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Rumsfeld: Deter and defend

Rumsfeld, asked about reports bin Laden may be under the protection of a radical Islamic leader in Pakistan, said the U.S. simply did not know whether he was dead or alive, and if alive, where he was.  

(CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday the United States has made significant strides since September 11, but more remains to be done.

"We've been awakened to the reality that the world is a very dangerous place," Rumsfeld said in a year-end media briefing. He added that the Pentagon must prepare for a new type of war and assess its ability to deter and defend against attacks.

Recalling the 184 civilians and military employees who died in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, Rumsfeld said that on September 11, buildings were burning and the Taliban were in power. Now, he said, the fires are out, the Taliban have been driven from power, and Americans are celebrating the holidays in freedom.

Rumsfeld's comments came a day after the release of a new videotape in which Osama bin Laden called the assaults on the United States "blessed terror."

"Three months after our blessed attack against the main infidel West, especially America, and two months after the infidel's attacks on Islam, we would like to talk about some of the implications of those incidents," bin Laden said. "...It's very clear that the West in general, and America in particular, have an unspeakable hatred for Islam." (Full story)

Executives at the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television network told CNN they do not know where or when the videotape was made, despite bin Laden's reference in the tape to September 11 taking place three months ago.

The White House called the tape a diatribe. "This is nothing more than the same kind of terrorist propaganda that we've heard before," said Scott McClellan, deputy White House press secretary.

In excerpts from a videotape broadcast by Al Jazeera, Osama bin Laden says the people who carried out the September 11 attacks 'have done a great deed' (December 27)

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With the release of the new videotape, everyone seems to have a theory about what's happened to Osama bin Laden. CNN's Wolf Blitzer reports (December 27)

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Latest developments

• The Pentagon plans to move its al Qaeda and Taliban detainees to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The United States now holds 37 detainees at its base near the Kandahar airport. Another eight, including an American and an Australian, are aboard the USS Peleliu in the northern Arabian Sea. (Full story)

• An American Airlines pilot barred an armed Secret Service agent of Arab-American descent from boarding a flight earlier this month. The agent eventually made it to Texas, where he is now serving as part of the security detail at President Bush's 1,600-acre ranch. (Full story)

• The leader of a radical Islamic group in Pakistan scoffed at wire service reports that Osama bin Laden is alive and under his protection. Maulana Fazalur Rehman, head of the fundamentalist Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam party, told CNN he has no idea of bin Laden's whereabouts. Rehman, who has been in the custody of the Pakistani government for three months, was responding to reports quoting an Afghan government official who said Rehman was hiding bin Laden.

• The Pentagon plans on moving its growing number of Afghan detainees to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "We are making preparations to hold detainees there," Rumsfeld told reporters at a regular Pentagon briefing Thursday. The U.S. military is currently holding 45 prisoners -- 37 of them at the airport in Kandahar, Afghanistan and another eight, including an American and an Australian, aboard the USS Pelileu in the North Arabian Sea. (Full story)

• After a month at Camp Rhino in southern Afghanistan, U.S. Marines prepared Thursday to shut down their initial forward compound, possibly in a few days, and move their operations to the logistically superior Kandahar airport, U.S. military sources told CNN. (Full story)

• A further 300 British military personnel have flown to the Afghan capital, Kabul. The new deployment, which brings to about 500 the total number of British troops in Kabul, have been tasked with preparing facilities for the planned multinational security force. (Full story)

• A Pakistani organization deemed a terrorist group by the United States condemned the designation Thursday, accusing Washington of attacking Islam and vowing to continue its jihad. The group, Lashkar e-Tayyiba (Army of the Righteous), was one of two which U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell declared a terrorist organization Wednesday, making it illegal in the United States to support them financially.

• The plastic explosive that a passenger allegedly tried to detonate aboard a trans-Atlantic American Airlines flight last week was "very, very sophisticated," a U.S. official told CNN on Wednesday. The complicated nature of the explosive has led authorities to believe that the passenger, Richard C. Reid, likely had an accomplice, government sources said. (Full story)

• Afghanistan's interim leader said the Taliban "have completely vanished" as a political and military force in Afghanistan but warned that "there are remnants in the form of individuals or small groups." In an interview broadcast Wednesday, Hamid Karzai said remaining Taliban "should be looked for and arrested and put to trial." (Full story)

• Court TV is asking a federal judge for permission to broadcast the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the first person indicted in the September 11 attacks.

• The estimate of the number of dead in the September 11 WTC attacks has dropped to 2,940, officials said Wednesday. The New York Office of Emergency Management said 573 people are confirmed dead, while 388 people are listed as missing with no death certificates issued, and 1,979 death certificates have been issued for victims whose remains have not yet been identified. It was initially estimated that as many as 6,500 were killed in the attacks.


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