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Northern Alliance envoy discusses retaliation

Afghan Northern Alliance spokesman Haron Amin  

Haron Amin is an envoy and spokesman for Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, the group that has been fighting the Taliban for several years. He joined CNN correspondent Judy Woodruff in Washington to discuss the United States and British bombing in Afghanistan.

WOODRUFF: Mr. Amin, first of all, your reaction to what's happened today?

AMIN: Well, we do welcome the resolve by the international community to strike Osama bin Laden's networks in Afghanistan as well as the facilities that the Taliban have provided for them. Theirs is a very interlinked and intertwined relationship, and one could not be dislodged without the other.

WOODRUFF: Between Mr. bin Laden and the Taliban...

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AMIN: And the Taliban, indeed. And the two have to be done -- the rollback of the Taliban as well as the hunt down of Osama bin Laden -- have to be done together. This is the initial phase. We welcome it. I think we see it as an opportunity to be able to rid Afghanistan of the hub of terrorists that have gathered in Afghanistan for so many years. And of course, we're ready on the ground; when the time comes, we'll engage also.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me just ask you, in part, a question I put to some of the generals who are serving as our military analysts. This is a very broad-based effort. We're going in the major population centers with bombs and cruise missiles and so forth, and yet, the people the United States is fighting hide in caves, go to places that may not be reachable by missiles and bombs unless we know precisely where they are. So how much headway do you think you can literally make against an enemy like this?

AMIN: Well, we have fought them in the past. We know the terrain. We know the geography. And what needs to happen is the rollback of the Taliban should precede anything else. With this targeting -- with the specific targeting of the territories and facilities of the Taliban, I think that could be made very feasible -- their communications, their air force capability, the ground capability. When that happens, the rollback is possible.

With the rollback, with the utility of special ops, international communities...

WOODRUFF: Special ops meaning?

AMIN: Special operations forces...

WOODRUFF: Going in on the ground...

AMIN: Going in on the ground, securing specific positions and then targeting those specific positions, I think this could be done. But it has to be first with the rollback of the Taliban, then the hunt-down of these specific camps and the caves and so on and so forth.

WOODRUFF: What do you mean by rollback?

AMIN: Well, what I mean specifically is that the Taliban has to be pushed back, that they have to be pushed back from their positions at the frontline of Afghanistan. They have to be targeted from the ground force, but first...

WOODRUFF: Right now, they control 85 percent of the country.

AMIN: Well, our estimate indicates that's at best 65 percent of the country, but we already have estimations that a lot of them will face disarray, and we've already gotten 800 of them that defected to us in Badghis, about 200 in Laghman, so we see this as...

WOODRUFF: Just in the last...

AMIN: In the last couple of days.

WOODRUFF: Today, we have this videotape made available from Osama bin Laden. We don't know when it was taped, but we did show most of it. Just a few minutes ago, we re-aired a portion of it. Let me just read to you part of what he says here. He says, "These events" -- and he's talking about a succession of events, what the United States has done over the years -- "have divided the whole world into two sides, the side of the believers and the side of the infidels." He's clearly trying to separate the United States and its allies from the world of Islam. Why is that not a successful tactic on his part?

AMIN: Well, it's not because he's victimized the Afghan nation. He's killed many people of Afghanistan. I mean, what makes him a better Muslim than Commander Masood, whom he had assassinated just two days prior to the incidents of September 11. And I see Masood as the most devout person I've known.

WOODRUFF: He was the leader of your...

AMIN: He was the military leader of the united front. So it's actually not a justification. He's trying to somehow attract some certain sort of street sentiments in and around the Muslim world, but it's not going to work in the end, because people know better, that a true Muslim is one who does not target innocent lives.

WOODRUFF: Haron Amin with the Northern Alliance. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

AMIN: Thank you very much.

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