The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, one of the few nations in the world recognizing the fundamentalist regime in Afghanistan, is casting doubt upon whether the prime suspect in the attacks in New York and Washington, terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, will ever be handed over to U.S. authorities.
In an interview yesterday, Ambassador Mola Abdol Salam Zaif stated that he “does not believe” that bin Laden was responsible for the Sept. 11 disaster and refused to state if his government would extradite bin Laden from the territory it controls.
The interview broadcast was monitored from a BBC World Service shortwave transmission.
When asked if the Taliban would surrender bin Laden if convincing evidence linked him to the terrorist attacks in the U.S., Zaif only responded, “It’s premature to discuss this.”
Earlier, Zaif stated that his government “will take the right action” should bin Laden appear to be the perpetrator.
Zaif stated his own belief that bin Laden was not involved in the attacks, because “at this stage” bin Laden does not have “the capacity or capability to conduct such a massive operation, which requires complex scenarios and very complicated organizational skills and material [needed] to carry out this operation.”
Zaif reiterated his government’s position on the attacks, declaring, “we condemn it strongly.”
With the Taliban regime condemning the attacks, no nation or group in the world appears ready to take responsibility for the most devastating single attack against the U. S. in its history.
Bin Laden, the chief suspect in the atrocity, went to great lengths to let the world know of his proclaimed innocence – though he did approve of the attack.
The day after the terrorist strike, Hameed Mir, editor of the Urdu language newspaper Ausaf in Islamabad, told the BBC World Service that a messenger from bin Laden appeared at his door at midnight with a statement about the attack.
Mir and his visitor translated the message from Arabic into Urdu, the dominant language of Pakistan, and then published the statement.
While denying responsibility, bin Laden remains defiant and hostile toward the United States.
“I know that America wants to assassinate me. … One Osama will die, and thousands of Osamas will be born, and I am ready to die.”
Bin Laden reaffirmed in the statement his “resistance against the state terrorism of the United States and Israel,” claiming that “dozens of Muslim scientists” have assured him that they will “use their knowledge against the enemies of Islam” – presumably the U.S. being at the top of the list of enemies.
Bin Laden also offered his services “for a rapprochement between Taliban and their opponents.”
The Taliban currently controls about 90 percent of Afghanistan in a struggle against the “Northern Alliance” for control of the remainder of the nation.
The offer further convolutes the mystery surrounding bin Laden’s exact status in Afghanistan. Reports before the attacks in the U.S. placed bin Laden at the head of the Taliban forces. More recent reports place him under house arrest.
Bin Laden’s position within Afghanistan is, however, only one of many international mysteries surrounding the events of Sept. 11.
One confusing development surrounding the attack is that, so far, no one has taken responsibility for what had to be a carefully planned and executed attack, and, except for Iraq, no nation has shown approval.
Terrorism cannot exist in a vacuum, and many of those nations expressing profound grief at America’s loss are also supporters of regimes that in the past have aided terrorist activities.
The president of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, was eloquent in the expression of his regret over the attacks and pledged “unstinted cooperation” with the U.S. “in apprehending the terrorists.”
Pakistan, however, is the Taliban’s main supporter since it assisted the Taliban’s overthrow of the previous Afghan government. The Taliban has given shelter to bin Laden after the U.S. forced him to flee from Sudan to Afghanistan in 1996.
One of the first to express sorrow over the attack was Russian President Vladimir Putin. Moscow, however, has been a firm and consistent supporter – both before and after the collapse of the USSR – of Iraq, the only nation to applaud the attacks. Iraq is suspected of assisting bin Laden in the attacks, not to mention currently at work on atomic and biological weapons that could also be used against the United States.
Observers wonder how many of the “dozens” of Muslim scientists pledging their assistance to Bin Laden are Iraqi.