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Taleban Vows Not To Hand Over bin Laden - 2001-10-05


The Taleban says it will not hand over Osama bin Laden even if it receives proof of his involvement in the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington.

The Taleban's ambassador to Pakistan (Abdul Salam Zaeef) has told a United Arab Emirates newspaper that if the Taleban sees such proof, it would try Mr. bin Laden under Islamic law.

He told the Al-Khaleej daily Thursday that if the court found Mr. bin Laden guilty, the Taleban would, in his words, examine what to do.

Washington has been showing foreign leaders what is says is evidence that the suspected terrorist leader was behind the deadly attacks.

Earlier Thursday, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said the evidence is enough to indict Mr. bin Laden in a court of law. A Pakistani spokesman said U-S officials have also provided evidence that Mr. bin Laden has been involved in other terrorist attacks. He did not elaborate.

The United States has indicted Mr. bin Laden for his alleged involvement in the 1998 bombings of two U-S embassies in Africa, and U-S officials believe he had links to other terrorist actions.

Pakistan's statement is the strongest yet from a Muslim country in support of the U-S contention that Osama bin Laden played a major role in the worst terrorist attack in American history. Mr. bin Laden has been living in Afghanistan as a guest of the ruling Taleban, which refuses to turn him over, despite a looming threat of U-S military action.

Meanwhile, the former Afghan King, Mohammad Zahir Shah, has met with a senior Bush administration official (policy planning chief Richard Haass) in Italy to discuss a possible post-Taleban government. The two met one day after the exiled monarch received a request from Pakistan's president to send an envoy to Islamabad to discuss Afghanistan's political future.

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