Osama Leaves Afghanistan
The Hindustan Times
ISLAMABAD (PTI) - International mastermind Osama bin Laden has "silently" left Afghanistan for an undisclosed destination, ahead of a meeting of Afghan Islamic clerics to discuss whether to extradite him, a newspaper here reported on Friday quoting sources close to Taliban and a former interior minister of Pakistan.
In a report from the north west former provincial town of Peshawar, close to Afghanistan borders, The News said that Osama bin Laden had left Afghanistan four days ago and was no longer on Afghan soil.
Taliban sources said their chief Mullah Omar, reluctantly accepted the request of Osama to leave Afghanistan ahead of the 'shura' in Kabul, which called on the Taliban government to persuade the Saudi dissident to take refuge outside Afghanistan.
"Osama has left Afghanistan four days ago and is no longer in the country. I believe the news is not wrong. He must be out of the Afghan soil," it quoted a Taliban official, who asked not to be named, adding "Laden decided on his own to leave Afghanistan, given the threats of the US government to attack the country."
A former interior minister in the Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) government Naseerullah Babar, also claimed that Osama had left Afghanistan four days ago, it said.
Mullah Mohammad Omar had to give the required endorsement to the Shura edict and that was why he took four days so that Osama could get some time to leave Afghanistan, Babbar told reporters at Nowshera.
The paper, however, admitted that it could not confirm its report from the Taliban leadership but said that informed sources among the Taliban ranks did not deny his departure.
Laden is reported to have left along with his trusted lieutenants, mostly Arabs volunteers and few Afghans, said.
"We do not know, which country Osama was heading for, but the reports carry weight that he is no longer in afghanistan," said the Taliban sources. "I am sure Mullah Omar will endorse the resolution passed at the meeting of religious clerics in Kabul within days. That means Osama has already left," said the source in Pakistan.
Diplomatic sources, however, said the Taliban may have to produce more credible evidence to prove that Osama and his men have left its soil. Till then it would continue to be in firing line. Also it would be difficult to believe that he would leave his remote but safe sanctuaries in Afghanistan and risk capture or death anywhere else, they said.
Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar had turned down an earlier request by Osama after the last US cruise missiles attack on khost in Afghanistan, in 1998. Sources close to religious parties believe that Osama could have left for his hideouts in Lebanon or the remote mountainous region of Chechnya, it said.
An Afghan national, known for his close links with Osama bin Laden because of his time tested loyalty told The News that "sheikh", a reference to Osama, was in good health and surrounded by Arab youngsters, who had pledged to to sacrifice their lives in pursuit of his defence, the daily said.
China Says It Will Not
Let bin Laden Enter
BEIJING (Reuters) - China says it will not let attack suspect Osama bin Laden enter its territory from neighbouring Afghanistan, where he is living.
"I don't think this is a possibility," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday when asked if China would allow bin Laden into the country.
The United States has named Saudi-born bin Laden as the suspected mastermind of the devastating September 11 attacks on New York and Washington with hijacked airliners.
U.S. President George W. Bush issued an ultimatum to Afghanistan's Taliban regime on Thursday, saying they risked the same punishment as those they sheltered unless they handed over bin Laden and his senior aides and closed all his training camps.
A gathering of clerics in Kabul ruled on Thursday that the Taliban should ask bin Laden to leave of his own free will. The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan told the Afghan Islamic Press news agency on Friday that the Taliban could not force him to leave.
Osama Reaches China Border?
PESHAWAR - After the Shoora decision, which concluded in the afternoon in Kabul, Osama Bin Laden has reached the China border. According to an informed source on the Pak-Afghan border, the Taleban officials rushed him towards the Chinese border and left him there as till 1 o'clock he was in Afghanistan.
It is worth mentioning here that much awaited Shoora meeting, after thorough discussion on the issue of Osama Bin Laden, arrived at the conclusion that he should leave Afghanistan in the current critical situation.
The source showed ignorance of Osama's whereabouts after his approaching the China border.-PPI
Copyright 2001 PPI (Published under arrangement with Pakistan Press International)