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25 January 2002

Taliban Could Be Threat To New Afghan Government, UN Report Warns

(Experts group reports to Security Council) (1030)
By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent
United Nations -- A Security Council committee has warned that the
Taliban and their supporters could still have the means to stage an
uprising in Afghanistan with surface-to-surface missiles and weapons
of mass destruction which they are believed to have in their
The Monitoring Group on Afghanistan said in a report to the Security
Council released January 21 that "the Taliban and remnants of al Qaeda
are likely to remain a potential threat to the peace process in
Afghanistan and in the region for some considerable time to come."
The report noted that before the terrorist attacks on the United
States on September 11, estimates of the number of Taliban troops or
militia -- including members of al Qaeda and other foreign fighters --
ranged between 30,00 and 50,000. Since then, many of the Taliban who
are indigenous Afghans and Pashtuns from the Pakistan provinces
bordering Afghanistan have "melted back into the countryside," it
said. It pointed out that a number of instances of banditry and
highway robbery have been reported in the areas where the Taliban
receives support.
"Past experience of post-conflict situations has shown the readiness
of warring factions to use periods of a truce to re-arm and replenish
stockpiles of ammunition, ready to revert to an armed struggle to
settle their grievances in the event that they perceive the political
settlement not to their liking," the report said.
"The group considers that support for the Taliban regime still exists
in many places. Due to the strength of this support, the Taliban and
al Qaeda are likely to remain a threat for some time to come," it
"Consequently, the possibility cannot be ignored that the Taliban and
their supporters still possess the means to stage an uprising," the
report said.
The Monitoring Group, which is made up of five experts appointed by
the secretary general, said in its report that the "single gravest
threat to the Interim Administration and lasting peace in Afghanistan"
is the unregulated and uncontrolled flow of weapons and military
supplies to the different factions within Afghanistan.
It also noted that after the Soviet Armed Forces left Afghanistan in
1991 the military hardware possessed by either the Afghan armed forces
or the Mujahideen included 4,880 artillery pieces, 2,000 recoilless
rifles, 11,000 antitank weapons, and 5,000 anti-aircraft heavy machine
The group said that prior to the coalition offensive in October the
Taliban had about 100 Scud missiles, which may be fitted with
conventional, chemical or nuclear warheads, and at least four Scud
mobile launch units in Afghanistan. Now the group does not know
whether the missiles are operational or where they are located.
The group also had reports that the Taliban had stockpiles of chemical
shells, Sarin and VX gas projectiles which could be fired by M46 130
mm guns and it has not been able to verify the locations or quantities
of those weapons, the report said.
Citing the fear that the Taliban or their sympathizers could use the
missiles to deliver the weapons of mass destruction against the
International Security Assistance Force helping the Afghan Interim
Authority, the Monitoring Group said that the weapons should be
located and monitored.
The experts also pointed to the need to curb the production and
trafficking of heroin and opiates in the region. Drug trafficking can
be a source of funds for the Taliban and al Qaeda to purchase arms and
supplies to continue their struggle, they said.
The Monitoring Group is also concerned about the continued presence
inside Afghanistan of other terrorist groups such as the Islamic
Movement for Uzbekistan, Chechnyan guerrillas, and Muslim
secessionists or Uygurs from the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang,
the report said.
The group urged that law enforcement units throughout the world
improve their sharing of information on the Taliban, al Qaeda and
other organized crime cells. "It is of utmost importance that
intelligence and police services worldwide cooperate to a far greater
degree in pursuing international terrorist threats," the report said.
Based on its six months of work, the five-man monitoring group
recommended that the weapons embargo be maintained against the
Taliban, al Qaeda and their sympathizers.
The Security Council voted unanimously to maintain the arms embargo
against those groups on January 16.
The group also recommended that as soon as the situation on the ground
permits, the UN undertake a process of verification of all known
terrorist training facilities and said that "as a matter of priority"
the Afghan authorities set up an effective border control service.
"Afghanistan's borders must be controlled from within and without the
country," the report said. "Responsibility for the internal control of
Afghanistan's borders rests with the governmental authorities in
Afghanistan. In the current circumstances this will be difficult to
achieve given that the necessary components -- customs and immigration
services -- have not yet been effectively established. Consequently,
the onus for effective border controls is likely to fall heavily on
Afghanistan's neighbors for the foreseeable future."
Thus countries bordering Afghanistan must also reinforce their arms
control measures, the group said.
The experts also recommended that UN monitoring teams be sent to
Afghanistan to verify that all known terrorist training facilities in
Afghanistan are inoperable.
"The presence of these facilities, if reused by factions at odds with
the Interim Administration, continue to present a threat to peace and
security not only to Afghanistan but to the region as a whole," the
report warns. It pointed out that despite reported coalition action
against these bases, the scope of damage inflicted on them and their
general status remains unknown.
The monitoring group of experts was set up by the Security Council in
July 2001 to monitor its resolutions imposing sanctions, especially
arms embargoes, and cutting the financial links between terrorists and
their money sources. The group of experts, appointed by Secretary
General Kofi Annan, is chaired by Michael Chandler of the United
Kingdom. Other members of the Monitoring Group are Hasan Ali Abaza of
Jordan, Philippe Graver of France, Michael Langan of the United
States, and Surendra Shah of Nepal.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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