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American Morning

Northern Alliance and U.S. Gather More Intelligence on Al Qaeda

Aired November 26, 2001 - 09:15   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: As we have been reporting, hundreds of U.S. Marines are on the ground, joining the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network. We are now seeing published photographs of one his known hideouts. Christiane Amanpour has seen the picture she joins with a live report.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Paula. Well, indeed there are conflicting reports about Osama bin Laden's exact whereabouts. The pictures that we have and that you're probably showing on the air right now were printed in al Qaeda newspaper that was printed for the Taliban during the time of Taliban regime here. We got that from defense officials now in Kabul.

They say that that once was a hideout of his in the Kandahar region. They're not sure whether he's still there, although -- although the foreign minister of the Northern Alliance does believe that both Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, are still in the Kandahar region. You heard General Clark say that the U.S., perhaps, thinks he may be in the Jalalabad region.

In any event, what the Northern Alliance officials, intelligence officials are now finding is what they call more evidence of bin Laden and al Qaeda's terrorist activities, and they showed CNN, for the first time, a hall of new documents and evidence leading to the al Qaeda network.


AMANPOUR: Northern Alliance intelligence officials bring sacks full of documents to Kabul -- everything from passports to notes on poisons and killer gases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We took the documents from the al Qaeda security headquarters in the center of the town of Jalalabad. The Taliban gave them this building.

AMANPOUR: The latest discoveries include passports from all over Europe as well as the Arab world. Officials say they may have been stolen and used as forged travel documents. The cash also includes immigration and visa stamps from Italy as well as Pakistani embassies in Jordan and Syria, perhaps stolen or fake.

In addition, British Airways tickets for travel November 24, 2000 from Pakistan to Sweden via London. One of the travelers appears to be a Swedish woman. Handwritten notebooks similar to those found in al Qaeda houses in Kabul describe poisons like Ricin. Naught (ph) point 35 grams is said to be the lethal dose for adults, a third that amount for children. It's said to kill within three to four days.

The list goes on to include poison gases, how to prepare and use them. The effects of mustard gas, sarin, botchulism. In a basement prison cell here, this man was captured as Kabul fell. He says his name is Osama Abu Kabiar (ph). He says he's Jordanian, spent two years in the army, and recently came here to join the Jihad against America.

"My aim was to train at Sheik Osama bin Laden's camp or with any other group," he says.

This is the Rishcor (ph) military barracks near Kabul, suspected of being bin Laden's biggest training camp in Afghanistan, and home of the 055 Arab brigade. Here Northern Alliance commanders show us the tank and heavy weapons they captured. They also show us what they describe as a noose, where they say the Arabs hanged hundreds of prisoners.

The family of the anti Taliban leader Abdul Haq believes that he was hanged here after being captured on a mission into Afghanistan shortly after the U.S. began bombing. It looks like the Americans bombed this base many times and even local residents say they believe this was an Arab training camp because although the Taliban had closed this place off, residents say they often saw Chechens, Pakistanis and other Arabs come and go.

"Everyone could hear the sound of firing 24 hours a day," says Aticula (ph), who lives nearby. "The noise was so loud you thought there was a war going on."

Since the fall of Kabul Northern Alliance soldiers say they have uncovered firm evidence that the Taliban invited in all sorts of radical Islamic groups from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, all over the Arab world, and beyond.

ABDULLAH TAWHIDI, NORTHERN ALLIANCE FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): They needed each other. Al Qaeda could not operate without the Taliban, and the Taliban was dependent on al Qaeda.

AMANPOUR: For example, officials say this map of Saudi Arabia was printed by al Qaeda. It shows U.S. interests in the region, and it calls for Jihad. It was found in the Taliban ministry of defense, and it is almost identical to the map on a book by Osama bin Laden, which also calls for holy war against the American presence in Saudi Arabia. At least one defiant holy warrior says from his prison cell that the fight against America will continue.

"Like me there are hundreds of thousands who wish to do harm to America," he says. "I'm telling you the problem of America is not with Osama bin Laden. He is a symbol. Their real enemy is the Muslim nation. You will soon see with your own eyes the fall of America."


AMANPOUR: Now, with the noose tightening around the potential hideouts for Osama bin Laden and his network, the foreign minister here and other government officials are saying that they believe this last push by the U.S. will wipe out the Taliban bastions in the Kandahar region, and that they hope -- the aim and the goal of this U.S. war is to wipe out any potential terrorism from Afghanistan for the future. Paula.

ZAHN: Christiane, I know last week we talked about your tour of a safe house and some of the documents you examined then. What was the most surprising thing that you saw on this tour?

AMANPOUR: Well, I think that each time we and other journalists go through these safe houses, find these documents, first of all what's surprising is that so much has been left behind and so much that's potentially incriminating. We also know that U.S. officials, intelligence officials, have been going through those houses as well, particularly in Kabul. What was surprising, I suppose, about this latest hall -- or, interesting, was all the passports that were -- that we were shown, all the fake or stolen visa and exit stamps. Obviously, the more and more details we get of the kind of poisons that they were interested in, or appeared interested in. All of this builds a picture of what these people were up to, and what potentially they may have been able to do.

ZAHN: And I guess it's chilling for those who haven't interviewed those folks to hear that one soldier say to you, this is not Osama bin Laden. This is about a Muslim nation opposed to American ways.

AMANPOUR: Well, that is what these radicals say. But, of course, over the last few months, particularly since September 11th, many Muslims around the world are disassociating themselves from any kind of terrorist activity, particularly what happened in the United States. They're basically saying this is against Islam.

But the very clear fact is that there is a certain segment of the Muslim population that does feel this way, and is prepared to say, at least publicly, that they want to do whatever they can to attack American interests. And indeed, intelligence and counterterrorism experts recently have warned that just cutting off the top of the al Qaeda network is not going to immediately end the problem of terrorism, and certainly U.S. officials have acknowledged that as well, that it's going to be a long struggle to get rid of sleeper agents or any other potential long-term effects of this terrorist network which has flourished here for the last decade.

ZAHN: And, of course, the U.S. administration continues to warn the American public that could take a very long time. Christiane Amanpour, thanks so much.