On Tuesday, the United States slapped sanctions on Ariana Afghan Airlines because of the company's support of alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden.
White House spokesman David Leavy stated that "these sanctions are in response to the Talibanís continuing provision of safe haven to Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network. These sanctions will go into place immediately. We are concerned about the role they play in ferrying material, personnel, and finances to the Taliban."
According to Leavy, Ariana Afghan Airlines has approximately a half a million dollars in assets. Although no flights come through the United States, as many as 80 flights per day go through India and the United Arab Emirates, both of which are supporters of the Taliban.
These sanctions are intended to target overflight fees, a major source of the Talibanís legitimate financial resources. Raw opium, the primary ingredient in heroin, is Afghanistanís principal export and source of income. The sanctions also stress the prohibition of any U.S. interaction with the airline.
The United States is encouraging the United Arab Emirates and India to impose similar sanctions on the Taliban. It is reported that several companies, banks, and individuals are providing "financial and material support" for bin Ladenís terrorist organization. The Clinton Administration will slap similar sanctions on these supporters if they do not cease endorsing both bin Laden and the Taliban.
Mullah Mohammad Omar, leader of the Taliban, told the Afghan Islamic Press that "American sanctions will not force us to give over Osama. These sanctions on Ariana are cruel."
Media Resources: Agence France Press and Voice of America - August 10, 1999 and Reuters - August 11