Rumsfeld: Britain attacks not tied to U.S. alliance
U.S. and allies 'did not provoke terrorists,' defense chief says
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sharply rejected suggestions that Britain's alliance with the United States was to blame for the two recent transit bombing attacks in London.
His comments Thursday at the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles coincided with a videotaped broadcast of Osama bin Laden's No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who threatened more attacks for London. (Full story)
Rumsfeld defended the progress of the war on terrorism and said that terrorists did not have wars in Iraq or Afghanistan to justify previous attacks.
"The United States and its allies did not provoke the terrorists; the terrorists attacked America," he said. "There was no war in Iraq or Afghanistan when America was attacked on September 11th. And there was no war in Iraq or Afghanistan when terrorists attacked the Beirut barracks in 1983, in the Khobar Towers in 1996 or the African embassies in 1998, or when they attacked the USS Cole in the year 2000."
Thursday marked four weeks since attackers unleashed a series of bombings during London's morning commute, killing 52 and wounding hundreds more. Two weeks later, on July 21, attackers tried to carry out a similar plan, but the bombs failed to detonate.
Rumsfeld also paid tribute to the nearly 30 U.S. troops killed in Iraq this week, including 21 Marines who died northwest of Baghdad.
"Our country will honor them by completing the mission for which they fought so hard and so nobly."
Two women trying to unfurl a banner interrupted his speech, one of them demanding Rumsfeld stop "lying to us."
Another man heckled the defense secretary, challenging him to meet with the families of troops killed in Iraq.
More than 1,800 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled former leader Saddam Hussein.
Most of them died battling a persistent insurgency that emerged after Saddam's government collapsed. But Rumsfeld said the insurgents are failing to stop Iraq's progress.
"They launched a campaign of violence to stop the January election, and they failed. They tried to intimidate every week, every month and murder recruits going into the Iraqi security forces to keep more from enlisting, and they are failing."
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