Strategy: Allies plan warning shot to sway Taleban : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Will such a "warning shot" induce the Taliban to surrender and turn against bin Laden and his followers, or merely strengthen their resolve? If the latter, will this war then cascade into a war of "Islam vs. the West", and then possibly World War III?


Strategy: Allies plan warning shot to sway Taleban BY MICHAEL EVANS, DEFENCE EDITOR The Taleban are to be given a short period to “recant” over their refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden, but may be attacked by a limited airstrike to force the issue, government sources said yesterday. A warning shot to frighten the Taleban regime into cooperating is now part of the agreed strategy developed by the United States, in co-ordination with Britain. The planned use of limited military action to add muscle to the diplomatic efforts is a sign of the apparent frustration over the failure to pinpoint bin Laden’s whereabouts.

There is no clear evidence of where he vanished to on the back of a mule soon after the US named him as the prime suspect for the terrorist strikes on America. However, Qudratullah Jamal, the Taleban Information Minister, announced yesterday that the edict “inviting” Osama bin Laden to leave Afghanistan had been delivered to him in person. In a telephone call from Kabul, the minister suggested that the delay in calling on bin Laden to leave was because of the poor communications in Afghanistan. “It’s not like we can pick up the phone and talk to Osama or fax a message to him. He has no such facilities, so the message had to be sent through a messenger who probably took some time to find him.” He added: “We believe that by now he has found Osama and delivered the fatwa to him.” He said that he had no reason to believe that bin Laden had left Afghanistan. “He is still there.”

Western diplomats said that the minister’s claim was almost certainly another delaying tactic. The British government sources also said that the Americans were now ready “at any time” to launch a precision attack if they came across dramatic intelligence which needed to be acted upon immediately. They admitted that, despite the intelligence pouring in from around the world on bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organisation in Afghanistan, the Americans still needed a “lucky break” before taking military action against them. “There is no fixed date but a combination of factors, including precise intelligence, will dictate when we act,” the sources said.

Under present planning, it was possible that the Americans might carry out the first strike on their own and that British forces could join in at a later stage in the campaign. The government sources indicated that the British contribution would focus on three key elements: troops with “specialised training” — meaning special forces; Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles; and precision-guided weapons launched by RAF Tornado GR4s. All these assets are now in Oman for Exercise Saif Sareea with the Omani forces.

The idea of giving the Taleban a little more time to change their mind about delivering bin Laden for trial is part of a “policy framework” agreed between the US and Britain. The sources said that President Saddam Hussein of Iraq was also given time to withdraw his forces from Kuwait before Operation Desert Storm was launched. However, the US-led coalition build-up in the Gulf War in 1991 took five months and involved more than 30 countries deploying troops.

For Operation Enduring Freedom, the US codename for the war on terrorism, the “reflection period” for the Taleban will be “very limited”. One source said: “The Taleban will be given the chance to recant, but we may need to do something early.” There was also no intention on America’s part to involve a large number of countries in a military coalition, the sources said. “The tougher the operation, the sharper it is, the smaller the numbers you need,” the sources said.

The exercise in Oman would continue because it was important to hone war fighting skills. If the forces there were not needed for Afghanistan by the time the exercise was due to finish, at the end of next month, the troops would return home, not “wait around in Oman”. It was better for them to regroup in Britain, the sources said. Copyright, The Times Co. of the United Kingdom; Fair Use for Educational and Research Purposes Only

-- Robert Riggs (, September 28, 2001

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