Al-Jazeera TV stands by story that "US special forces" captured : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Saturday, September 29 10:53 PM SGT

Al-Jazeera TV stands by story that "US special forces" captured

DOHA, Sept 29 (AFP) -

Qatar's Al-Jazeera TV stood by its report Saturday that three members of the US "special forces" had been captured in western Afghanistan, countering a denial by Afghanistan's Taliban ruling militia.

Al-Jazeera's correspondent in the Pakistani border city of Peshawar, Ahmad Zaidan, said in a live broadcast that "three members of the US 'special forces' and two Afghans holding US citizenship were captured by the Al-Qaeda organization in Helman, near the border with Iran."

The correspondent attributed his information to "unimpeachable sources."

He said "the sources, citing a military official in Al-Qaeda, called Al-Jazeera's office in Peshawar to announce the capture.

"The official said the five men, who were on a reconnaissance mission, were in possession of sophisticated weapons and maps of locations of the Al-Qaeda organization" of Osama bin Laden, Washington's main suspect in the September11 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

The correspondent said pictures of the detainees would be published "soon," adding that the two Afghans holding American citizenship had "trained with US 'special forces'."

The Taliban, who control most of Afghanistan, had denied the report through their official news agency.

"This is not true. We haven't arrested anybody," an official at the Bakhtar news agency said Saturday.

In Washington, the Pentagon refused to confirm or deny the reports.

"We're not going to get into the habit of commenting on every story that comes out of that region. It's a slippery slope once we start getting into that habit," a US Defense Department spokesman said.

The United States is deploying a huge arsenal in preparation for retaliating for the unprecedented jetliner suicide bombings, which left nearly 7,000 people dead. Afghanistan is a presumed target, as the Taliban have refused to hand over bin Laden.

There have been reports that small teams of US and British commandos have been operating inside Afghanistan for two weeks, but US officials have refused to comment on force deployments in the region.

However, US President George W. Bush suggested Friday that covert operations had begun.

"I said loud and clear, sometimes people will be able to see what we do on the television screens. At other times, the American people won't be able to see what we're doing," he told reporters.

"But make no mistake about it, we're in hot pursuit," Bush said, adding: "there is no negotiation with the Taliban."

Britain said Saturday it was seeking clarification of the reported capture of US commandos in Afghanistan.

-- Jackson Brown (, September 29, 2001

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