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Closing in around Tora Bora

Kandahar airport
U.S. Marines secure the Kandahar International Airport on Friday.  


SUMMARY:

U.S. forces Saturday reported a new sign that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden may be in the heavily bombed Tora Bora region of eastern Afghanistan: American officials are "reasonably certain" that one of the voices it has been monitoring on battlefield radios is bin Laden's.

Meanwhile, Afghan fighters, aided by U.S. special operations troops and air power, have contained al Qaeda fighters in two valleys near Tora Bora, cutting off their access to supplies of food, water and ammunition. A possible escape route to Pakistan is blocked by thousands of Pakistani troops massed along the nearby border.

UPDATE:

U.S. jets were hammering mountainous terrain near Tora Bora where bin Laden could have taken refuge. There could be between 300 and 1,000 al Qaeda fighters, the Pentagon said. (Full story)

The U.N. refugee agency says thousands of people have returned to various parts of Afghanistan over the past week, but it is too early to tell if the sharp rise will be sustained. (Full story)

Convoys of U.S. Marines moved from their base at Camp Rhino southwest of Kandahar to the city's airport early Friday. Much of this force has been replaced at Camp Rhino by hundreds of Marines flown into southern Afghanistan from ships in the Arabian Sea. (Full story)

U.S. officials said they believe the sheik seen on a recently released videotape featuring Osama bin Laden is Ali Ben Said al-Ghamdi, a former Islamic theology professor once jailed by the Saudi government. (Full story)


  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact


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KEY QUESTIONS:

Who are the Northern Alliance and other key players in the political landscape of Afghanistan, and how could U.S. military intervention affect the balance of power there?

Now that the last Taliban stronghold has fallen, will its fleeing members still pose a threat?

Where is Mullah Mohammed Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban?

What kind of permanent government will next rule Afghanistan?

How will a multinational peacekeeping force be received in war-weary Afghanistan?

How long will the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan last?

What is the goal of the U.S. airstrikes over Afghanistan? What is the key to the mission's success?

WHO'S WHO:

George W. Bush: U.S. president

Osama bin Laden: A wealthy Saudi expatriate living in Afghanistan who U.S. authorities cite as one of the primary suspects in masterminding the attacks.

Condoleezza Rice: U.S. national security adviser.

Colin Powell: U.S. secretary of state. A former Army general, Powell also served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Gen. Richard B. Myers: Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gen. Tommy Franks: Head of U.S. Central Command.

Donald Rumsfeld: U.S. secretary of defense.

The Taliban: A group of Islamic fundamentalists, mainly from Afghanistan's Pashtun ethnic group, which is the country's largest ethnic group. The Taliban that gained control of most of the country by 1997 and instituted an extreme form of Islamic law.

Northern Alliance: A group of former mujahedeen fighters, mainly from minority ethnic groups that oppose the Taliban.

George Robertson: NATO secretary-general and former British defense minister.

George Tenet: CIA director

IMPACT:

The military attacks that began October 7 mark the start of what the Bush administration says will be a lengthy struggle against terrorist organizations worldwide -- one that could take years.



 
 
 
 



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