Global Policy Forum

Afghans: We Won't Surrender Bin Laden


Taliban leaders lashed out at a UN threat to impose sanctions
if the suspected terrorist is not turned over.

By Amir Shah

Associated Press
October 17, 1999

Kabul, Afghanistan - Afghanistan's Taliban rulers yesterday rejected a U.N. demand to surrender suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and sharply criticized the world body for threatening sanctions against the war-shattered nation. "We will never give up Osama at any price," the Taliban's foreign minister, Mullah Mohammed Hassan Akhund, said. He was responding to Friday's decision by the U.N. Security Council to impose limited economic sanctions on the Taliban if it did not hand over bin Laden by Nov. 14. The millionaire Saudi Arabian exile is wanted in connection with the bombings last year of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.

Akhund said a Taliban inquiry into U.S. allegations exonerated bin Laden when no country came forward with evidence to substantiate the charge. "No proof came from anyone, especially America, that Osama was involved in terrorist activities," Akhund said in a Pashtu-language statement issued in Kabul. Akhund said the United Nations had lost its credibility "because it is a servant of the United States." The Taliban has said before that it will not hand over bin Laden because it does not have an extradition treaty with the United States and because bin Laden, a guest in Afghanistan, was a veteran of the 1980s war against invading Soviet soldiers.

The threats from the United States and United Nations violate Afghanistan's sovereignty, Akhund said. "Our independence is our honor and it is the reason that we fought our jihad [holy war] against the Russians," he said. To expel bin Laden or surrender him to the United States "would be against the principles of Islam," he said.

Last year, the United States launched a missile attack on eastern Afghanistan in an attempt to destroy training camps believed to be operated by bin Laden. Several people were killed. The United States earlier imposed economic sanctions against the Taliban, although economic activity between Washington and Kabul is minimal.

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