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Bin Laden summons Pakistanis



Published: Mon, September 24, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



President Bush plans to publicize the United States' evidence against Osama bin Laden.

COMBINED DISPATCHES

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Osama bin Laden, the prime U.S. suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, called on Pakistan's Muslims to fight "the American crusade."

"I announce to you, our beloved brothers, that we are steadfast on the path of jihad [holy war] with the heroic, faithful Afghan people, under the leadership of Mullah Mohammed Omar," said a statement provided to Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite channel today. The statement was signed by bin Laden and dated Sunday.

Bin Laden, believed to be in hiding in Afghanistan, often communicates with the outside world through Al-Jazeera, known among Arabs for its wide reach and its independent and aggressive editorial policies.

Muslims killed: In the statement, bin Laden said he was informed that some "of our Muslim brothers in Karachi [Pakistan] were killed while expressing their opposition to the aggression of the American crusade forces and their allies on Muslim lands in Pakistan and Afghanistan."

He said that he was praying to God that they would be accepted as martyrs and that "their children are my children, and I will be their caretaker."

"We hope that they are the first martyrs in Islam's battle in this era against the new crusade and Jewish campaign led by the big crusader Bush under the flag of the cross."

Demonstrations have been held in the Pakistani cities of Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta by Pakistanis who view bin Laden as an Islamic hero.

Bush speaks: President Bush made his own statement today. Calling it a "strike on the financial foundation" of terrorists, Bush signed an executive order today freezing the assets of 27 individuals and organizations.

"They include terrorist organizations, individuals, terrorist leaders, a corporation that serves as a front for terrorism and several nonprofit organizations," the president said in a Rose Garden appearance.

Bush said he signed the order one minute after midnight, adding, "This list is just the beginning."

"To follow the money is a trail to terrorists," the president said. He called the list "the financial equivalent of law enforcement's most-wanted list." The president's executive order marked the first public step of the financial elements of his declared war on terrorism. He was working on the diplomatic front during the day, meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien at the White House.

To remove threat: In Afghanistan, the leader of the ruling Taliban militia said today that the United States must withdraw forces from the Persian Gulf and support the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel if it wants to remove the threat of terrorism.

In a statement faxed to news agencies, Mullah Mohammed Omar said the death of bin Laden would do little to remove the threat against the United States.

"If Americans want to eliminate terrorism, then they should withdraw their forces from the gulf and they should put an end to the partial attitude on the issue of Palestine," Omar said.

"America wants to eliminate Islam, and they are spreading lawlessness to install a pro-American government in Afghanistan," Mullah Omar said. "This effort will not solve the problem, and the Americans will burn themselves if they indulge in this kind of activity."

Prime suspect: The United States has identified bin Laden, who has lived in Afghanistan since 1996, as the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, which were believed to have killed more than 6,000 people.

The Taliban earlier claimed that it no longer knows where bin Laden is. Chief Taliban spokesman Abdullahi Mutmain said emissaries of the regime have been unable to locate bin Laden to deliver a carefully worded edict to "encourage" him to leave Afghanistan at a time of his choosing. In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld scoffed at the report. "They know where he is," Rumsfeld said.

The Taliban has rejected U.S. demands to hand over bin Laden and his lieutenants, saying the Americans have provided no conclusive proof of his involvement in the attacks.

Making details public: The Bush administration, determined to prove to the world that bin Laden and his cohorts are guilty of the attacks, plans to make public a detailed analysis of the evidence collected by intelligence and police agencies, senior officials said Sunday.

In deciding to publish its case against the Afghanistan-based terrorist, the administration concluded that international support for its planned military, diplomatic and economic retaliation is more important than the intelligence secrets that might be compromised.

"We are hard at work bringing all the information together -- intelligence information, law-enforcement information -- and I think in the near future we'll be able to put out a paper, a document, that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking him to this attack," Secretary of State Colin Powell said.

In brief: In other developments:

*The Taliban said Sunday it shot down an unmanned spy plane after it made two or three passes over northern Afghanistan. Rumsfeld confirmed that the United States lost contact with one of its planes, but he said he had no reason to believe it was shot down.

*Artillery and rocket fire thundered across key areas of northern Afghanistan as opposition forces battled Taliban troops today for control of strategic regions north of Kabul.

* Pakistan has pulled its diplomatic staff out of the Afghan capital of Kabul, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

*Ukraine has agreed to let U.S. military cargo aircraft fly over the country's airspace, a presidential spokeswoman said today.




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