ABOARD THE USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (AP) -- The United States has strong indications Somalia is linked to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, but the next stage of America's anti-terrorism assault may not involve military action, America's top general said Friday.
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, refused to say whether Somalia was a U.S. target as the United States considers expanding its war beyond Afghanistan. But he told The Associated Press the next phase could be diplomatic or involve heavy intelligence gathering.
There are "things that are being worked on" for the next stage, Myers said. "We are doing the kind of planning required, but I'm not going to get into that."
In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher seemed less convinced than Myers that al-Qaida has a presence in Somalia. Asked about the possibility of an al-Qaida presence there, Boucher said, "I'm not sure I could say that to you."
He said the U.S. goal is to "make sure Somalia does not become a location where they (the terrorists) could operate or a safe haven for terrorists. That is the way I would describe our policy, at this point. I don't really have a judgment, as far as what may be going on there now."
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