Letter from Taliban official urges alliance leaders to defect

Appeal calls on Afghans to unite, repel foreigners

War On Terrorism


KALAFGHAN, Afghanistan - In a direct appeal to fight against the United States, a letter apparently signed by a senior Taliban official urges commanders of the Northern Alliance to switch sides and expel the Americans and British.

The letter, signed by Qari Amadullah, national security minister, accuses the United States, Britain and Pakistan of trying to brainwash the people of Afghanistan.

It asks the commanders of the Northern Alliance, which controls less than 10 percent of the country, to join in a war against the foreigners.

The letter was received by several commanders who are at the front lines in the rugged region north of Kabul.

"Now, the Americans and the British and the Pakistanis are trying to brainwash our people," the letter said. "It is time to be united and start fighting against them."

The letter appears to be the first concrete evidence of Taliban efforts to win over rebel commanders.

American officials are placing great hope in obtaining defections from leaders loyal to the Taliban, and Northern Alliance officials are working to persuade Taliban commanders to defect.

Amadullah's letter arrived during what appeared to be a stalemate in the struggle for Mazar-e Sharif, a crucial northern city outside the alliance area of control. Pir Muhammad, a commander of the military front near Taloqan, 20 miles southwest of here, said his latest information was that that front had been quiet and that alliance forces were still at the outskirts of the city.

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