Posted 11:41 a.m. Jan. 28
By Rob Torte
U-WIRE (DC BUREAU)
(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – Continuing a global fight against terrorism, the United States deployed 850 Special Forces troops to the Philippines in the past few weeks, according to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo have claimed that U.S. forces are there simply to train the Philippine Army in its war against rebels in the southern part of the country.
“In Washington’s world view, Muslims seeking independence … are ipso facto terrorists” according to Tahir Mirza, of Antiwar.com, a noted peace organization. Mirza and his colleagues have become one of several voices of opposition in the United States.
Rumsfeld has said that there are “definite linkages” between the Abu Sayeff rebels in the Philippines and Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network. The Abu Sayeff is currently holding several American hostages.
Rumsfeld also pointed out that the United States would pursue terrorists, even if they were not related to the Sept. 11 attacks or al Qaeda. This means that the United States might get involved in other problem areas such as the Middle East.
In the Philippines, some leftist lawmakers are calling for the resignation of Arroyo because she has allowed foreign troops into the country. Several of these lawmakers are claiming that this action is in violation of the Philippine Constitution, which bars any foreign troops from operating on its soil.
Due to President George W. Bush’s high approval ratings with most Americans, it seems unlikely that the administration will back off from its current policy. Bush’s approval rate is still in the 80s and shows no sign of letting up.
“I think we should go after these people wherever they hide,” said Kristin Murphy, a senior at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Rumsfeld has indicated that he will do just that. “We are determined to find terrorist networks and do what we can to help root them out and stop them from killing people,” he said.
This article appeared in the January 2, 2002 issue of the Hatchet.