Terrorism

Bin Laden without a sin-Official!

20 November 1998

By Adel Darwish

Osama bin Laden, the man accused of orchestrating the United States embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya was declared '' a man without a sin'' on 20 November by a court in Afghanistan, where he has lived for years under the wing of the hard-line Islamic Taliban militia. 

The militia, who controls about 90 percent of Afghanistan, closed their three-week inquiry into allegations that Mr Bin Laden is waging a war of terror against American interests. 

``It's over, and America has not presented any evidence,'' Afghanistan's Chief Justice Noor Mohammed Saqib told handful of reporters gathered at the Supreme Court building in the Afghan capital, Kabul to here how the man who branded '' public enemy Number one'' by US is now '' a man without a sin''.

The judge said that Washington failed to produce any evidence. ``Without any evidence, bin Laden is a man without sin. He is a free man.'' 

An American court has indicted bin Laden in the Aug. 7 bombings that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. 

White House National Security Council spokesman David Leavy said, ``Without commenting on the rigor of the Taliban judicial system, it is clear that Mr. bin Laden is a proven threat to U.S. national interests.'' 

He said that Mr Bin Laden will remain a focus of American diplomatic and legal efforts to ``take down his terrorist network and bring him and his associates to justice.'' Mr Leavy made his remarks in Tokyo, where he was traveling with President Clinton. 

In early November Washington offered a $5 million reward for the capture of bin Laden, something the Taliban said was tantamount to encouraging terrorist activity inside their war-shattered country. 

Judge Saqib said he waited in vain for American officials to provide evidence of bin Laden's involvement in terrorist activity. 

``Anything that happens now anywhere in the world they blame Osama, but the reality is in the proof -- and they have not given us any.'' 

The United States has no diplomatic representation in Kabul as it does not recognise the Taliban government - only recognised by United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, who financed its war against the other factions and the government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani, which was backed by Iran. 

The Taliban religious army espouse a strict brand of Islamic law that bans women from working and forced girls out of school and outlaws most forms of light entertainment. 

Mr Bin Laden, a Saudi billionaire who was thrown out of his homeland for advocating the ouster of the Saudi royal family, is believed by the United states to be using bases in Afghanistan to train and finance Islamic terrorist groups worldwide that target U.S. interests and U.S. citizens. 

In August, the United States launched a missile attack on eastern Afghanistan against suspected terrorist training camps. Twenty-six people were killed; bin Laden was unhurt. 

The Taliban have refused to hand over bin Laden to the United States. Taliban commanders who know bin Laden say he is living in mountain camps outside the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar along with his three wives, children and a handful of bodyguards, most are ex-Arab Mujahedine fighters and convicted terrorists from Algeria, Egypt, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. 

Bin Laden settled in Afghanistan when the Taliban's opponents, led by ousted President Rabbani, ruled Kabul. The opposition now controls about 10 percent of Afghanistan, mostly in the north. They are supported by Iran where President took refuge and Russia, while Tajikistan and Kazakhstan support Ahmad Shah Massud who still have a strong hold in the North.

Taliban officials asked reporters in Kabul why the United States didn't demand the extradition of bin Laden before the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996. ``Why not say then that he was a terrorist and ask for him then? Why now when the Taliban are successful?'' said Mullah Mohammed Haqzar, deputy interior minister. 

It was a common knowledge that throughout 1997, the CIA was quietly backing the Taliban militia and encouraging Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to supply them with arms, in a bid to undermine Iranian influence in Afghanistan. It was part of the dual containment policy against Iran and Iraq in the Persian Gulf and also to help US oil companies find and alternative oil and gas pipeline rout from the Caspian sea basin to the Indian Ocean by-passing Iran. The Pakistanis wanted the pipeline to go through Pakistan, while the Saudis also supported the project to make sure Caspian Sea oil costs more than Saudi Arabian oil. 

The interest in Afghanistan go back to 1980 following the 1979 Soviet invasion to support a pro Moscow communist regime of General Babrak Karmal. Washington and the rest of NATO alliance, as well as pro-western Arab countries lead by Saudi Arabia financed and armed bandits, drug smugglers- whose trade was outlawed by the Pro Moscow regime in Kabul- and tribes men who traditionally fight on the side of who ever pays higher wages.

Bin Laden first came to Afghanistan in the 1980s to lead Saudi Arabian and other Arab volunteers and was hailed as a hero in his homeland. Contrary to advice given by Middle East experts in London and the region, United States and British Tory government supported bin Laden and other groups. The CIA, against military advice, supplied them with hundreds of anti-aircraft stinger missiles that now threaten any American operation to snatch bin Laden.

After the war, Mr Bin Laden he returned home and then moved to Sudan where he set some terrorist training camps, using Saudi Arabian money that was given to the Islamists' regime in Khartoum. The camps were used to train former Arab volunteers who were deported from Pakistan. All known as the Arab Afghans then moved to create havoc in the region and formed terror underground cells in Egypt, Lebanon, Gaza strip and Algeria. But Algeria was there big breakthrough where they are helping local Islamic terror groups wage a war against the French backed military regime. (See Algeria).

Following a change of Middle Eastern alliances and under pressure from Egypt and Washington, the Saudi government changed course in Sudan. Because of his defiance and opposition to their policy as well as the pressure from the west, and his brand of militant Islam, the Saudi Royal family stripped bin-Laden of his citizenship in April 1994. As the Egyptian lead Western pressure was mounting on Sudan, Bin laden was forced to leave in 1995 and returned to Afghanistan. 

Bin Laden was enraged by the Saudi Royal family in 1991 speeding the evacuation of Arab volunteers from Pakistan and issuing them temporary passports - on CIA requests. He declared a crusade against the United States military presence in Saudi Arabia, home to two of Islam's holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, which started in 1990 with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. He used expelling American troops from Muslims' Holy-land as a focus to concentrate the training in the camps in Sudan. He told reporters as much then adding that they should have left with the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

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