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Afghan War News 11-02

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com The Washington Times www.washtimes.com ...
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2 2:12 PM
      Please send as far and wide as possible.


      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      The Washington Times
      Taliban leader cites help by China
      Bill Gertz

      Published 10/31/01
      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
      Islamabad Pakistan.
      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
      economic matters.
      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
      civilian casualties.
      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
      they suffer."
      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
      innocent people."

      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
      toward Kabul.

      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
      independently verified.

      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.


      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
      burqa veils.

      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 Telegraph

      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
      local people.

      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
      very carefully."

      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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