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Rumsfeld's Take on al Qaeda Today

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2002 – Al Qaeda "has gone to school on us" and has adjusted to the constant U.S. pressure on the terrorist organization, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said during a Pentagon press conference Oct. 22.

"They are not back in business the way they were before," he said. "They've received a great deal of pressure -- financial, law enforcement, military pressure."

He said al Qaeda has dispersed from their former haunts, but is still operating in dozens of countries, including the United States. "There is no question they are capable of conducting an operation in the United States, just as they are in many other countries," Rumsfeld said.

He said al Qaeda will continue to change to meet U.S. pressure against it. "As we put pressure on and close a door here, they'll push and find a door somewhere else," the secretary said. He said that has been happening for more than a year now, and he expects it to continue.

He said U.S. tactics also continue to change. "We're behaving differently too," Rumsfeld said. "Just as they've gone to school on us, we've gone to school on them and have learned a good deal about how they operate and what they do."

He said coalition forces must continue to keep the pressure on al Qaeda and "keep closing doors and keep scooping up folks and keep closing their bank accounts and making their lives difficult."

The secretary said U.S. intelligence experts have learned a great deal from captured al Qaeda terrorists and that sparks changes in U.S. tactics. He said, though, that evidence indicates that al Qaeda still maintains communications to some degree and the ability to plan strikes.

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