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Karzai Vows to Capture Omar - 2002-01-06


The head of Afghanistan's interim government says he is determined to find Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Hamid Karzai vows Mullah Omar will be taken into custody.

The search is continuing in rough terrain for both Mullah Mohammed Omar and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Hamid Karzai says they will eventually be captured.

He told the NBC television news program Meet the Press that Mullah Omar is not getting any help from the Afghan people. Mr. Karzai said, "They are all looking for him. He is one man and one man can easily hide, can easily take a motorbike and go places. I take this example from my own entry into Afghanistan when the Taleban were there. I managed to move into Afghanistan and they could not find me for months."

Mr. Karzai went on to say he does not know if Osama bin Laden is still in Afghanistan.

But several key U.S. senators say there is reason to believe he has crossed over into Pakistan. Nine senators are on a fact-finding tour of neighboring countries, meeting with regional leaders.

Arizona Republican John McCain appeared on Meet the Press via satellite from Uzbekistan, and shared the sentiments of several members of the senate delegation. Senator McCain said, "In this part of the world there is a belief that Mr. bin Laden is already over the border in Pakistan."

The Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Florida Democrat Bob Graham, has been getting regular updates on developments in the war on terrorism. He told ABC's This Week that Osama bin Laden may have left Afghanistan, but no one is certain.

"The best intelligence," he said, "is that both bin Laden and Omar are alive. Whether they are still in Afghanistan or have slipped over the border to Pakistan is the big question mark. Increasingly as our efforts to get them in Afghanistan have been futile, there is a greater sense that they have, in fact, escaped and are probably in one of those tribal territories just over the border into Pakistan."

Senator Graham was then asked to predict the Bush administration's next move in the war on terrorism. He said the first phase of the mission will not be complete until the al-Qaida terrorist network is destroyed in Afghanistan. He said the next phase ought to be the elimination of al-Qaida cells in other countries.

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