- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2002

U.S. intelligence officials have begun combing through valuable data collected on the al Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan as the search continues for ousted Taiban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
Officials said among the documents obtained are address books, e-mail addresses and phone books of al Qaeda terrorists and their supporters.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has handed over 25 more al Qaeda members to U.S. forces, defense officials said yesterday. The prisoners are being interrogated by intelligence and law-enforcement officials.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that a computer system purchased in Kabul by one of its reporters once belonged to bin Laden's agents and contained details on terrorist operations and planning by the group.
A U.S. intelligence official confirmed that the computer was used by al Qaeda terrorists and contained documents on the group's efforts to develop chemical and biological weapons, the rationale for killing civilians in attacks and a video showing people fleeing the World Trade Center on September 11.
Other documents were obtained by U.S. intelligence in the aftermath of bombing raids in Afghanistan. "We're finding a lot of good infor
mation," one official said.
A looter in Kabul said he had obtained the al Qaeda computer after a U.S. bombing raid in November that killed senior al Qaeda officials, the Journal said. A reporter purchased the computer for $1,100.
Information on the computer indicated that al Qaeda referred to itself in communications as "the company" and its leaders as "the general management."
One memorandum stated that the group conducted a "legal study" of killing civilians. The memo writer said he had discovered a means of preventing the "enemy" from using the killings of "civilians, specifically women and children," to undermine the terrorists' cause.
The newspaper reported that a letter sent to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, a top bin Laden associate, said that "hitting the Americans and Jews is a target of great value and has its rewards in this life and, God willing, the afterlife."
Files on the computer also had an outline of a project to develop chemical and biological weapons known as al Zabadi, the Arabic phrase for curdled milk.
"We only became aware of them when the enemy drew our attention to them by repeatedly expressing concern that they can be produced simply," one memo said.
Asked about the location of bin Laden, President Bush told reporters in Crawford, Texas, that the United States was continuing the hunt for the terrorist leader. Bin Laden's last suspected location was in the hills of Tora Bora, south of the Afghan city of Jalalabad.
"We're going to get him," Mr. Bush said. "And it's just a matter of when."
Mr. Bush said numerous reports indicate that bin Laden is in a cave, has been killed or has fled to Pakistan.
"All I know is that he's running," Mr. Bush said. "And anytime you get a person running, it means you're going to get him pretty soon. And same with Mullah Omar. It's just a matter of time. And I'm patient, and so is our military."
Mr. Bush said the definition of success is "making sure the Taliban's out of existence, helping rebuild Afghanistan and disrupting this international terrorist network, and we're doing a darn good job of it, too."
U.S. Marines, meanwhile, have joined the hunt for Mullah Omar, who is believed to be hiding in the mountains of central Afghanistan, Afghan leader Hamid Karzai said yesterday.
"If he's there, he'll be arrested," Mr. Karzai told the Associated Press. "We are determined to see him arrested."
Mr. Karzai said he did not know whether bin Laden and Mullah Omar were hiding near each other, as some reports suggested.
"There are so many rumors about where Osama is," Mr. Karzai said.
One defense official said intelligence reports indicated that Mullah Omar was hiding in the Baghran region after fleeing Kandahar when the city fell to opposition forces Dec. 7.
The Marines joined the search aboard CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters that departed from a base near Kandahar last night and flew toward the northwest.
The U.S. military now has 180 al Qaeda members in custody in Afghanistan and on ships in the region, the U.S. Central Command said.
Most of the prisoners are being held by Marines at a detention center at Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan, Air Force Maj. Bill Harrison, a spokesman at the command's Tampa, Fla., headquarters, told Reuters.
"Twenty-five detainees were transferred from Pakistan [Sunday]," he said.
An additional seven prisoners are being held by U.S. Army Rangers at Bagram air base north of Kabul, including five new prisoners taken from prisons in Kabul, Maj. Harrison said.
Eight al Qaeda prisoners, including American John Walker, are being held on the Navy's amphibious ship the USS Peleliu in the Arabian Sea.
The prisoners could be brought soon to the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for interrogation, and some could face military tribunals.
In other developments yesterday:
Mr. Bush named Zalmay Khalilzad, a National Security Council staff member, as a U.S. envoy to Afghanistan. The Afghan-born Mr. Khalilzad is the highest-ranking Muslim in the Bush administration.
A U.S. Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle crashed while returning to its base in Afghanistan, the Central Command said. The drone is used to transmit images to military commanders.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide