Accessibility links

U.S.: Bush Says America Planning Broad Battle Against Terrorism

  • Frank Csongos

Washington, 17 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush says America is planning a broad and sustained campaign to secure the nation against terrorism.

In a nationwide radio address on 15 September, Bush said that those who wage war on the United States are choosing their own destruction.

Referring to the 11 September terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Bush said he is determined to see this conflict through:

"We are planning a broad and sustained campaign to secure our country and eradicate the evil of terrorism. And we are determined to see this conflict through. Americans of every faith and background are committed to this goal."

Bush also said there is no question in his mind that Saudi-born millionaire Osama bin Laden is a prime suspect in the attack. He said bin Laden cannot hide from the United States. The president told U.S. troops to get ready to retaliate for the worst terrorist attack ever sustained by the nation.

Bin Laden is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan under the protection of the ruling Taliban.

Bush met on 15 September with his national security team at the presidential retreat of Camp David. Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters that Pakistan had agreed to assist the U.S. in "whatever might be required" in dealing with neighboring Afghanistan.

Powell said: "And I especially want to thank the president and the people of Pakistan for the support that they have offered and their willingness to assist us in whatever might be required in that part of the world as we determine who these perpetrators are. It's a coalition that will stay intact and will be built upon over time. What we have to do is not just go after these perpetrators and those who gave them haven, but the whole curse of terrorism that is upon the face of the earth. And this is a campaign that we have begun this week and we will stick with it until we are successful."

In Islamabad on 15 September, Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said his nation will comply with all UN Security Council resolutions to combat terrorism. Earlier this week, Pakistani military leader Pervez Musharraf volunteered "full cooperation" to Washington.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Sohail Shaheen, warned Pakistan against cooperating with the U.S.:

"If neighboring countries or regional countries, particularly Islamic countries, gave a positive response to American demands for military bases, it would spark up extraordinary danger. Similarly, if any neighboring country gave territorial way on airspace to [the] U.S. against our land, it would draw us into an imposed war."

In his address to the nation, Bush said there is a desire by the American people to not only seek revenge, but to win a war against barbaric behavior:

"Those who make war against the United States have chosen their own destruction. Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle but in a series of decisive actions against terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them."

Bush called 50,000 military reservists to duty on 14 September.

The U.S. Congress passed a measure to allow Bush to exercise "all necessary and appropriate force" against the terrorists, their sponsors and protectors. Congress also approved $40 billion in emergency funds to cope with the aftermath of the attacks and to hunt down the terrorists' accomplices.

Bush also spoke about his visit to New York on 14 September, to the site where the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed after two hijacked planes slammed into the skyscrapers. The president said he saw an amazing spirit of sacrifice, patriotism, and defiance by rescue workers, firefighters, police, and volunteers.

As for the battle against terrorism, Bush said:

"I will not settle for a token act. Our response must be sweeping, sustained, and effective. We have much to do and much to ask of the American people. You will be asked for your patience, for the conflict will not be short. You will be asked for resolve, for the conflict will not be easy. You will be asked for your strength because the course to victory may be long."

Bush added that in times of crisis, Americans have always shown their best.

U.S. law enforcement officials say a suspect has been arrested because authorities believe he has information about the attacks and poses a high risk of fleeing the country. He was not identified. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has named 19 hijackers who they believe commandeered the four airliners used in the attacks.

On the ground, the devastation wrought by the attacks is still being assessed.

New York is struggling to come to terms with the mounting casualty count -- 124 bodies recovered, a total of 184 confirmed dead and more than 4,900 missing.

Government authorities said 189 people -- a combination of military and civilian employees on the ground and the passengers and crew in the plane -- are believed to have died in the attack on the Pentagon. In addition, 45 people were killed when a fourth hijacked jetliner crashed in Pennsylvania.