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Afghanistan's president remembers 9/11

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The Afghan war has persisted
  • Karzai speaks of a better counterterrorism strategy
  • The U.S. envoy counsels all to remember the September 11 attacks

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai -- whose country harbored the al Qaeda terror network when the group attacked the United States nine years ago -- used the September 11 anniversary to deplore the assault and call for an effective counterterrorism strategy in the longstanding Afghan war.

"The Afghan government is asking the international community for a lasting counterterrorism strategy," said Siamak Herawi, a Karzai spokesman who relayed the president's message Saturday.

"Afghanistan's villages are not the sanctuaries for these terrorists and Afghan lives should not be sacrificed for terrorism that has another base and home," the message said, making reference to militant bases across the Afghan border in Pakistan.

Al Qaeda terrorists were allowed to operate in Afghanistan by the ruling Taliban government when New York and Washington were attacked by plane hijackers on September 11, 2001.

A U.S.-led invasion later ousted the Taliban government. But militants have been able to maintain havens along the Afghan-Pakistan border for years and have tenaciously squared off with the NATO-led coalition attempting to keep the Karzai government and its nascent government afloat.

The Karzai message, making reference to the toppling of the Taliban, called 9/11 "an act of international terrorism which consequently rescued Afghanistan from terroristic domination and resulted in the destruction of terrorist bases and sanctuaries inside of Afghanistan."

Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, said memorial events have been staged in Afghanistan to remember September 11 and honor victims of attacks in Afghanistan.

"As a country we cannot let the passing years dull our memories. Many of us have personal recollections of September 11, 2001, and many more painful memories have been created since. As we now know, the events of that fateful day in September 2001 began here in Afghanistan. The al Qaeda murderers gathered here to train. They gained a foothold in this country so that more terrorist acts could be launched from Afghan territory," he said.

Eikenberry said the United States is in Afghanistan "to prevent international terrorists from again establishing a safe haven for extremists who would plot to wreak havoc" throughout the world.

Speaking a week before parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, Eikenberry said it is important to remember how the conflict began and what must be done to keep the United States secure. President Barack Obama has called the Afghanistan-Pakistan region the central front in the fight against terrorism.

"Our part of this task is to help Afghanistan achieve the stability, respected fair governance, economic well-being, and status in this part of the world so that international terrorists will find no ground on which to openly stand in this great country," Eikenberry said.