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Taliban dismiss bin Laden threat reports

By staff and wire reports

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan's Taliban ruling militia has dismissed media reports that exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden is planning attacks on U.S. and Israeli interests.

The response comes a day after Arabic satellite television channel MBC reported that followers of Afghan-based bin Laden were planning a major attack on U.S. and Israeli interests in the next two weeks.

"All of Osama's activities are under control in Afghanistan and he has no possibility to intensify his activities against any other country," Taliban spokesman Mohammad Osman Sheryar said at a news briefing on Sunday.

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"The reports by the mass media which broadcast increase of Osama's activities are propaganda and far from reality."

The MBC station, monitored by the BBC, broadcast a report from a correspondent in the Pakistani town of Quetta who said he had met bin Laden and his followers two days ago.

"All of them affirm that the next two weeks will witness a big surprise. A severe blow is expected against U.S. and Israeli interests worldwide," the reporter said.

Video footage 'faked'

Sheryar rejected the report.

"The TV footage was a faked one. Now Osama has no possibility to give interviews," he said.

The Taliban is under U.N. sanctions, including an arms embargo, for refusing to hand over bin Laden for a U.S. trial on terrorism charges.

Sheryar said bin Laden was a "guest" and would never be allowed to use Afghan soil against any country.

He also dismissed speculation of a possible U.S. attack against Taliban-held areas similar to 1998 missile strikes on suspected bin Laden bases in eastern Afghanistan.

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"Afghanistan has no worry and never had one as God helps Afghanistan," he said. "Osama's activities are under control ... therefore I don't think America will repeat its previous mistake."

Sources told CNN that U.S. troops in the Mideast have been on high alert since Friday and the U.S. State Department said it was cautioning U.S. citizens abroad of an "increased risk."

The sources said the increased level of alert is in response to a "non-specific but credible threat" from bin Laden's group.

U.S. embassies in the Gulf were open for business as usual on Sunday, although witnesses said security was tight after Washington's warning.

Reuters contributed to this report.

• US Department of State - Home Page
• Terrorism Research Center, Inc.

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