Bin Laden forms a new Jihadi group - By ANWAR IQBAL
WASHINGTON, June 26 (UPI) -- Suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden has formed a new group that includes his men and those from the Egyptian Jamaat-ul-Jihad group, Arab sources told United Press International late Tuesday.
Both Jihad and bin Laden's Al-Quaida groups have hundreds of supporters in Afghanistan where the Saudi dissident has been hiding since 1996 after U.S. and Saudi pressure forced Sudan to expel him. The new group is known as Quaidatul Jihad.
An Egyptian doctor turned militant, Aiman Al-Zawahiri led Jamaat-ul-Jihad and is now bin Laden's lieutenant in the new organization. Born in Giza, Egypt, in 1952, Al-Zawahiri has been involved with bin Laden since the Saudi came to Afghanistan four years ago.
Al-Zawahiri is also one of the prime suspects in the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed more than 220 people. The United States has already indicted bin Laden as the mastermind behind the attacks.
Al-Zawahiri was also present at an interview bin Laden and his aides gave to Bakr Atyani of the Middle East Broadcasting Corp. in Kandahar, Afghanistan, earlier this week.
Talking to the UPI from Islamabad, Atyani said bin Laden and his men believe that the United States was planning retaliatory attacks against their targets in Afghanistan.
One of his aides told Atyani they often practiced evacuating their bases near Kandahar in case of a U.S. attack and were able to "dismantle their equipment and move to other hideouts in less than half an hour."
The United States bombed bin Laden's bases in Afghanistan and Sudan after the 1998 attack on U.S. embassies in East Africa.
Bin Laden's aides also denied media reports that their leader was suffering from kidney failure and had problem moving. "He looked perfectly healthy to me when I met him on Thursday," Atyani said, adding that bin Laden lived with his family near the Taliban headquarters in Kandahar. One of his sons -- Hamza -- was also present in the interview.
However, Afghanistan's Taliban rulers supervise their movement and do not allow bin Laden or his aides to speak to the media. Atyani arranged his interview with help from bin Laden's Arab supporters in Pakistan and Afghanistan who picked him from the Pakistani border town of Chaman and drove him to Kandahar.
Bin Laden did not speak during the interview and his aides refused to be taped while discussing their plans with Atyani for attacking U.S. and Israeli interests in the Middle East.
The interview annoyed Taliban who said Tuesday that their ban on bin Laden's meetings with journalists was still in place.
Bin Laden's supporters in Afghanistan and Pakistan said the Taliban were extremely upset with the Saudi dissident for meeting a journalist despite the ban. "The reaction was so strong that it even surprised bin Laden," one Arab source told journalists in Islamabad.
However, the sources said the Taliban were not upset enough to ask bin Laden to leave Afghanistan. The United States has been urging Taliban to expel bin Laden ever since the attack on U.S. embassies but the Taliban have refused to oblige. Two years ago Washington arranged strict U.N. sanctions against the Taliban for refusing to extradite bin Laden.
"There seems no pressure on bin Laden to quit Afghanistan. He is very comfortable there and has his own little kingdom," Atyani said.
Bin Laden's aides also told Atyani that they had no connection with a Sudanese and four Indian nationals arrested in India earlier this month for allegedly planning to bomb the U.S. embassy in New Delhi. Indian security officials said they were working for bin Laden.
|Back to News Archirves of 2001|
Disclaimer: This news site is mostly a compilation of publicly accessible articles on the Web in the form of a link or saved news item. The news articles and commentaries/editorials are protected under international copyright laws. All credit goes to the original respective source(s).