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Rumsfeld Singles Out Iraq, Iran, Syria

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2002 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld singled out Iraq, Iran and Syria as countries that are encouraging terrorists while oppressing their own populations.

"Murderers are not martyrs. Targeting civilians is immoral whatever the excuse," Rumsfeld said during a press conference April 1. "Terrorists have declared war on civilization and states like Iran, Iraq and Syria are financing a culture of political murder and suicide bombing."

Rumsfeld said Iraq is financing terrorism against Israel by subsidizing the families of suicide. "I think the world ought to know that Saddam Hussein's idea of having a nice day is offering $10-, $20- or $30,000 to families who talk their children into going out and blowing up a restaurant in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem," he said.

He said Iran and Syria are sending terrorists "down the Damascus Road through the Bekaa Valley to southern Lebanon," where they launch guerrilla attacks against Israel. He also said Iran was directly involved in shipping arms to Palestinian terror groups.

Rumsfeld also said Iran had welcomed some al Qaeda fighters following their defeat in Afghanistan.

"We're working to make it clear to sponsors and supporters of terrorists that being a friend to terrorists, and by implication an adversary of the United States, is not in their best interests," he said.

Rumsfeld said he did not know how the situation in Israel would affect the U.S. war on terrorism. "How it will affect some things or what kind of 'ricochets' there will be, I think time will tell," he said. He said that so far, there have been no adverse actions from Arab allies in the fight against terror.

He said that contrary to press reports, no military personnel are slated for any kind of peacekeeping duty in Israel. He said an earlier plan called for "monitors" in the country if the Tenet Plan, named for CIA chief George Tenet, was adopted. He said even then the numbers of monitors would be small and they might not even be American.

The secretary would not speak at all about press reports that the No. 2 man in the al Qaeda organization had been captured. He said it was "not helpful" to speak about who the United States did or did not have in detention. Rumsfeld said U.S. authorities did not want to broadcast who they have and ruin chances for intelligence gathered from those individuals to be compromised.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, who also addressed the press conference, said the military situation in Afghanistan is basically unchanged. U.S. and Afghan forces continue to search the Khost region for pockets of al Qaeda and Taliban resistance.

Myers and Rumsfeld said the anthrax vaccination program for service members would be reinstituted. Rumsfeld said he is waiting for a report from Myers on how and under what conditions the program should restart.

The secretary reiterated the U.S. resolve to continue the war against global terrorism. He said the U.S. government would continue to protect the American people from terrorist attacks, from weapons of mass destruction and from terrorism of the type we witnessed on Sept 11 "as long as it takes."

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DoD News Transcript: DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers, April 1, 2002

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