- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday that an audiotape broadcast Sunday purporting to be of Osama bin Laden warning of more al Qaeda terrorist attacks is being analyzed, and he emphasized that the war on terrorism isn't just about the Saudi terrorist leader.
"I'm told there's no way to know when it was made," Mr. Rumsfeld said after the tape's broadcast by a Qatari satellite-television station.
The tape does not indicate that bin Laden is alive.
"So I have still to this moment not seen anything since last December that one can with certainty say that he's alive or functioning," Mr. Rumsfeld said to reporters at the Pentagon on the anniversary of the start of military operations in Afghanistan.
U.S. intelligence agencies last picked up indications that bin Laden was alive in December near Tora Bora when his voice was heard on intercept voice communications.
Mr. Rumsfeld said the war against terrorism is a "problem that's much bigger than one individual."
"I tried to dissuade people from personalizing this global war on terrorism into the face or name of a single individual, that that would be unwise and misguided, misdirected. I did my best. I failed."
The Pentagon wants to find bin Laden and 15 to 20 other Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists, he said.
"We don't know precisely what's happened to them," he said. "There are a category that we know are dead; there's a category that we know are alive; and there's a fairly large category that we don't know if they're dead or alive."
Mr. Rumsfeld said the terrorists have become skillful at avoiding detection.
He blamed "leaks to the press" about the way the Pentagon conducts its operations for hampering efforts to find terrorists.
Terrorists have changed their behavior patterns "in ways that it makes it very difficult to find them," he said. "That's just a fact. The leaks in the press have been damaging to the way we have to do things."
Asked when the fugitive terrorists will be caught, Mr. Rumsfeld said: "I just don't know. We do know that we're putting pressure on them. We do know that their lives are more difficult. We do know that it takes them longer to do everything. And we do know that if they are alive and well, that we'll eventually find them."
Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked about a French merchant ship that exploded in Aden harbor, Yemen, and said the military periodically gets intelligence reports about threats to commercial shipping.
Asked whether al Qaeda or other terrorist groups are seeking less protected targets such as ships, Gen. Pace said there is no "indication per se, but it's a logical place to go."
On the anniversary of operations in Afghanistan, Mr. Rumsfeld said the war on terrorism has cost the lives of 53 Americans all but one a part of U.S. military personnel. The other was CIA officer Johnny Michael Spann.
About 10,000 troops remain in Afghanistan.
"The sacrifice of all of those who died is a reminder that we are engaged in a difficult and dangerous undertaking, but it is an effort that is vital to the security of our people," he said.
Mr. Rumsfeld said Afghanistan is no longer used by terrorists as a safe haven but that "there's no question but that free nations are still under threat."
"Thousands of terrorists remain at large in dozens of countries," he said. "They're seeking weapons of mass destruction that would allow them to kill not only thousands, but tens of thousands of innocent people. Our objective in the global war on terror is to prevent another September 11th, or an attack that is far worse, before it happens."
Mr. Rumsfeld said many of the military's goals for Afghanistan have been met, including ousting the Taliban and the forced dispersal of al Qaeda terrorists.
The coalition of 90 nations involved in combating terrorism is the largest ever, he said.


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