- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 19, 2001

KABUL, Afghanistan Northern Alliance forces moving into Interior Ministry offices here last month found eight direct phone links to Islamabad, proving close ties between the Taliban and Pakistan's military intelligence service, a senior official said.

Gen. Niamaullah Jalili, the head of Afghanistan's Secret Intelligence Service, also said in an interview that with the defeat of the Taliban, he feels the greatest threat to Afghanistan's new order comes from hostile countries such as Pakistan.

Gen. Jalili, 43, spoke in his barren office within the Interior Ministry, which is protected by troops armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Beneath a bare light bulb, the general sat behind a desk adorned with simple office supplies, next to empty shelves. New sofas and coffee tables provided the only comfort in otherwise stripped-down surroundings.

On moving into the building, Gen. Jalili said, he was surprised to discover "eight telephone lines from this Interior Ministry are linked directly to Pakistan, as local phone call lines, not long distance."

This proved the Taliban closely cooperated with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), he insisted, emphasizing: "I'm sure."

"Afghanistan is in danger from one thing, sabotage by foreign countries, those countries which are our enemies such as Pakistan," Gen. Jalili added. "We have to be very careful to protect Afghanistan against them."

After the Taliban fled Kabul on Nov. 13, Gen. Jalili scrutinized evidence left at various al Qaeda houses and training camps in Kabul, but was disappointed.

"We found rockets and bullets and military equipment but not much else. Routine documents," he said.

Gen. Jalili said he believes Osama bin Laden hid out at least until last week in the al Qaeda cave complex at Tora Bora, which was overrun by anti-Taliban tribal fighters in the past few days.

As for the Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, Gen. Jalili said: "I think he is already in Quetta, Pakistan.

"The Pakistanis and Mullah Omar have the same aim, the same strategy. The [Pakistani government] people who brought him here have taken him back."

Looking ahead, the general's greatest concern is how to replace needed equipment that was stolen or destroyed by fleeing Taliban bureaucrats.

"They even damaged this telephone, it is not working," he said in frustration after picking up his desk phone's receiver, waving it and plunking it down again.

"When the Taliban were ruling the country, this [office] was also used as the intelligence service of the Taliban. I was not here and the Taliban looted everything from this department.

"We hope for America's support. I want America to equip us with all sorts of devices."

Gen. Jalili said he has been hunting bin Laden and his followers in the al Qaeda network since before the Taliban fought its way to power in 1996.

"In the [1992-96] mujahideen government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani, I had the duty of finding out all the things about the terrorist network in Afghanistan," he said. "I was also working for the intelligence service then and had to deal with all the foreign terrorists, especially Osama.

"I had documents on the 21 people who were the first people in al Qaeda. The majority of those 21 people were from Egypt, including the brother of [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat's assassin."

Among bin Laden's Egyptian colleagues is Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 man in al Qaeda whom many believe to be the planner of many of the group's attacks.

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