U.S. Using Intel to Foil Terror Attacks
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2002 The U.S. intelligence effort in Afghanistan will pay off in thwarting attacks on the United States, its allies and friends, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Jan. 11.
He also said that while the Taliban have been driven from power, the campaign in Afghanistan is far from over. He said many parts of the country are still in turmoil and that senior Al Qaeda and Taliban officials are still at large. Coalition and Afghan forces also need to deal with pockets of Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.
Rumsfeld, who spoke at a Pentagon press conference today, said intelligence operations continue with coalition forces combing through Taliban and Al Qaeda facilities and interrogating detainees. He said this information will help the coalition disrupt terrorist networks and prevent further terrorist acts.
While the United States remains committed to bringing Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Taliban chief Mohammad Omar to justice, an equal goal is to "stop terrorist networks from being able to continue to threaten the United States, or friends and allies," Rumsfeld said.
To this end, accessing and assessing all intelligence sites is crucial to stopping terrorist acts. The secretary explained that American forces are examining suspected weapons of mass destruction sites, Taliban and Al Qaeda safe houses, and information and material obtained by interrogating detainees.
"It is from these activities that we will most likely gain information that will help us prevent future attacks," Rumsfeld said.
Singapore officials said they used information gleaned in Afghanistan to foil attacks by an Al Qaeda cell. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore officials arrested a 15-member Al Qaeda cell that was planning attacks on U.S. Navy ships off the coast of the island nation. Rumsfeld said threats to U.S. forces in Singapore "were specific."
Rumsfeld said he is "reasonably sure there are" other countries in which terrorists have been arrested.
Rumsfeld said detainees have told coalition officials that at least two senior Taliban officials were killed in bombing raids in Afghanistan during December. The two men were in the "top 20" of the Taliban regime.
The first group of Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees arrived at the U.S. Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, today. The group of 20 detainees arrived under heavy guard aboard a C- 17. Rumsfeld said the United States will treat the detainees in "a manner that is consistent" with the Geneva Conventions.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard Myers said nine U.S. fighters and bombers struck targets in the Zawar Kili area with 44 precision weapons. U.S. forces operating in the area called in the strikes, Myers said. "This was the sixth strike in that area. There are over 60 aboveground structures. There are over 50 caves, some of which have been closed, some of which have been exploited. (Coalition forces in the area) are finding lots and lots of military equipment and other items that will lead us down the paths we want to go," Myers said.