We've Got Osama Bin Laden, Claim Taliban

Article excerpt

AFGHANISTAN'S Taliban rulers last night claimed Osama bin Laden was under their control and called on the United States to open negotiations to lift the threat of military action against their country.

The surprise move by the Taliban, who have previously said they did not know where bin Laden was hiding, drew a dusty response in Washington, with Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld saying bluntly that he did not believe them.

In London, Tony Blair said he had seen "incontrovertible" evidence linking the Saudi-born millionaire to the September 11 attacks and that it was now vital that his al-Qaida terror network was "eradicated".

The Taliban's claim that they had bin Laden under their control was made by their ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, at a news conference in Islamabad.

"He's in Afghanistan. He is under our control, Wherever he is, he's in a secret place but that doesn't mean that he is out of the control of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, " he told reporters.

"He's in a place which cannot be located by anyone."

A spokesman added that only the "security people" knew his hiding place.

Mr Zaeef said the Taliban would be prepared to open negotiations with the US on handing him over, if America produced its evidence linking him to the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

He added: "If they attack without any evidence or unless this case goes through the proper court process, any attack will be a terrorist attack."

In Washington, the White House chief of staff Andrew Card dismissed the offer, saying: "The President has said we're not negotiating. …