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Terror War Continues, Rumsfeld Says, Despite Saddam's Capture

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2003 – While the Iraqi people were liberated "in fact" in April, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today that the Dec. 13 capture of Saddam Hussein liberated them "in spirit."

"When the coalition liberated Iraq, we told the Iraqi people that he would not be returning, except as a prisoner to face justice," the secretary told Pentagon reporters. "And the U.S. forces have now delivered on that promise."

While not minimizing the significance of the former Iraqi dictator's capture, Rumsfeld was quick to emphasize that it is just one additional step forward in the global war on terror.

"The global war on terror continues," he said. "The war on terror is not about one man, and it is not about one country.

"As the president has said, we remember the lessons of Sept. 11, the day when more than 3,000 innocent people were killed here at home," Rumsfeld said. "And we still face terrorists terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the world -- who seek to harm our people."

Rumsfeld said the war on terror will continue until all those forces are defeated. "Challenges remain," he said. "But the coalition forces will see the mission through."

Turning to other progress in the war on terror, the secretary pointed to today's dedication and opening of the highway linking Kandahar and Kabul in Afghanistan. Another highway linking Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif is nearing completion, with progress being made on other portions of the "ring road" in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said.

"Although it is certainly less dramatic news than the capture of Saddam Hussein, this is important," Rumsfeld said. "It will facilitate commerce, it will attract foreign investment, it should improve revenues for the central government, it should improve security of the people of the country while helping to unify the country by linking the various regions to the capital."

Rumsfeld said this is another indication that "Afghanistan, like Iraq, is making progress on the path to self- government and self-reliance."

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