Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says U.S. forces are increasing their intelligence-gathering activities outside Afghanistan to thwart potential future terrorist threats. But Mr. Rumsfeld will not say if Somalia is emerging as the likely next target of American attacks.

Mr. Rumsfeld stressed that U.S. forces in Afghanistan still have a lot of work to do despite their success in toppling the Taleban leadership and disrupting al-Qaida terrorist activities in that country.

But in his first news conference of the new year, Mr. Rumsfeld acknowledged military anti-terrorist intelligence-gathering efforts are being stepped up to seek out new targets. "We are increasing our military intelligence-gathering... for the purpose of attempting to strengthen the knowledge we have about where the potential threats can come from and what we can do about stopping them before they occur," he said.

But Mr. Rumsfeld declined to say whether Somalia might become the next target in the U.S. crackdown on global terrorism. "It doesn't do any good at all for me to be speculating about different countries and what we might do next because I think those are all questions for the future," he went on to say.

His comments coincide with a new published report (Washington Times) that U.S. and allied aircraft have stepped up reconnaissance flights over Somalia in preparation for possible raids against suspected al-Qaida terrorist bases in the country.

Pentagon officials decline to discuss any such surveillance operations. But they acknowledge Somalia is a country of U.S. military interest because of past al-Qaida links to groups and sites there.