Bin Laden is One of Many Terrorist Chiefs
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2001 Osama bin Laden is "either dead in some tunnel, or he's alive," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said.
"If he's alive, he's either in Afghanistan or he isn't," Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon briefing today. But, the secretary said, the point is "it does not matter. We'll find him one day."
The Al Qaeda leader's demise or capture will not end the threat of global terrorism, because, Rumsfeld said, Bin Laden is not "the entire problem."
"The Al Qaeda is the entire problem, and the other terrorist networks are the problem." Rumsfeld said he believes Bin Laden will be found. "We'll get him," he said.
Asked what the U.S. officials would do if Bin Laden turned up "thumbing his nose at you," Rumsfeld replied, "We will go see about that thumb."
Bin Laden is only one of the terrorist chiefs capable of leading Al Qaeda. The terrorist group has cells in 50 to 60 countries, Rumsfeld said.
"If Osama bin Laden walked in here this minute and turned himself in and said he's sorry, the Al Qaeda network would exist," Rumsfeld said. "It has businesses across the globe. It has sleepers in various countries. It has cells. It has money. It has communication capability, and I'm going to guess it has one or two handfuls of people who are perfectly capable of continuing to operate that network."
Al Qaeda terrorists have lived in Somalia, Sudan and other places, he said.
"We have made it very clear for a period of months that if these people go somewhere else, we'll go find them," Rumsfeld said.