Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said the battle for public opinion is as important as the battle on the ground (file photo) (AFP)
17 February 2006 -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says Al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups have poisoned the Muslim public's view of the United States through deft use of the Internet.
In a speech in New York today, Rumsfeld sounded a theme he frequently raises as a key to winning the fight against terrorism: countering anti-Western messages from Islamic extremists.
Rumsfeld said America's foes have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today's media age and that for the most part, the United States has not adapted.
He quoted Ayman al-Zawahri, the chief lieutenant of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, as saying that their terrorist network is in a media battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims. Rumsfeld agreed, saying that the battle for public opinion is at least as important as the battles on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.