Afghan warlord to aid al Qaeda (WASHINGTON TIMES) By Kathy Gannon ASSOCIATED PRESS ISLAMABAD, Pakistan 12/26/02)
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan ó An Afghan rebel leader yesterday said that his
forces have allied with Taliban and al Qaeda fugitives, and that
a "holy war" would be stepped up to target international forces and
"We are together" with the fugitive fighters, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
said in a Pashto-language message distributed in Pakistan by his
European intelligence sources say Hekmatyar´s operatives have
purchased vehicles that may be used for bomb attacks to try to
destabilize Afghan President Hamid Karzai´s government.
Hekmatyar was a key guerrilla commander during the 1980s Soviet war
in Afghanistan. In the civil war that paved the way for the Taliban
takeover, Hekmatyar´s men pounded the capital of Kabul with daily
rocket barrages. He lived in exile in Iran during the five years of
Taliban rule. He returned after U.S.-led forces ousted the hard-line
militia, and Western intelligence agencies suspect he is getting
money from Iran.
His following among ethnic Pashtuns is considered to be fairly
significant. There is no accurate assessment of his forces, but the
U.S. forces say he is a threat and consider him a target.
U.S. Special Forces are combing the rugged mountains of Afghanistan´s
northeastern Kunar province looking for fugitive al Qaeda fighters
and followers of Hekmatyar, who are believed to be there in
significant numbers. Special Forces in Kunar have come under regular
rocket attacks, many of them believed to be staged by Hekmatyar´s men.
"Hezb-e-Islami will fight our jihad (holy war) until foreign troops
are gone from Afghanistan and Afghans have set up an Islamic
government," Hekmatyar said. Hezb-e-Islami is the name used for his
International forces in Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan have come
under increasing fire in recent days. A U.S. soldier was killed
during a firefight in eastern Paktika province last week.
In Kabul, two U.S. Special Forces soldiers were wounded when a
grenade was hurled at their vehicle. Two Afghans died in Kabul when
grenades were thrown at a base for international peacekeepers.
In southern Kandahar, one Afghan soldier died and several others were
injured Sunday in a remote-controlled bombing. In Kunar province, a
U.S. soldier was hurt when rockets were fired at his base.
Afghan and Pakistani sources said two weeks ago that suicide squads
were being trained in neighboring Pakistan.
The nephew of Abdul Kabir, once the No. 3 man in the Taliban, said
the training camps were in Pakistan´s Bajour region, bordering Kunar
province, and in the Mansehra area, also in the deeply conservative
North West Frontier Province.
While he wouldn´t give more details, his disclosure of suicide-
training camps came just before the spate of attacks in Afghanistan
and the arrests in southern Karachi of men police there said were
planning suicide attacks.
Four men, who belonged to the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammed militant
group, said they were recruited by two men of Middle Eastern origin
and given money to buy explosives and weapons in Pakistan´s tribal
regions, where such material is readily available.
"There will be more attacks, not just in Afghanistan, but here. In
the tribal regions there has been a lot of buying of weapons in
recent months," Mr. Kabir´s nephew said.
In the tribal belt, owners of several arms shops who did not want
their names used said large quantities of Kalashnikov rifles and
grenades have been bought in recent months by Afghans and Pakistanis.
(copyright © 2002 News World Communications, Inc. 12/26/02)
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