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Tuesday,October 20,2020 17:54 PM

Bin Laden Stranded

By Vision Reporter

Added 21st September 2001 03:00 AM

ISLAMABAD, Friday - An edict by Afghanistan’s top Islamic clerics suggesting Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden leave the war-ravaged country puts a question mark on the next possible destination of the world’s most wanted man.

ISLAMABAD, Friday - An edict by Afghanistan’s top Islamic clerics suggesting Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden leave the war-ravaged country puts a question mark on the next possible destination of the world’s most wanted man.

ISLAMABAD, Friday - An edict by Afghanistan’s top Islamic clerics suggesting Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden leave the war-ravaged country puts a question mark on the next possible destination of the world’s most wanted man. With hardly a country on earth ready to play host and risk possible U.S. -led military strikes, the wealthy militant seems to be left with nowhere to go for another haven. “There is no country where he can go except U.S. jail or death,” an Arab journalist, who did not want to be identified, said of bin Laden’s predicament. A council of the clerics issued an edict on Thursday asking the ruling Taliban movement to persuade bin Laden to leave “whenever possible.” The dissident has lived in Afghanistan for years as a “guest” of the Taliban, which has resisted international demands to hand him over. But his status as a guest, who according to Afghan tradition must be protected at all costs, appeared to have been compromised by the clerics’ ruling suggesting that he now leave. While international flights to and from Afghanistan are banned under U.N. Security Council sanctions against Taliban, bin Laden can leave the country only by road if he is finally asked by the Taliban to go elsewhere. The land-locked Afghanistan is surrounded by six countries into which bin Laden can sneak if he refuses to surrender: Pakistan, Iran, China, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Asked if Uzbekistan was a possible destination, a Foreign Ministry official in Tashkent said: “This is so absurd that nobody would even bother to consider it.” Turkmenistan was little more welcoming. “There is no such problem because it is unacceptable as it disagrees with our status of a neutral state,” an official said. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said: “I don’t think this is a possibility.” Bin Laden lived in Pakistan with his family for more than five years from 1984 to 1989 when he also led Saudi militants in aid of the Western-backed Afghan guerrillas in their war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Islamabad, which has been seen in the past as the Taliban’s main backer and is now a US ally in what Washington calls a new war on terrorism, seems unprepared to receive bin Laden. But if the dissident comes, Pakistan is most likely to extradite him to the United States as it has done in the past with men wanted by Washington for trial. Another suspected Arab militant, Ramzi Yousef, and a young Pakistani charged with deadly gunfire at the American Central Intelligence Agency headquarters at Langley, Virginia, Aimal Kasi, were extradited by Islamabad in the 1990s to be tried and convicted in the United States. A Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to give an answer at a news briefing when asked whether Pakistan could take custody of bin Laden should he decide to come here. Last time Bin Laden is known to have entered Afghanistan, in May 1996, he flew from Khartoum on a special plane that also brought some of his close comrades after he abandoned their sanctuary in Sudan. Ends

Bin Laden Stranded

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