Coalition Achieving Success in Horn of Africa

By Kathleen T. Rhem

Intelligence successes in U.S. Central Command have led to the capture of suspected terrorists and interdictions of drug shipments off the Horn of Africa, a senior CENTCOM official said today.

Service members of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa have worked closely with local governments and with CENTCOM’s maritime component to combat terrorism in the region, Marine Maj. Gen. John F. Sattler, CENTCOM’s operations director, said during a telephone interview with Pentagon reporters from the command’s forward headquarters in Doha, Qatar.

Sattler didn’t give specific numbers, but said terrorists have been "brought to justice" by host-nation authorities. He called this the "perfect solution" from coalition officials’ point of view.

"That’s the way it should be," he said. "It’s their country. It’s their sovereign territory."

U.S. service members have been in the Horn of Africa as part of the war on terrorism for more than a year. Their mission is to work with local governments and military forces to enhance those country’s counterterrorism capabilities, share intelligence and perform civic-assistance projects, Sattler explained.

Coalition forces are working with the militaries of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Yemen. The task force headquarters is at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.

Forces are working particularly hard to cut off lines of communication from the Arabian Peninsula across the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Intelligence in this arena has led to the capture of suspected terrorists, Sattler said.

He said "a number" of suspected terrorists have been taken from dhows, traditional fishing vessels in the region, and "pushed into the interrogation system because of their ties to al Qaeda," but gave no other details.

In interdicting these dhows, officials have captured several suspected drug dealers and turned them over to law-enforcement authorities of the local nations.

"So we have been successful when we’ve stopped those dhows," Sattler said.