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Rumsfeld: Captured al-Qaida Leader a 'Fountain of Knowledge' - 2002-04-12

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the most senior al-Qaida leader in U.S. custody is a fountain of knowledge about terrorist activities. But, Mr. Rumsfeld says it is unclear whether Abu Zubaydah has yet provided any useful intelligence information.

Mr. Rumsfeld says Abu Zubaydah is recovering from the serious gunshot wounds he sustained during his capture by Pakistani authorities last month.

But in an impromptu VOA interview at the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld says it is unclear whether the top al-Qaida planner and recruiter has yet revealed any significant details about the terrorist organization.

"He had holes in him and he had some infection and he was not in great shape and he obviously talked, you know, when people asked him questions and he says this, that and the other thing," the secretary said. "Has he started to give any intelligence? I would assume so. But anything useful? Not clear yet and I don't know that I want to get into daily reports on it but his health is improving."

Mr. Rumsfeld's comments to VOA came after he gave a series of television interviews in which he discussed U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, the war on terrorism and the latest violence in the Middle East.

He told MSNBC he remains optimistic that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden will eventually be found. He called bin Laden "a mass murderer" and said U.S. and other forces will keep the pressure on until he and other al-Qaida leaders still at large are caught.

On the Middle East, Mr. Rumsfeld said there has been no discussion at all of dispatching U.S. military observers to Israel and the West Bank in connection with any settlement designed to halt the bloodshed there.