- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 4, 2001

From combined dispatches

KABUL, Afghanistan Terrorist leader Osama bin Laden yesterday lashed out at the United Nations and Arab leaders who support the war against his terror network, issuing a worldwide appeal to Muslims to defend Afghanistan from U.S.-led attacks.
Bin Laden, the Saudi-born exile sheltered by the Taliban, said in his second appearance on Qatar's Al Jazeera Arab television that the campaign against him and his network was a religious war on Islam. He urged Muslims to defend Afghanistan against the "crusade" waged by the United States. He went on to denounce the United Nations.
"Those who claim they are the leaders of Arabs and are still in the United Nations have renounced the message of Mohammed. Those who resort to international legitimacy are renouncing the legitimacy of the holy book and the legacy of the Prophet Mohammed," bin Laden said.
The United States dismissed the comments. "This is just more propaganda," said White House spokeswoman Anne Womack. "That shows how isolated he is from the rest of the world."
In Afghanistan, the opposition Northern Alliance said yesterday it had captured the district of Aq-Kupruk, 45 miles south of Mazar-e-Sharif, after a three-hour battle. If true, that victory would mark the first significant advance towards Mazar-e-Sharif since U.S.-led forces began bombing targets in Afghanistan nearly one month ago.
The alliance said 800 Taliban fighters had defected, 200 had been captured and 80 had been killed. However, the Taliban said it had recaptured the district, leaving behind "heaps" of bodies of opposition forces. There was no independent confirmation for either claim.
U.S. special forces mounted a rescue mission to retrieve the injured crew of a U.S. helicopter that crashed in freezing rain over Afghanistan. The Pentagon said the four crew members were brought back by a second helicopter.
U.S. fighter jets then destroyed the crippled helicopter to prevent the Taliban seizing it.
Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem, deputy director of operations at the Pentagon, said severe weather in Afghanistan had delayed many deployments.
"As the country starts the transition to its winter season and the rains are starting to fall, in the freezing altitudes, of course, that's pretty difficult on helicopters," he said.
The U.S. bombing campaign continued and diplomatic efforts were stepped up with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, on a trip to the region, winning a promise from Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan, for the use of one of the country's military bases.
In addition to helping the Northern Alliance, the U.S.-led coalition also has been encouraging Afghan leaders loyal to exiled King Mohammed Zahir Shah to foment a rebellion in the south of the country.


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