The United States today rejected yet another offer by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban to turn over Osama bin Laden for trial in a third country if the U.S. presents evidence against bin Laden and stops air attacks.
President Bush reiterated the position the U.S. has held since fingering bin Laden and his al Queda organization as masterminding the for the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"There's no need to discuss it," Bush said. "We know he's guilty. Just turn him over. … There's nothing to negotiate about. They're harboring a terrorist and they need to turn him over."
The U.S. military, at times joined by British forces, has been conducting air strikes on targets in Afghanistan for over a week as part of the administration's efforts to capture bin Laden and his associates.
"There's no discussions. I've told them what they need to do," Bush said today, hammering away at the same theme he has often repeated over the last month. "When I said no negotiations, I meant no negotiations."
For the U.S. to halt the bombing, Bush said, the Taliban must turn over bin Laden and the members of his al Qaeda network hiding in Afghanistan, destroy any terrorist camps and release any "hostages" they may hold.
More than 5,000 people died when two hijacked airliners slammed into the World Trade Center towers, another was was flown into the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Investigators identified 19 Arab men as the alleged hijackers on the four planes.
Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Haji Abdul Kabir told reporters in Jalalabad, Afghanistan that the regime was willing to turn over bin Laden to a third country that would never "come under pressure from the United States," according to The Associated Press.
U.S. officials have dismissed statements from the regime, which has at various times claimed bin Laden had left the country, was hiding in a location unknown even to the Taliban, was "under the control" of the regime and was free to lead a jihad or holy war from the country.
U.S Strikes; Al Qaeda Threats
U.S. jets reportedly hit targets in the Afghan capital of Kabul and three other cities today. Eyewitnesses tell ABCNEWS that tonight's attacks appear to be targeted at the Taliban's front lines. Jets hit military targets in southern Kandahar, Herat in western Afghanistan and Jalalabad to the east.
The latest wave of attacks came after al Qaeda, bin Laden's organization, warned top U.S., British and Israeli leaders that their "blood will be avenged" and advised Muslims in America and Britain to stay out of high rises and planes.
In a videotaped statement aired Saturday by Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite channel, al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith threatened retaliation for the military assault on Afghanistan. Ghaith singled out President Bush; his father, former President George H.W. Bush; former President Bill Clinton; British Prime Minister Tony Blair; and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Al Qaeda, Ghaith said, declares that those men "are the top Zionists and crusaders criminals who committed the worst atrocities against the Muslim Umma [nation]: killing millions of innocent Muslim women, men and children. Their blood will be avenged from these criminals."
The Bush administration called the threats "just more propaganda."
‘He Is Invisible’