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Target: Terrorism - Afghanistan's Northern Alliance Continues Fighting the Taliban

Aired October 3, 2001 - 06:10   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Well one thing that Mullah Omar has made perfectly clear: Anybody who opposes the Taliban could be subjected to the death penalty. Well, clearly the opposition in northern Afghanistan is in its fight with the Taliban and that's where we find CNN's Matthew Chance.

Matthew, some battles going on, some prisoners taken, what is the Northern Alliance learning?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Carol, there is a lot of renewed activity here in this very hot and dusty part of northern Afghanistan. The latest reports that we've been receiving are from several hundred kilometers from where I'm standing right now, reports, though, coming from General Fahim who is the military commander of those anti-Taliban Northern Alliance forces.

He said that on Tuesday his men launched an attack on Taliban positions, hundreds of kilometers, as I say, from where I'm standing right now, managed to capture some 15 square kilometers of very rugged terrain but also as part of that, 75 Taliban fighters, he said, along with three quite important senior Taliban commanders.

Now one of the things that's been coming out from officials here at the Northern Alliance headquarters is that one of the problems they're seeing a lot more of they say are fighters from other countries outside of Afghanistan, from the Arab states. From countries specifically like Pakistan, they say, who are coming and fighting alongside the Taliban. Now this has been happening throughout the long-running civil war here in Afghanistan. Many of those people have been captured, along with Taliban fighters, and a lot of them are held in prisoner of war camps in the heart of the -- of the Northern Alliance stronghold in the Panjshir Valley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE (voice-over): Captives from years of bitter Afghan conflicts, devout Muslims but still hardened fighters who've battle on the side of the Taliban and others but lost. Most are native Afghans, but there are nationals here from Yemen, Iraq, even China, all held by the Northern Alliance as prisoners of war.

Sola Adin told me he's from Pakistan, an Islamic fighter, he said, trained on Afghan soil in a base run by none other than Osama bin Laden. The claim is impossible to verify and made within earshot of prison guards.

SOLA ADIN, PRISONER OF WAR: When our enemy he was very strong and we was weak and we cannot fight face to face with our enemy and that time we fight -- terrorism.

CHANCE: So what kind of things are we talking about? We're talking about bombings? We're talking about kidnappings?

ADIN: Bombings and killing the sniper and hijacking and every very much.

CHANCE: Off camera he said he spoke under duress.

The warning shots are from guards high above this isolated prison. Three times a day there are prayers outside in the windswept Panjshir Valley. Northern Alliance commanders say each of these captives is investigated to extract, in their words, any useful information.

"We can gather very important intelligence on enemy bases and military strategy," this prison official said. "It's information the Americans could also use," he said, "if they would ask."

There are reports of contact with Washington. Most of these fighters have already been held for years, too long to be of much intelligence gathering use.

(on camera): There's word here the coming days could bring more prisoners from a fresh upsurge in fighting in the mountains behind me and perhaps also with fresh information not just on the Taliban but, according to Northern Alliance officials here, on the organization of Osama bin Laden himself.

(voice-over): It may be prisoners in Afghanistan's long-running civil war that prove one vital source ahead of any U.S.-led attack.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE: Let's turn briefly now to the diplomatic efforts underway. And I spoke earlier today local time to the Foreign Minister of the Northern Alliance, Dr. Abdallah Abdallah. And he told me that there was still daily contacts he said between him, between his officials and officials of the United States administration.

He said the entire range of options was being discussed with them, including the military one. He wouldn't go any further than that though and tell us exactly what was being discussed. But he did hint to us again very strongly that in his mind and in the minds of senior Northern Alliance officials here they are expecting in the days or weeks ahead some kind of attack possibly in conjunction with their forces on Afghanistan by the United States -- Carol.

LIN: All right, and they have been saying that from the very beginning so we'll see what happens.

Thank you very much. Matthew Chance reporting live from northern Afghanistan. He is with the Northern Alliance in their civil war.

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