Algeria Hostages: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta Talks With Martha Raddatz


SECRETARY PANETTA: That -- the first estimates -- indicate that -- somewhere in that vicinity might be -- you know, those that are being held. But again I just want to -- want to make clear that -- the information we're getting is very sketchy. And -- right now we just really don't know -- how many are being held.

MARTHA RADDATZ: But -- but do you believe they're being held by Al Qaeda affiliated militants?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I don't think there's any question that -- based on what we do know that this was -- a terrorist act and -- that the terrorists -- have affiliation with Al Qaeda.

MARTHA RADDATZ: And do you believe this has something to do with Mali and the action -- the French led action that's taking place in Mali?

SECRETARY PANETTA: You know -- the exact motivations -- again I'm -- I'm just not sure of. All I do know is that -- when you're dealing with -- with affiliates of Al Qaeda -- that they're terrorists and they will do terrorist acts. And that's what they've done here. We've faced this kind of terrorism (CELL PHONE RINGS) from Al Qaeda -- we've faced this kind of terrorism from Al Qaeda -- beginning with 9/11. We faced it -- we faced it in Pakistan, we faced it in Afghanistan. We've seen it in Somalia, we've seen it in Yemen. And now we're seeing it -- in -- in Algeria. That's what terrorists do. They have n -- they have total disregard for -- innocent men and women and children. And it's reflected in what they just did here in Algeria.

MARTHA RADDATZ: I know you have been concerned about Mali for a long time. What kind of involvement do you see the U.S. having there? And is there a red line that would be crossed in Mali where the U.S. would put boots on the ground?

SECRETARY PANETTA: You know, I -- I think right now that -- and I've always felt this way about -- Mali is that -- the best way to address that -- is -- with the international community working with African nations -- to determine exactly, you know, w -- where -- where -- is AQIM located, where are the targets of opportunity and how can we address those targets -- together. And -- what France has done here -- which -- which I commend -- is to try to stop the momentum of -- AQIM to establish a base of operations in Mali. And -- we are obviously -- working with the international community to determine -- what kind of -- assistance can be provided -- and also -- working with France to determine exactly what the objectives have to be. The key, I think, is that ultimately the African nations, particularly the West African nations -- ECOWAS have to ultimately go in and resume responsibility for providing security in Mali. That—

MARTHA RADDATZ: So you don't ever see -- American boots on the ground with this situation in Mali?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Not at this time.

MARTHA RADDATZ: And how concerned should Americans be about the Al Qaeda presence there? Why should Americans be concerned about an Al Qaeda presence in Mali?

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...