Pakistan says US evidence strong enough to indict bin Laden

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The Independent Online

Pakistan believes that US evidence linking Osama bin Laden to the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States is strong enough to indict him, the foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

"There is sufficient grounds for indictment in terms of the material we have seen and we have studied," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Riaz Khan told reporters.

It was the strongest statement yet from a Muslim country supporting the American view that bin Laden played a major role in the worst terrorist attack in American history.

US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin met with Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, on Tuesday to brief him on the investigation into the attack and lay out America's case against bin Laden.

"This material certainly provides a sufficient basis for an indictment in a court of law," Khan said.

He refused to comment whether the evidence was sufficient to justify a military strike on Afghanistan and bin Laden's terrorist network there.

Khan said the evidence also included attacks before September 11 but he did not elaborate. The United States has also accused bin Laden of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

He is also the leading suspect in the suicide bombing of the USS Cole last year in Yemen.

Pakistan's president had already pledged full support for the US campaign against terrorism.

Although other countries have issued similar statements, Pakistan's declaration is significant because no other Muslim country has taken such an unequivocal stand on the issue of bin Laden's possible role in the attack.

For years, Pakistan has been the chief backer of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia which has refused to hand over bin Laden, citing a lack of evidence against him.

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