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Search Continues for Taliban, Al Qaeda Terrorists

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2001 – The United States continues its search for Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan, DoD officials said Dec. 27.

U.S. forces struck one target in the country with both guided and unguided bombs, said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard Myers.

B-52s and AC-130s hit the Tori Khel compound near Ghazni in eastern Afghanistan. "We had reports that put some of the Taliban leadership in that facility," Myers said.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the United States is making preparations to hold Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He said there are no plans to hold military tribunals. Currently 45 Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees are under U.S. control in Kandahar and aboard the USS Peleliu.

Rumsfeld said coalition forces have conflicting reports about Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. As usual, he refused to comment on specific rumors. "We hear six, seven, eight, 10, 12 conflicting reports every day," he said in answer to a reporter's question. "I've stopped chasing (the reports).

"We do know of certain knowledge that (Osama bin Laden) is either in Afghanistan, or some other country or dead," the secretary deadpanned.

He said even if the United States captured bin Laden, the problem of global terrorism would not go away. Someone in the organization would take over. "Clearly, it's our goal to find them and chase them, wherever they are," he said, "including bin Laden, (Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad) Omar and their lieutenants and their leaders, as well as the people who are assisting them."

Rumsfeld said the face-off between India and Pakistan concerns the Bush administration. Pakistan has "not yet" pulled troops away from the Afghan border in support of movements aimed at India. "That is very encouraging to us because they are performing an important task," he said.

Another set of problems could erupt if the situation between the two countries intensifies. Pakistan might need the bases now being used by U.S. service members. Pakistan or India may have to deny overflight rights.

"This is something we are keeping our eye on very carefully, and we have clearly made the interest we have in this subject known to both sides very carefully and with clarity," he said.

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Related Sites:
DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers, Dec. 27, 2001
DoD News Briefing Slides, Dec. 27, 2001

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