news emerged that eight detained Christian aid workers may become trapped in a U.S-led attack.
Speaking in Islamabad, the father of 24-year old American prisoner Heather Mercer said his jailed daughter was "living in fear" that she may not be able to escape from possible military operations. John Mercer stressed his daughter was "very upset, very frightened" and "afraid that bombs will start falling on Kabul," the Afghan Capital.
He spoke as the President of Pakistan, the only country to have diplomatic contacts with Afghanistan, agreed to support the fight against terror. Pakistani President, General Pervez Musharraf, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in Islamabad Friday, October 5, there was "credible evidence" to link the recent terrorist attacks against the U.S. to Saudi exile Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, now hiding in Afghanistan.
In addition the U.S. Army dispatched about 1,000 infantry soldiers to the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan. American Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Uzbek President Islam Karimov said one air base could be used to station U.S. transport planes, helicopters and troops for search-and-rescue missions in neighboring Afghanistan.
The latest development came despite pleas from aid worker Heather Mercer to halt military operations against the Moslem nation. Mercer, who has been treated by a doctor for an unspecified medical condition, had earlier written to her parents a letter in which she urged American President George W. Bush to postpone an offensive at least untill all aid workers are released. It was not clear whether the letter was written under duress from the ruling Taliban regime of Afghanistan.
Her parents said that the detention adds to the emotional stress of their daughter, as she is already coping with the death one year ago of her younger sister who had suffered two painful back operations. "She didn’t give herself time to heal before going to Afghanistan," said her mother Deborah Oddy. "At the time we had hoped she would delay her trip. She wasn’t 100 percent then."
John Mercer, who has offered to take the place of his daughter in prison, has again pleaded to the Afghan Embassy in the Pakistan capital Islamabad to issue new visa’s to relatives. They were hoping to visit Afghanistan Saturday, October 6.
The parents of Heather Mercer, along with diplomats from Germany, the United States and Australia, saw the detainees in Kabul were forced to leave following the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The foreign detainees have been identified as Americans Mercer and Dayna Curry, Australians Peter Bunch and Diana Thomas, as well as Germans Georg Taubmann, Katrin Jelinek, Margrit Stebner and Silke Durrkopf.
They and 16 detained Afghan co-workers have been accused of spreading Christianity in mainly Muslim Afghanistan, which could carry the death penalty under the regime’s strict interpretation of Islamic law. However the Pakistani lawyer representing the eight Westerners, Atif Ali Khan, told reporters that he expected the Taliban supreme court to pass light sentences on the basis of compassion.
Foreign observers in and near Afghanistan fear however that their Afghan colleagues may still face the death penalty, during an even more secretive trial. All workers were active for the German based charity Shelter Now, which has strongly denied its staff was involved in preaching the Gospel. Shelter Now is believed to have supported tens of thousands of refugees in the war-torn country. The Taliban regime has said that the fate of the aid workers, following a trial, will ultimately rest with the movement’s supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.