Karzai Denies al Qaeda Plotted 9/11 in Afghanistan; Mumbai Court Convicts 12 in 2006 Bombings; Pakistani Exports, Imports Shrink
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Karzai denies al Qaeda plotted 9/11 in Afghanistan
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave an interview to Al Jazeera on the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks calling al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan a “myth” (Al Jazeera). “I don’t know if al Qaeda existed and I don’t know if they exist,” said Karzai. “I have not seen them and I’ve not had any report about them, any report that would indicate that al Qaeda is operating in Afghanistan.” When he was asked if he believed Osama bin Laden carried out the 9/11 attacks and plotted them from Afghanistan, he answered: “That is what I have heard from our Western friends. That’s what the Western media says. There is no doubt that an operation, a terrorist operation was conducted in New York and in Washington.” The interviewer again asked Karzai if he believed the 9/11 attacks were committed by al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Karzai replied: “I neither believe nor disbelieve something that I don’t know about. I can tell you that Afghanistan was as much a victim of terrorism as was America, as were the people who were killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks.”
Afghan air strikes push back the Taliban
Early Friday morning, Raghistan district officials reported that the district — located in Badakhshan province — had fallen to the Taliban after two days of fighting with the Taliban only one kilometer (0.62 miles) from the district governor’s office (TOLO News). Air strikes conducted by the Afghan air force on Friday pushed the Taliban away from the Raghistan Bazar (TOLO News). Provincial police spokesman Chief Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai said that during the air strikes and battle at least 30 Taliban and three policemen were killed.
Dutch hostage released
A Dutch aide worker, Anja de Beer, was released after 81 days in captivity with an unknown group (RFE/RL, TOLO News). De Beer was working for the Swiss NGO Helvetas when she was abducted outside her office in Kabul in broad daylight. She told Dutch public broadcaster NOS that she had been “treated well” by her abductors and “they gave me food and drink and I was not mistreated.” De Beer is recovering at the Dutch Embassy in Kabul before returning to the Netherlands.
Mumbai court convicts 12 men of 2006 bombings
A court in the western city of Mumbai has convicted twelve men in the case of 2006 bombings on commuter trains in the city while a thirteenth suspect has been acquitted due to lack of evidence (BBC, Guardian, Reuters, WSJ/AP). Seven bombs exploded during evening rush hour, within a span of 15 minutes, on July 11, 2006 near Mumbai’s financial district, killing 189 people and injuring more than 800. Prosecutors have claimed the attack was planned by Pakistan’s intelligence agency and was carried out with the help of Pakistan based militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba and India based militant group Students’ Islamic Movement of India. Pakistan denies these allegations and said India has given no evidence of their involvement. The convicted men could face death by hanging or life in prison, with sentencing set to begin on Monday. Mumbai’s train system is one of the busiest in the world, carrying more than a million commuters a day.
Rajasthan and Ahmedabad also ban beef sales during Jain festivals
The state government of Rajasthan and city officials in capital of Gujrat state are the latest addition to the list of authorities who have banned the sale of beef in their jurisdictions, while Mumbai High Court has struck down a similar ban in the city (CNNiBN, Hindu, ET). Rajasthan government issued an order on Friday forbidding the sale of meat and fish in the state on September 17, 18 and 27 in respect of Jain community’s religious festivals. Ahmedabad Police Commissioner has also issued a notification prohibiting slaughter and sale of animals in public spaces during the Jain festivals this September. Earlier on Friday, Mumbai High Court had decided that imposing such a ban for four days is not feasible in a metropolitan city like Mumbai.
Indian officials ask for Saudi cooperation in rape investigation
The Indian government has asked the Saudi Arabian embassy in Delhi to cooperate in investigations into rape allegations against a Saudi diplomat serving in New Delhi (BBC, Guardian). The Saudi embassy has denied all charges against their official. The diplomat is confirmed to have diplomatic immunity.
Two Nepali women were rescued by Delhi police on Monday after a tip from women’s rights organization, from an apartk8ment in suburban Delhi, where they allege that a Saudi diplomat had forcefully detained them, starved, and sexully abused them. Delhi police have filed a case of rape and illegal confinement without naming the accused. The victims have returned to Nepal on Thursday.
Bonus Read: “Officials fear CIA missed opportunity to identify Western hostage,” (Post)
Pakistani exports, imports shrink
The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics released data on the July-August period that showed that the trade deficit is now at $3.8 billion, up $344 million from the July-August period last year (ET). Exports stood at $3.43 billion for the two-month period, which was $393 million less than exports for the same period last year. Imports shrank by 9.2 percent and dropped to $7.2 billion, $797 million lower than the same period last year.
Ashfaque Hasan Khan, dean of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities department at the National University of Sciences and Technology, who spoke with the Express Tribune attributes the fall in exports to “a decline in production, an overvalued rupee, loss of competitiveness, and overall slowdown in the global economy.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while speaking to a meeting of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association and exporter groups on Friday stressed the need for enhancing Pakistan’s exports in order to help the “heavily indebted” country (Dawn).
Hit men arrested in Karachi
The Karachi south zone police on Thursday announced they arrested eight suspected men who belonging to a “famous political party of Karachi” responsible for targeted killings (Dawn). Deputy Inspector General of Police-South Jamil Ahmed said at a press conference that the hit men confessed to killing at least a dozen people and named the two hit men and their six accomplices. He did not name the political group the men were affiliated with.
— Courtney Schuster and Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen
KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
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