Pakistan Offers Assistance, Taliban Warn of Retaliation

U.S. officials have been working to get the government of Pakistan to assist with intelligence and perhaps military staging.

According Secretary of State Colin Powell, Pakistan has offered the assistance the U.S. requested.

“We are receiving expressions of support from around the world – and not just rhetorical support, but real support for whatever may lay ahead in this campaign that is ahead of us to win the war that the President has spoken of,” Secretary Powell told reporters this morning. “I might especially want to thank the President and the people of Pakistan for the support that they have offered and their willingness to assist us in whatever might be required in that part of the world as we determine who those perpetrators are.”

Pakistan shares a 1,560-mile border with Afghanistan, the country believed to be harboring a prime suspect in the terrorist attacks, Osama bin Laden.

Afghanistan today warned other countries, Islamic states in particular, not to back U.S. military action.

“If a neighboring country or the regional countries — particularly Islamic countries — gave a positive response to American demands for military bases, it would spark off extraordinary danger,” Ambassador Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef told a news conference. “It is not impossible that we would attack such country under compulsion and the mujahideen would have to enter the territory of such a country.”

The Islamic Taliban rulers of Afghanistan also told remaining foreigners to leave the country “for their own safety.”

Other hard-line Islamic states have split over the terrorist strikes.

In Iran, conservative clerics joined moderate reformers in condemning the strikes.

“Iran’s condemnation of the deplorable attacks in America reflects Iran’s position, which is backed by all opposing factions,” conservative lawmaker Mousa Qorbani told The Associated Press on Saturday. “Killing innocent people is against all Islamic teachings.”

Iran also announced Saturday it was sealing its border with Afghanistan ahead of “probable U.S. retaliatory strikes.”

Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, a longtime opponent of the U.S., urged Americans not to launch a “new crusade” against Muslims.

“Just as your beautiful skyscrapers were destroyed and caused your grief, beautiful buildings and precious homes crumbled over their owners in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq because of American weapons used by [Israel],” Hussein said in an open letter addressed to the American people.

The news comes a day after the United States told foreign diplomatic representatives that their governments will be isolated if they tolerate or assist terrorist groups.

State Department officials delivered the warnings after summoning the diplomats to meetings Friday with senior U.S. officials.

According to officials who wished not to be named, the U.S. told the nations to cut off financial channels to terrorist groups and shut down any camps within their territories.

The meetings were the latest move in State Department efforts to build a broad coalition to launch a sustained campaign against terrorist cells and countries harboring such groups.