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Taliban Officials Say They Know Location of bin Laden

Aired September 30, 2001 - 08:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Getting reports now out of Islamabad on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. I'm going to read this right off the computer just for accuracy here, reading now: Taliban officials say Sunday they know the whereabouts of suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, but would not release his location for security reasons. Quote, "Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan in an unknown place, for his safety and security," according to the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, a gentleman by the name of Abdul Salam Zaeef. Quoting now, "He's under the control of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and only security people know where he is."

Again, the word we're just getting out of Pakistan.

CNN's Tom Mintier is also standing by in Islamabad. We'll go to Tom shortly, but again, that quote now on videotape from a short time ago. Let's play it and listen to the ambassador again, in Islamabad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: From your statement, we understand that Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan, because you said previously that he has disappeared. So, we understand that you are in contact with Osama and he is in Afghanistan?

ABDUL SALAM ZAEEF, TALIBAN AMBASSADOR TO PAKISTAN (through translator): Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan and he is in an unknown place because of his safety and security. The declaration of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Afghanistan was handed over to him.

QUESTION: Was it handed over to him, or was it delivered through radio contact? Or did somebody actually hand it over to him?

ZAEEF (through translator): It reached him.

QUESTION: But it's almost a week now. Has he resounded to that? What is his response? What is his response to that?

ZAEEF (through translator): No, there has been no response. We have not given him any official or formal invitation.

Osama bin Laden is under our control. Wherever he is, he is under the control of the Islamic government of Afghanistan and because of his safety, you know, only the security people who are responsible for his safety know his whereabouts and no one else. But he is, wherever he is, under control of the Islamic government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: A bit difficult to hear at times, but again, you heard in there, the ambassador from Taliban to Pakistan saying that there has been no special or formal invitation given to Osama bin Laden. For two-and-a-half weeks, the White House has said repeatedly that they believe the Taliban knows the whereabouts and the location of Osama bin Laden. However, those reports have gone back and forth over the past 19 days.

Let's check in now in Islamabad, CNN's Tom Mintier, to see how this news is being received. A bit early at this time, Tom, but what can we gather from the, from the interview we just heard here?

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, I think it's incredible. It has gone from we're going to send him a message, we can't find him. Now, we've located him and he's under the control of the Taliban.

Also, something you didn't hear was the ambassador saying the position of the two countries is very different. They are thinking, the United States, of direct attack. We are thinking of negotiation. They have provided no evidence, but they want the man. But we say if they change and talk to us, if they present evidence, we will respect their negotiations, and that might change things.

If this is true, it's an apparent real change of policy, at least on the Taliban side, but what we have heard from the White House repeatedly, no matter what the Taliban has said here from Islamabad, the time for talking is over. There is no negotiations.

You know, there was talk of Jesse Jackson coming in to mediate with the Taliban after an invitation supposedly from the Taliban, but apparently Mr. Jackson has not decided yet to make the trip or not.

But, very interesting now that the Taliban is saying that they have control, not only control, but under the protection of the Taliban, of Osama bin Laden in a place that only security people know about.

So, this goes a long way from we don't know where he is, to we have control of him, and we have him in a safe and secret place. Bill.

HEMMER: All right, Tom. Again, no location given for security reasons, the Taliban is saying. They will not release that information, but we will see where this story ripples throughout the morning.

Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, will be our guest exclusively on CNN in about two hours time and we'll get his reaction on that as well.

Tom Mintier, thanks to you.

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