Rumsfeld Says Taliban, Al Qaeda Leaders Will Face Justice
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2001 News reports say Taliban leader Mohammed Omar has asked for personal amnesty, but Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the United States is opposed to any such deal.
Rumsfeld said Mullah Omar is the person most responsible for harboring the Al Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan. "There is no question what the position of the United States of America is, and that is that we have as our principal objectives seeing that we deal effectively with the senior al Qaeda leadership and the Taliban leadership," Rumsfeld said during a Pentagon press conference.
Rumsfeld said the U.S. objective remains "to bring justice to them or them to justice."
Rumsfeld said that no deal over Omar has been struck. "I don't believe it will happen. If it does happen, I suppose, as Adlai Stevenson said, 'We'll jump off that bridge when we get to it.'"
Rumsfeld said a number of times that he does not believe "there will be a negotiated end to the situation that's unacceptable to the United States."
Rumsfeld said the United States is interested in seeing that the terrorists and those who harbored them are punished and stopped from launching terrorist attacks. "They've done some terrible things on this Earth," he said. "I'd like to see us take control or know that the control is in the hands of people who will handle the conclusion similar to what we would do."
Many Afghans who fought with the Taliban and Al Qaeda will probably melt back into the Afghan society, Rumsfeld acknowledged. But he said he is concerned most about the foreign Al Qaeda fighters. "You don't want them milling around the country and you don't want them leaving the country because they're just going to go out and kill people in some other country," the secretary said. "So they need to be stopped. You may have to impound them until sorts and dispositions can be made."
He said there are still pockets of Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters throughout Afghanistan. There are also areas with there are no opposition forces providing security. "It would be premature to suggest that once Kandahar surrenders we relax and say that takes care of that because it doesn't," Rumsfeld said. "There are still a lot of senior Al Qaeda and senior Taliban people left. We went in there to root out the terrorists, find them where they are. Our job has got a long way to go."
Rumsfeld also recognized the bravery of the U.S. servicemen killed and wounded in Afghanistan Dec. 6. "Our condolences go to their families and their loved ones," he said. "These men were engaged in a noble and important cause, and their families have every right to be proud, as we all are, of their commitment and their sacrifice."