The Gettysburg Times from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on June 10, 2002 · Page 8
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June 10, 2002

The Gettysburg Times from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania · Page 8

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Monday, June 10, 2002
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A8 GETTYSBURG TIMES • MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2002 LOST OPPORTUNITY Former Taliban official told U.S. in 1999 al-Qaida had taken over Afghanistan WORLD TRAVELERS — Nearly two dozen "Flat Stanleys" which had been sent out across the U.S. have found their way back to the second grade classroom of Mrs. Lisa Gormley at James Gettys Elementary School. The students had created their Flat Stanleys after hearing the book In which the character, Stanley, was flattened when his bulletin board fell on him. Stanley found BILL ScHWARTZ/OCTtYSBURO TIME? himself traveling from place to place and learned all kinds of things about where he visited. The students' Flat Stanleys were mailed to friends and relatives far and wide and came back with souvenirs and chronicles of the places they had been to. The project was used as a resource for social studies lessons this year. (See School Days, Page A6) Under the big tent: Jockeying, animosity and splashy attempt at Afghan consensus BY TED ANTHONY Associated Press Writer KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — They'll all be there, or at least nearby: a former president and a former king, warlords and ministers and would-be power brokers, all comers from all corners looking to claim fresh influence for a new era. When the loya jirga, or grand council, convenes Monday as part of a U.N. mandate to pick a transitional government, many inside the big white tent — and just as many outside it — will be vying for positions and influence in the always contentious, often violent arena that is Afghan politics. "Competition is already simmering," said Aziz Ahmad, a political scientist at Kabul University. Even before it started the loya jirga ran in to trouble. Its start was postponed from Monday morning until later in the afternoon because of differences over the role of the country's former king, diplomatic sources said. Interim leader Hamid Karzai was meeting late Sunday with former monarch Mohammad Zaher Shah to try to work out a compromise that would satisfy former northern alliance leaders, who do not want any role for the ex-king, the sources said on condition of anonymity. The nonconfrontational Karzai is considered most likely to be chosen to head the transitional government and is least objectionable to the assorted political factions. The 87-year-old former king, who is fresh from a generation in exile, is held up as a patriarchal, if not political, figure. "The first power struggle is defining a role for the king," said Alexander Thier, Kabul representative for the International Crisis Group, a nongovernmental organization. Some warn that a government without a role for the king is simply unacceptable — and could produce chaos. Others have deep reservations about granting him any new power. New Afghan government unveiled The interim government will convene in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, as part of an agreement negotiated among Afghan factions in Bonn, Germany, last December.Two-thirds will be indirectly elected. The other third will be appointed by the Loya Jirga Commission. Appointed Seats: Approximately 450 participants Elected seals: 1,051 participants by indirect district elections Appointed Seats, approximate breakdown with women shown in brackets: Administration - 30 (2) Commission 21 (3) Religious persons 6 Lawyers, others - 30 (10) • Civil society members 51 (12) Professional and scientific organizations 39(6) Nomads 25 Refugees 100 (25) Internally Displaced Persons 6 (2) Other women from geographically distributed seats -100 There is Burhanuddin Rabbani, president of Afghanistan during the final phase of the calamitous mujahedeen years and still keen to lead. There are Ismail Khan and Gen. Rashid Dostum, warlords of the west and north, respectively, each commanding a potent army, each seeking to preserve power. Before them, even, the loya jirga must appoint a meeting chairman — a procedural post, but one with influence over the outcome. If the loya jirga commission's chairman, Ismail Qasim Yar, is tapped, his sympathies to northern alliance members who opposed the Taliban could affect the new government's makeup. Many believe senior Karzai adviser Ashraf Ghani would run a more internationally minded grand council. Then there are the delegates — and the issue of whether they can jockey politically on a national level without their guns. "Do people already know which caucus they belong to? Or will there be horselrading on the floor where people will be discov- ering what their affinity is?" Thier asked. "How will these rivalries surface?" Especially pivotal are the "big three" interim ministers of defense, interior and foreign affairs — Mohammad Fahim, Yunus Qanooni and Dr. Abdullah, respectively, ethnic Tajiks from the same valley who fought with the northern alliance against the Taliban. Concerns about their domination of the interim authority may well force one from office. Predicting exactly who will clash this week is an exercise intricate enough to confound a Las Vegas bookie. But several already existing disputes likely will surface in some fashion, either in person or by proxy. "Nobody is neutral. This will be interesting," said Sayed Hussain Anwari, an ethnic Hazara political leader and the interim administration's minister of agriculture. Hazaras are wary of attempts by the one-time northern alliance to consolidate power. Those who went from governing to forming the alliance in 1996 spent much of the earlier 1990s shelling Hazara neighborhoods in Kabul. Hazara leaders also are suspicious of the king, who they believe neglected them during his 40-year rule. And Pashtuns are worried about being pushed aside by Tajik power brokers in Kabul. The northern alliance contingent feels the same way about the king. Though they initially criticized his return, they realize public sentiment for Zaher Shah runs deep and are not opposing a role for him in a transitional government. They also feel their years of fighting entitles them to power. "The people who were on the front line, whose lives were in the line of fire, they should have a special place;" said Baba Jan, a warlord who controls the area around Bagram Air Base north of Kabul. Among other figures elbowing for position: • Dostum, the violent northern warlord. Dostum, an Uzbek, has spent months polishing his image and promises his aggressiveness is behind him. He wants a position in the new government, which would help him fend off .power plays by another northern warlord, Atta Mohammed. "I'm really trying to say farewell to the past," Dostum said in April. • Khan, western Afghanistan's warlord, has close ties with bordering Iran and opposed the Taliban, who imprisoned him. His beefs will be expressed through delegates he allegedly got appointed through intimidation and bribery. He wants the government to increase representation for his region and is wary of the ex-king taking on any position of power. • Rabbani, president of Afghanistan when the muja- hedeen fell to the Taliban, wants religious rule. He is critical of the loya jirga, though he has kept his complaints relatively low-key. But he still enjoys broad support among northern alliance delegates and, some say, could mount an effort to be named head of state. BY KATHY GANNON Associated Press Writer KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A senior Taliban official said he approached U.S. representatives three years ago for help in replacing the hard-line Islamic leadership but was told Washington was leery of becoming involved in internal Afghan politics, the former official said Sunday. Mullah Mohammed Khaksar, a former Taliban intelligence chief and later Afghan deputy interior minister, said he met with U.S. diplomats Gregory Marchese and J. Peter Mclllwain in Peshawar, Pakistan, in April 1999 and told them he wanted to oust Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar because of his support for Osama bin Laden's al- Qaida terror network. The two Americans promised to contact Washington, Khaksar said. Later, he received a letter — which he showed to The Associated Press — from Marchese saying the United Sates was nervous about backing Afghan factions because of its experience supporting hardline Islamic movements during the war against the Soviets. "We don't want to make mistakes like we made in the holy war," Marchese said in the letter, written in Afghanistan's Pashto language and translated by The Associated Press. "We gave much help and it later went against us." Marchese added that "my boss is interested" — without identifying him by name. However, Khaksar said that was his last contact with the Americans. Marchese, now posted in Washington, confirmed the meeting with Khaksar but refused to say what was discussed. "I can confirm that I met Mullah Khaksar, then the Taliban regime's deputy interior minister, at my home in Peshawar in April 1999," Marchese said in an email. "I can't get into the content of the meeting, however." It was unclear whether Khaksar's overture was relayed to the highest levels of the Clinton Administration. Nor is it clear whether the United States lost an opportunity to neutralize bin Laden and his Taliban protectors... before the devastating attacks of Sept. 11. The State Department on Sunday said it had "no immediate comment" on Khaksar's comments. Khaksar, a founding member of the Taliban, said he contacted the Americans because he feared the Islamic movement had been hijacked — first by Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency and then by bin Laden and his al- Qaida group. Khaksar said he and others in the Taliban wanted to "keep Afghanistan for Afghans" but found themselves marginalized because of bin Laden's influence over Mullah Omar. Bin Laden donated suitcases full of money to finance the Taliban's war-effort against the northern-based alliance led by the late guerrilla leader, Ahmed Shah Massood. Mullah Omar, meanwhile, had fallen under the influence of bin 40 structures destroyed in Colorado wildfire, 2,000 residents evacuated GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A wind-fanned wildfire raged at the base of a mountain Sunday, destroying 40 structures including at least 20 homes, and forcing 2,000 people to flee this resort community. A second wildfire in central Colorado spewed so much smoke toward the Denver area that state officials issued a health warning in the city and forced the evacuation of 20 homes and a Girl Scout ranch. "All of Colorado is burning today. It is a very, very serious situation," said Gov. Bill Owens, who visited the scene at Glenwood Springs. There were no reports of injuries. Much of the damage in the fire at the base of Storm King Mountain was in trailer parks, said Sheriff Tom Dalessandri. The Colorado National Guard sent 100 soldiers to control access and security in Glenwood Springs. The Storm King Mountain blaze, apparently ignited by underground coal that had been burning for years, had spread to at least 7,500 acres by Sunday afternoon. With flames visible on the hillside above during a news conference at the Garfield County Courthouse, officials said they feared afternoon high winds with gusts in excess of 40 mph would complicate the task of fighting the fire. "We are little bit better prepared to address that but we're still at the whim of the winds and what Mother Nature has to offer," said fire boss Prankie Romero. For residents of the area, between Vail and Aspen, the flames were a painful reminder of the 1994 fire on Storm King Mountain that killed 14 firefighters. "Obviously Storm King was a very difficult and destructive fire for this community and we still bear those scars. This fire is very reminiscent of that," said Sheriff Tom Dalessandri. A second fire that torched at least 7,000 acres in the Pike National Forest, west of Colorado Springs, destroyed at least one structure, said fire information officer Mil Parsons. State health officials asked people in the affected area to stay indoors as smoke enveloped the Denver area in a yellow haze and drifted as far north as Wyoming. Small pieces of ash fell throughout Denver. Forest Service spokesman Lynn Young said the fire, which started Saturday, was fast-spreading and burning toward populated areas in the mountains southwest of Denver. Air tankers couldn't be used because of high winds. "This is projected to get bigger," Young said. "Mostly what firefighters do with fires like this is get people out of the way." Our variable annuities are designed to fit your needs. Investment programs should be designed to put you in control. Variable Annuities* from Aid Association for Lutherans/Lutheran Brotherhood do just that. You decide how your money is invested, and you still get all the- tax advantages of a traditional annuity. Choose from stock, bond, high-yield securities ("junk bond") and money market** portfolios, along with a fixed account, and your capital grows tax-deferred. For more complete information, including charges and expenses, call for a prospectus. Read it carefully before you invest or send money. Let us help you shape a variable annuity so it meets your needs. Richard Unger CLU.ChFC Registered Representative (717) 334-4627 Randy Smith CLU.FIC Registered Representative (717) 334-9639 Aiil Aaariation for Lutherans and Lutheran Brotherhood have merged, Heating the largest fraternal lienefit society in the United Stale*. Am ASSOCIATION FOR LUTHERANS LUTHERAN BROTHERHOOD Annuities an issued kj Lutheran Brotherhood and Lutheran Brotherhood Variable Insurance hoducts (vmfHixy, and dutnbuitd by Luthnan Bmitorkood &cun*ks Corp., 625 Fourth Avenue South, Mtnnttipotu, MN 55415, a wholly owned subsidiary o/AAL Aid Association for Lutherans, Afffftttm, WI549J^OOOJ/Miantafwiu, MN 55415-1624. Nrt awiloUt in all itata. *Mn invest Hunt in tfu Motley Mnrkei Portfotio is not insured or gwnant&d by the tt)IC m any othfi goutrnmtnt agmcy. Although the Portfolio sotu to fmserve the value of your inwstmtnl ut $I,OOp€rshftn, it uftouibU to lose monty by investing in the Portfolio. 200200470 e LuUxiM. liulwihuid. em. wfentil en AM AMIR SHAH/ASSOCIATED PRESS Mullah Mohammed Khaksar' holds in his right hand Sunday; half of a five-rupee Pakistani note he gave to a U.S. official he. met in April 1999 seeking assis-; tance to defeat the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan. He also' holds a letter he received from one of the U.S. officials.' Khaksar, a former Taliban Intel-' ligence chief and later Afghan- deputy interior minister, said he' met with U.S. diplomats in Peshawar, Pakistan, in April' 1999 and told them he wanted to oust Taliban supreme leader' Mullah Mohammed Omar because of his support for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network. The two Americans promised to contact Washington. Later, he received a letter, which he showed to The Associated Press, from one of the agents saying the United States was nervous about backing Afghan factions because of its experience supporting hardline Islamic movements during the war against the Soviets. Laden and a clique of Afghan clerics who were graduates from Pakistani religious schools with links to Pakistani intelligence. "They told him he could be the leader of all the Muslims, bring all Muslims together," said Khaksar, who lives in Kabul. "What were they doing? It wasn't Afghanistan ...anymore. My thinking. was,_ltiat they would destroy my country." • To meet the Americans, Khaksar journeyed to Pakistan, telling associates he needed medical treatment for a stomach ailment. After a brief stay in Islamabad's Shifa Hospital, he stopped in Peshawar on his way home. Some low-ranking Taliban friends introduced him to an American teacher at a Christian school, who told him to telephone the Peshawar consulate and mention his name. Kkaksar refused to identify the teacher. Khaksar said Marchese asked to meet at his home rather than the consulate so that Pakistani intelligence would not learn of the meet-' ing. "He was there with two other men, an American and an Afghan, interpreter," Khaksar said. "He asked me: 'What do you want from us and what can you give us about Osama bin Laden?'" SAU June 15 to 22 Hotrad 26 -UST (330,00 SALE 8259,59 Vegas TRMJST S330.00 SALE $275,99

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