Afghan opposition calls for US support against Taliban
MALASPA, Afghanistan, Sept 17 (AFP) - The Afghan opposition has appealed to the United States, poised to retaliate against Afghanistan for the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, to support its struggle with the Taliban.
Abdullah Abdullah, foreign minister of the Rabbani government driven out of Kabul in September 1996, warned Washington on Sunday that retaliatory air strikes for last week's attacks would not achieve their goal.
The United States has blamed the September 11 suicide plane attacks which killed some 5,000 people on Saudi-born terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden, who is sheltered by the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban.
"If the idea is to fight terrorists inside Afghanistan, the people who have been fighting them for years should be taken more seriously," Abdullah told journalists in the Panjsher Valley, where assassinated Afghan opposition military commander Ahmad Shah Masood was buried Sunday.
"Since (bin Laden's) terrorist camps are dispersed throughout mountainous areas, how could the US reaction have any impact on terrorist activity?" said Abdullah. "If our efforts are combined then an operation against them will be much more effective," he added.
The opposition spokesman said he had "no doubt at all" that the terrorist attacks in the United States were directly linked to the assassination attempt a week ago on Masood's life -- linked to bin Laden and the Taliban.
Masood was mortally wounded at his headquarters in northeastern Afghanistan on September 9 by two Arabs posing as journalists who detonated a bomb hidden in a video camera. The US terror strikes occurred two days later.
"Osama bin Laden was clever enough to anticipate a severe reaction and he was ready for that challenge," Abudallah said, referring to the kamikaze plane attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "He couldn't stop a reaction from happening but he focused on lessening the impact or effectiveness of that reaction.
"They (the Taliban and bin Laden) thought that with Masood assassinated, the Northern Alliance will collapse. If he is there, he has an effective force under his control which could be a threat to them," he added.
Abdullah did not call directly for US military assistance, but said that from 1992-93 until 1996, when the Taliban ousted the government of president Burhanuddin Rabbani, Washington lost the opportunity to stop them in their tracks.
"They were not our partners although the threat to the Afghan people and the people of the United States were the same. This was a mistake," he said.
The leader of armed opposition to the Taliban since it captured Kabul five years ago, Masood was seen as the last obstacle to the militia's ambitions of ruling the entire country with its iron-fisted interpretation of Islamic law. Russia, which along with India and Iran has reportedly backed Masood militarily, said it would continue to support the alliance.
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