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America's New War: Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Calls for Jihad

Aired September 21, 2001 - 05:02   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: let's get down to the ground in Pakistan. Our Tom Mintier is standing by there. We heard moments ago a Taliban ambassador to Pakistan made a statement yesterday. Let's check in with Tom on what that was all about.

Tom.

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leon, it was quite clear. The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, when asked if they would turn over Osama bin Laden for trial, no. It's very simple, two letters, no.

They did, however, say that an investigation needs to be called so that the proof that the United States has -- according to the Taliban -- can be presented. They said that they might be willing to consider an investigation by the Islamic court.

They also said that basically those who help the United States in any way would be considered enemies of Afghanistan and a jihad -- calling those who provide intelligence or information to the United States would be seen as a Taliban as murders and dealt with under Islamic law.

Now, we did hear at length from the ambassador. It was interesting -- he was speaking in Arabic, not his native tongue. This was obviously a message the Taliban wanted to send to the rest of the Islamic world, so they chose Arabic as the language for the press conference.

In that, we did hear the ambassador say that an investigation of Osama bin Laden, or whoever was responsible for this, needs to be conducted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(Speaking in Arabic)

SOHAIL SHAHEEN, TALIBAN EMBASSY SPOKESMAN: The books of our school of religion write that if infidels attacked the territory of the country of Muslim, jihad becomes an Islamic obligation for the Muslims of that country.

The verses of the holy Koran, sayings of the holy prophet will be upon him, and all books of the school of religion, all the Muslim to wage jihad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MINTIER: The majority of the press conference, Leon, I just said that he spoke in Arabic. At the end of the press conference, it was a message in Arabic, but most of it was in his own language, and at length. It lasted the better part of an hour.

Also, today is a national day of strike here in Pakistan. There had been demonstrations in Karachi and in Peshawar. The demonstration in Peshawar not as large as the one in Karachi. In Karachi we've seen for the past few days more than 3,000 people on the streets, but there were demonstrations, very good sized ones in Peshawar, anti American demonstrations, there have been for the past several days.

Now, everyone in Pakistan is watching to see what this opposition to the government's plan to provide assistance does, whether today's day of strike is a one-day event or it spreads into the weekend, and how the government is dealing with it, how they are basically instructing the police. We heard that in Karachi they were using batons to beat back the demonstrators. But it's something that's being watched very closely here.

A couple of days ago, the president of Pakistan said that 10 to 15 percent of people do not support the position of the government of Pakistan, and that the responsibility of the majority was to convince the minority that this was the right direction to take.

So there are demonstrations planned across Pakistan today, the two of the largest ones in Peshawar and Karachi. The one in Karachi supposedly did involve some police action against the demonstrators.

Leon.

HARRIS: Well, Tom, I'd like you to clarify one point that I was listening for with that press conference.

The Taliban representative said that they would not turn over Osama bin Laden unless there was proof presented, but did they say that they would turn him over if proof definitely was presented?

MINTIER: I don't think, I don't think you could interpret what was being translated as they would even turn him over. They called the cleric meeting recommendation simply that: recommendation and advice to the political leadership. And the political leadership has responded.

When asked directly to the ambassador, the question was: Would you turn over Osama bin Laden? The answer was no.

So I don't think it can be made any clearer than that what the Taliban response was. They say that this was simply a recommendation and advice, and they have taken that onboard and they have made their decision.

HARRIS: Tom Mintier, reporting live for us this morning. Thank you very much.

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