Taliban Say May Attack Neighbors Helping U.S.
Saturday, September 15, 2001 3:04 AM EST
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Afghanistan's ruling Taliban said on Saturday they might attack any neighbor which gave assistance to U.S. strikes on their country, the Afghan Islamic Press reported.
``If a neighboring country allows its soil or its air to be used in an attack against Afghanistan...in that case the possibility cannot be ruled out that we attack that country,'' the Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued in Kabul.
``We'll be forced to send our mujahideen into their territory ... they will be responsible for the consequences,'' the Pakistan-based news agency said.
The Taliban is considered a pariah movement by the United States because it shelters Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, who Washington has implicated in Tuesday's terror attacks in New York and Washington that killed thousands.
The U.S. has threatened to retaliate against those responsible for the attacks and any country which shelters them.
It launched cruise missile raids on bin Laden's Afghanistan bases in 1998 after he was blamed for the deadly bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Pakistan, one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban government, has promised full cooperation to the U.S. in its hunt for the perpetrators, but has not yet said what form this help might take.
Earlier, the Taliban's leader threatened a holy war, or jihad, against any country which attacked Afghanistan.
Mullah Mohammad Omar told the Taliban Voice of Shariat Radio in an address monitored by the British Broadcasting Corporation but plagued by poor reception that Afghanistan was an obvious target as a true Muslim state.
The United States, he added, saw this as a danger sign and he cautioned against handing over Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, the key suspect in Tuesday's terror attacks.
``You should know that this is not only the issue of Osama, it is opposition to Islam,'' Mullah Omar said, according to a BBC transcript.
``Here (in Afghanistan) there are real Muslims and there is real Islam, and the real voice of religion is raised. They regard this as a danger signal and pay attention to this danger signal,'' he added, referring to the United States.
Mullah Omar recalled that the British and Russian empires had failed to impose their will on the Afghan people in the 19th and 20th centuries and urged Afghans to stand firm against any U.S. attack.
``Be ready for jihad,'' Mullah Omar said.
``Each Muslim should be ready for a jihad against this and be ready for his religion if there is a need for him to sacrifice himself for Islam and his belief, and make a sacrifice for the symbol of belief in Islam,'' he said.
He said that Muslims should not fear death and each should be ready to die for their faith.
``Whether America will launch cruise missiles or drop bombs or create aggression or whatever it does is ahead of us. We cannot save our skins by cowardice or in any other way.''
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