Afghan War News 11-02
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The Washington Times
Taliban leader cites help by China
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A Taliban military commander said in a published interview that
China is secretly assisting the ruling militia in Afghanistan.
Taliban commander Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani told an Urdu-
language newspaper in Pakistan that the ruling militia's strategy is
to conduct a long war aimed at entrapping U.S. forces on the ground.
Asked about the Taliban's relations with China, Mr. Haqqani
said: "China is a good country. Taliban are in contact with it even
"China is also extending support and cooperation to the Taliban
government, but the shape of this cooperation cannot be disclosed,"
Mr. Haqqani said in the interview published Oct. 22 in the newspaper
A day later, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi in
Beijing dismissed the commander's statement as "a complete
A U.S. official said China's contacts with the Taliban have
been "limited" and "of questionable value," primarily related to
Mr. Haqqani also said the United States is revealing its
strategy "little by little" and that China will react to U.S.
attempts to keep forces in the region.
The United States has set up a military base in Uzbekistan, a
move that undermined China's goal of organizing several Central Asian
nations under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
A representative of the Northern Alliance Afghan opposition said
China has been supplying weapons to the Taliban for several years,
primarily small arms.
Publicly, China's government has not opposed U.S. military
action in Afghanistan but has said strikes should be limited to avoid
China's Foreign Ministry said in response to a report in The
Washington Times earlier this month that China "has not established
any kind of official relations with the Taliban."
The comments were made in response to intelligence reports
disclosed by The Times that two Chinese companies have been building
a telephone switching network in Kabul for the past 21/2 years.
The Taliban also helped Chinese government agents recover pieces
of U.S. cruise missiles fired during the 1998 U.S. raids on terrorist
training camps in Afghanistan. The Chinese government denied getting
the cruise missile technology.
An earlier Foreign Ministry statement of Sept. 15 said China
closed its embassy in Kabul in 1993 because of safety concerns and
has no "resident personnel" there.
Mr. Haqqani said the Taliban is braced for a long war against
the United States and has a "sufficient stock" of arms left behind by
the Soviet Union and from the United States. "We have shifted all
these weapons from our garrisons to the mountains," he said. "Let the
Americans drop their commandos and you would see how many casualties
Asked about widespread international support for the United
States' war against terrorism, Mr. Haqqani said it was "due to the
coercion and terrorism of the United States."
However, he said some nations such as Russia, Japan, Iran, China
and Libya want to see the United States stuck in a long conflict in
Afghanistan. "These countries want Afghanistan to become the
graveyard for the American soldiers," he said.
Mr. Haqqani said U.S. bombing and missile strikes have not been
successful and that most casualties are civilians. There has been "no
tangible military loss" to the Taliban, he said.
"We have evolved strategy for a long war and the United States
will not be able to conquer Afghanistan even after fighting for two
years," Mr. Haqqani said. "The fate of the United States will be
worse than Russia. Our real war will begin the day the U.S. troops
would land in Afghanistan."
About 20 to 25 Taliban soldiers were killed and a military
helicopter and two passenger planes of the Ariana Airlines were
damaged "while the rest of our planes and helicopters are safe," he
The Pentagon has displayed numerous bomb-damage photographs and
video showing many more Taliban military facilities and equipment
have been destroyed.
Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, al Qaeda leader Osama bin
Laden and other commanders "are safe and performing their duties,"
Mr. Haqqani said.
"This is because the American planes are dropping bombs from a
very high altitude and they cannot dare to fly low," he said.
Mr. Haqqani said he was in Pakistan as part of his role as
Taliban minister for tribal and border affairs.
Copyright © 2001 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
CNN Chief Orders 'Balance' in War News
Reporters Are Told To Remind Viewers Why U.S. Is Bombing
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 31, 2001; Page C01
The chairman of CNN has ordered his staff to balance images of
civilian devastation in Afghan cities with reminders that the Taliban
harbors murderous terrorists, saying it "seems perverse to focus too
much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan."
In a memo to his international correspondents, Walter Isaacson
said: "As we get good reports from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, we
must redouble our efforts to make sure we do not seem to be simply
reporting from their vantage or perspective. We must talk about how
the Taliban are using civilian shields and how the Taliban have
harbored the terrorists responsible for killing close to 5,000
As more errant U.S. bombs have landed in residential areas, causing
damage to such places as a Red Cross warehouse and senior citizens'
center, the resulting television images have fueled criticism of the
American war effort. This has sparked a growing debate, which began
with the Osama bin Laden videotape, about how the media should handle
stage-managed pictures from Afghanistan.
"I want to make sure we're not used as a propaganda platform,"
Isaacson said in an interview yesterday.
"We're entering a period in which there's a lot more reporting and
video from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan," he said. "You want to
make sure people understand that when they see civilian suffering
there, it's in the context of a terrorist attack that caused enormous
suffering in the United States."
While some CNN correspondents are concerned about having a "pro-
America" stamp on their reports, all the networks are clearly
sensitive to charges that they are playing into enemy hands. After
national security adviser Condoleezza Rice asked the network news
chiefs not to show bin Laden videotapes live and unedited, MSNBC and
Fox News did not air the next one and CNN showed only brief excerpts.
Jim Murphy, executive producer of the "CBS Evening News," said of the
CNN instructions: "I wouldn't order anybody to do anything like that.
Our reporters are smart enough to know it always has to be put in
Murphy said he doesn't believe "the danger is extremely high that
showing what we know, and covering what the other side purports, is
really going to change the mood of the nation. We know a terrible
thing happened, it will take time to deal with and mistakes will be
made along the way. That's war."
NBC News Vice President Bill Wheatley took a similar tack,
saying: "I'd give the American public more credit, frankly. I'm not
sure it makes sense to say every single time you see any pictures
from Afghanistan, 'This is as a result of September 11th.' No one's
made any secret of that."
But Fox News Vice President John Moody said the CNN directive is "not
at all a bad thing" because "Americans need to remember what started
this. . . . I think people need a certain amount of context or they
obsess on the last 15 minutes of history. A lot of Americans did die."
To be sure, the cable networks, with their American-flag logos, carry
hours of speeches and briefings each day by President Bush, Donald
Rumsfeld, Tom Ridge, Ari Fleischer and other administration figures.
Few viewers complain about this coverage being one-sided.
Taliban leaders are courting world sympathy, especially in the
Islamic world, by playing up the bomb damage, even as Pentagon
officials dismiss Afghan claims of 1,000 civilian casualties as
wildly exaggerated. And the issue is hardly a new one. CNN took
considerable criticism during the Persian Gulf War over correspondent
Peter Arnett's reports of damage from Baghdad.
Isaacson's memo said the network, in covering Afghan casualties,
should not "forget it is that country's leaders who are responsible
for the situation Afghanistan is now in."
Said Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism: "It
sounds as though they're worried about people being mad at them more
than about providing the information that is useful."
But Rosenstiel said the networks face a real dilemma, which is "how
do you communicate information that some in your audience might
perceive as sympathetic to the enemy? . . . If people get so mad at
you that they tune you out, you're also failing."
In a second memo, Rick Davis, CNN's head of standards and practices,
said it "may be hard for the correspondent in these dangerous areas
to make the points clearly," so he suggested language for the anchors:
" 'We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this from Taliban-
controlled areas, that these U.S. military actions are in response to
a terrorist attack that killed close to 5,000 innocent people in the
U.S.' or, 'We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this, that
the Taliban regime in Afghanistan continues to harbor terrorists who
have praised the September 11 attacks that killed close to 5,000
innocent people in the U.S.,' or 'The Pentagon has repeatedly
stressed that it is trying to minimize civilian casualties in
Afghanistan, even as the Taliban regime continues to harbor
terrorists who are connected to the September 11 attacks that claimed
thousands of innocent lives in the U.S.' . . .
"Even though it may start sounding rote, it is important that we make
this point each time."
But aren't viewers who don't live in caves well aware of the Sept. 11
"People do already know it," Isaacson said yesterday. "We go to
Ground Zero all the time. We cover the memorial services. We cover
people's lives that have been touched. I just want to make sure we
keep a sense of balance."
Howard Kurtz hosts CNN's weekly media program.
© 2001 The Washington Post Company
US Bombs Kandahar - Taliban Say 1,500 Total Dead So Far
By Tahir Khan
KANDAHAR (Reuters) - U.S. planes roared over the Taliban powerbase of
Kandahar in southeast Afghanistan on Wednesday in a pre-dawn strike
that killed 11 people at a Red Crescent clinic, a doctor said.
In Islamabad, the Taliban ambassador said 1,500 people had been
killed since the United States launched its raids on Afghanistan 25
days ago. Washington says casualty figures have been exaggerated.
"The bombs fell at 4.30 this morning," Doctor Obaidullah told foreign
reporters who were escorted by the ruling Taliban militia to the
dispensary in the Dagh Pul suburb of Kandahar.
In the north, a B-52 bomber pounded Taliban positions overlooking
Bagram airbase north of the capital Kabul. It was one of the heaviest
raids of the campaign in the area where the Muslim fundamentalist
movement is dug in facing the opposition Northern Alliance.
The silver eight-engine aircraft made two raids causing up to 100
explosions, witnesses said.
The intensified attacks follow opposition calls for the United States
to hit the Taliban harder to clear the way for an opposition push
Ahmad Ziah Masood, brother of assassinated northern leader Ahmad Shah
Masood, said he hoped the offensive would start within five days.
"Every day the Americans are bombing the front line and now we should
do something," he told Reuters.
He said he believed Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the September
11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, was hiding in
mountains north of Kandahar.
In Kandahar, stronghold of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad
Omar, foreign reporters were taken to the site of an attack.
Doctor Obaidullah, his head, right hand and left leg in bandages from
wounds he said he had sustained in the raid, said 11 people --
including patients and staff at the clinic -- were killed and six
wounded in the raid.
Reporters heard U.S. planes dropping at least one bomb on the city at
about 4.30 a.m.
The reports of casualties could not be independently verified.
Dozens of people gathered at the clinic in a city that has been the
target of almost daily U.S bombing in Washington's war on terror
aimed at punishing the Taliban and flushing out Saudi-born bin Laden.
"Down with Bush," "Down with America," the crowd shouted.
"It was huge, the whole building was shaking," said a Reuters
reporter of the raid.
The blast rattled windows in the suburbs and shook the ground.
"They are targeting the civilian population," said resident Mohammad
"Can someone tell us if they are targeting Arab positions," he said
referring to the fearsome foreign fighters in bin Laden's al Qaeda
network who man the front lines at many Taliban positions and who
come not only from Arab countries but from Pakistan and Chechnya.
"Have they targeted Taliban positions so far?" he asked.
In Islamabad, Taliban envoy Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef said U.S. raids
were targeting electricity plants and bridges in Kandahar.
He told a news conference the death toll from the U.S. campaign had
risen to 1,500 but gave no breakdown. The numbers cannot be
As the night curfew in Kandahar was lifted, residents emerged from
their homes to go to bazaars, to open their businesses and to try to
return a sense of normalcy to their lives.
SHOPPING FOR FRUIT
Many shops were open. Men with the long beards mandated by the
Taliban who have imposed their interpretation of a Muslim system
based on a 1,300-year-old Islamic Utopia were shopping, accompanying
women who swept through the streets enveloped in the head-to-toe
Electronics stores and mechanics' workshops were doing business, and
fruit stalls were laden with apples, pomegranates, grapes and bananas
imported from neighboring Pakistan.
But the city still had an air of destruction.
Businessman Haji Abdul Qayuum said his house had been hit. He built
it only last year at a cost of 200,000 Pakistani rupees ($3,500) to
take advantage of the peace in the city. Qayuum traded in electronic
goods from Dubai before the raids began.
"The Americans drop bombs, and we are helpless," he said. "We want
the Americans to send in their ground forces. Then we can do
That defiance was echoed by fruit shop keeper Zai-ur-Rehman Faruqi.
"We approve of the policy of the Taliban on Osama bin Laden. He is
our guest," he said. "He is here for jihad (holy war)."
It was not clear how free the residents were to speak as reporters
toured the city with Taliban officials.
But the presence of Taliban militia on the streets was minimal.
Only a dozen of the black-turbaned fighters could be seen, standing
on street corners armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and rocket
US Planning Full Military Invasion If Special Forces Fail
By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
and Toby Harnden in Washington
The Pentagon is considering mounting a ground invasion of Afghanistan
if the current bombing and special forces campaign fails to achieve
its aims, American defence sources said yesterday.
The allies would carry out sporadic bombing attacks throughout the
winter while the opposition Northern Alliance was built up into a
workable ally before a full-scale ground invasion in the spring.
The new plan emerged as Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, held talks
in Washington with his US counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, amid
suggestions of differences between Britain and America over the
prosecution of the war.
Mr Rumsfeld originally rejected invasion plans put forward by Gen
Tommy Franks, the commander-in-chief of US Central Command, who is
running the military operation, telling him to plan for a series of
special forces raids.
But the difficulties of gathering intelligence was shown by the rapid
aborting of a US special forces mission into Afghanistan 12 days ago.
Resistance was far higher than expected and it has made military
planners think again.
Gen Franks had now been given his head and told to go off and
organise it all, a move that led to his current tour of countries in
the region to see what they are prepared to offer in the way of
bases, the sources said.
"The plan now is for a long winter of sporadic attacks and the
occasional special forces mission," one said. "Meanwhile, we will be
getting trained up and organised for a conventional invasion in the
Speaking after yesterday's talks, Mr Rumsfeld said that, while
the "modest" numbers of US special forces now on the ground were
nowhere near those used in the Second World War or Korea, "we have
not ruled that out". Mr Hoon added: "Nor have we."
The idea of a ground invasion was originally seen as too dangerous
given the difficulties faced by the Soviet army during its occupation
of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
British planners had suggested the use of the Northern Alliance as a
proxy force backed up by special forces operations and a policy of
widespread humanitarian aid to win over the "hearts and minds" of the
But with the British contribution increasingly appearing to be little
more than decoration, those plans seem to have been shelved.
Adml Sir Michael Boyce, the Chief of the Defence Staff, gave warning
last week that the war in Afghanistan was the toughest military
operation since the Korean War and could last several years.
Planners are aware that a ground invasion would be hard for the
politicians to sell to electorates and to the other members of the
coalition but believe that, without an early breakthrough, they have
no other option.
Sir Michael and Mr Hoon are said to have clashed over the possible
speed of military action and the type of troops used in special
forces operations. Sir Michael complained that politicians had been
expecting far too much too soon.
There was "quite a lot of pressure" to come up with fast military
options, he said. "People say, `How are you getting on? What are you
achieving? Can't you do it any faster?' "
At a joint press conference after yesterday's talks, Mr Hoon and Mr
Rumsfeld sought to play down the differences.
But speaking earlier, Mr Hoon said it was possible that a Taliban
regime could survive, and added that a pause in the bombing during
next month's Muslim festival of Ramadan should be considered, though
both possibilities have been rejected by Washington.
The war was about keeping up pressure on the Taliban rather than
ending its rule, Mr Hoon said. "The ultimate objective is to bring
those responsible for the events of September 11 to account.
"There is still a possibility of the Taliban accepting that they
would give up Osama bin Laden and their support for terrorism and
that's why I talk in terms of pressure on the regime."
The Pentagon has made clear it wants to obliterate the Taliban regime
before moving on to consider other terrorist networks and states
around the world. Mr Hoon said: "We obviously have to have regard to
the sensitivities of Ramadan. It is something that we will consider
Mr Rumsfeld has always insisted that military action will not cease
during Ramadan. A Capitol Hill source said: "It sounds like the
British are having second thoughts."
Brushing aside recent concerns from senior British officers, Mr Hoon
insisted there were no differences of views either between British
and US politicians or between their military planners.
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