- (Reuters) - Washington pledged its commitment to help
in Afghanistan's reconstruction today as the U.S. Defense Secretary warned
that some prisoners held in Cuba may be in detention indefinitely.
- At a news briefing in Washington today, U.S. Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said some of the al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners
at a U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could end up in the U.S.
criminal court system while others may be returned to their countries to
face charges there.
- But Rumsfeld warned that some of the prisoners at the
facility in Cuba may be held in detention while additional intelligence
information was gathered.
- "These are quite dangerous people. They may just
be kept in detention for a period," Rumsfeld told reporters today.
"And there's no question there are a number down in Guantanamo Bay
who, every time anyone walks by, threaten to kill Americans the first chance
- Rumsfeld's admission came as a team of Red Cross prepared
to examine the facilities in Guantanamo Bay amid growing international
concerns over the treatment and status of detainees.
- An additional batch of 30 prisoners landed in Cuba today
from Kandahar in southern Afghanistan as U.S. Secretary of State Colin
Powell met with Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's interim leader, in the capital
of Kabul where Powell said the United States was committed to helping Afghanistan
"for as long as it takes."
- It was the first visit by a U.S. secretary of state to
Afghanistan since Henry Kissinger visited the country in 1976 before the
Soviet occupation of 1979-1989.
- Justice Department Releases Videotape
- Powell's visit came as the U.S. Department of Justice
released photographs and snippets of a video of five suspected terrorists
in Washington today.
- U.S. Attorney General John Aschroft said the five videotapes
were recovered from the Afghanistan home of Mohammad Atef, who officials
believe was a military chief of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
- Speaking at a news briefing in Washington today, Ashcroft
said the government had tentatively identified four of the five men shown
in the videos. The release of the tapes, Ashcroft said, was to allow the
American people to be a "constructive part" of the investigations
into the Sept. 11 attacks.
- After more than three months of a high-profile U.S. manhunt
for bin Laden, the prime suspect in the terrorist attacks, and Taliban
chief Mullah Mohammed Omar, Washington has declared it would not speculate
on their whereabouts.
- But U.S. officials warn that some al Qaeda and Taliban
members inside Afghanistan are trying to regroup and are capable of conducting
more terrorist attacks.
- In recent days, U.S. forces combing suspected enemy hideouts
in Afghanistan have discovered documents, diagrams and material that, according
to Rumsfeld, showed that al Qaeda had "an appetite for weapons of
- Short of Cash and Security
- More than two months after the Taliban fled Kabul, marking
the beginning of the end of the hard-line regime, the situation in Afghanistan
continues to be worrying, with reports of warlords still vying for control
of provinces in the Central Asian state.
- Acknowledging the need for security in Afghanistan at
joint news conference with Karzai in Kabul today, Powell said Washington
was "concentrating on security (and) how to get security out throughout
the whole country."
- But Karzai's interim administration, which took office
on Dec. 22, is badly strapped for cash. Earlier this week, the U.N. special
envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, issued an urgent appeal for $100
million, which he said was immediately needed to enable the interim government
to administer the country.
- During his Kabul briefing, Powell acknowledged the pressing
need for funds. "They frankly need operating cash to pay salaries,
to pay for telephone services, to bring office supplies...the very basic
essentials one needs to put an administration, a government in place,"
- Most government employees have not been paid in months.
- But he said details of Washington's contribution would
be worked out when international donors meet in Tokyo next week for a conference
on the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Powell's visit to the region comes
amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir
- Al Qaeda Suspects Charged in Britain
- In other developments:
- Two men of Algerian origin were charged with involvement
in the al Qaeda network and remanded in custody in a British court today.
Brahim Benmerzouga and Baghdad Meziane were arrested in Britain in September.
Their charges included the financing of terrorism and possession of inflammatory
- Three U.S. Marines were injured in southern Afghanistan
when an unknown item exploded as they were burning trash near their base
in Kandahar. Military officials said their injuries are not life-threatening
and the soldiers were transported to a medical facility for treatment.
- The United States is preparing to transfer approximately
90 detainees of Pakistani origin currently being held in Kandahar to the
custody of the Pakistani government.