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New Videotape From Osama bin Laden Incriminates Him in 9/11; Assault on Possible al Qaeda Hideouts in Tora Bora Continues; Afghan Factions Involved in Power Struggle for Control of Kandahar

Aired December 9, 2001 - 20:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Live, from the Afghan-Pakistan border, with Christiane Amanpour.

Tonight, a new videotape of Osama bin Laden. The U.S. calls it incriminating evidence.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no doubt about his responsibility for the attack on September 11.


ANNOUNCER: The assault on possible al Qaeda hideouts.


BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The vapor trails of high altitude American bombers looping over al Qaeda targets in the caves and forests of valleys leading up to Tora Bora.


ANNOUNCER: The power struggle over the security of Kandahar.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For a moment, it all looks off when with egos bruised in the jostle for power, one group prepares to pull out before the start.


ANNOUNCER: And an exclusive interview with the man who will head Afghanistan's interim government.

Now live from the Afghan-Pakistan border, Christiane Amanpour.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: Good morning from Chaman where border patrols here in Pakistan are being stepped up. Pakistan intelligence tells us to prevent any al Qaeda or even Osama bin Laden and his network from trying to infiltrate and hide in Pakistan. Now, ever since September the 11th, the United States and the other coalition leaders have been convinced Osama bin Laden and his network were behind the September 11 attack. But many people, especially in this part of world, have asked for the U.S. to share more evidence. And now, administration appears to weighing the benefits of releasing a new videotape that may, they say, be a smoking gun. CNN's Kelly Wallace reports from the White House.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush, returning from Camp David and facing a decision -- whether to release to the public a new videotape U.S. officials have obtained of Osama bin Laden, a tape the vice president says leaves no doubt bin Laden was behind the September 11 terrorist attack.

CHENEY: It's pretty clear, as it's described to me, that he does in fact display significant knowledge of what happened and there's no doubt about his responsibility for the attack on September 11.

WALLACE: The new tape, according to the vice president, shows bin Laden, seen here in a different tape first aired in November, meeting with a cleric about the terrorist attacks. U.S. officials told the "Washington Post" that on the tape, found in a house in Jalalabad, bin Laden indicates the total collapse of the World Trade Center was more damage than he had anticipated. He also claims to have told a group, after learning the first plane hit the north tower that more is coming.

The deputy defense secretary says the tape should put to rest any doubts in the Muslim world about bin Laden's culpability.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: I hope people might quit with these wild conspiracy theories that suggest it's someone else. And you know they get pretty wild around the world.

WALLACE: Meantime, the Bush administration believes bin Laden remains in Afghanistan, holed up south of Jalalabad, in the White Mountains near Tora Bora.

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: We're still on the hunt for all the al Qaeda leadership and UBL is part of that, but not the only part of that. In the hunt up there, we think we know, in general, where he is. We can't be sure, but we think we know.

WALLACE (on-camera): U.S. officials have been reluctant to release evidence about bin Laden, concerned that making such details public could compromise future intelligence gathering. Now, they must weigh that concern against the benefits of revealing what some believe could be the strongest evidence yet linking bin Laden to the attacks.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, the White House.


AMANPOUR: Now last month British officials said that they had found and discovered a videotape that also, they said, proved that bin Laden, in fact, claimed responsibility for September 11. That videotape has not been released. British Special Forces and other troops are in action with U.S. forces trying to hunt down bin Laden and mounting operations both around the Kandahar and Jalalabad area.

The British defense secretary was asked what would happen if British troops captured bin Laden alive. Would he be extradited? He indicated that yes, he would be extradited to the United States but with the proviso that he not face the death penalty.


GEOFF HOON, BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY: We do extradite people to countries with the death penalty obviously subject to certain undertakings that are given. We have extradited people in the past to the United States and I see no reason in principal why that shut not happen. But it would mean, of course, that certain undertakings would have be to given about any penalty to be faced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, if we get into that, it's no different.

HOON: Well, that is the position. But I think what is important given the appalling horror that this man perpetrated in the United States on the 11th of September that he faces justice in the United States.


AMANPOUR: For nearly two weeks now, the United States aircraft have been pummeling the mountains of Tora Bora where it's believed that bin Laden and/or his network and his lieutenants have been hiding out. CNN's Brent Sadler reports from there.


SADLER (on-camera): The military pressure on Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda fighters in the White Mountains shows no sign of letting up, but the action is not taking place here on the ground where the tank barrels of anti-Taliban forces have remained silent. Instead, the thrust of attacks comes from the air. The vapor trails of high altitude American bombers looping over al Qaeda targets in the caves and forests of valleys leading up to Tora Bora.

Wave after wave of attacks by U.S. warplanes dropping bombs across a wide area where it's thought al Qaeda defenders have concentrated. Valleys echoed to the rubble of distant explosions as the bombers came in.

The strikes lasted several hours. U.S. surveillance planes worked on bomb damage assessment in between the air sorters. The unrelenting bombardments are seen as attempt to pave the way for anti- Taliban Eastern Alliance forces to push forward. Their commanders claim they've killed eight al Qaeda terrorists Saturday and have lost three of their often fighters. Causalities is claimed here of aerial bombardments. Pakistan, meanwhile, has sent helicopter gun ships and troop reinforcements to the mountain border behind me to ensure that any possible al Qaeda escape routes are blocked.

Brent Sadler, CNN, near Tora Bora in the White Mountains of eastern Afghanistan.


AMANPOUR: Pakistan air force and military have also sent helicopter gun ships to the border area near here in Chaman. They are very concerned, they say, about two things -- a pocket of hardened Taliban and al Qaeda forces that still have some control over some parts of the border here and they are heavily monitoring, they tell us, the border as people come out of Afghanistan. They say their instructions are to now question everybody who comes out in any kind of vehicle. They are looking for al Qaeda and/or Osama bin Laden.

They tell us that they have arrested about two-dozen Arab fighters who've been with the Osama bin Laden network. And indeed, we saw some in a prison here at intelligence headquarters last night. We saw Saudi Arabians. We saw somebody from Quetta and someone who claimed to be from the Bahraini royal family. All in jail here, being questioned about what they were doing in Afghanistan and whether they had links with the al Qaeda network.

In the meanwhile, in Kandahar, it appears that a power struggle has been resolved over who actually controls Kandahar now that the Taliban era is over there. CNN's Nic Robertson reports.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Chaos and confusion as tribal leaders and their government gather for a meeting to bring security to Kandahar. For a moment it all looks off when with egos bruised in the jostle for power, one group prepares to pull out before the start.

Finally, with all the courtesy that is customary here, greetings are made, and under the chairmanship of the head of Afghanistan's new interim government, talks begin, but don't expect a quick solution.

HAMID KARZAI, INTERIM AFGHAN LEADER DESIGNATE: You will have for a while some chaos in Afghanistan. It's inevitable. We have to establish a fresh order. Until that comes, there will be here and then some difficulty.

ROBERTSON: Kandahar's problem for now is that tribal commanders disagree who should have power in the city. However, they play down the potential for violence.

GUL AGHA SHERZAI, TRIBAL COMMANDER (through translator): We want to resolve the situation most through talks so there will not be any reason for the use of arms or violence.

ROBERTSON: If the number of people on the streets and the number of traders doing business are an indication of Kandahari's faith in that message, then all here may seen well. However, the abundance of armed men still roaming the streets, hints at violence that could be around the corner despite the best intentions of the country's new leader.

KARZAI: The kind of Afghanistan that we should make should be one that's not ruled by warlordism. Warlordism must finish. If it does not finish, Afghanistan will not be made. Terrorism would come back.

ROBERTSON: The day's meetings took place among the bomb damage ruins of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar's sprawling housing complex, a reminder for all here of what's at stake.

(on-camera): If a symbol of the end of the Taliban rule were needed, it could be found here among the rubble of Mullah Omar's home. And although negotiations now underway are likely to be long and arduous with various factions jostling for power, most leaders here now agree the country should be rebuilt through peaceful means.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Kandahar, Afghanistan.


AMANPOUR: U.S. personnel in plainclothes and in uniform have also been spotted in Kandahar. And of course, the U.S. Marines continue to man their base in southern Kandahar. U.S. Marines are dealing with a U.S. prisoner of war as David Wright reports from Camp Rhino.


DAVID WRIGHT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Walker Lindh was dehydrated when he arrived here Friday. According to Marine officers, he is now in good health. The 20-year-old American who, six months ago, left home to join the Taliban, is receiving medical treatment for the gunshot wound he suffered during the recent revolt of Taliban prisoners in northern Afghanistan.

Walker is being given the same rights an enemy prisoner of war is entitled to under the Geneva Convention.

CAPT. STUART UPTON, U.S. MARINES: Walker is a "battlefield detainee." He's being held here awaiting disposition by higher headquarters.

WRIGHT: It's not clear where Walker will go from here. He may face trial in the U.S., but Marine officials say that decision will be made "at the highest levels of the U.S. government." The Marines say they here no intention of turning Camp Rhino into a prisoner of war camp. They're building this detention and transshipment facility to house anyone they deem to be a threat.

Daily patrols continue in the desert south of Kandahar on the lookout for threats.

UNIDENTIFIED MARINE: The Taliban and al Qaeda are -- don't like Americans on principle, let alone the fact that we're here specifically to deal with them.

WRIGHT: Today, a few Marines took time out for a chapel service, one of the few comforts, for servicemen far from home.

David Wright, with the U.S. Marines in southern Afghanistan.


AMANPOUR: And when we return after a break, we'll have more of Nic Robertson's interview with Hamid Karzai, the new leader designate of Afghanistan's interim government.


AMANPOUR: Last week, Afghanistan's different warring factions appeared to have accomplished the impossible. In Bonn, Germany, they came to an agreement, a power-sharing agreement to launch a broad- based coalition for future of Afghanistan.

The leader designate of that interim government is Hamid Karzai. And on Sunday, Nic Robertson spoke to him in Kandahar about the deal he struck with Mullah Omar to get the Taliban out of Kandahar, to end effectively the Taliban regime and about the future of Kandahar itself.


KARZAI: If you control Kandahar, that's Mullah Hasharzai (ph). He has Mr. Mullah Haeden (ph), these gentlemen. And that's it. Not the Taliban if that's what you mean. The Taliban are finished.

ROBERTSON: And where is Mullah Omar now?

KARZAI: Mullah Omar, I give him a lot of opportunity. I give him an opportunity since the day that I arrived in Afghanistan two months ago. I called on him to denounce terrorism. I called on him to distance himself from terrorism and to condemn the brutalities against Afghan people by terrorists. And I continued that for the past two months.

I, again, asked this when the delegation of the Taliban came to see me, which was three days ago, four days ago. The last chance was given the night they were transferring power. He didn't do that. He rather went into hiding.

From the day of the transfer of power, he is a fugitive, a man that's running away from law. He's treated as a criminal. I've asked people to watch for him and arrest him. He must face trial. He will see that he's punished for what he's done.

ROBERTSON: Some are people are telling us -- with all respect to Mullah Naqib that they think that he is not suitable to be the new governor or administrator of Kandahar and that's why the situation we're in now, where Mr. Gulazar (ph), Mullah Naqib...

KARZAI: Mr. Mullah Naqib is not the governor of Kandahar. He just helped with the surrender of power by the Taliban. Those things will be determined by the central government.

ROBERTSON: And what happens in the interim period because...

KARZAI: In tribal council, they appeared just now, a few moments ago, before your arrival. We were discussing that. There is no problem at all.

ROBERTSON: So what is the immediate sort of -- or what is immediate scenario for Kandahar then -- the two forces -- what happens?

KARZAI: We should talk about the immediate scenario for Afghanistan, sir. We are trying to bring peace to all of Afghanistan. We're trying to bring stability to all of Afghanistan. Kandahar is one city in Afghanistan and we'll do the same here. It's all good.

ROBERTSON: What are your priorities now as the head of Afghanistan's interim government?

KARZAI: Peace and stability for the whole country. Hunting down terrorists, finishing them completely in Afghanistan and cooperating to finish them elsewhere in the world. We don't want that. We have suffered tremendously because of these people, tremendously! e have lost thousands and thousands of lives. We have lost our orchards, our vineyards. They have brutalized our society. We want them finished. We want them to see international justice.

Along side that, I would like to have the Afghan people get a fair economic opportunity to live well, to earn decently. would like them to get education, and to live with neighbors with peace and respect and cooperation and for Afghanistan, to once again, be among the countries of the world the way it was many years ago, with dignity, respect and a good name.


AMANPOUR: And a good life is what many Afghans tell us they want. They want a chance to be able to have jobs, to be able to pay for their children's future, to have education and a chance at some kind of different future than they've had over the last 20 years.

When we come back, we'll see that a key bridge has been opened, one that could bring in the pipeline to help Afghanistan.


AMANPOUR: Uzbekistan is one of the central Asian countries that borders northern Afghanistan. It was one of first countries that the U.S. enlisted in this coalition against terror. There is a U.S. military base there in Uzbekistan. And Uzbekistan was always considered one of the key countries, one of key links to bringing in massive humanitarian aid for the Afghan people. Well, that hasn't happened until now partly because the Uzbeks refused to open a key bridge there, because, what they say, of security concerns. Now, that bridge, the Friendship Bridge, has been opened as CNN's Robert Young Pelton reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERT YOUNG PELTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 12:00 noon, the Friendship Bridge opened between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan for the first time since May 1997.

The bridge was closed four-and-a-half years ago when Taliban forces entered the port city of Hairaton and threatened the security of Uzbekistan. An Uzbek train carrying wheat delivered the first shipment of food to a storage facility in Hairaton. General Dostum, Commander Atta and Commander Mohakek attended the opening on the Afghan side, and then crossed over to Termez in Uzbekistan for further celebration with Uzbek officials.

The Friendship Bridge was built in 1981 and is famous for being the same bridge that the Russians retreated across in 1989, after their defeat in Afghanistan. Conditions are much different in Afghanistan now, and General Dostum assured U.S. General Franks via a letter delivered today that plans were in place to ensure the safe passage of aid deliveries throughout areas under Northern Alliance control.

This is Robert Young Pelton for CNN, in Hairaton, northern Afghanistan.


AMANPOUR: Now, one way to augment the humanitarian bridge, U.S. and U.N. officials have said, is to gain control of key airports around Afghanistan. That has happened in Mazar-e-Sharif, in Kabul and now in other places too. And they're hoping that this will speed up the humanitarian pipeline to people in Afghanistan, especially as winter months draw on.

That's our report for now. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Chaman. Thank you for watching and we'll be back tomorrow at the same time, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.




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