OT: U.S. launches new campaign to get bin Laden

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U.S. launches new campaign to get bin Laden

Thursday, 17 February 2000 3:26 (ET)



ISLAMABAD, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- The United States has launched a fresh "get Osama bin Laden" campaign in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, putting messages on thousands of match boxes to encourage people to help arrest the suspected terrorist.

The match boxes, bearing an official message from the U.S. government to help catch bin Laden, appeared in Pakistan and Afghanistan this week. Printed in Urdu, Pashto and Dari languages, each box has a color picture of the Saudi dissident and a reminder that the U.S. government is offering $500,000 for his arrest.

Similar messages have been stamped on Pakistani currency. The message assures that information leading to bin Laden's arrest would be kept secret and those providing information would be rewarded.

However, the message stamped on the currency puts the reward as $5 million.

Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad admit to printing the match boxes but say they had nothing to do with the message stamped on the currency. They say that the reward for bin Laden's arrest is $5 million, and not $500,000 mistakenly placed on the match boxes.

Both messages urge people with information about bin Laden to contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad or the nearest U.S. Consulate.

The message in Urdu also says that if the people with information desire, the U.S. government will resettle them anywhere in the world.

Another message in the match boxes says bin Laden has been indicted in the Aug. 7, 1998, killing of 220 people in Kenya and Tanzania, referring to the near simultaneous explosions near U.S. embassies in those countries. It says the U.S. government welcomes bin Laden's arrest in any country. The U.S. government, the message says, also desires information that could "establish the allegations" against him.

Bin Laden has been in Afghanistan since 1993 when he arrived from Sudan. Although the Taliban militia replaced the Mujahideen government in Kabul that had provided sanctuary to the Saudi dissident, Afghanistan's new rulers also continue to protect him.

The Taliban government has rejected a U.S. demand to expel bin Laden and instead offered to try him in Afghanistan if the United States sends evidence against him to Taliban authorities. Washington has rejected the offer.
Copyright 2000 by United Press International.
All rights reserved.

-- Possible Impact (posim@hotmail.com), February 17, 2000

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