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Homeland Security

SLUG: 6-12847 Anti-Terrorist Success





BYLINE=Andrew Guthrie





INTRO: Both government and independent anti-terrorism experts say the arrest of the reported al-Qaida operations manager is a major triumph. Analysis in several U-S papers say Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was in a position to know all current and future al-Qaida targets worldwide.

Several experts point out that the treasure trove of information found in his apartment, including computers, computer disks, cellular telephones and some written material, may actually be even more helpful than anything Mr. Mohammed tells interrogators. Dozens of editorials are praising the success of his arrest.

Some also say it vindicates President Bush from critics who claim his focus on Iraq was blunting the anti-terror campaign. Others point out the cooperation of Pakistani agents is an example of why international cooperation in the war with Iraq is so important. We get a sampling now from V-O-A's __________ in today's U-S Opinion Roundup.

TEXT: One of many impressed papers is The Washington Post.

VOICE: Depending on how quickly and fully Mr. Mohammed can be induced to provide information, and what can be gleaned from the papers and computer disks seized from his hideout, U-S officials say they may be able to rollup terrorist cells in various parts of the world and perhaps track down Osama bin Laden or other senior al-Qaida figures. There's obviously cause for celebration, and for congratulations to U-S intelligence and law enforcement agencies that were able to track and capture [Mr.] Mohammed with the help of Pakistani security forces.

TEXT: In California, The Los Angeles Times is equally pleased but says one lesson the Bush administration should learn from the capture is that help from other nations in many endeavors is essential.

VOICE: The success should remind the Bush administration why it needs international help to hobble not just renegade terror groups like al-Qaida but rogue nations such as Iraq. Mohammed's capture should encourage the delicate diplomacy needed to gain and keep other nation's support in disarming Baghdad. Here, though the administration flounders as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld keeps blurting ill-considered remarks about nations opposed to the administration's Iraq policy -- especially France and Germany.

TEXT: Michigan's Detroit Free Press is pleased but anxious.

VOICE: In some ways, America may be more at risk with [Mr.] Mohammed in custody. Not that he doesn't belong in a lockup, but terrorists operate in small groups, often unaware of one another. They can be dormant for years, before putting a plan in motion under preset conditions - - such as the capture of an important leader. Thus the intense interrogation to which [Mr.] Mohammed was reportedly being subjected Monday.

TEXT: To Oklahoma City, where The Oklahoman calls the arrest "huge," adding:

VOICE: [Mr. Mohammed] is a prisoner with encyclopedic knowledge of al-Qaida's plans, not to mention the recent movements of [Mr.] bin Laden and his top aide, [Mr.] Ayman al-Zawahiri. U-S officials said they will not use torture to extract information, but they didn't rule out turning [Mr.] Mohammed over to officials of allied countries who are not so bashful.

TEXT: Along the Texas Gulf Coast, The Corpus Christi Caller-Times exults: "The capture should banish any thought that U-S preoccupation with Iraq has let al-Qaida off the hook. The terrorists are on notice: Americans are tireless in the pursuit of justice.

Ohio's Cincinnati Post hopes for a kind of chain reaction from the arrest.

VOICE: Just as information divulged by previously captured al-Qaida leaders may have helped lead to his arrest, he may provide information leading to the arrests of others. Progress against al-Qaida seems to have been far better than comments sometimes reflect.

TEXT: Illinois' Chicago Tribune tries to explain how important his capture is by postulating how many people might still be alive, had an earlier near-arrest succeeded. The tally is 262 dead, not counting the roughly 3-thousand who died at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, attacks for which Mr. Mohammed has also claimed credit. Muses the Trib:

VOICE: It's a tragedy that Mohammed was able to continue with his bloody plans for so long, with such success. But it was a triumph when he finally was apprehended.

TEXT: On that note, we conclude this editorial sampling of additional comment on the capture of reputed al-Qaida operations manager Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.


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