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45 Al Qaeda, Taliban Detainees Under U.S. Control

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2001 – There are 45 Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists under U.S control, DoD spokeswoman Torie Clarke said Dec. 27.

"There are 37 detainees in Kandahar and eight aboard the USS Peleliu," Clarke said during a morning press briefing. Among them are 20 new detainees Pakistan turned over on Dec. 26, Clarke said.

She could not provide names and titles for the detainees. "Those that we take under control are those that we think might provide some valuable information, so we want to be able to talk to them pretty thoroughly," she said. A variety of U.S. officials are interrogating the detainees.

Proposals for the detainees' ultimate destination are under consideration, Clarke said. They are "still a work in progress," she noted.

U.S. Navy and Air Force planes flew 133 sorties over Afghanistan on Dec. 26, Clarke said. They dropped no ordnance.

Clarke said the primary objective in Afghanistan is still "getting the Taliban and Al Qaeda leadership. We're working and consulting closely with the anti-Taliban forces and the interim government of Afghanistan," she said. "We're going to stay focused hard on our objectives."

Clarke said the actions in Afghanistan have degraded the ability of the Al Qaeda terror network to operate. "But the job isn't done," she said. "It certainly isn't done when you realize it's about more than just Afghanistan. Al Qaeda, by conservative estimates, has got cells in 50 to 60 countries. The job is not done yet."

In the Tora Bora cave and tunnel complex near Jalalabad, U.S. and Afghan forces are "triaging" the caves systematically to see who and what might be in them. "We'll use what the appropriate resources are," Clarke said. "That might be any number of things. We're generally not in the business of telegraphing our punches."

Clarke said Commando Solo radio broadcasts continue, and coalition forces continue to drop leaflets over the country.

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