Taliban Denies Anti-US Jihad Declaration, Puts off Meeting on Bin Laden Extradition
Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia on Tuesday fiercely denied reports that it had declared a holy war against the United States. Meanwhile, it decided to postpone a scheduled meeting to extradite Osama bin Laden.
A senior Taliban official told AFP "of course if there is an invasion of an Islamic country, there will be jihad against the invaders."
"After the invasion, jihad will be the only alternative and that is the obligation of Muslims."
Jihad is best translated to English as "struggle," and can refer to both personal, internal conflicts and wider strife. In the Western press, the word has taken on the meaning of "holy war."
Taliban Council of Ministers Deputy Chairman Mullah Mohammad Hasan earlier told state-run Radio Shariat that jihad would be declared against the United States if it attacked the Taliban or their ally, bin Laden.
Bin Laden, who hides under Taliban protection in Afghanistan, is suspected of ordering last week's terror strikes in New York and Washington which killed more than 5,000 people.
"Mullah Hasan's broadcast said we had launched a jihad against the Soviet invasion and if America attacked Afghanistan jihad would become compulsory. There is nothing new in this statement," a spokesman for Hasan told the Afghan Islamic Press.
Meanwhile, another Taliban official said that a meeting of Islamic elders from around Afghanistan was postponed Tuesday to discuss bin Laden's presence in the country.
"There will be no meeting today (Tuesday). Maybe the meeting will take place tomorrow or the day after," the source told AFP, explaining that some of the participants had not yet arrived in the capital.
The meeting, called by Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, was due to last for days as hundreds of ulema, or Islamic scholars, was expected to attend and each will want to contribute to the debate.
A senior delegation of Pakistani officials met Omar Monday to "drive home" to the Taliban the consequences of their refusal to extradite bin Laden, but were told the meeting of ulema would issue a fatwa, or religious decree, on the issue - KABUL (AFP)
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