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Rumsfeld: Extremists in Iraq Want Taliban-Like Rule

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

ENROUTE TO BAHRAIN, Oct. 9, 2004 – Extremists in Iraq and elsewhere envision "a Taliban-type" world where sports facilities are routinely used for murder, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters Oct. 8.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, right, talks with reporters and members of his staff as his aircraft flies over the Atlantic Ocean en route to Bahrain. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Those extremists would use soccer stadiums for public executions, like those performed by the Taliban in Afghanistan before U.S. and coalition forces defeated them in late 2001, the secretary said. Rumsfeld made his comments to press members traveling with him on a visit to Bahrain, a key U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf.

"They'd be chopping off people's heads," he said, noting terrorists and extremists want "a world that is unacceptable to free people." Terrorists and extremists hate democracy, women's rights, and tolerance for religious and ethnic differences, Rumsfeld pointed out.

And, while extremists are attempting to impose their radical ideology in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rumsfeld noted, they are also attempting to find ways to overthrow moderate governments of Islamic and other religious persuasions.

"They're not going to be successful," the secretary vowed.

Rumsfeld told reporters that tallying ballots would likely take three weeks after the Oct. 9 Afghan national elections. The Iraqi national elections are slated for sometime in January 2005.

Countries that employ free, democratic elections, Rumsfeld noted, tend to treat their citizens with respect and are law-abiding members of the international community. "And that makes for a more peaceful world," he said.

The military situation in Iraq is different in different parts of the country, Rumsfeld observed. He left it up to senior U.S. commanders in Iraq to ask for more troops if needed for the upcoming elections in January.

However, "Iraqi security forces have been growing at a good clip," Rumsfeld pointed out. In fact, he said, 40,000 new security forces will likely be available for duty by the time of the Iraqi elections.

U.S.-coalition planning in Iraq remains flexible, Rumsfeld explained, because "the enemy is not without a brain." And, while noting insurgents in Iraq look for weaknesses to exploit, Rumsfeld noted, "So do we."

Pointing to copious news coverage of recent terror bombings and other insurgent activities in Iraq, Rumsfeld lamented the scant attention paid to the successful June 28 transition of power from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the interim Iraqi government.

Rumsfeld praised the multi-agency team headed by retired Army Gen. Claude Kicklighter that went into Iraq and "worked out a detained plan as to how the transition would take place." Kicklighter and his colleagues did their work "exceedingly well," Rumsfeld said.

The transfer of sovereignty in Iraq was accomplished two days early and became "the least newsworthy thing on the face of the earth," Rumsfeld recalled, noting the story "was never reported."

Why? "Because it was perfect!" he said.

After visiting Bahrain, the secretary is also slated to visit Romania to attend the annual fall NATO defense ministerial meetings held Oct. 13-14 in Poiana Brasov.

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Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

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