Afghanistan: February 14, 2002


Aviation minister Abdul Rahman was murdered by personal enemies at Kabul's airport. The murderers turned out to be members of the largest Northern Alliance faction (now holding positions in the defense and military ministries). Rahman used to belong to that faction, but had left to join a group loyal to the deposed king. Ten suspects have been identified, including three who flew off to Saudi Arabia with pilgrims (and are being returned as prisoners). Such feuds and grudges are common in Afghanistan, especially with all the fighting that has taken place since the civil wars began in the 1970s. Long memories and a tradition of revenge are common in Afghanistan. Just how strong these customs are can be seen by the Rahman murder (he was beaten to death after being thrown out of an aircraft about to take off.) Next comes the attempts to prevent the government from breaking up over the murder and arrests. There's always the possibility of renewed civil war. 

Two U.S. troops were lightly wounded in a fire fight with intruders outside Kandahar airport.

Pakistan believes Osama bin Laden is dead, or alive, in Afghanistan. They base this on the fact that two kidney dialysis machines were donated to Afghanistan, one of them for the exclusive use of bin Laden. The Pakistanis can account for kidney dialysis in Pakistan, and they have not noted any tall Arabs being treated lately. No one has found the two machines in Afghanistan yet. It is believed that bin Laden's kidney failure has reached the point where he will die within months if he does not get regular kidney dialysis treatment. American officials are not convinced that bin Laden has that serious a kidney condition.


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