ad info

TIME Asia Home
Current Issue
Magazine Archive
Asia Buzz
Travel Watch
Web Features
  Photo Essays

Subscribe to TIME
Customer Services
About Us
Write to TIME Asia
TIME Canada
TIME Europe
TIME Pacific
TIME Digital
Latest CNN News

Young China
Olympics 2000
On The Road

  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia

Other News
From TIME Asia

Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol

Asia Buzz: Should the Net Be Free?
Web heads want it all -- for nothing

JAPAN: Failed Revolution
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori clings to power as dissidents in his party finally decide not to back a no-confidence motion

Cover: Endgame?
After Florida's controversial ballot recount, Bush holds a 537-vote lead in the state, which could give him the election

TIME Digest

TIME Asia Services
Subscribe to TIME! Get up to 3 MONTHS FREE!

Bookmark TIME
TIME Media Kit
Recent awards

TIME AsiaAsiaweekAsia Now TIME Asia story

W E B - O N L Y   I N T E R V I E W
'We Are Against Terrorism'
Online-only interview with Taliban supreme leader Mullah Muhammed Omar

On the eve of the dramatic resolution in London of the Ariana Airlines hijacking, TIME reporter Rahimullah Yusufzai spoke with the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Muhammed Omar, by telephone. Several of the plane's crew escaped late Tuesday and the hijackers released the last of the 150 passengers before dawn on Thursday, ending the four-day standoff.

Afghan airliner hijacking over, British police say

Airline head says hijacking may be mass asylum bid

Breaking news from Central Asia

TIME: How did this lapse in security occur?
Mullah Omar: This has happened, I admit. But this also happens in other countries, even in more developed countries.

TIME: Are you launching an investigation into the hijacking?
Mullah Omar: We have launched a probe in Kabul for the lapse of security. We have two theories--one is that women were used to take arms in their burqas inside the plane, and perhaps, also, people were paid to get all this done. We have some evidence of some money changing hands.

TIME: Early reports said the hijackers demanded the release of Ismail Khan, the Afghan opposition figure who has been in jail since 1997. Has he been tried and sentenced?
Mullah Omar: His case is still being investigated, he will be tried. People are calling him a mujahid [holy warrior] now, and he may have been one during the jihad, but now he is a big culprit. Ismail Khan was responsible for the killing of hundreds of people in the battles earlier, especially against the Taliban. He fought against the Taliban. In the Girishk battle in Helmand province, hundreds of people were killed and the responsibility is with Ismail Khan. He fought against the Islamic government. Ismail Khan is being held because he is a traitor. Afghanistan is not the only country where such a person is jailed.

TIME: The Taliban asked India to negotiate with hijackers during the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight 814 in December. You have not made the same request of the British authorities. Is that a contradiction?
Mullah Omar: This is a different situation because the Indian government asked us, when the plane was still in the air, to allow it to land in Kandahar. We had no intention to do so but did at India's request, to save the passengers. We said again and again it must leave. Again at India's request that we not to allow it to leave, we agreed. At India's request, we tried to get the two sides to negotiate.
But now in this case, we didn't ask the British government to allow the plane to land, and we trust the British government to take any action it deems fit. But we on our part are not willing to accept any demand of the hijackers because it will encourage other terrorists. We are against terrorism and would not like to encourage terrorism because it will lead to more such hijackings.

TIME: Do you think that policy can threaten the passengers' lives?
Mullah Omar: I don't think they're in any real danger because the British government has a firm policy on hijacking. The airport is prepared and equipped to deal with hijacking and the British government has a policy not to allow hijacked aircraft to leave. And police and aviation officials have expertise in dealing with hijackings and they follow international law. We believe there will be no danger to the lives of passengers.

TIME: Have the hijackers told you they want Ismail Khan released?
Mullah Omar: No. We have not been officially told by anyone of a demand for his release. But even if such a demand is made, we have taken a principled stand that we will not accept any demand and negotiate with hijackers.

Write to TIME at

This edition's table of contents
TIME Asia home


Quick Scroll: More stories from TIME, Asiaweek and CNN


U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN

Back to the top   © 2000 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.