- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2001

Terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is hiding in one of several locations in Afghanistan, outside the reach of U.S. aerial bombardment and special-operations commandos, according to defense officials.
Bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda terrorist network and suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, is one of the military's main targets, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday.
"I think we're going to get him," Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon.
The defense officials said bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar are believed to be hiding in one of six or seven locations in Afghanistan.
The men are difficult to find because of the mountainous terrain and because they may be moving from place to place to avoid being targeted, the officials said.
Mr. Rumsfeld said Pentagon targeters have received information "after the fact" on bin Laden's location. But getting "actionable" intelligence that would permit air strikes or other attacks on him has been difficult, he said.
In London, a Defense Ministry spokesman said the British government is expected to announce the deployment of troops to Afghanistan, Reuters reported. Britain now has 23,000 troops in a military exercise in the Persian Gulf state of Oman. Another British government spokesman said a decision on troop deployment was expected "very shortly."
Asked if resistance from the Taliban and al Qaeda could lead to the deployment of ground forces, Mr. Rumsfeld said: "We don't have anything to announce in regard to that."
Mr. Rumsfeld said the success of the current anti-terrorist campaign will be gauged by stopping terrorists and their supporters, not simply getting bin Laden.
"There's a nexus there between what I just said and getting the leadership of Taliban and the leadership of al Qaeda and stopping them," he said. "What is really important, however, is the outcome."
Accomplishing that mission likely will involve getting bin Laden, he said.
Mr. Rumsfeld said bin Laden is "one portion of the problem" and that "until you have him, you do not have him."
Bin Laden's recent appearance on Qatar-based Al Jazeera television shows he continues to act.
"So he's functioning," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "Does he move? Sure, he moves. Have we located him? No. In a way that allowed us to do anything about it? No. Are we continuing the effort? You bet. Do we expect to get him? Yes."
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon that attacks continued against Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists on Wednesday.
"We struck in nine planned target areas and operated against targets of opportunity in several engagement zones throughout Afghanistan," the four-star Air Force general said.
A total of some 80 strike aircraft took part in the raids, including carrier-based tactical bombers, long-range bombers and AC-130 gunships.
Large-scale bombing strikes were carried out on Taliban positions yesterday north of Kabul, the Associated Press reported from Baghram, Afghanistan. U.S. warplanes also struck targets near Taliban forces located near Mazar-e-Sharif.
Gen. Myers dismissed suggestions that the U.S. bombing raids were "piecemeal" attacks that were not doing enough.
"This is proceeding according to our plan," Gen. Myers said. "We don't feel this is piecemeal. We feel this is very deliberate, very well planned. And success is yet to be determined, but we think we're having some success."
Gen. Myers said he had no new reports of plans for a disinformation operation by the Taliban to poison foreign food aid and blame it on the United States.
The Pentagon also released video from warplanes showing attacks on Taliban facilities and provided before-and-after photographs of a bombing attack that destroyed seven tanks near the western town of Herat.
During one video presentation, a precision-guided bomb blew up a Taliban wheeled vehicle with a multiple rocket launcher, causing a large explosion.
Regarding Taliban claims that U.S. strikes have inflicted thousands of civilian casualties, Gen. Myers said "we are concerned about any number of unintended civilian casualties."
However, the general said: "To be honest, the one number, the one horrific number that stands foremost in my mind, is the over 5,000 men, women and children that were killed on 11 September, intentionally killed by the terrorists."
U.N. officials yesterday charged that nine civilians died in an attack near Herat with cluster bombs, which are designed to open above ground and scatter bomblets over a wide area.
Gen. Myers confirmed that U.S. forces in that region have used cluster bombs, but he said he had no knowledge of that particular incident.
"We only use the cluster munitions when they are the most effective weapon for the intended target," he said. "There have not been a great number of them used, but they have been used."
Mr. Rumsfeld said it has been difficult to verify Taliban claims about civilian casualties.
He noted that missiles and artillery have been fired by U.S. warplanes and the Taliban air defenses, as well as opposition Northern Alliance forces.
"So there's a lot of ordnance flying around, and when people die, it is possible that it could have come from any one of those three sources," he said.
Marine Corps Gen. Tommy Franks, commander in charge of military operations against Afghanistan, met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, yesterday and discussed military operations in Afghanistan.
Neither leader made any comments to reporters after the meeting at the Red Sea resort town.
The general also observed war games in Egypt that have been under way for the past several weeks.
He is in the region as part of a visit to several nations that the Pentagon has not identified for security reasons.
Also yesterday, Marine Corps commandant Gen. James Jones said the Corps' top special-operations unit is ready to deploy to Afghanistan on six hours' notice. He spoke to reporters aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea.

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