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U.N. begins pullout as Taliban denies role
CNN, Sep. 12, 2001
KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The United Nations began evacuating staff as Afghanistan's ruling Taliban condemned the violence and was swift to deny any involvement in the terrorism attacks in New York and Washington.
Taliban officials also denied that Osama bin Laden, the millionaire Saudi fugitive blamed for past terrorist attacks against American targets, was the behind the attacks.
Intelligence officials and other sources have told CNN that bin Laden -- living in sanctuary in Afghanistan -- or the Al Quaida group he heads are considered suspects in the attacks.
"There are good indications that persons linked to Osama bin Laden may be responsible for these attacks," an intelligence official told CNN, echoing the sentiments of some U.S. politicians.
From the Afghan capital of Kabul, CNN's Nic Robertson said that there was a sense of apprehension among senior Taliban officials concerned that possibly Afghanistan may be a place were retribution might be sought.
Speaking soon after the attacks, the Taliban's Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Mutawakel criticized all forms of terrorism.
He told reporters that Afghanistan nor bin Laden had been directly accused and it was not necessary for his country to take security precautions.
Also, Taliban's spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, said in a statement that bin Laden was not behind the attacks.
The Taliban gave sanctuary to bin Laden in 1996 mainly they say because of his role in war efforts that led to the withdrawal of Soviet Union forces from Afghanistan after 10-years of occupation.
Terrorism analyst Magnu Ranstorp told CNN that bin Laden is [...] in charge of a terrorism organization that is "truly a multinational enterprise" with followers from many different nationalities.
He also said that bin Laden is being viewed as a possible suspect behind the terrorism attacks.
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