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Blair Accuses Taleban of 'Spreading Lies' - 2001-10-09


British Prime Minister Tony Blair has accused the Taleban rulers of Afghanistan and the al-Qaida network of spreading lies about the U.S.-led anti-terrorist campaign. Mr. Blair briefed parliament late Monday on the first day's military action in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Blair has issued his first report to parliament on the initial air strikes by the United States and Britain against military and terrorist targets in Afghanistan.

Mr. Blair said the preliminary indications are that the attacks degraded elements of the Taleban military apparatus and facilities of al-Qaida, the organization of alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

In a prepared statement, Prime Minister Blair accused the Taleban and al-Qaida of spreading lies against the United States and its allies. "Of course, al-Qaida and the Taleban regime will be eager to spread false propaganda," he said. "Already their lying machine is putting out false claims about U.S. planes being shot down. There will be much more of this kind of thing."

Mr. Blair said the Taleban and Osama bin Laden want a war with the Western powers. "And of course, they'd lie about our motivation." he said. "We know their aim. It is to foment conflict between Islam and the West. It is to present themselves as champions of the Muslim world against the United State of America. It is to say we are anti-Islam. That is a lie."

Mr. Blair repeated that the fighting in Afghanistan stems from last month's terrorist attacks in the United States. "We are in conflict with Osama bin Laden and the Taleban regime because the terrorists killed thousands of innocent people, including hundreds of Muslims and women and children, and because the Taleban regime, in return for financial and other support, give them succor," he said.

As Mr. Blair spoke, London police were mounting a major security operation amid fears Britain could become a terrorist target in retaliation for its support of the United States.

Security has been tightened at major potential targets, such as parliament, Buckingham Palace and Heathrow airport, though Mr. Blair said there is no information of any specific threat.

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