US Says Afghan Clerics' Edict Does Not Meet Requirements

By T.C. Malhotra | July 7, 2008 | 8:10 PM EDT

New Delhi ( - Just a few hours after the Afghanistan Ulema (Islamic clerics) urged Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden to leave Afghanistan voluntarily, the United States on Thursday has come down hard on the ruling militia saying that it does not meet America's requirements.

The Bush administration demanded that Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in last week's terror attacks, should be handed over "to responsible authorities."

It asserted that it will no longer allow the Taliban to waste time and will take strong action against terrorist outfits all over the globe.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "It's time for action not words." His reaction came after ulemas issued an edict calling on the ruling Taliban militia to ask the Saudi-born militant to leave the country.

The edict "doesn't meet America's requirements," Fleischer said, adding that President Bush "has demanded that ... Osama bin Laden be turned over to responsible authorities and that the Taliban close terrorist camps in Afghanistan, and the president stands by these demands."

"This is about much more than one man being allowed to leave voluntarily, presumably from one safe harbour to another safe harbour," Fleischer said, adding that the Taliban "must close down his whole operation and deliver him and his allies to justice."

Islamic clerics have opposed any move to force him to leave the country.

Afghanistan's supreme spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar has called a meeting of the Islamic clerics from across the country to decide on Osama bin Laden's extradition.

More than 1,000 clerics from all 32 provinces of Afghanistan attended the meeting in Kabul for two days.

The clerics also called for an independent investigation by the United Nations and the organization of Islamic Conference into the Sept 11 attacks on the United States.

"The Ulema (clerics) of Afghanistan demand that the United Nations and organization of Islamic Conference investigate independently and accurately the recent events to clarify the reality and prevent the harassment of innocent people," they said.

They also expressed sadness over the deaths in the US attacks and urged the United States not to attack Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's Opposition Northern alliance Thursday said this was the right time to launch an attack against the ruling Taliban. However, the Northern alliance wanted to coordinate its action with the United States.

"The Taliban are so concerned about a US attack. It's a good opportunity for us to attack," Soleh Muhammad Registani, a military official of Afghanistan's Northern alliance government, was quoted by a Russian news agency as saying. Northern alliance is still recognized by the United Nations.

"We have to coordinate our attack with the United States. We don't have official contact with the United States, but we hope we will have contact with them. I think this will be possible, and we're waiting for some contact from their side," said Registani while speaking in the Afghan embassy in Tajikistan.