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|U.S. Military Official Praises African Anti-Terror Efforts|
Washington, April 19, 2004 – (US Embassy, Tokyo) – U.S. Major General John Sattler, the director of operations for the U.S. Central Command, says a number of nations in the Horn of Africa have brought terrorists to justice or shut down communications lines as part of the global war on terrorism.
Sattler, who is based in Qatar and has operational responsibility for countries including Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the Horn of Africa, said U.S. military commanders have been working closely for more than a year with African host countries to stop maritime traffic that is connected to terrorist operations or drug running.
During a teleconference with reporters based at the Pentagon April 16, Sattler pointed to Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Yemen as countries that have been proactive in the war against terrorism.
"All the engagements ... the arrests ... the terrorists that have been brought to justice over the course of this past 18 months in that theater have been done by the host nations themselves," Sattler said. From the U.S. perspective, "that is the perfect solution" because, he said, it is their country and sovereign territory where the operations are being conducted.
"If we can work in concert with our coalition partners" by sharing intelligence and finding transnational terrorists and wrap up the anti-terrorist operations, he said, "that's the way it should be."
Sattler said "we have been very successful with our operations in that area by working very closely with our coalition partners."
A combined joint task force operating in the Horn of Africa has focused on training and intelligence sharing, Sattler said, "and working civil-military operations projects to help ... assist those countries to take on the war on terrorism themselves."
On the issue of maritime intercepts, Sattler said a number of small fishing boats that were boarded because they were suspected of harboring terrorists also had exposed -- as a by-product -- illegal drug-smuggling operations.
Sattler also responded to questions about ongoing operations in Afghanistan. He said the activity level is high there with about 30 to 40 operations under way in the past 24 hours running along the border region with Pakistan, along the southern border region and within the interior of Afghanistan.
Questions also were posed on Iraq. Sattler said Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had had his day in the sun and "continues to marginalize himself." The Shi'ite population in Iraq "has not rallied around him," he said.
The location of al-Sadr is known and the Iraqi warrant for his arrest is still outstanding, the officer added, but no offensive combat operations are under way right now in Najaf. There are, however, sufficient U.S. military forces on hand "to make sure that we keep the situation stable," he added.
On the situation in Fallujah, Sattler said the U.S. military goal is not to capture but rather to free Fallujah and eliminate "those extremists that are in the town that have taken it away from those who reside there." Meanwhile, the negotiation process with Iraqi Governing Council officials must be allowed "to run its course," he said, adding, "We want to make sure that we give the negotiations the opportunity to succeed."