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Rumsfeld Says War on Terrorism Successful Despite Difficulties - 2002-04-10

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said the U.S.-led war on terrorism is going well, despite the difficulties of fighting an unconventional enemy.

Mr. Rumsfeld says it is a "difficult, whole new experience" for the U.S. military to take on terrorist organizations. But he told a newspaper editors' meeting in Washington that the administration's top goals are being achieved.

"If our first goal was to stop the Taleban from governing Afghanistan, that has been achieved. If a goal was to put so much pressure on the global terrorist networks that it makes it difficult for them to conduct terrorist activities, to recruit people, to raise money, to easily move from country to country, we are doing that," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld warned that does not mean there will be no further terrorist attacks like those on New York and Washington last September. He says there are still terrorists at large capable of carrying out attacks.

But he says the pressure is working, especially since the United States is getting wide cooperation. He also notes U.S. forces are or will be helping train troops in Georgia, the Philippines, and Yemen in counter-terrorist tactics.

In addition, Mr. Rumsfeld has said there are many other unseen activities. "A lot of things that are not seen are out there happening, people are being arrested, people are being interrogated, bank accounts are being frozen, so I feel this first phase has worked pretty well," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld made no mention in his remarks about al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden or Taleban leader Mullah Mohamed Omar. The two men have never been captured nor have their deaths been officially confirmed.

But U.S. forces continue to scour the countryside in Afghanistan for fugitive al-Qaida and Taleban fighters.

There has been no word on when the U.S. military will terminate its operation in Afghanistan, now six-months old.