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Former Afghan Taleban Official Defects, Supports Northern Alliance - 2001-11-24


A former senior Taleban official has defected and pledged his support to Afghanistan's Northern Alliance.

Former deputy Interior Minister Mullah Khaksar told a news conference in Kabul that he believes Osama bin Laden is an international terrorist and that the United States is justified in carrying out attacks against his al-Qaida group.

Mullah Khaksar says U-S led airstrikes against terrorist and Taleban targets in Afghanistan have created a situation in which Afghans can unite for peace. He says he supports a conference Tuesday in Germany to develop a broad-based government for post-Taleban Afghanistan.

Mullah Khaksar says he wants to help bring peace to his war-torn homeland and urged all ethnic groups and tribal leaders to support the peace process.

The former Taleban minister says the fall of the capital to Alliance forces did not influence his decision to renounce support for the fundamentalist Islamic movement.

Mullah Khaksar urged Taleban members to reconsider their motivation and actions in the Afghan conflict and their support for al-Qaida group leader Osama bin Laden.

Mullah Khaksar says he has no idea where the fugitive terror suspect is hiding, but said the Saudi-born extremist probably is in contact with Taleban Supreme Leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

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