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War on terror: What's next after Afghanistan?

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Since the United States began its war in Afghanistan, President Bush and defense leaders have stated repeatedly that eradicating terrorism will involve more than capturing one man and fighting battles in one country. But where -- and who -- are the targets?

The administration has not answered those questions on grounds of security. But that hasn't kept military experts, academics, national leaders and journalists from making speculations and predictions based on military actions and Bush's statements.

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Bush has said that al Qaeda cells exist in 50 or 60 countries, but he has not defined what the United States considers a target in the war on terrorism, said Lee Hamilton, a former congressman who is now an analyst at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

"Is it countries that harbor or develop weapons of mass destruction? Is it only countries that harbor terrorists? What really are the targets that we're aiming at in this war on terrorism?" Hamilton said in a CNN interview.

"I think there has been a loosening, if you will, of the objectives the president originally stated and it's become less clear just what are our targets," he said.

Patrolling warships, Pentagon statements and presidential pledges are clues that put Somalia, Iraq, Yemen and the Philippines on the forecasters' lists as possible future targets.

Here's what CNN military analyst David Grange thinks are the benefits and risks of such operations:

The Philippines

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo met with U.S. defense officials Tuesday to discuss support for the campaign against Islamic militants in her country.

Philippine Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes said more than 150 U.S. Special Forces will join 1,200 Philippine soldiers in military exercises they hope will destroy the Abu Sayyaf rebel group. Washington earlier identified the Abu Sayyaf as part of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

U.S. troops are going to establish a counterterrorism training camp for Philippine soldiers near Zamboanga on the southern island of Mindanao, across a narrow strait from the Abu Sayyaf's island base, Reyes said.

Arroyo said in November, "We have a strategic framework for fighting terrorism, and it is a framework our officials are discussing with the United States. Both countries are looking at this framework and looking at where the partnership in fighting terrorism domestically, regionally and globally can become more effective."

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in November, "There is no question but that there has been a good deal of interaction between the terrorists in the Philippines and al Qaeda and people in Iraq and people in other terrorist-sponsoring states over the years."

Grange's take: "We have an identifiable enemy. That terrorist group is linked to al Qaeda, and they wish harm to Americans. Plus, it's islands. That helps you patrol it. The reasons against it would be it's tough terrain and jungle. It would be like fighting in Vietnam and it's a lot of them."


Pentagon sources told CNN that U.S. Navy maritime patrol aircraft are flying regular reconnaissance and surveillance missions off the coast of Somalia. They are looking for any unusual activity that might indicate escaping al Qaeda leaders are trying to make their way to Somalia.

A Somali group, Al-Itihaad Al-Islamiya, or "Islamic Unity," is on the Bush administration's list of terrorist groups. The group's goal is to create an Islamic state in Somalia and the group is believed to have links to bin Laden and al Qaeda.

"Naturally we're concerned that Somalia might become a safe haven, but that's a long distance from saying it's on a target list," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

CNN Correspondent Christiane Amanpour interviewed people in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, and reported, "Somalis themselves feel that they are under some sort of what they call psychological warfare. They know that at last the word is out that Somalia may be a next likely target."

Grange's take: "We have a problem identifying the enemy. Warlords control most of the country and we don't know who supports whom. We don't know who the good guys are."


A senior White House official said Bush's tough talk about the inability of international weapons inspectors to enter Iraq raises questions about the United States making that country a future war front.

Grange's take: "Eventually we have to get Saddam (Hussein) even though a lot of people don't want it. He has a heck of a biological, chemical and radiological arsenal and some nuclear. If he had the opportunity, he would use it.

"But we are not ready militarily. Right now, we are stretched pretty thin and he's got a tough army compared with the Taliban. And the coalition (of Arab countries supporting the war against terrorism) would be threatened.


U.S. Navy maritime patrol aircraft are flying regular reconnaissance and surveillance missions off Yemen, Pentagon sources said.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh visited the United States in late 2001 and said the trip was intended to "spare Yemen the dangers" of any possible U.S. military action.

"There had been information that Yemen was a second Afghanistan and that is has the Aden-Abyan army," he said, referring to the Islamic militants who kidnapped Western tourists in Yemen in 1998.

Grange's take: "They (the Yemen government) say they're against terrorists, but it's lip service and flag waving. It's still full of terror and is a rat's nest.

"We should do it because they condoned the attack on the USS Cole," Grange said, referring to the terrorist assault on a U.S. Navy ship that left 17 sailors dead. He said the main reason against such an attack would be the country's close ties to Saudi Arabia, which supports the U.S. war against terrorism




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