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Taliban Continues to Shelter Suspected Terrorist: U.S. Embassies Face Bomb Threats

Speaking at a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Taliban acting Foreign Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan said that if the U.S. finds evidence implicating Osama bin Laden in the August 7 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, they will bring him to trial "under the heavenly law of Islam." Hassan said that releasing him to the U.S. or other nations for questioning would violate Afghan "tradition, hospitality and Islamic rules."

Yesterday, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright hinted that the Taliban might increase its chances for U.S. recognition by refraining from "harboring any of those considered terrorists." A official later clarified Albright's statement, explaining that the U.S. had not asked the Taliban to extradite the suspect. The AFP quoted the official as saying, "We asked them to control him. We haven't asked them to expel him."

The Taliban is recognized as the official government of Afghanistan by the countries of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. and U.N. have thus-far denied the Taliban recognition due to their involvement with large-scale heroin trafficking and their blatant abuses of human rights. Their abuse of women has been especially brutal.

U.S. embassies around the world have greatly increased their security in response to threats made by radical Islamic groups. U.S. embassies in Bucharest, Amman, and Denmark have received bomb threats, along with a British embassy in Romania.

Media Resources: AP and AFP - August 19-20, 1998