- ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters)
- Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden had at least 55 bases or offices
in Afghanistan earlier this year with over 13,000 men, ranging from Arabs
and Pakistanis to Chechens and Filipinos, according to Russian
- A Russian memo to the United Nations, obtained by Reuters
Wednesday, reported that in addition to bin Laden's own men, about 3,500
fundamentalist Pakistanis were in the country as well as Pakistani soldiers
and diplomats it said were working as advisers to the hard-line Taliban
- The memo to the U.N. Security Council, dated March 9,
2001, said most of bin Laden's facilities were in or around the main cities
of Kabul, southern Kandahar, eastern Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sherif in the
- Most were at former Afghan Army bases, on large former
state farms and in caves in rugged mountain regions. About 150 men are
based in Bagh-i-Bala, the hilltop restaurant that was once Kabul's most
fashionable dining spot.
- It was not clear whether these facilities, part of bin
Laden's al-Qaeda (''the base'') network, were all still in use at the time
of or after the September 11 suicide flights into the World Trade Tower
and the Pentagon in the United States.
- Washington has named bin Laden as the prime suspect in
those attacks and vowed to capture him ``dead or alive'' and punish the
Taliban for harboring him. The Taliban say they have already taken
measures to defend themselves against any U.S. air attack.
- A cover note from Moscow's U.N. delegation said the memo
responded to a 1999 Security Council appeal for information ``on bases
and training camps of international terrorists in Afghanistan'' and on
foreign advisers to the Taliban.
- Pakistani military spokesmen were not immediately
to comment on the list, which named 31 Pakistanis -- from generals to
-- it said were working as advisers in Afghanistan.
- Pakistan, the only country in the world that still
the Taliban government, has long been accused of supporting and arming
the movement, but it officially denies any involvement.
- LARGE CAMP OUTSIDE KABUL
- The memo, obtained from the Philippines Defense Ministry
after being cabled there from Manila's mission to the U.N. in New York,
says the focus of bin Laden's forces is at the former Afghan Army Seventh
Division base at Rishkhor, south of Kabul.
- Run by bin Laden's deputy Qari Saifullah Ahtar, it has
7,000 fighters, including 150 Arabs and some Pakistani fundamentalists,
as well as a Pakistani army regiment, the memo said. A nearby camp has
instructors from Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, it said.
- Further south in Charasyab, at a former base for the
anti-Soviet mujahideen, troops included 50 Filipinos and 40 Uighurs from
the mainly Muslim Xinjiang region in western China.
- The memo from Russia, which is fighting Muslim
in Chechnya, reported that at least 2,560 Chechens were serving or training
with the bin Laden organization.
- An unknown number of Czechs and Bulgarians were reported
to be active at a well-defended base in Logar province south of
- Kandahar, the southern city that is spiritual center
for the puritanical Taliban, was mentioned six times in the report, but
without any major military installations.
- In the eastern region around Jalalabad, bin Laden units
were based in the city, in two large Soviet-built state farms nearby and
at former army posts close to the Pakistani frontier.
- PAKISTANI INVOLVEMENT
- Of the 19 camps said to be run by Pakistani
the memo named three militant groups active near Kabul. It did not identify
who ran the other camps.
- Several Pakistani groups have mobilised students at
schools to go and fight in Afghanistan.
- The memo said six Pakistanis had senior posts in the
Taliban military and identified a former royal palace in southwestern Kabul
as ``headquarters of the commander-in-chief of the Pakistani forces in
- It said a Pakistani AWACS reconnaissance plane, of the
type originally provided by the United States to monitor Soviet and Afghan
air activity during the 1980s war, was based at Mazar-i-Sharif in northern
Afghanistan to survey the borders with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
- The memo did not reveal the source of the
- Moscow had close ties with Afghanistan's Khad
service during the 1979-1989 Soviet War and trained thousands of Afghan
leftists at universities in the Soviet Union during that time.
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