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Al Qaeda on the run

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


SUMMARY:

Two top Eastern Alliance commanders said Sunday they believe most al Qaeda fighters and possibly Osama bin Laden -- have fled the mountains near Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan and may be headed for Pakistan. Commander Mohammed Haji Zaman said his forces combed the extensive cave networks in the western part of Tora Bora and found no sign of any al Qaeda members.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on his first visit to Afghanistan, said the United States is receiving mixed messages about bin Laden's location.

UPDATE:

Zaman told CNN the battle against al Qaeda is an already finished war. He claimed his forces had captured 35 al Qaeda fighters and killed more than 200. (Full story)

Rumsfeld arrived Sunday at Bagram air base near the Afghan capital, Kabul, and met with Hamid Karzai, the leader of the interim Afghan government, which is set to take power December 22. (Full story)

Rumsfeld said the U.S. military has gathered significant intelligence from a suspected al Qaeda biological, nuclear, and chemical site near Camp Rhino, the U.S. Marine base in southern Afghanistan. (Full story)

The Observer, a British newspaper, reported Sunday that "terrorists linked to bin Laden have drawn up plans for a devastating bomb attack" on London's financial district. The report is based on the discovery of an 80-page document in Kandahar containing step-by-step instructions on how to carry out the attack. (Full story)

Three U.S. Marines were injured Sunday when one of them stepped on a land mine near the Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan, but a U.S. Central Command spokesman said the injuries were not life-threatening. (Full story)


  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact


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 RESOURCES
On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands?
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk

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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