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America Under Attack: The Roots of Terrorism

Aired September 13, 2001 - 19:20   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: The name of Osama bin Laden, we have heard his name so many times lately. We have also heard about the group known as Taliban back in Afghanistan, but how is it that this group and this man can intersect with the lives of ordinary Americans? CNN's Christiane Amanpour now with a bit of history.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the Soviet Union invaded the treacherous and mountainous terrain of Afghanistan on the eve of the 1980s, it quickly found its own Vietnam. This superpower was taken on and eventually forced out by a network of Afghan guerrilla groups, known as the Mujaheddin. The Cold War was still on, and the United States helped recruit these resistance fighters through its allies in the region, allies like Pakistan, which borders Afghanistan.

Osama bin Laden was one of those fighters, and after the war with the Soviets he took control of the guerrilla network, which was swelled by fighters from all over the Islamic world.

MAGNUS RANSTORP, CENTER FOR STUDY OF TERRORISM: Bin Laden's group grew out of the Mujaheddin forces who were trained initially by the Pakistan intelligence services and the Pakistani military, and also of course funded by the United States.

AMANPOUR: But the United States is faulted for failing to track the growing ranks of radical Moslem guerrillas, once the Soviet occupation ended. Afghanistan then descended into civil war, and eventually split into two main blocks. On one side, the Northern Alliance, a loose network of ethnic minorities, nominally led by the charismatic Ahmad Shah Massoud, known as the Afghan mastermind of the Soviet defeat. He has not been seen since a bomb attack by assassins last week.

On the other side, the Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic movement representing the ethnic majority. They captured the capital, Kabul, in 1996 and are now in control of almost all Afghanistan. But their repressive regime, particularly their harsh treatment of women, have earned them almost universal condemnation.

The West also accuses the Taliban of harboring Osama bin Laden, America's enemy number one. Pakistan is one of only three countries recognizing the Taliban as the legitimate government, and now is under intense pressure from the United States to get the Taliban to give up bin Laden.

GEN. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: We regard terrorism as an evil that threatens the world community. Concerted international effort is needed to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

AMANPOUR (on camera): Experts point out the Taliban itself is divided between hard-liners and some who would prefer more cooperation with the West. Some analysts believe the United States should now offer ultimatums and incentives to the Taliban to give up bin Laden, at least as a first measure before a military attack.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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