Bin Laden Invited to Kashmir
Feb. 16, 1999
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) _ A militant Islamic group in Pakistan wants suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden to settle in Indian-ruled Kashmir to lead Muslims in their insurgency against India.
The militant Lashkar-e-Taiyba group urged bin Laden to lead Muslim rebels in their fight against Indian soldiers in the disputed state of Kashmir, Hindu India's only Muslim-dominated state.
Muslim rebels in Kashmir want either outright independence or union with Islamic Pakistan and are hoping to recruit bin Laden, who apparently dropped out of sight over the weekend after a stay in Afghanistan.
His whereabouts has been shrouded in confusion.
A variety of sources have put bin Laden in one of several places, ranging from a mountain hideout within Afghanistan to the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya, to Iraq and Somalia.
Bin Laden, whom the United States blames for the Aug. 7 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, sought refuge in Afghanistan more than five years ago after Sudan asked him to leave.
Afghanistan's Taliban rulers had refused to hand over bin Laden to the United States despite repeated requests from Washington and last year's U.S. missile strike on eastern Afghanistan. The missiles targeted suspected terrorist training camps.
The Taliban have promised the United States that bin Laden would not conduct terrorist activity on Afghan soil and last week imposed fresh restrictions on the Saudi exile, confiscating his satellite telephone and banning him from making public statements.
The disputed Kashmir region has been the flash point of two wars between India and Pakistan. New Delhi routinely accuses Islamabad of training and arming militants in Kashmir, a charge Pakistan denies.