Accessibility links

U.S.: America Prays, Remembers, Mobilizes For Action

  • Robert McMahon

President George W. Bush has sought to rally the spirits of Americans as he expanded plans to wage war against those responsible for the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. New steps included the highest mobilization of U.S. forces since the Gulf War and authorization of spending for expanded national security efforts. Our correspondent Robert McMahon reports.

Washington, 15 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has vowed a determined response to the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history as the country spent a day of prayer, unity and recovery.

Bush told a special prayer service at National Cathedral in Washington that the country was coming together to share its grief and build resolve for a war it is preparing on terrorism.

"On this National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, we ask Almighty God to watch over our nation and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come."

In his closing comments, Bush continued to prepare the nation for a mobilization of military and other forces needed in the days ahead.

"This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing."

The prayer service was one of many that took place yesterday across the country in churches, synagogues and mosques and was attended by people of all religious faiths.

After the service in Washington, the government announced Bush had declared a national emergency and gave the U.S. military authority to call 50,000 reservists to active duty for homeland defense and recovery missions.

Many of these reservists would support air patrols over New York and Washington and remain alert elsewhere in the country. It is the largest number called up since the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The U.S. Defense Department did not say when the reservists would be activated for duty.

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, both dominated by different political parties, approved yesterday (Friday) $40 billion in emergency aid to help U.S. agencies find those responsible for terrorist attacks and aid the victims. The Senate also gave official consent for the president to use force against those linked to the attacks.

The leader of the Senate's Democratic Party majority, Thomas Daschle, underscored the bipartisan support for Bush, a Republican.

"The Senate has passed an extraordinary response to the disaster, providing the President with ability now to move forward in healing this nation, providing him with the resources to do so, and with the moral support that is evidenced in a unanimous vote."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters those resources would be used by all U.S. government departments to track down the terrorists. Powell said he was determined to cut off funding for groups like those alleged to be directed by Osama bin Laden, whom Powell has named the top suspect in Tuesday's attacks in New York and Washington.

"In our response, we will have to take into account not only the perpetrators, but those who provide haven, support, inspiration, financial and other assets to the perpetrators."

Powell also said he was pleased by the Australian government's decision yesterday (Friday) to invoke the ANZUS treaty, which commits the country to formally back participation in any U.S. military action in response to the terror attacks.

That action followed a decision by NATO officials earlier in the week to invoke the alliance's mutual defense clause for the first time in 52 years.

Powell also said he was encouraged by what he said were the serious considerations of the Pakistani government of U.S. requests for help. Bin Laden is believed to be in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and Pakistan is believed to be the best informed country about the movements of extremist Muslims in Afghanistan.

He also said he was pleased by the expressions of support from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan yesterday.

He was planning to hold discussions with Syria's foreign minister as well.

The U.S. Navy has two aircraft carrier battle groups, each with 75 warplanes, near the Arabian Sea, a higher than normal presence for that area. Those battle groups normally include cruisers and submarines, which can be launch pads for long-range cruise missile strikes.

In addition to military moves, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation was mounting its largest ever effort. FBI director Robert Mueller said more than 7,000 bureau staff were involved in investigations in the United States and abroad. He said the department had received 36,000 different leads connected to the attacks but no arrests had been made yet.

Law enforcement authorities now say 19 men were involved in the four passenger jet hijackings on Tuesday, many of them natives of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

XS
SM
MD
LG