Afghanistan has freed 55 Pakistani prisoners accused of fighting with the ousted Taleban regime. International peacekeepers at Kabul airport photographed each of the men before they boarded a Pakistani air force plane for a flight back to Pakistan. Pakistan has been a key ally in the U.S.- led battle against the Taleban and the al-Qaida terrorist network. However, thousands of Pakistanis rushed into Afghanistan late last year to support the Taleban as it fought U.S.- led military forces. Meanwhile, the campaign against terrorism continues on a number of fronts, from Afghanistan to Sweden to Detroit. Betty Van Etten brings us up to date.
Troops from the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division left Bagram Airbase Tuesday for an undisclosed part of Afghanistan. At the Pentagon, General Richard Myers spoke of the coalition’s progress.
GENERAL RICHARD MYERS
“The war on terrorism has continued, in Afghanistan, coalition forces over the past month have found several caches of weapons, to include totaling five truckloads of 82mm mortar rounds, 107 mm rockets, machine gun rounds, 105mm tank rounds, aerial rockets, and small arms ammunition. We also recovered some caches totaling three truckloads of RPG rounds, rockets with fuses, heavy ammunition and anti-personnel, anti tank mines.”
A string of mysterious bombings in Kabul have underscored the importance of the ongoing campaign, according to Afghan Foreign Minister Mr. Abdullah.
AFGHAN FOREIGN MINISTER ABDULLAH
“Yes, there were unfortunately some incidents, some explosion in different parts of Kabul, unfortunately with little casualties, but with minimal causalities. What is this evidence of? What does that show? It is evidence of the fact that the campaign against terror should continue.”
Military efforts in Afghanistan continue as a U.S. newspaper reports al-Qaida and the Taleban regime shipped large amounts of gold from Pakistan to Sudan in recent weeks. The Washington Post quoted U.S. and European officials as saying the quantity was significant and an indication that the al-Qaida and Taleban still have access to large financial reserves.
During a visit to the Afghanistan capital, Kabul, this week, French Foreign Minister Dominic de Villepin said his country would be working with Afghanistan to eradicate the drug trade, which is said to fund terrorist activity.
FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER DOMINIC DE VILLEPIN (TRANSLATION)
“France is particularly concerned, as President Karzai is, about fighting the drugs trade, eradicating drugs. France has taken an initiative as it holds the presidency for G8 to have a conference on the drug routes and the fact that drug routes are controlled by Mafia who are at the source of terrorism and should therefore be eliminated.”
Meanwhile, authorities in two U.S. cities have charged a total of six men with conspiring to support the al-Qaida terrorist network. In the U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan, a federal grand jury has indicted five Muslim men on charges of conspiring to support terrorist attacks in the United States, Jordan, and Turkey. In a separate indictment in Seattle, Washington, authorities charged U.S. citizen Earnest James Ujaama with trying to help al-Qaida set up a training camp--allegedly on this ranch in the nearby state of Oregon.
Charles Mandigo of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
CHARLES MANDIGO – F.B.I.
“What we have to look at in this case is that the seriousness of support to terrorism that is equally as important as the terrorist acts that may be committed by people. And I think this case stands for that, that we must look at the avenue of support to terrorism as a serious crime.”
Also on the legal front, a Swedish court has ordered suspect Kerim Chatty to remain in custody while police investigate charges that he tried to hijack a Britain-bound airliner last week. Mr. Chatty was arrested Thursday at an airport in eastern Sweden after police found a handgun in his carry-on bag.