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Posted: 11/15/2001 4:44:24 AM EDT
[size=4]US troops hunt bin Laden[/size=4] By Ben Fenton in Washington and Sandra Laville in Quetta (Filed: 15/11/2001) AMERICAN forces were on the roads of southern Afghanistan last night, exploiting the Taliban's collapse to take the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his al-Qa'eda network into the regime's heartland. Delta Force and Green Beret troops were reported to be in the mountainous region between Kabul and Kandahar, stopping travellers in the hope of gaining information about the whereabouts of bin Laden and his allies. The hope was that the terrorists would be flushed out into the open by the dramatic collapse of their Taliban hosts. Donald Rumsfeld, the American defence secretary, said: "We have been inserting some teams in the south. "They have been interdicting the main roads that connect the north to the south to see what is going on and to stop people that they think ought to be stopped." Mr Rumsfeld did not give further details. Tony Blair also stepped up the pressure during a broadcast on the BBC's Pashto service. He appealed for Afghans to turn in bin Laden and his allies and make a fortune from the $25 million reward offered by America. "I believe that there are people in Afghanistan who could help us," the Prime Minister said. "As you probably know, there's a very substantial - millions of dollars' worth - reward for his capture, for his yielding up to us. "I believe that if people want to help us and gain stability for Afghanistan in the long term, it is important that the terrorist network is shut down - and bin Laden, who after all is not Afghan and has nothing to do with the Afghan people. "He and his people have abused Afghanistan in the past few years. They have made Afghanistan a haven for terrorist networks and exporting terror around the world. They have been deeply reliant on the drugs trade. I think that, for many Afghan people, they will be glad to get rid of Osama bin Laden." British officials are hoping that a UN-sponsored conference of different groups who would make up a post-Taliban coalition in Afghanistan will be held at the weekend. A day after the capture of Kabul by the Northern Alliance, the Taliban's control continued to unravel. Heavy fighting was reported in and around the Taliban's headquarters, Kandahar, and the eastern city of Jalalabad, the headquarters of al-Qa'eda, fell to tribal fighters previously loyal to the fundamentalist regime. The Pentagon cautioned against assuming that the Taliban had collapsed and air strikes continued. But the main focus has shifted to the search for bin Laden. A day after many of Mullah Mohammed Omar's troops retreated to Kandahar, they were securing the outskirts against an assault by thousands of disillusioned Pathan tribesmen once loyal to the Taliban. The loose coalition of former mujahideen commanders in the south, the long-awaited "Southern Alliance", claimed that Kandahar would fall within days, although the Taliban said that their swift retreat from most of the rest of the country was a planned military tactic. Sohail Shaheen, the sole remaining foreign envoy of the embattled militia, said in Pakistan: "There is a new regrouping and a new programme will be worked out." - continued -
Link Posted: 11/15/2001 4:45:06 AM EDT
Rear Adml John Stufflebeem, the Pentagon's spokesman, said it was not possible to be sure how far this was true, but the battle for the city of Kandahar was reported to be continuing. "Much more remains to done," he said. There were conflicting reports as to who controlled the airport to the south of the city, with anti-Taliban Pathan leaders claiming that several thousand tribesmen loyal to them had seized the area. Abdullah Abdullah, the Northern Alliance foreign minister, said that Kandahar was in "total chaos". He said: "It is absolute confusion. The Taliban have lost control of the situation." A factor adding to the confusion was that it was not clear whether the many Pathan groups, which are notoriously fragmented, were working together or launching individual campaigns against the Taliban. One tribal leader, Hamid Karzai, speaking by satellite phone from central Afghanistan, said the Taliban were preparing for their last stand. "The latest message I have received is that the Taliban forces have established a defensive circle around greater Kandahar." Intelligence sources in Washington confirmed that Pathan tribes which had turned against the Taliban were involved in a fierce battle for control of the airport. Heavy fighting was also reported inside the city. The sources also confirmed that Jalalabad was now in the hands of Pathans who had deserted the Taliban. The Taliban issued a defiant statement saying that Omar and bin Laden were safe and would not be surrendered. At the same time they admitted hundreds of defections to southern opposition forces, increasing the chances of the leaders' betrayal. Counselling caution on the fluid situation, Mr Rumsfeld said: "I think one ought not to assume that anything is necessarily permanent at this point. "Until that country stabilises, things could move back and forth." He said that the Taliban could still recapture cities they had lost. But he added that America believed that the Taliban were no longer controlling strategy. "Al-Qa'eda has pretty much taken over control, as far as I can tell, in some portions of the country. "Some pieces of the Taliban are melting into the countryside, partly because they may have decided to toss in the towel; in other cases they may simply be waiting to counter-attack at some later time." Vice-President Dick Cheney said that the military progress apparent from outside was "a very good beginning to what is likely to be a long struggle". He added that it showed the earnestness of the United States in fulfilling its promise to rain destruction on those who sheltered and aided terrorists. "If anybody has any questions about whether or not we are determined to carry through, all they have to do is go to Afghanistan today and interview members of the Taliban - if they can find any. "I guess there are a couple of lessons in that for the hand-wringers who a week or two ago were saying, 'It is not going to work; you are not doing enough; you have been at it for three or four weeks; my gosh, the war is not over yet.' " See article at: [url]http://news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/11/15/war15.xml&sSheet=/news/2001/11/15/ixhome.html[/url] Eric The(IThoughtKandahar[u]Had[/u]Fallen!)Hun[>]:)]
Link Posted: 11/15/2001 4:48:18 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/15/2001 4:41:42 AM EDT by Major-Murphy]
Ah yes. Hunting the most dangerous animal on Earth... ....Man. (no better plot for a TV show. It's been used on "Gilligan's Island", "6 Million Dollar Man", "Fantasy Island", "Simpsons", on and on and on....)
Link Posted: 11/15/2001 4:56:39 AM EDT
Thanks for the update Eric
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