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1/20/04 - WAR ON TERRORISM CONTINUES - 2004-01-20

In Afghanistan, the U.S. and a coalition of thirty-eight other countries removed the Taleban from power. The country is no longer a safe haven for al-Qaida terrorists. And Afghanstan’s national council, the loya jirga, has approved a new constitution. Of the more than five-hundred delegates, one-hundred-two were women.

Afghans have been using newspapers, radio stations, schools, and mosques as forums to debate such issues as the form of the new national government, the role of religion, and human rights. As Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, pointed out, “Such a wide-ranging debate is unprecedented in more than five-thousand years of Afghan history.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says that, “A similar but different process is taking place in Iraq”:

“After three decades of brutality and oppression, Iraqis are slowly taking control of their circumstances. Some two dozen Iraqi cabinet ministers now contribute leadership on a day-to-day basis to the business of government. If all goes as planned, an interim but sovereign Iraqi government could be in place sometime next summer.”

The fight against terrorists in Iraq goes on. Elsewhere, Pakistan has taken into custody hundreds of extremists, including senior al-Qaida operational leader Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. Authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested many of the terrorists involved in the May 2003 attacks in Riyadh. In southeast Asia, the August 2003 arrest in Thailand of the Indonesian-born terrorist Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, has further disrupted terrorist operations. Hambali is suspected of involvement in the 2003 bombing in Bali, Indonesia, that killed more than two-hundred people.

“Our agenda is clear,” says Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. “The global war on terror is continuing, and it will for the foreseeable future.”