Rabbani Says Bin Laden Can Be Captured Without War
Saturday, October 06, 2001 4:33 PM EST
BERLIN (Reuters) - The United States can capture Osama bin Laden without going to war, the leader of Afghanistan's anti-Taliban Northern Alliance opposition was quoted as saying.
Burhanuddin Rabbani, president of the country until he was forced from power by the Taliban in 1996, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper that outside pressure could be enough to ensure bin Laden was brought to justice.
``If the Americans are really only interested in bin Laden, then the problem can be solved through cooperation with Pakistan and by increasing the pressure on the Taliban,'' Rabbani said, according to a transcript of the interview due to be published on Sunday.
``You don't need a war to catch him,'' he added. Washington has demanded the Taliban hand over bin Laden, blamed for the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
The United States has moved forces toward Afghanistan's borders but has also launched a concerted campaign of diplomatic and political moves which Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Friday would be ``more like a Cold War than a hot war.''
Rabbani said the Northern Alliance had felt abandoned by Washington in its fight against the Taliban in recent years. He said the Alliance had warned ``loud and clear'' about the danger posed by the regime. ``Nobody wanted to believe us,'' he said.
Rabbani said the Northern Alliance should play a crucial role in any formation of a new government for Afghanistan if the Taliban were dislodged. He said he had been in diplomatic contact with the United States, but had not been in contact with President Bush directly.
``We are the ones who have been fighting the Taliban and their foreign backers for years to save our people,'' he said.
``Without us there would be nothing. Our Islamic government and the United Front, that the West calls the Northern Alliance, are the only power capable of getting rid of the terrorism of the Taliban and to restore peace,'' he added.
Rabbani was quoted as saying the Alliance had ``over 25,000'' fighters against an estimated 30,000 to 50,000, plus ``thousands of Arabs and Pakistanis,'' on the Taliban side.
He said Afghanistan's former king, Zahir Shah, deposed in 1973 and living in exile in Rome, could not come back. A ruler would have to be picked by the Afghan people using a traditional meeting of elders, known as a ``Loya Jirga.''
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