Da The New York Times del 10/05/2005
Originale su http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/10/international/asia/10afghan.html

Top Suspects in Afghanistan Are Included in Amnesty

di Carlotta Gall

KABUL - The head of Afghanistan's peace and reconciliation commission offered an amnesty on Monday for all rebels fighting American and government forces, and even extended the offer to two of the most wanted Afghan terrorism suspects: the Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and the renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. However, an American military spokesman seemed to suggest that the two suspects could not be included in the program.

The Afghan official, Sebaghatullah Mojadeddi, said that even though government policy had formerly excluded people like Mullah Omar and Mr. Hekmatyar, he had been granted complete independence to act as he saw fit on the matter.

"This peace that we want is for all, there is no exception," Mr. Mojadeddi said. "Those who are armed, they should lay down their weapons when they come, accept the Constitution, and obey the government. We will accept them with an open heart."

Mr. Mojadeddi said that while he did not know how or where to contact Mullah Omar or Mr. Hekmatyar, the offer stood for them as well. "We are announcing it today. Let us give them time to discuss and think about it, and let's see what is God's favor."

He said the program was also open to inmates of the American prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and for detainees at military bases at Bagram and Kandahar, and had the agreement of American officials.

However, a United States military spokesman in Kabul, Col. James Yonts, seemed to cast doubt on Mr. Mojadeddi's offer to Mullah Omar and Mr. Hekmatyar, though he did not mention the two specifically. He said that while the military supported the reconciliation program and would offer assistance, all those guilty of terrorism or other serious crimes would not be allowed to join. All candidates would be screened by the National Security Council and intelligence officers, he said.

The announcement came as the American military reported further high casualties in fighting with suspected Taliban members in eastern Afghanistan. Two marines were killed when they searched a cave where militants had hidden Sunday evening after a fierce battle. Other marines called in air support, and the military said 23 insurgents were killed in the subsequent fighting.

American forces have fought heavy battles in two areas in southern Afghanistan in the past few days.

Afghan officials and American commanders have said that they see the reconciliation process as an important step in getting Taliban supporters and other militants to give up fighting, especially in remote parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan.

Mr. Mojadeddi said 50 to 60 people had already approached the government and joined the reconciliation program, including the former Taliban foreign minister, Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, who has been under house arrest in Kabul for more than a year after American forces released him from custody. Another Taliban commander, Abdul Waheed Baghrani, gave himself up and joined the program recently, he said.

He said 40 to 50 commanders and council members of Mr. Hekmatyar's party, the Islamic Party, had also pledged allegiance to the government of President Hamid Karzai and had come home in the past year and a half.

Mr. Karzai's government has always insisted that 100 to 150 members of the Taliban government and other antigovernment rebels who have committed crimes would be excluded from the reconciliation program. American military officials have also talked of a "blacklist" of the most wanted members of the former government that harbored Osama bin Laden and operatives of Al Qaeda for five years until October 2001. Mr. Hekmatyar is also wanted in connection with terrorist attacks against United States forces, American commanders have said.

But Mr. Mojadeddi, an influential religious and jihadi leader who led the first post-communist government in 1992, expressed a readiness to overlook accusations of war crimes against returning Taliban. When a journalist raised the issue, he answered: "Brother, don't discuss war criminals, because there are lots of other war criminals. Which one of them should we put on trial first?"

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