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Archive for Sunday, June 30, 2002

Pakistan government publishes appeal for help in finding Osama bin Laden

June 30, 2002

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— Calling them "dangerous religious terrorists," the Pakistani government made a public appeal Sunday for help in finding Osama bin Laden, his top aide and 16 other al-Qaida members.

The appeal, made in a news release carried in at least one Urdu-language newspaper, did not say if authorities believe bin Laden or the others are in Pakistan.

The statement features photographs of bin Laden and 17 others including his chief deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. It urges people not to support jihad, or Islamic holy war, if it includes terrorist acts.

"Those who kill innocent Pakistani people are the enemy of peace and country," the Urdu-language statement says. "Their purpose is terrorism and destruction. Their religion is only terrorism. Terrorism is not jihad. Support the Pakistani government against terrorism."

The statement does not make any specific allegations against bin Laden.

It includes quotes in Arabic from Islam's holy book, the Quran, denouncing terrorism and urges people with information about terrorists to contact police, who would treat sources and information as confidential. No reward money was offered.

The statement was distributed to local and international news outlets late Saturday, and was carried in the Sunday edition of the Daily Jang newspaper in the southern city of Karachi. The statement was not carried in major newspapers - including Jang - printed in the capital, Islamabad.

Pakistan became a key U.S. ally in the international coalition against terrorism after President Gen. Pervez Musharraf cut ties with Afghanistan's former Taliban regime following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Bin Laden and many top al-Qaida and Taliban leaders escaped the campaign. U.S. special forces have been searching remote tribal-controlled regions along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan.

Ten Pakistani soldiers were killed Wednesday in a gunbattle with al-Qaida suspects in a village on the Pakistan side of the frontier. Two al-Qaida fighters were killed and dozens escaped.

On Saturday, police in Karachi released photos of 11 militants suspected in recent deadly bombings in the city and the kidnap-slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Rewards totaling $320,000 were offered for help in their capture.

A June 14 blast outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi killed 12 Pakistanis. A May 8 car bombing outside the Karachi Sheraton Hotel killed 11 French engineers and three other people, including the bomber.

Four men are on trial for murdering Pearl, and police say they are searching for more suspects.

Most of the militant suspects whose photos were released Saturday are believed to belong to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned Sunni militant group that has traditionally targeted Pakistan's Shiite Muslim minority. Police have speculated the group may now be working with al-Qaida to take revenge on Westerners and the Pakistani government for the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

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