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Senior US Official Warns Asia Not Immune to Terrorist Attacks - 2002-06-01

A top U.S. defense official warns that Asia is not immune to terrorist attack. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told delegates at a security conference in Singapore that Washington hopes the region's governments continue supporting the war against terrorism.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said that by joining the global war on terrorism, countries in Asia help not only the United States, but also themselves.

In a speech at a security conference in Singapore, Mr. Wolfowitz said he is confident the support of its allies will enable the United States to win the fight and preserve stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region. "This scourge of terrorism threatens us all -- all of us. It is a truly global threat, and we must respond forcefully, thoughtfully and decisively," he said. "It threatens hundreds of millions of moderate Muslims in East Asia who are among the principal targets of the terrorists. And it threatens the fundamental dreams of freedom and tolerance and democracy that embody what the terrorists hate."

He urged the delegates to support moderate Muslims and governments that oppose extremist Islamist forces.

Mr. Wolfowitz warned that other countries could be targets of terrorist. "But there is much we can do to preempt their actions: to keep them from acquiring the most deadly weapons ever invented; to expose the lies at the heart of their methods; to convince their potential followers that their path is a blind alley leading to defeat and ignominy," he said. "But make no mistake. Unless we dissipate its energy, the gathering storm of terrorism will unleash its fury on us all."

Mr. Wolfowitz commended countries that are curbing terrorist groups.

He noted the Philippines' efforts in organizing multilateral cooperation against terrorism. He also pointed out Manila's crackdown on rebel groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim separatist band in the southern Philippines.

Mr. Wolfowitz says the trilateral counter-terrorism agreement among the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia will promote regional cooperation. He urged other countries to act independently or in cooperation with neighbors to wipe out the threat of terrorism.