- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2001

From combined dispatches
KABUL, Afghanistan Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group yesterday threatened more hijacked plane attacks on the United States and said the "battle" would not end until America withdraws from Muslim lands.
Al Qaeda believes in "terrorism against oppressors," said Sulaiman Bu Ghaith, a spokesman for the militant group, in a message carried on Qatar's Al Jazeera television and seen in Arabic-speaking countries around the world.
"Americans should know the storm of the [hijacked] planes will not stop," he said, referring to the attacks on New York and Washington last month.
The speech was broadcast as Kabul residents cowered in their homes through a third night of bombings, unable to flee because of an all-night curfew enforced by the ruling Taliban.
"My younger ones scream and cry, my wife prays aloud all night," said Mohammed Quasim, who huddles nightly with his wife and seven children, praying for safety while the walls tremble and the door shakes from anti-aircraft fire.
"My heart seems to pound inside my head," said the 35-year-old tailor who lives near Kabul's airport, a prime target of the U.S.-led air assault.
Anyone who could afford it left the capital long before the beginning of the air strikes, aimed at military installations and bin Laden's terror camps in retaliation for the Sept. 11 attacks.
But that was no assurance of safety.
Refugees trickling into neighboring Pakistan said yesterday that the Taliban was blocking the roads and conscripting and arming young boys.
"The situation is very bad. The Taliban detain young boys, give them guns and tell them to fight jihad," said Aslam Khan Achakzai, an Afghan who arrived in Pakistan's southwestern town of Quetta.
In other developments:
c Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was said to have met senior Taliban commanders near the western Afghan city of Kandahar in recent days to bolster their morale.
c A group of commanders from the ruling Taliban militia reportedly defected to the opposition Northern Alliance and closed the only road linking north and south Afghanistan.
c Taliban fighters exchanged gunfire with Pakistani border guards in a remote northwestern border area.
c A burqa-clad reporter for the French weekly magazine Paris Match was arrested by Taliban forces in eastern Afghanistan.
Al Jazeera did not explain the origin of the statement by al Qaeda's Ghaith but it appeared to be a video recording. Ghaith had appeared with bin Laden on a recorded statement issued via Al Jazeera on Sunday.
"Let [Americans] know that by invading the land of Afghanistan, they opened a new page of enmity and conflict between us and the infidel forces," Ghaith added.
In Pakistan, Mullah Omar was reported by the newspaper the News to have urged his senior commanders to continue to fight the Western "invaders" during a meeting near Kandahar, said United Press International.
Quoting the Taliban education minister, Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, the paper said Mullah Omar told the commanders that "the jihad against the United States and its allies must continue." Mullah Omar also said a U.S. missile hit his home on Sunday but he survived the attack.
In Jabal-us-Saraj, Afghanistan, a senior official with the opposition Northern Alliance told Reuters that a group of Taliban commanders had switched sides and closed the only road link to the northern areas.
"About 40 commanders with 1,200 men under arms joined the alliance and closed the Bagram-Bamiyan road to the Taliban on Monday night," said Abdullah Abdullah. "There wasn't any fighting, they basically came right over," he said.
Witnesses in a remote northwestern border area said Taliban fighters exchanged gunfire with Pakistani border guards early yesterday, injuring four of them.
The pre-dawn clash in Pakistan's Bajaur tribal district lasting about three hours occurred after Pakistani paramilitary Scouts stopped about 30 Taliban fighters who tried to enter the area, a witness said.
Four Pakistani Scouts were injured but it was not known if there were any casualties among the Taliban, who returned to their own area after the gunbattle.
The reporter for Paris Match was arrested in eastern Afghanistan after slipping into the country disguised in a woman's veiled garment, called a burqa, the Afghan Islamic Press Agency reported.
Michel Peyrard, about 30, was captured in Goshta, a town east of Jalalabad, the agency said. Journalists in Peshawar said Mr. Peyrard had told them he planned to slip into Afghanistan, which was closed to foreign reporters after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington.
His was the third known case of a Western reporter entering the country clad in the traditional head-to-toe burqa veil, which foreigners think can disguise them.
British reporter Yvonne Ridley was freed Monday after 10 days in Afghan captivity and questioning as a possible spy.

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