Zawahiri Statement Labeled 'Desperate Attempt to Disrupt'
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2004 A videotaped statement by Osama bin Laden henchman Ayman Al-Zawahiri that coalition forces are "staying in their trenches and refusing to come out" represents a "desperate attempt to disrupt progress in Afghanistan," a coalition military spokesman said today at a news conference in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
"These enemies of freedom know a successful, stable and secure Afghanistan invalidates their existence, and undermines their own efforts to mislead the world," said Army Maj. Scott Nelson, spokesman for Combined Forces Command Afghanistan.
Nelson noted that the Taliban and al Qaeda rely on hit-and-run tactics, often seeking refuge across the Pakistani border. "In reality," he said, "ongoing Afghan, Pakistan, and coalition operations have denied the Taliban's and al Qaeda's freedom to maneuver. With the exception of limited criminal and terrorist incidents, insurgents do not have the ability to significantly impact security and stability in Afghanistan. Their activities will not deter efforts to rebuild Afghanistan."
The major cited a July survey by the Asia Foundation that showed 86 percent of Afghans believe life is better now than it was two years ago, and that b90 percent believe it is better now than five years ago under the Taliban regime.
The 17 provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan "clearly indicate the coalition is working hand-in-hand with the citizens of Afghanistan for continued stability and security," Nelson said. The teams do whatever is needed to return a normal standard of living to the Afghan people, aided by a funding program that gives local commanders latitude in identifying priorities for construction, refurbishment or infrastructure improvements and procuring the money it takes to get the projects done. The PRTs also help to extend the influence of the central Afghan government.
"Increasing cooperation between (Afghan) citizens and the coalition is an indication that enemies of Afghanistan are losing support across the country," Nelson said.
"Reports from Pakistan indicate that former Taliban are now cooperating with Pakistani officials," he noted. "Afghan citizens in the former Taliban strongholds of Oruzgun and Zabul are helping coalition forces find and remove former Taliban commanders."
Afghan citizens across the country are identifying locations of improvised explosive devices and rockets for coalition forces, he said. Intelligence reports indicate that large groups of former Taliban and members of the Afghan terrorist organization Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, also known as HIG, have approached local leaders to reconcile, he added.
Nelson also provided details of recent military operations in Afghanistan.
A supply truck heading north of Asadabad was ambushed and destroyed Sept. 10 in the Kunar province, he said. Off-duty Afghan security forces in the area helped defend passengers in the truck and held their ground, he added, until the enemy retreated over a nearby mountain ridge. No one was hurt in the incident.
Also on Sept. 10, Nelson reported today, coalition forces came into contact with enemy forces in the Zabul province, killing two and capturing four others. No coalition forces were hurt and no equipment was damaged in the attack, he said.
A U.S. soldier suffered shrapnel wounds in an attack in the Oruzgon province the night of Sept. 9, Nelson said. Anti-coalition forces attacked with rocket- propelled grenades, small-arms fire and machine guns, but broke contact when U.S. forces returned fire, he said.