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Bush Condemns Afghanistan's Taliban


By PAULINE JELINEK
.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (Sept. 29) - President Bush condemned Afghanistan's Taliban rulers for harboring Osama bin Laden and his followers on Saturday and the United States pressed its military and diplomatic campaign against terror.

Peace groups marched in the capital, protesting that innocent lives could be lost in the coming retaliation against prime suspect bin Laden, believed hiding in Afghanistan.

In his weekly radio address, Bush said the Taliban, not the Afghan people, would be held responsible for harboring terrorists.

''The United States respects the people of Afghanistan and we are their largest provider of humanitarian support,'' he said. ''But we condemn the Taliban, and welcome the support of other nations in isolating that regime.''

Bush's condemnation of the Taliban followed two weeks of unsuccessful efforts to convince the Muslim rulers to hand over bin Laden. A Pakistani delegation failed again Friday and said the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, refused to discuss the Saudi exile. One of the Pakistani participants said, ''I don't think that Mullah Omar is afraid of war.''

The United States moved more equipment to the central Asia region, and more reservists donned uniforms after Friday's callup. The Pentagon said the Marine Corps would mobilize 191 reservists and the Navy 250 more to bring those activated so far to more than 16,600. An additional 5,000 National Guardsmen were being trained for security duty at America's commercial airports.

At Camp David, Bush consulted CIA director George Tenet, chief of staff Andrew Card and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. The White House released a photo showing the four around a table, a map of Afghanistan in the middle.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has spelled out a policy for offering assistance to opponents of the Taliban, administration officials said Saturday.

''We do not want to choose who rules Aghanistan, but we will assist those who seek a peaceful, economically developing, Afghanistan, free of terrorism,'' an administration official said, quoting from the policy memo.

Bush has made similar points in the past, but the memo is the first comprehensive explanation of U.S. policy, officials said Saturday.

''The Taliban do not represent the Afghan people, who never elected or chose the Taliban faction,'' one of the officials said.

Also Saturday, Bush aides worked on a plan to revive the struggling economy, including a 13-week extension of unemployments benefits and tax cuts. And aides said Bush is negotiating with Democrats over a minimum wage increase.

Law enforcement officials working on the investigation of the attack, have estimated it costs terrorists at least $500,000 to pull off the Sept. 11 attacks.

FBI agents tracked the hijackers' bank accounts, their communications and their travel tickets as they followed a trail that could lead to a small group of chief plotters in Europe and the Middle East, a law enforcement source said Saturday on condition of anonymity.

Bush used the radio address to give Americans an update on anti-terrorism efforts made in response to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

He reviewed moves this week to tighten security at America's 420 civilian airports; freeze financial sources used by terrorist; deploy the U.S. armed forces to points around the globe and roundup more international support for the struggle.

''All these actions make clear, our war on terror will be much broader than the battlefields and beachheads of the past,'' Bush said.

''This war will be fought wherever terrorists hide, or run, or plan,'' he said.

Activists and anarchists gathered in the streets in Washington chanting ''no war.'' Demonstrations originally planned to oppose globalization were transformed into an anti-war march.

''We're urging ... caution before they go to war in our name,'' 18-year-old Rachel Ettling of Grand Forks, N.D., said.

Other protesters burned an American flag. Workers at a construction site cursed marchers as they passed by.

At a press conference, former President Bill Clinton and his one-time political rival, Bob Dole, announced a new scholarship fund for families of those killed Sept. 11. They both praised the Bush administration for its approach so far.

On the diplomatic front, Undersecretary of State John Bolton met Saturday with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov to discuss forming an international coalition to fight terrorism.

International attention has focused particularly on former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which border Afghanistan and may provide a convenient platform for U.S. strikes.

Bolton had visited government leaders in Uzbekistan the day before traveling to Moscow.

Late Friday night the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution requiring all 189 U.N.-member nations to deny money, support and sanctuary to terrorists. The resolution was introduced and passed in just over 24 hours - lightning speed by U.N. standards.

In another development Saturday, Taliban officials held meetings in several areas around Afghanistan to prepare the public to defend the country in case of a U.S. attack, Kabul Radio reported. ''Participants expressed their readiness to defend Afghanistan ... their readiness for jihad (holy war) against America,'' it reported.

AP-NY-09-29-01 1748EDT

Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.

Crack force set to prise bin Laden from his lair
By Macer Hall
(Filed: 30/09/2001)


SPECIAL forces units are preparing to launch underground attacks on the network of tunnels and caves that conceal Osama bin Laden and his guerrilla fighters.

The SAS and American elite troops will attempt to penetrate the fortified subterranean hideouts to kill or capture terrorists under plans being drawn up by military strategists for a "warning shot" in the war against terror.

Commanders know, however, that such close-quarter combat under the mountains of southern Afghanistan could lead to heavy casualties.

Historically, Afghan fighters have used their detailed knowledge of the caves and hidden trails through the mountains to defeat invaders. Their ability to strike with surprise, then vanish, was the key to their success against the Soviet Army in the 1980s.

Bin Laden's forces have burrowed a complex web of tunnels and caves beneath the mountains. Each base is defended by gun emplacements and anti-aircraft missiles launchers. The networks have dozens of escape tunnels and are linked to observation posts on mountain sides.

An assault on one or more of the caves would need a substantial force of aircraft, artillery and airborne troops to support it. Air strikes with deep penetration weapons would begin the attack, to knock out defences and to blast holes into the caves.

The United States could launch Tomahawk Block III missiles, which are guided by the Global Positioning Satellite system and have 1,000lb warheads, from submarines or warships in the Gulf. For greater accuracy, GPS-guided GBU28 "bunker busting" bombs could be dropped by F15E Eagles, F16 Fighting Falcons or other attack aircraft.

Then a special forces team would be deployed by helicopter - CH-53 Sea Stallions are an option - to attack guerrillas flushed out by the bombing and infiltrate the tunnels. In addition to the SAS and US Delta Force, other elite units with mountain fighting capability may be involved in an attack, including the Americans' 75th Ranger Regiment and the Royal Marines 3 Commando Brigade.

Charles Heyman, the editor of Jane's World Armies, said: "It would be a very difficult operation, there is no doubt about that. Commanders will want a lot of troops and aircraft as well as artillery in support because many defences may still be in place after air strikes.

"The classic terrorist tactic is to desert these places and move away and not get themselves caught by properly organised military forces of any sort. But if there are people trying to defend them, you could have a really bloody battle on your hands."

Contingency plans for airlifting casualties out of the battle zone will also be necessary. American strategists are drawing on the experiences of the "tunnel rats" of the Vietnam War, the US soldiers who, armed with grenades, pistols and torches, fought in the hundreds of miles of tunnels dug by Communist guerillas.

While military technology has moved on, with thermal imaging equipment used to track enemies, the battle would come down to the same techniques of hand-to-hand fighting in claustrophobic conditions.

The terrorists' tunnels are believed to be able to conceal thousands of fighters for months. They include dormitories and other living quarters, communication centres and armouries stacked with Kalashnikov rifles, mortars, ammunition and explosives.

Some of the caves have lighting and electricity supplied by generators and makeshift systems of hot water pipes for heating. Al-Qaeda fighters live a sparse existence with just the Koran for comfort.

Bin Laden was known to be based in a cave in a mountain range above Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan, the subterranean centre of his global terror network, until disappearing before the US hijack attacks.

His underground lair was reported to have a library of Islamic texts, an arms store and a communication room including computers, faxes and a satellite telephone.

Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2001.

One of the sweetest and funniest movies of the 90s. Some people didn't like the main character, but I found him fascinating and charming in a squirmy sort of way. Also one of the best and least contrived happy endings I've seen in a movie recently. Bill Murray is great!
- Submitted by Jim

Covert Ops Reported in Afghanistan
U.S. Team Reported Captured; Senior U.S. Official Says Report 'Is Inaccurate'


By Peter Millership and Raja Asghar
Reuters

WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD (Sept. 29) - President Bush vowed Saturday to crush terrorism as American forces built up around Afghanistan amid unconfirmed reports that U.S. elite troops were already operating in the land-locked nation.

A Gulf television station said that Afghan security forces had seized U.S. special forces troops in the country, but the ruling Taliban swiftly denied the report. A senior U.S. administration official said, ''I believe it is inaccurate.''

The conflicting reports came as pressure mounted on the hard-line Muslim Taliban in Kabul to hand over the world's most wanted man, Saudi-born Islamic militant Osama bin Laden, and Bush prepared Americans for war.

''We did not seek this conflict, but we will end it,'' Bush said in his weekly radio address. The president later held a 30-minute videoconference with his national security team from his Camp David retreat in the Maryland mountains.

The United States has deployed ships, troops and planes around Afghanistan, causing an exodus of people from its towns and cities. Taliban fighters have prepared for imminent war.

Financial markets have been hurt by the prospect of war and recession in the aftermath of devastating attacks by hijacked airliners on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon on Sept. 11 which left nearly 6,500 people dead or missing. Resilient stocks on Wall Street and in Europe, however, fought back Friday to close firmer.

Under siege from the rest of the world for keeping the millionaire exile as their ''guest,'' and under attack from opposition fighters, the Taliban's position has never appeared more perilous since they seized control five years ago.

Afghan elders and military commanders met the former king of Afghanistan in Italy Saturday as momentum appeared to build behind the monarch's call for a traditional grand assembly to resolve his country's woes.

Ex-king Mohammad Zahir Shah, who has lived in exile since 1973, has become a focal point of diplomatic activity to find an alternative to the Taliban which has protected bin Laden, 44, since 1996.

Bush named bin Laden as the prime suspect in the terror attacks and has been building a coalition to support a U.S. war on terrorism. A decade ago, his father President George Bush carefully assembled a coalition to fight Iraq in the Gulf War.

The escalation has sent reverberations around the region. The 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, representing the world's 1.2 billion Muslims, will hold an emergency meeting next month to focus on the crisis, Qatari officials said Saturday.

At home, Bush has overwhelming backing for his strategy in opinion polls but Saturday hundreds of protesters staged an anti-war march in Washington. Many of the same demonstrators had planned to protest against annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank but the gathering was canceled due to the attacks.

Political rivals, including ex-President Clinton who launched a $100 million drive for families of attack victims Saturday, joined the Republican president in a show of unity.

REPORTS OF SPECIAL FORCES SWIRL

U.S. media have said small groups of elite U.S. Special Operations forces, which include such units as the army's Green Berets and the Navy SEALs, have been operating in the rugged landscape of Afghanistan ahead of bombing raids.

Qatar's al-Jazeera television reported Saturday the capture of U.S. special forces inside Afghanistan.

Quoting a military source from bin Laden's al Qaeda network, al-Jazeera said that five special forces members -- three Americans and two Afghans with U.S. citizenship -- had been caught as they were scouting near the Iranian border.

They were armed and carried maps of al Qaeda sites, al-Jazeera said.

Asked about the report, the Taliban's defense minister, Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, told Reuters: ''It is totally wrong, we deny this news that they have come to our areas.''

A Pentagon spokesman would say only: ''We've seen the stories and we are not going to get into the habit of commenting on every story that comes out of the region.''

The opposition Northern Alliance cast doubt on the report.

''Unless the command and control system of the Taliban is crushed in a way that they lose control of the situation ... it is difficult to believe that the special forces could operate,'' said Northern Alliance Foreign Minister Dr Abdullah Abdullah.

ABC News, CNN and USA Today have reported small groups of U.S. special forces troops operated in Afghanistan recently.

TALIBAN FIRM, ISOLATED

Taliban leaders Saturday stood firm and isolated in their defense of bin Laden, unmoved by appeals from revered Islamic clerics from neighboring Pakistan, the one remaining country to recognize the Taliban.

The clerics, from the Deobandi school of Islam which is the source of the Taliban's strict interpretation of the Koran, returned empty-handed but agreed with the Taliban's reclusive leader Mullah Mohammad Omar on the need for more talks.

In Omar's stronghold of Kandahar bearded fighters with Kalashnikov rifles were seen preparing for a possible U.S. attack. Tests of anti-aircraft defenses sent people scurrying.

Pakistan, caught in the grip of the Afghan crisis with opinion divided by President Pervez Musharraf's decision to cooperate with the United States, said it was stepping up security. There are 2 million Afghan refugees in the country.

As a convoy of emergency U.N. food aid rolled across the Pakistan border, the Taliban went about business as usual, postponing until Sunday the trial of eight Western aid workers accused of attempting to spread Christianity.

Apart from a British woman journalist arrested after being found disguised as an Afghan, the aid workers appear to be the only Western foreigners in Taliban-controlled areas -- which make up 90 percent of Afghanistan.

Taliban officials said bin Laden, who has denied involvement in the attacks, was now believed to have received a hand-delivered fatwa, or religious edict, from 1,000 of Afghanistan's leading clerics issued Sept. 20.

But no response had been received to the request that he leave the country of his own free will in his own time.

The Taliban have refused to hand over bin Laden, citing an ancient Afghan tradition that insists on hospitality for all who request help -- even at risk to the host's life.

In a sign that support for the Taliban may be starting to erode, tribal leaders from southern Afghanistan gathered just over the border in the Pakistani city of Quetta Friday to write the obituary of Taliban rule and devise a new government for a land ravaged by war and clan rivalry.

The daring meeting of about 20 elders -- all allies of the Taliban -- at the home of a supporter of Zahir Shah was evidence of the cracks opening up as the people of Afghanistan face the world's most modern army.

FORMER KING IN EXILE

Several exiled Afghan leaders and groups urged Zahir Shah, 86, to play a part in overseeing selection of a new government.

On Saturday the bookish monarch, who now lives in a leafy villa in the northern outskirts of Rome, met 16 political and military leaders believed to come mainly from Afghanistan's majority Pashtun ethnic group to discuss a grand council.

His advisers were due to hold crucial talks later this weekend with a delegation from the Northern Alliance, which is locked in battle with the Taliban and whose support will be needed if a grand council is to have genuine significance.

Mullah Omar was quoted in a rare interview Saturday as saying that the former king had no role to play in the nation.

Omar told the conservative Iranian newspaper Entekhab: ''He is too old and weak. ... Imposed puppets do not last long in Afghanistan, and with the grace of God the future of the Taliban shall be bright anyway.''

Afghanistan's opposition warned that outside attempts to restore Zahir Shah would provoke further turmoil.

''Any foreign intervention as such is unacceptable for us and is not justified,'' said Sayed Najibullah Hashimi, a spokesman for Northern Alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani.

As an investigation into the bombers of the United States proceeded, the Washington Post reported Saturday the 19 suspects in the airborne assaults spent about $500,000 preparing the operation and four of the hijackers were trained in camps in Afghanistan run by bin Laden.

The Post said the operation was launched from overseas, beginning several years ago in Germany with support in Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan.

Germany announced the arrest of three Middle East nationals Saturday on suspicion of planning future attacks on Germany and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said military action alone could not stem the threat of terrorism.

REUTERS Reut16:47 09-29-01

Copyright 2001 Reuters Limited.

NY Rescuers Describe Horror Of Twin Towers Collapse
Provider: NY Post
WRITTEN BY : NY Post, DATE POSTED: 9/12/01


NEW YORK CITY - The 911 call came in seconds after the first hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center at 8:45 a.m. - signaling the start of the blackest day in New York history.

Dispatchers immediately started mobilizing equipment. But the first firefighters did not have to travel far - they came from a station on Liberty Street, only a few blocks away.

Many of them were almost certainly among the victims when the catastrophe doubled 18 minutes later. Thousands watched in horror and disbelief as a second plane filled with passengers slammed into the other Twin Tower.

As fire licked at the sides of the buildings and smoke billowed into the sky, both the police and the FDNY went to an "all-city" call - yanking in everyone on the payroll, including those off-duty or on vacation.

Soon, the feds - including FBI and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents - were descending on the scene of America's worst-ever terror attack. But before officers could begin to assess what was happening, the world started crumbling.

At 9:50 a.m., the South Tower heaved into itself, shaking the streets as it sank into a heap of dust, smoke and debris.

Firefighter Dennis Fisher said he and his colleagues had just arrived on the scene when it happened - and were chased down the street "by a thick, huge black cloud of smoke. It was like a mushroom."

When they returned, the street was deserted.

"There wasn't a sound of a human voice," he said.

Emergency medical worker Orlando Abreus was among a group who sought cover as the second tower fell.

"We looked up, we could see people jumping, and parts all on the floor," he said.

Mike Carter, the vice-president of the firefighters union, guessed that about half of the 400 firefighters first on the scene may be dead.

"We have entire companies that are just missing," he said. "We lost chiefs . . . We're going to have to bury a lot of people."

Police estimated at least 78 of New York's Finest are missing.

At least two top FDNY officials were reported missing, First Deputy Bill Feehan and Chief of Department Peter Ganci.

Cops trapped in the debris screamed for help over their radios. Their frantic colleagues, unable to reach them, listened in anguish to calls of "Help!" "Come get me!" and "I can't breathe!"

At least 30 fire trucks and two police emergency-service vehicles disappeared in the rubble. Several police cars were scorched, their tires melting onto the pavement.

Just before 10 a.m., as word spread that terror attacks were going on at the same time in the nation's capital, the U.N. building was evacuated, train service was suspended citywide and bridges and tunnels were shut down. The second tower swayed back and forth as the rescue effort continued.

Screaming, people ran north, away from the building, turning around in time to see it disappear at 10:28 a.m.

As Gov. Pataki sent word that he was calling in the National Guard pandemonium raged.

Sirens wailed from every direction as ambulances sped down Broadway. But for every ambulance that arrived, there were dozens of people waiting.


Copyright: NY Post





NEW YORK - In a press conference late Tuesday, New York city authorities estimated that 300 firefighters and 70 police officers who responded to the suicide bombings at the World Trade Center are missing and feared dead.

"We have entire companies that are just missing. We lost chiefs," said Mike Carter, vice president of the firefighters union.

Among those reported missing in New York are FDNY Chief of Department Pete Ganci, 1st Deputy Commissioner William Freehan and Raymond M. Downey, FDNY Special Operation Commanding Officer, as well as Rev. Michael Judge, the Department's Chaplain.

"It's just a devastating thing," said the visibly traumatized New York Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, whose weariness showed in his voice and rumpled clothing. "I know the department will recover, but I don't know how."

The Commissioner was apparently working with Downey shortly before he the collapse. "Ray Downey, almost 40 years of service, telling me how dangerous it was when we got there, all the things we needed to do to get the people out of there...It's just devastating."

FDNY has established a phone number, (718) 999-2541, to offer families of fire and EMS personnel whatever information is available about their personnel.


A police source said 70 officers were missing. The New York police department is offering information about missing officers at the following number: (718) 677-8238.

The casualties of civilians in New York is still not known, but the number is expected to mount in the thousands. An estimated 50,000 people work in the World Trade Center. At least 265 were passengers in the four hijacked airliners involved in the terrorist attacks.

Commissioner Von Essen and Mayor Rudolph Guiliani said in the hour or so between the first suicide bombing and the time the Twin Towers collapsed, emergency personnel on scene helped many of those escape, but it is still not known how many are still buried in the rubble.
Giuliani said rescue teams were able to work closer to the collapse site during the night, and were hopeful that there are pockets where people are still alive.

The mayor said that thousands of volunteers have arrived in lower Manhattan to help dig people out of the wreckage. He said the operation has not been slowed by the dark of night as the area is now illuminated with auxiliary lights. But the rescue effort has been hampered by debris -- some blocks of which are 100 feet high -- fires and surrounding buildings rocked by the blast.

Firefighters were still battling the fire at the Pentagon early Wednesday morning. Arlington County (Va.) fire officials estimated that 100 to 800 may have died in the suicide bombing that struck the Pentagon building.

At least 65 died as a fourth airliner crashed about 8 miles east of Jennerstown, Pa.

Approximately 400 firefighters were on the scene moments after the first plane crashed into the World Trade center. Up to 11,000 firefighters eventually responded to the attacks, with more arriving from outlying areas, said Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

``Right now they're working their way through mountains of rubble. They're still fighting fires actively in other buildings associated with the World Trade Center complex,'' Schaitberger said.

Schaitberger feared the attacks will have killed more firefighters than any other in U.S. history. ``It's going to be a devastating number,'' he said.

Chief John Buckman, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, suggested that all fire departments fly their flags at half mast Wednesday in respect for the New York firefighters who died in the line of duty at the World Trade Center as the towers collapsed.

Firefighters across the nation expressed grief and shock at the devastating tragedy. "To honor our fallen brothers and sisters in public safety, several members of our department in Lawrence, Kansas, have started putting together ribbons for our fire and medical apparatus," said an e-mail from firefighter Brian Aeschliman. "They
consist of three different ribbons. One red for the firefighters, one blue for the police and EMS, and one black to recognize our loss....We hope to see every vehicle involved in public safety as well as personal vehicles displaying these colors to honor our fallen.

Firefighters in other countries were grieving as well. From the Netherlands, Maarten Van't Hof, vice fire chief of the Barendrecht Volunteer Fire Department, said the flag at his station was at half mast to show its grief for America's fallen "brothers and sisters." "Believe me, most of my fellow firefighters told me they have weeped as we saw the pictures on television," wrote Van't Hof in an e-mail to Firefighting.com. "I did too."

FireDonations.com, an online service that allows users on the Internet to make charitable donations following tragedies where Firefighters, EMS, and Rescue Workers are injured or killed, is devoting an area of its home page to channeling funds for FDNY's victims and their families.

"We at FireDonations.com extend our prayers and appreciation to all those involved in the relief efforts triggered by the terrorist attacks on America," said Joe Gagnon, a professional firefighter who heads the service. For more information, visit the company's Web site at http://www.firedonations.com or contact Gagnon at (877) 863-4783.

Wendy Norris of Firefighter Ministries, a nonprofit organization based in Clearwater Texas, will hold a critical incident stress debriefing in Firefighting.com's live chat rooms Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The organization is also offering counseling to emergency personnel and their families via telephone at (281) 335-5434 or via e-mail at lifesupport@firefighting.com.

Fire, rescue and EMS personnel who wish to help in the search and rescue and relief efforts should contact their local emergency management coordinator. "We would prefer that they work through the mutual aid chain and deal with their local county coordinator," said a spokeman from NY State's Emergency Operations Center.

Volunteer medical personnel, paramedics, nurses and doctors, are being coordinated by the Red Cross. For more information, call 1 (800) 801-8029. The hotline for nurses is 1 (800) 628-0193. Doctors who wish to donate their services should call (518) 431-7600.


Bin Laden Profiled
A TIME.com primer on the Saudi 'superterrorist' in the spotlight following the attacks on New York and Washington
BY TONY KARON




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