5. Would the Taliban exchange the American aid workers for Omar Abdel Rahman?

Article summary: 

The Taliban ruling Afghanistan denied recent reports about its agreement to exchange two

Americans, who were accused, with another six aid workers, of Christian missionary activity in Afghanistan,


Omar Abdel Raḥmān. Raḥmān, the spiritual leader of the Egyptian Jamā‘āt al-Islāmīyah, is serving a life

sentence in

the USA.

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The Afghan ruling Taliban denied recent reports about its agreement to exchange two

Americans, who were

accused, with another six aid workers, of Christian missionary activity in Afghanistan,

for Omar Abdel Raḥmān.

Rahman who is the spiritual leader of the Egyptian Jamā‘āt al-Islāmīyah is serving a

life sentence in the USA.

The Afghan ambassador in Islamabad said, it is not part of the

policy of the Islamic Afghan

province to exchange any person for another. We have detained the accused

according to the Islamic Sharī‘a and not

with the aim of exchanging them for any other person.

The Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wakil

Ahmed Muttawakil, said that he had no idea

about a plan being suggested to exchange the eight aid workers, accused

of Christian missionary activity,

for Omar Abdel Raḥmān. He denied that any talks were taking place between Kabul

and Washington in that


The wife of Omar Abdel Raḥmān said that Ramsey Clark, the former

American Minister

of Defense, who led Abdel Rahman’s defense team, was mediating between America and the Taliban,

to reach

an agreement that would put an end to Abdel-Rahman’s suffering in prison.

She added that

she had sent a message to the Taliban, which included detailed information about the deteriorating health

of Abdel

Rahman. She asked the ruling Taliban to work towards releasing Abdel Raḥmān as he was one of the

Muslim Scholars

who played in important role in encouraging young Muslim men to travel to Afghanistan to

fight against the Soviet

Union. She said, Islām allows the exchange of a just Muslim person, who has been

captured by unbelievers, for a

number of unbelievers [captured by Muslims]. So what would the case be if

this person was one of the most important

Muslim preachers?"

One of Abdel-Rahman’s sons,

who is living in Egypt, refused to make any

connection between his father and the case of the eight aid

workers. In addition, Montasser al-Zayyat, the lawyer

for the Jamā‘āt al-Islāmīyah, denied having any

information about such an exchange deal.


the Taliban claimed that the trial of the

eight aid workers would be open German, American and Australian diplomats

were not allowed into the

courtroom last Wednesday. The senior judge stressed that the trial would be a just one

and that the accused

could consult foreign lawyers to defend them. He added that the trail would be according to

the Islamic

Shari’a. If the crime deserved imprisonment, they would be imprisoned. If it deserved the death


they would be sentenced to death, he stated.
Muttawakil stated that the foreign diplomats, journalists

and relations of the eight accused would be able to attend the sessions of the trial when it entered its




Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General in the Lyndon B.


administration (1966) and lawyer said in an interview in Impact International, Vol 27 No.12 -

December 1997 on

Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman’s trial:

"what we saw in both FBI and CIA files,

and this is their phrase,

’the greatest threat to the international and domestic security of the United

States is Islamic fundamentalism’.

But actually, ’Islamic fundamentalism’ to them is redundant. So

they have to convict a blind Islamic scholar of

terrorism to show that Islām is, at it highest levels of

learning and attainment, nothing but a terrorist concept.

How could a blind man be a

terrorist, what could he do? They claimed that he was the leader of the

conspiracy that set off the bomb

in the World Trade Centre. They have now had two trials and two convictions of

the defendants in the World

Trade Centre cases, and Shaykh Omar Abdel-Rahman’s name wasn’t even mentioned at

either trial. He had

nothing to do with it, but we have this war against Islām going on.

We need

to know the

people. We need to respect their religion. We need to love them. We need to live together on this

planet, and we can’t do that the way we are going about it right now. They are overwhelmingly poor. From


to Indonesia, the great masses of the people in Muslim countries are poor, and probably the best

thing in their

lives, the only saving thing, is their religion."

See for the full text of

the interview:


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