Afghanistan: November 25, 2001

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Two days ago, Britain's Independent Television journalist Andrea Catherwood and a Northern Alliance commander were injured when a foreign Taliban fighter taken prisoner at Kunduz pulled the pin on a hidden grenade. That Taliban soldier, and two other prisoners killed in the same blast, were being searched at Uzbek warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum's headquarters in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif. 

According to Northern Alliance commander Haji Mohammed Mukhaqiq, five or six NA commanders were killed when al-Qaeda "foriegn" Taliban surrendering at Kunduz turned out to be suicide bombers who had rigged their bodies with explosives and blew themselves up after being taken into Northern Alliance custody. This could have dire consequences for any future attempts to take al-Qaeda prisoners. - Adam Geibel

The Northern Alliance troops surrounding Kunduz have negotiated the surrender of 600 foreign Taliban troops. Several thousand Afghan Taliban in Kunduz have surrendered, but about nine thousand armed Taliban remain in the city. About 2,000 of these are foreigners and some are senior terrorist suspects. The Northern Alliance threatened to attack the city today if all the Taliban didn't surrender and several thousand Northern Alliance troops are advancing towards the city itself. The Northern Alliance troops advanced through areas guarded by recently surrendered Taliban troops.

Some known (and some unknown) terrorists will escape from Kunduz and they will go somewhere else. The four most likely refuges are Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Pakistan is the easiest to get to, but perhaps the most dangerous. The Pakistani police have been cracking down on Islamic radicals for the past six months and the U.S. is offering generous rewards for terrorist leaders. Somalia, Sudan and Yemen have a lot of territory where there are no police or army to arrest wanted terrorists. The anti-terror nations (mainly the U.S. and Britain) plan to move into the lawless regions of these nations, where terrorists have been found, and kill or capture the terrorists. Using beefed up intelligence collection organizations, the anti-terror crowd expect to keep finding, and chasing after, the terrorist leader ship until world terrorism has no effective leadership.

Confusion over who said what to whom about landing the British commandos are still at Bagram air base outside Kabul. The original plan, to fly in several battalions of British marines, paratroopers and infantry. Coordination between U.S. and British commanders broke down in this situation. The American brass thought the Brits had worked out a deal with the Northern Alliance to take over the air base. The Brits thought that the U.S. had taken care of that detail. When the advanced party of some hundred British commanders landed at Bagram, the Northern Alliance leadership quickly became quite agitated at the prospect of thousands of foreigners outside Kabul. So the movement of foreign troops into Bagram is on hold. Negotiations are still underway to allow U.S. and British troops into southern Afghanistan to aid in dealing with bin Laden and his bodyguard. This is seen as no problem, as the Northern Alliance are not keen to fight down in Pushtun country and are glad to see someone else take care of bin Laden and his hard core followers (most of whom are not even Afghans.) 

The Northern Alliance is now calling itself the government of Afghanistan and has some 3,000 armed men keeping the peace in Kabul. But the Northern Alliance is still a loose coalition of warlords, some of whom have very different goals and ideas of who is in charge of what.


 

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