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America's New War: Islamic Council Asking bin Laden to Leave

Aired September 20, 2001 - 06:45   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.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We recap now the late word we're getting out of Afghanistan this morning. The Grand Islamic Council, the 600 clerics who have been meeting for the last two days to decide Osama bin Laden's fate have recommended that Taliban rulers ask suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden to leave the country on his own.

Now, our Steve Harrigan has been spending the last couple of days in northern Afghanistan there with the Northern Alliance. Let's check with him to see how things are shaping up there this morning -- Steve.

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leon, some news here. We just heard from a senior opposition official that the leader of the Taliban, the Mullah Omar, has gone into hiding. Now, according to the opposition, this is the first time this has occurred. According to the opposition, Mullah Omar now only communicates once a day by radio. He has gone into hiding. The opposition says they learned this by intercepting radio transmissions. They also say they have passed on all this and other relative information to the United States -- Leon.

HARRIS: Well, Steve, did they say what they think this means? Is this a move that Mullah Omar is doing perhaps to protect himself from any impending strikes? Or is he fearing some sort of backlash by his own country? Or is he afraid of Osama bin Laden? What? What do they believe there?

HARRIGAN: The opposition thinks he has gone into hiding, because he fears impending strikes. The opposition, just a few days ago, thought that these strikes might be weeks away. But judging from their intensive contact with the United States over the past few days, the opposition here in Afghanistan expects those strikes to come within days.

HARRIS: That's interesting, because we're not getting any information like that at all on this side of the water -- Steve Harrigan, be safe, we'll get back to you in just a moment.

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