- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

The Bush administration has begun plans for military actions in the global war on terrorism that include placing special operations forces in multiple countries simultaneously.
One senior administration official said the Pentagon hopes to finish destroying Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan in weeks, not months.
"We need [these forces] in other parts of the world," this official said. "Everybody here has their own list [of countries]: Iraq, Somalia, the Philippines, South America. Take your pick."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is described as eager to go after al Qaeda cells outside Afghanistan sooner rather than later to prevent foot soldiers from burrowing deeper into the woodwork. "Rumsfeld wanted to start yesterday," said the administration official.
The defense secretary, a "hawk" in what the administration says will be a lengthy global war, has spoken frequently with Gen. Charles R. Holland, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, about how commandos could be used in countries outside Afghanistan.
This administration official, and other officials, said Pentagon planners already are discussing whether the Afghanistan model relentless air strikes, commandos and U.S.-invigorated opposition groups could be employed to unseat Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
The Air Force is studying how to attack suspected sites for developing weapons of mass destruction. U.S. Central Command, which is waging the war in Afghanistan and would oversee operations against Saddam, has been updating a target list.
Of seven countries on the State Department's list of governments who actively sponsor international terrorism, three (Iran, Iraq and Sudan) fall within the military region of Central Command and its commander, Army Gen. Tommy Franks.
His region also includes Somalia, a known operations center for al Qaeda. And there is Yemen, where the government has had mixed success in discouraging al Qaeda operators.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, appearing on ABC's "This Week" talk show yesterday, said the United States had won some promises from Yemen on going after al Qaeda.
"Yemen is more complicated, and the Yemeni record in the past was not a very good one, but they're promising new things and we'll see" he said. "There are some serious problems with al Qaeda cells in Yemen, but we think now finally the Yemenis have the message, and they will go after them."
Asked by a reporter what theater is next for his command in the war on terrorism, Gen. Franks on Friday pointed to a map of his area of responsibility (AOR).
"You also find Somalia," he said at one point during his geography lesson. "One finds Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula there. Moving over to the northeast, Afghanistan, and then, to the northwest of that, Iran and Iraq. In terms of what we expect to do next, I will only say that Central Command retains an interest in the countries that are represented within the AOR. And the list of terrorist states I think has been published by our State Department, and so one can surmise where we're paying the greatest amount of attention."
The question facing the Pentagon and regional commanders such as Gen. Franks is how to mold specific operations to take down terrorist cells of different types in different terrains the mountains of Afghanistan, the flat desert of Somalia or the jungles of the Philippines.
Some countries, viewing the demise of Afghanistan's Taliban militia, may succumb to diplomatic and financial pressure to end state sponsorship on their own.
"I think if people haven't gotten the message from the Taliban about the dangers of harboring terrorists, they just haven't been paying attention," Mr. Wolfowitz said.
For example, President Bush has named former Republican Sen. John Danforth as a special envoy to Sudan. His delegation is in the country, trying to broker peace among various rebel groups and the government.
Washington hopes closer U.S. ties will convince Khartoum to kick out al Qaeda, which operates cells in as many as 60 countries. The east African nation is used as a safe haven by four other terrorist organizations, including the violent Egyptian Jihad, and Hamas, which carries out suicide bombing attacks on Israeli civilians.
In one U.S. success, Sudan has shut down the Popular Arab and Islamic Conference, which served as a forum for terrorists.
Other nations, such as the Philippines, may welcome American special operations troops, or their surrogates, to wipe out Abu Sayyaf, an anti-government Muslim group linked to al Qaeda. The country has served as a major planning station for al Qaeda missions worldwide.
Somalia presents unique challenges. Ruled by various warlords and its modest economy nearing collapse, Somalia is expected to resist any military missions aimed at a sizeable al Qaeda presence in the northern part of the east African country.
But Mr. Wolfowitz said on ABC yesterday that this situation also offers opportunities for any anti-terrorism campaign.
"Somalia's a special case, because it really isn't a governed country at all," he said. "It also means that there's not much to protect terrorists when they get there."
The administration is slowly building a case for ousting Saddam Hussein, not only on the grounds he supports terrorists, but also because he continues to try to develop biological and nuclear weapons in violation of U.N. sanctions. The logic, officials say, is it is only a matter of time before those weapons fall into the hands of terrorists, who then will use them on the United States.
"This is a global war on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction," said Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, in a TV interview. "So Afghanistan is only one small piece. So of course we're thinking very broadly. I would say since World War II we haven't thought this broadly about a campaign. I think this is going to be a long, hard-fought conflict."


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