Hindu Vivek Kendra
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America looks to put Al Quaida's sleeping units to rest

America looks to put Al Quaida's sleeping units to rest

Publications: The Times of India
Dated: December 4, 2001

Washington: With the military campaign in Afghanistan in its final stages, the Bush administration has increased its focus on uncovering and eliminating AI Qaida "sleeper cellls" and the groups directly involved with them around the world.

The administration is concentrating for now on what it sees as a serious, ongoing threat posed by the AI Qaida in the United States and abroad.

"There are AI Qaida cells sitting out there - some in the US and some in friendly countries, some in countries with a long history" of harbouring terrorist groups, a senior White House official said.

"We have to assume that since there were cells prior to September 11 buried in the US for some time, there might be others. This is the most dangerous fact for American security right now," the Washington Post reported quoting administration officials.

Cooperation regarding international intelligence, law enforcement, diplomacy and the military is a crucial factor in uncovering cells, the small, self-contained terrorist operational units that the administration has said exist in as many as 60 countries.

"The good news is that, for the first time, we have a real, international intelligence network," the White House official said. The US has offered assistance to countries in which the terrorist organisation is known to operate. In Pakistan, which has already received the promise of one billion dollars in economic and military aid, the FBI launched a training programme on Friday to help immigration officers detect suspected terrorists at Pakistani airports.

Last week in Washington, US President George W Bush told Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar That he would send CIA and FBI officials to Spain, where a number of alleged Al Qaida operatives have been arrested.

US officials denied reports that the Pentagon had encouraged Ethiopian troops to intervene in a skirmish in a remote corner of Somalia.

But defence secretary Donald H Rumsfeld noted that Al Qaida cells have been reported in Somalia and Yemen. Allied naval vessels - from Germany, France and elsewhere have joined US ships around the Arabian peninsula, patrolling possible Al Qaida escape routes from Afghanistan.

On Friday, state department spokesman Richard Boucher said the US is willing to help those willing to go after the Al Qaida and its supporters.

"Some places, it's consultations and information-sharing both ways, Mr. Boucher said.

"Some places, it may end up being training. Some places, it may be economic and other support that they need in order to sustain their activities. Some places, you have things like border security, which has been an issue in the central Asian region for a long time," he said.

Although the administration clearly intends Afghanistan and its ousted Taliban regime to stand as an example of what can happen to countries that decline to join the anti-terrorism effort, the emphasis for now is on the benefits of cooperation.

Deputy defence secretary Paul D Wolfowitz on Wednesday called for increased intelligence and law enforcement cooperation with the US by Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

"We are working hard with your government and are very interested in working even harder," Mr. Wolfowitz, a former US ambassador to Jakarta said.

"When we eliminate the Al Qaida in Afghanistan, we still have a lot of work to do," he said in an interview with Indonesian television.

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