Skip to comments.Saddam's capture may aid bin Laden search
Posted on 12/14/2003 9:57:27 AM PST by demlosers
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) Afghan officials hailed the capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, saying Sunday the arrest might blunt the growing insurgency here.
They also speculated Saddam's capture after seven months on the run could make it easier to catch the world's other top fugitive - al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden.
"This is obviously good news for the people of Iraq who suffered for so long under Saddam's tyrannical regime and it is a warning to all the other outlaws who are at large like bin Laden, (Taliban chief) Mullah Omar and (renegade warlord) Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who hopefully sooner or later will be brought to justice," Omar Samad, a spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, told The Associated Press.
Bin Laden is believed to be hiding in the mountainous no man's land between Pakistan and Afghanistan, possibly drawing support of deeply conservative tribal villagers who share his hardline vision of Islam.
That support, and the mountainous conditions, have helped him elude one of the largest dragnets in history. The one-eyed Taliban leader Mullah Omar also is on the lam, as is Hekmatyar, a former prime minister who has joined the battle against U.S. troops and the Afghan government.
"It's totally different terrain, a different situation and a different social structure," Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said of the reasons bin Laden has not yet been caught. "In the tribal areas, control is very weak."
Still, he said, the three men will follow Saddam's path to destruction: "I think eventually they will be caught. They will not wander forever."
Officials say Sunday's images of a captured Saddam, looking tired with a wild, unkempt beard, might give pause to potential militants thinking of taking on the U.S.-led coalition here.
"A lot of what we see (in Afghanistan) is irrational and misguided," said German Lt. Gen. Goetz Gliemeroth, the commander of a 5,500-strong international peacekeeping force that patrols the Afghan capital. "Whoever tends toward extremism might now think twice about it."
Taliban rebels and their al-Qaida allies have been waging an ever-fiercer campaign against U.S. troops, the Afghan government and aid workers seeking to rebuild the country. A cascade of bloodshed in recent months has forced the United Nations to pull international staff out of huge swaths of the southeast.
Security officials have said in recent months they saw signs that rebels in Afghanistan were adopting tactics employed in Iraq, targeting U.N. workers and others seen to be allied to the United States.
Talat Masood, a Pakistani military analyst who closely follows Afghanistan, said news of Saddam's capture would echo loudly through al-Qaida and the Taliban's mountain lairs.
"There is a psychological synergy between the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan, so if there is any setback in Iraq it will have a ripple effect in Afghanistan," he said. "Bin Laden and his group will be on the defensive and demoralization may set in."
News of the capture rippled through the enormous Kabul tent housing a historic Afghan constitutional council, or loya jirga, with many of the 500 delegates expressing solidarity with the Iraqi people, and passing along congratulations to the United States.
But on the streets of Kabul, there was a much more ominous message from many ordinary Afghans - the last people to be liberated by U.S. firepower.
"Look at poor Saddam with his long beard," said Abdul Ali, a 32-year-old salesman, watching television footage of the capture in his shop.
Added Mohammed Sharif, a 20-year-old student from Kabul University: "It's a black day. Saddam was a great holy warrior in the Islamic world and a supporter of Islam."
Even some of Afghanistan's new Western-trained police said they were saddened to hear of the capture, despite the scenes of jubilant Iraqis celebrating Saddam's downfall.
"I don't want any Muslim to be captured by infidels," said Zulfiqar Jalali, a 27-year-old officer standing outside a police station on a traffic-congested Kabul street. "Saddam is an Iraqi and has the right to live freely in his country."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sadaqat Jan in Islamabad, Pakistan and Stephen Graham and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.
What is WRONG with these people? Saddam was a secularist and single-handedly killed more Muslims than the knights of the Crusades (who should not have stopped until there were none left)!
Insert the Bryant Gumble quote here:
Amazing, isn't it? It makes you wonder if they aren't just insane.
Gen. Musharraf is going to be pretty cheesed off.
One can certainly see the scared side of Saddam in those examination videos.
Clarke is on with Chrissie Matthews, trying to spin his anti-war position. What a jerk!!
Hey, where's Hillary the Hippo?? Probably thinking that Bubba and Monica degrading her was nothing compared to this!!!! (Bet her wastebasket has an "I Love Clarke" button in it.) Bet she switches to back Lieberman.