U.S. finds no evidence of al Qaeda in Somalia
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After weeks of heightened surveillance of Somalia and on-the-ground reconnaissance work, the Bush administration has found no evidence that senior al Qaeda members or their forces have sought refuge there, senior U.S. officials told CNN Wednesday.
In addition to watching the flow of people into and out of Somalia, the United States has also been monitoring the flow of money, officials said. On both counts, they said, they have come up empty-handed.
More... March 21
Al Qaeda-Somalia Link Broken CBS News March 21
DHEGEYSO HALKAN [NPR RADIO]: Pentagon Says it Erred in Al Qaeda, Somali Gunmen Link...
Device found in cave has no Somalia link
From Tribune news services
Published March 21, 2002
WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon on Wednesday raised and then retreated from the possibility that evidence found this week in Afghanistan linked Al Qaeda to the deaths of American forces in Somalia in 1993.
Air Force Brig. Gen. John Rosa said U.S. soldiers searching a mountain cave had found a global positioning system receiver that had belonged to Army Master Sgt. Gary Gordon, who was among 18 American soldiers killed by Somali militiamen in Mogadishu on Oct. 3, 1993.
But the Pentagon later said the receiver bearing the name "G. Gordon" belonged to a U.S. soldier fighting in Afghanistan. The GPS device was made after Gordon died in the battle, which was recounted in the movie "Black Hawk Down."
The name "G. Gordon" was written on the device because the soldier who used it had adopted "G. Gordon" as his nickname, The Associated Press reported.
The soldier apparently resembles G. Gordon Liddy, the Watergate figure.
U.S. backtracks on Somalia link:
Gear found in cave belonged to soldier in Operation Anaconda Detroit News
Pentagon Says it Erred in Al Qaeda, Somali Gunmen Link... NPR Radio
More Latest from SOmalia...
U.S. Backs Off Somalia Accusations
Story Filed: Thursday, March 21, 2002 2:42 AM EST
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The pronouncement struck a chilling chord:
possible new evidence of a link between al-Qaida terrorists and
Somalia, the lawless land some think is a future battleground in
the war on terror.
Trouble is, the Pentagon's suggestion of such a link was based
on an odd case of mistaken identity.
At a Pentagon news conference to update reporters on the war,
Air Force Brig. Gen. John Rosa announced that U.S. soldiers
searching abandoned al-Qaida caves in eastern Afghanistan on Monday
had recovered a handheld Global Positioning System navigation
device with the name ``G. Gordon'' on it.
Rosa said the Pentagon was searching for more details but
believed the device once belonged to Master Sgt. Gary I. Gordon, an
Army Ranger killed in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, in October
``There's a couple of conclusions you may draw,'' Rosa said when
asked the significance of the discovery. ``In fact, this piece we
currently think originated from Somalia will obviously tie -- could
obviously tie -- al-Qaida to Somalia.''
An alternative explanation, he said, was that the device might
have been stolen and sold on the black market. If that were the
case, he said, ``we don't know how it would have gotten'' to the
The real story: It had been used by an American soldier who
fought against the al-Qaida at the outset of Operation Anaconda,
the largest U.S. ground offensive of the war in Afghanistan. It was
lost in the heat of battle March 4 and recovered by al-Qaida
fighters, officials said.
The U.S. soldier, a member of the Army's 160th Special
Operations Aviation Regiment, had received the device from another
soldier in Afghanistan who was headed home. It had ``G. Gordon''
written it because the soldier who brought it to Afghanistan
earlier in the war uses that as a nickname, a reference to G.
Gordon Liddy, the former FBI agent who helped plan the 1972
Rosa was not aware of these details at the time he announced the
discovery and suggested a Somalia link. The Pentagon issued a brief
statement Wednesday night saying subsequent research had determined
that the initial suggestion of a possible link to Somalia was
The episode had nothing to do with Gary I. Gordon or Somalia or
an al-Qaida link to Somalia.
An Army Times newspaper reporter, Sean Naylor, was with the U.S.
soldiers who recovered the GPS device Monday. Naylor recorded the
model and serial number. His newspaper checked that information
with the manufacturer, Garmin International, which said the model,
GPS III Pilot, was made no earlier than 1997 and the item was sold
on Dec. 21, 1998, to Fort Campbell, the Army post in Kentucky that
is home to the 101st Airborne Division, the 5th Special Forces
Group and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as
``That product didn't exist in 1993,'' Garmin spokesman Pete
Brumbaugh said in a telephone interview.
The Army Times' managing editor, Robert Hodierne, said Naylor
reported that the soldiers who found the GPS unit also found two
others at the same location. Two of the three had names on them.
One was ``G. Gordon.'' The other was ``Svitak.'' Army Sgt. Philip
J. Svitak was among seven U.S. servicemen killed March 4 when
hostile fire brought down a Chinook MH-47 helicopter and damaged
another. Svitak was a member of the 160th Special Operations
Aviation Regiment from Fort Campbell.
The soldier with the ``G. Gordon'' device survived the battle.
Before realizing its mistake, the Pentagon notified Gary I.
Gordon's family of the GPS discovery and the apparent link to the
fallen hero. Gordon, a native of Lincoln, Maine, was a sniper team
leader when he was killed in a Mogadishu firefight Oct. 3, 1993. He
and Sgt. 1st Class Randall D. Shughart were awarded Medals of Honor
for extraordinary heroism. The battle was depicted in the book and
movie ``Black Hawk Down.''
Victoria Clarke, spokeswoman for Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld was asked by a reporter whether Gordon's family was
contacted as a humanitarian gesture.
``The first thing I think all of us said when we first heard
about this was, 'Wow, this is going to bring up some very sad
memories for the family,''' she replied. ``And the first thing I
heard several people say when they heard was, 'Before anything,
let's make sure we notify the next of kin.'''
Copyright © 2002 Associated Press Information Services, all rights reserved.
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