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America Strikes Back: Taliban Claims Bombing Terrorist Attack by U.S. and Britain

Aired October 8, 2001 - 05:11   ET


CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: We now need the latest from the White House. We're going to turn to Kelly Wallace, who joins us from Washington -- good morning, Kelly.


CALLAWAY: We've seen demonstrations in the Arab world already. I'm sure the president was expecting this, but doesn't this (ph) reiterate the importance of holding this coalition together?

WALLACE: It certainly does, and it reiterates the challenge in holding that coalition together. It's something the administration will be focusing on in the days ahead to prevent any defections, particularly when it comes to Arab and Muslim nations. Some of those nations have been silent so far and could be waiting to see any damage assessments or any reports of casualties before coming out and publicly backing these strikes.

Another challenge, though, Catherine, for the White House: President Bush trying to urge the American people to continue to be patient. He is likely to do that in the days ahead to make it clear that this will be a long, campaign, and that the military part of it is just going to be one aspect, and that there is a financial, the diplomatic, the political fronts as well.

So that's the message we're likely to hear the president continue to repeat -- Catherine.

CALLAWAY: Kelly, the president now having to deal with the threat of a possible retaliatory terrorist attack.

WALLACE: Absolutely. And U.S. officials have been saying for the past several weeks that when and if the U.S. responds to the September 11 attack that definitely would increase the likelihood and the risk of a terrorist attack against Americans in the United States.

The message from the president will be: Americans should continue to be on alert -- that threats do remain. But he will also be focusing on the new office of Homeland Security, which will be unveiled on Monday -- Catherine.

CALLAWAY: All right, Kelly, stay on line. We'll be back with you in just a moment. We're going to have to cut this short and take you now live for the Taliban is holding a press conference. You will hear consecutive translation -- let's listen in.


ABDUL SALAM ZAEEF, TALIBAN AMBASSADOR TO PAKISTAN (through translator): Last night, attack on the sacred soil of the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan by the United States and by the British forces was a direct violation and a terrorist action done by the silent United States of America. The United States of America, keeping this prize for itself, is making oppression on the oppressed and poor people of the world and Afghanistan. The United States of America is seeking its interests in the bloodshed and shedding the blood of the poor people of Afghanistan. This is a meaningless action and illegal and unprincipled action.

This attack is not only on the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan, but this is a terrorist act on the all Muslim world. This is a violation on the sacred soils of the all Muslim world, and this is a disgrace and dishonor to the Muslim world. Since very long the United States of America on different pretexts are making attacks on the Muslim people of the world.

This is not only a warning on the side of the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan, but due to the proudness of the Americans, this is done to despise all of the people of the world, and particularly the poor people -- the poor Muslim people of Afghanistan all are experiencing the aftermath of the war -- of 20 years continuous -- continued war in the country. And Americans have aimed at these people.

Afghanistan, in the course of history, has never done a terrorist action. And right now, the Afghan don't know the connotation of this term. But unfortunately, they have become -- they have been (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by this terrorist action.

This is not some new action on the part of Afghanistan. The oppressed Great Britain has tried this twice on Afghanistan in the previous history. But it did no good to the world even at that time. In the meantime, the Red Dragon, i.e., the previous Soviet Union, also had an eye on Afghanistan. However, fortunately, it came out unsuccessful from this exam.

If the Americans irrationally think that they will benefit from this action, I think they have made a wrong assumption. They will come out of this unsuccessful.

If the Americans are under the assumption that by shedding the blood of the poor Afghans life will be made easier for them and they will take advantage out of this, I think they have a wrong assumption and a suspect. To the best of my knowledge, the consequences are very severe, and the consequences are so severe that no one could determine it.

The Islamic emirate of Afghanistan will not be threatened by these affairs. The oppressed people of the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan will never be threatened by these affairs (ph) And they are never ready to deal their religion or Islam on many are with dishonor (ph).

But instead, by offering and sacrificing their lives, they will defend their religion and Islam (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

If there are any questions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE JOURNALIST: What are the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) consequences last night from attacks in Kandahar and Kabul? How do you assess the results (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

ZAEEF (through translator): The strikes were done on various places of Afghanistan. There was no differentiation on the civilian parts or on the military parts. According to the Americans, their objectives and their aims were military and terrorist camps, but unfortunately, the rockets launched in places -- in dwelling places where it killed a number of 20 Afghans, including women, children and elderly -- almost 20.


ZAEEF (through translator): In Kabul.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE JOURNALIST: General Musharraf said that today that it was only two days to finish the attack. What is your (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about this?

ZAEEF (through translator): We have not been informed on the schedule of the attacks. He knows about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE JOURNALIST: What about the reports that the Northern Alliance is making progress towards Kabul?

ZAEEF (through translator): This is a useless effort by the Northern Alliance. The history -- a course of history shows in Afghanistan that whenever there was a foreign attack on Afghanistan, all of the people -- or all of the nation was united against this attack. Only a few -- only a handful of American slaves that are staying in a part of the country, they will not succeed, and we are positive that they will never succeed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE JOURNALIST: What about -- is it (UNINTELLIGIBLE) also attacked yesterday?

ZAEEF (through translator): Yes, the region was attacked.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE JOURNALIST: ... to Mr. bin Laden, can you tell us if he decided to remain in (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?


ZAEEF (through translator): The region was under attack, but not his house. UNIDENTIFIED MALE JOURNALIST: Well, would you like to tell us about the losses of the attackers?

ZAEEF (through translator): Will you please repeat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE JOURNALIST: Thank you very much. The delivery of the Taliban of Mr. bin Laden, can you tell us if he decided to remain in Afghanistan or to go away? Do we have a response from bin Laden?

ZAEEF (through translator): (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE JOURNALIST: Well, after the attack, we are all together (ph), the Taliban would deliver (ph) bin Laden?

ZAEEF (through translator): I think this is out of question now to speak about these things, but after the terrorist attack of the United States of America on Afghanistan, it is an obligation of all of the Afghans and the Muslims staying inside Afghanistan to defend against this attack. And under the present circumstances, we have not taken any contacts with Osama. He has been saying inside Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE JOURNALIST: And that -- well, you seemed awfully certain last night he was alive. Can you clarify that then? I'm sorry. You seemed more concerned last night that Mr. bin Laden was still alive. You said, thank God that he was still alive. Can you clarify that (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

ZAEEF (through translator): Yes, he is alive. He is inside Afghanistan. He made the interview inside Afghanistan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE JOURNALIST: Would you like to tell us any losses in case of the attackers by your defense forces? Losses of the attackers by the Afghan defense ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was nighttime, the sky was dark. There were rocket attacks from the Afghan side on these planes. According to the sources, one of the planes was shot down, and there are rumors that three more have been shot down.

QUESTION: Three more?



QUESTION: One is confirmed...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One is confirmed.

QUESTION: And are we going to be able to see the evidence of the plane?

(LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're here in Islamabad and the plane has been shot down in (INAUDIBLE), you can see it there.


QUESTION: For the name of the pilot that was shot down?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening to the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, saying, according to him, that U.S. attacks did not hit just military sites, claiming that 20 Afghans were killed, including women, children and the elderly. This is that the death occurred in Kabul.

We also heard him say that the recent military action was a terrorist attack on all of the Muslim world aimed at the poor of the Muslim world. Saying that Afghanistan has never taken a terrorist attack and that the Soviet Union attack was unsuccessful and so will be the U.S. attack.

He also said -- claimed that one U.S. plane had been shot down. There were rumors of three others shot down. Once again, no word from the United States on many reports they have, but according to the Taliban, they're

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And of course it'll be interesting to see if there's any confirmation of that. We'll be checking with the Pentagon in just a moment on that.



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