deadline set by their pursuers.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressed concern that al Qaeda and Taliban leaders might flee into neighboring Pakistan from their besieged Tora Bora mountain cave and tunnel complex.

“It’s a very complicated area to try to seal, and there’s just no way you can put a perfect cork in the bottle,” he said, noting that U.S. ally Pakistan was trying to shut its porous border.

Pakistan said neither bin Laden nor his followers would find sanctuary if they managed to slip across the remote border.

U.S. Senators who watched the latest bin Laden tape, found in Afghanistan, said it showed him recounting the Sept. 11 attacks in “casual, chatty conversation.”

Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said bin Laden related how he heard about the first hijacked plane crashing into the World Trade Center on the radio at his mountain headquarters and urged those around him to wait because “there will be more.”

Durbin and another U.S. official said bin Laden mentioned Mohamed Atta, suspected of hijacking the first plane that struck the twin towers, as being the leader of the group. On the 40-minute homemade tape, bin Laden also expressed amusement that some of the hijackers did not know they were on suicide missions, officials said.

“If there are any doubters left in the world, this tape is clear evidence of Osama bin Laden’s guilt in the September 11 terrorism,” Durbin said.

America mourns

Meanwhile, factional tensions rose in Kandahar, and officials in Kabul insisted foreign peacekeepers should be held to 1,000 and have a very limited role.
But U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, in Kabul for the first time since the Taliban fled the city a month ago, rejected concerns over the size of the proposed force.

“The force … will come as a friend, not as an enemy,” Brahimi said. “So I think the issue of numbers is not going to be a problem, and also what it does and does not do will be the subject of an agreement with the (Afghan) authorities.”

The size and composition of the force have yet to be defined by the U.N. Security Council, which hopes to approve the peacekeeping troops and authorize deployment on Friday.

For the United States and its allies, 8:46 a.m. Dec. 11 in New York was a time to look back to the attacks three months earlier that sparked the Afghan war to get bin Laden and overthrow his Taliban protectors.

At the same minute as the first of two planes struck New York’s World Trade Center, crowds paid silent tribute to the dead as a crane hoisted a huge stars-and-stripes flag over the ruins.

The latest figures revise the death toll to 3,278 in New York, the Pentagon and on the fourth hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

Commemorative events were held in more than 80 countries, and in space, U.S. and Russian astronauts stopped work on the orbiting international space station.

At the White House, Bush vowed the dead would never be forgotten. “We remember the cruelty of the murderers and the pain and anguish of the murdered. Every one of the innocents who died on September 11 was the most important person on earth to somebody. Every death extinguished a world,” he said.

With the strict Islamic Taliban militia driven from power in Afghanistan, Bush shifted the focus in the U.S. war on terrorism to stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

In a speech at the Citadel, a South Carolina military college, he said “rogue states” were the most likely sources of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and they would be treated as enemies if they aided “terrorists.”

“America’s next priority in the war on terrorism is to protect against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them,” he said.

“We cannot accept and we will not accept states that harbor, finance, train or equip the agents of terror. Those nations that violate this principle will be regarded as hostile regimes. They have been warned, they are being watched, and they will be held to account,” Bush said, without naming any countries.

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