- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 26, 2001

From combined dispatches
The U.S. military said yesterday it had reminded its forces in Afghanistan to stay alert for potential attacks that could be timed to coincide with Christmas Day.
The Central Command, which is running the war in Afghanistan, "re-emphasized the necessity for vigilance to all its forces for Christmas Day," said Lt. Col. Martin Compton, a spokesman at the command's MacDill Air Force Base headquarters in Tampa.
Marines in Kandahar, the spiritual home of Afghanistan's former Taliban ruling militia, went on a heightened state of alert, said Cmdr. Dave Cullers, another Central Command spokesman, adding that the move was precautionary and not in response to a specific threat.
"The Marines themselves put themselves on a higher level of security," he said.
But Christmas was shaping up as a routine day in the U.S.-led drive to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, surviving members of his al Qaeda terrorist network and their Taliban militia hosts in Afghanistan.
Bin Laden was the chief suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people at New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.
"Nothing unique, nothing extraordinary," Lt. Col. Compton said when asked to describe the situation on the ground in the campaign that began Oct. 7. "We're just doing our job, remaining vigilant. We're prepared to react to whatever comes up."
Lt. Col. Compton said plans still were under way for a fresh thrust into caves and tunnels in the eastern Tora Bora area, where al Qaeda fighters made a last stand and where bin Laden was last reported to have been sighted.
In the past, Islamic terrorists and Arab armies have chosen to attack during the holiest times of the year for their targets. Pan Am Flight 103 was brought down over Scotland by Libyan terrorists during the Christmas travel season in 1988.

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