By Sayed Salahuddin
On: Sun October, 31 2004 @ 04:57 GMT
KABUL (Reuters) – Militants holding three foreign U.N. workers in Afghanistan have threatened to kill them unless all Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners
are released from U.S. custody by noon (0730 GMT) on Wednesday.
The leader of Jaish-e-Muslimeen (Army of Muslims) told Reuters the United Nations must also cease operations in Afghanistan, or the hostages would be
killed “in such a way by which Muslims will be happy.”
The group also released a video of the hostages which the Arabic TV channel Al Jazeera broadcast on Sunday showing them in apparent good health,
although a group spokesman said later one of the hostages had been treated by a doctor after falling ill.
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
It seems as if the new tactic among these terrorist groups is to spread into Afghanistan, and other areas, in an attempt to undermine US and
Coalition efforts at stabilizing the area and also to further isolate the US and Britain, specifically, by now admonishing the UN for gettign involved
in Afghanistan, and demanding that the UN pull out.
On a personal note, this seems to be the most recent attempt at dividing the nations of the coalition against each other, and the attempt at a UN
pullout indicates a desperation on the part of the terrorists. Desperation in the sense that now that the UN is becoming more and more involved in the
efforts, the terrorists and their sponsors will lose their ability to possibly seize power in the absence of coalition forces after a pullout.
Here is the full story in case the link self-destructs:
Afghan Kidnap Group Issues Wednesday Deadline
Sun Oct 31, 2004 08:40 AM ET
By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL (Reuters) – Militants holding three foreign U.N. workers in Afghanistan have threatened to kill them unless all Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners are released from U.S. custody by noon (0730 GMT) on Wednesday.
The leader of Jaish-e-Muslimeen (Army of Muslims) told Reuters the United Nations must also cease operations in Afghanistan, or the hostages would be killed “in such a way by which Muslims will be happy.”
The group also released a video of the hostages which the Arabic TV channel Al Jazeera broadcast on Sunday showing them in apparent good health, although a group spokesman said later one of the hostages had been treated by a doctor after falling ill.
The three — Filipino Angelito Nayan, Annetta Flanigan from Northern Ireland and Shqipe Hebibi from Kosovo — were snatched from their U.N. vehicle in rush hour traffic on Thursday.
They had been helping to organize Afghanistan’s first presidential election, which was held on Oct. 9.
Mullah Sayed Mohammed Akbar Agha, leader of the kidnap group, told Reuters by telephone the group had four demands.
“The U.N. should leave Afghanistan and it should call Britain and America’s meddling in Afghanistan illegal,” he said.
“Those who have no military involvement in Afghanistan, such as Philippines, must call Britain and America’s meddling in Afghanistan illegal and must stop its contributions through the U.N. for America and Britain’s activities.”
He demanded that Kosovo and Britain withdraw their forces from Afghanistan and called for the release of all Muslim prisoners in Afghanistan and Cuba, “be they Taliban or Al Qaeda.”
Kosovo, which is under U.N. administration, has no troops in Afghanistan.
KIDNAPPER SAYS HAD INSIDE HELP
The kidnappings have stoked fears among the 2,000-strong foreign community that militants in Afghanistan may be copying tactics used by insurgents in Iraq.
But a spokesman for the Taliban — the hardline Islamic regime ousted by a U.S.-led coalition in late 2001 and now the main group fighting the government and more than 28,000 U.S. and NATO troops in the country — distanced it from the kidnappings.
“We have no comment about the issue. It is their work and we are not involved in it,” said Hamid Agha, Taliban chief spokesman.
Another Jaish-e-Muslimeen commander, Sabir Mohmin, told Reuters that some members of President Hamid Karzai’s faction ridden government had assisted the kidnappers.
Karzai is the, as yet undeclared, winner of the election and is expected to choose a new cabinet by the end of November.
A government official said Mohmin’s allegation that the kidnappers received help from a faction in government could be an attempt to exploit differences just as the interim government is going to be replaced by one of Karzai’s own choosing.
Karzai has led an interim government since U.S. forces helped Afghan resistance fighters topple the Taliban, and out of political expediency several so-called warlords and drug runners obtained cabinet seats while Washington made winning a war on terror in Afghanistan the first priority.
Now elected with a mandate from the people, Karzai is seeking to marginalia regional warlords and stop drug money from perverting Afghanistan’s transition to democracy.
Jaish-e-Muslimeen have already proved they are holding the three by giving Reuters credit card numbers that authorities have confirmed are genuine.
Security sources say so far the group has only contacted a handful of journalists about the kidnappings, and investigators were trying to open up channels of communication with them.
U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva on Sunday called for the hostages immediate release and Jorge Arizabal, the Philippine ambassador to Pakistan, has been dispatched to Kabul to try help in any negotiations.
Jaish-e-Muslimeen emerged in early August when a group of Taliban commanders said they were splitting because the movement was beset with differences and had become ineffective under the leadership of its one-eyed leader, Mullah Omar, one of the world’s most wanted men for helping shelter Osama bin Laden.
More than 1,000 people, most of them Afghans, have been killed mostly in Taliban violence over the past year, but President Bush, seeking re-election on Nov. 2, hoped the Afghan poll would give his campaign a foreign policy fillip.