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America Under Attack: Taliban Continues To Assert bin Laden Not Guilty

Aired September 14, 2001 - 02:40   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.
JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: The Taliban, the rulers of Afghanistan, are relaying a message to Islamabad, Pakistan's capitol. That's where we find CNN's Tom Mintier with the latest. Tom.

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John -- Jim, the message is out, indeed. It is not a breakthrough, but basically a hardening of position.

Mulla Omar made the statement through his ambassador here in Islamabad, saying that it was impossible for Osama bin Laden to do this. He says there are no planes in Afghanistan, no place to train pilots in Afghanistan. They don't have pilots to do that. It's not possible that it was done by Osama bin Laden.

They say he has no fax, no means of communications, no telephone, no computers. That this -- whoever did this, they condemn this act of terrorism. That if you wanted to deal with it, you need to find evidence and capture those who are guilty, and need to be based on evidence.

They're saying that the reputation of Osama bin Laden may be what's at center stage, here, rather than actual evidence held by the United States, something I'm sure U.S. officials will counter and say that is not true. They claim they do have evidence pointing towards Osama bin Laden, that he is the top suspect.

So, basically, a denial of involvement once again by the Taliban of Osama bin Laden. Not a breakthrough, but a hardening of position, Jim.

CLANCY: Tom Mintier, there are hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees right there on Pakistani soil. A conflict that might involve the Taliban and engulf Afghanistan. What effect could it have on a country like Pakistan?

MINTIER: It could have a tremendous effect. There are a lot of people on both sides of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and if there are hostilities, once again, Afghan refugees will be streaming out of the country, trying to get out of harm's way. The direction they will come, of course, will be Pakistan.

So, there is indeed a potential refugee crisis of enormous potential, if indeed, there are hostilities along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It's happened before. The last time that the United States attempted to lash out at Osama bin Laden, the refugees came out. And if there are hostilities, it will probably be a repeat of that same situation.

CLANCY: All right. Tom Mintier reporting there, live, for us from Islamabad, Pakistan. Thanks, Tom. Colleen.

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