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America Under Attack: Taliban Refuses to Assist in Stopping Terrorism

Aired September 14, 2001 - 03:17   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.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: In the days since the attacks, Pakistan has come under immense pressure from the Bush administration to cooperate with the search for the perpetuators. The country is one of only three that recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan where suspect Osama bin Laden is believed to be base.

Tom Mintier joins us now live from Islamabad with the latest there. Tom.

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, because Pakistan is one of those three countries that do indeed recognize the Taliban, it is the location of a Taliban Embassy.

Now the embassy is in here in Islamabad and within the past hour, there was a press conference, a message coming outside of Afghanistan from Mulla Omar to the rest of the world, and it was read out by the Taliban's Ambassador here to Pakistan.

It was basically denial, denial, denial. A denial that Osama bin Laden was responsible for what happened in the United States. A denial that pilots were coming from Afghanistan that were capable of doing what was done. A denial that Osama bin Laden has the means to conduct such a sophisticated operation. They went on to say that if the United States acts without evidence, that they are committing terrorism themselves, a reference to the possibility of some kind of military action against them.

But they say they have taken away the phone, the fax, the e-mail, the access to visitors of Osama bin Laden. Basically, he has been isolated within Afghanistan. He is basically under house arrest, if you will. He is basically held in communicado, not allowed to communicate with the outside, controlled by the Taliban, that is, if you believe what they say that they are controlling his movements, his meetings, his ability to communicate. They say they've taken away his satellite phone, his cell phone, his Internet, his computers - basically holding him in isolation.

Now they have said in the past that if there is sufficient evidence provided, that they would put Osama bin Laden up before an Islamic court - the Islamic Supreme Court in Afghanistan. No word about any possible extradition.

But basically, the statement coming out of the Taliban today was denial of involvement saying that the United States doesn't have evidence because they know and control Osama bin Laden's movements and his activities inside Afghanistan.

So it's really not really something new but a reiteration of their previous position that we've been hearing here in Islamabad for the past couple of days that Osama bin Laden, in their minds, was not the suspect that the United States sees him as being.

John.

MANN: They seem to be making an important point, Tom, and I'd like to ask you to be absolutely clear on this.

Are they telling us that Osama bin Laden is actually a prisoner of theirs now in Afghanistan and if he's done nothing wrong, why would that be the case?

MINTIER: Well, you have to take their statement on faith, first of all.

They don't use the word prisoner, they don't use the word house arrest. But when you take away people's ability to communicate, to move around freely, to have visitors, and control all of that access, you can translate to a prisoner, or house arrest, or whatever you want to call it.

But in fact, they have been controlling for some time now the access in to meet with him, the ability for him to communicate, the ability for communications to come in.

Now in this statement from Mulla Omar, they also said that they don't have the facilities to train pilots in Afghanistan. There's no ability to do that. The pilots they say did not come from Afghanistan, so they don't have any evidence according to the Taliban, that the United States can pinpoint and direct the investigation towards Osama bin Laden. They say that his reputation is what they're really taking into account here not the acts that were committed.

Jonathan.

MANN: Tom Mintier, thanks very much.

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