September 2001 News

Russian memo lists Taliban's Pakistani advisers

26 September 2001
The Hindustantimes
Tom Heneghan

Islamabad: Osama bin Laden had at least 55 bases or offices in Afghanistan earlier this year with over 13,000 men, ranging from Arabs and Pakistanis to Chechens and Filipinos, according to Russian information. A Russian memo to the United Nations, obtained by Returns on Wednesday, reported that in addition to bin Laden's own men, about 3,500 fundamentalist Pakistanis were in the country as well as Pakistani soldiers and diplomats it said were working as advisers to the hardline Taliban moment. The memo to the UN Security Council, dated March 9, 2001, said most of bin Laden's facilities were in or around the main cities of Kabul, southern Kandahar, eastern Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sherif in the north. Most were at former Afghan Army bases, on large former state farms and in caves in rugged mountain regions. It was not clear whether these facilities, part of bin Laden's al Quaeda network, were all still in use at the time of or after the September 11 suicide flights. The US has named bin Laden as the prime suspect in those attacks and vowed to capture him "dead or alive" and punish the Taliban for harbouring him. The Taliban say they have already taken emergency measures to defend themselves against any U.S. air attack. A cover note from Moscow's UN delegation said the memo responded to a 1999 Security Council appeal for information "on bases and training camps of international terrorists in Afghanistan" and and on foreign advisers to the Taliban. Pakistani military spokesman were not immediately available to comment on the list, which named 31 pakistanis- from generals to diplomats- it said were working as advisers in Afghanistan. The memo says the focus of bin Laden's forces is at the former Afghan Army Seventh Division base at Rishkhor, south of Kabul. Run by bin Laden's deputy, it has 7,000 fighters, including 150 Arabs and some Pak fundamentalists, as well as a Pakistani army regiment. A nearby camp has instructors from Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, it said. In Charasyab, at a former base for the anti-Soviet muja-hidden, troops included 50 Filipinos and 40 Uighurs from the mainly Muslims Xinjiang region in western China. The memo from Russia, which is fighting Muslim separatists in Chechnya, reported that at least 2,560 Chechens were serving or training with the bin Laden organization. An unknown number of Czechs and Bulgarians were reported to be active at a well-defended base in Logar province south of Kabul. Of the 19 camps said to be run by Pak fundamentalists, the memo named three militant groups near Kabul. It did not identify who ran the other camps. Several Pakistani groups have mobilized students at religious schools to go and fight in Afghanistan. The memo said six Pakistanis had senior posts in the Taliban military and identified a former royal palace in south-western Kabul as "headquarters of the commanders-in-chief of the Pakistani forces in Afghanistan".


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