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U.S.: Powell Promises To Punish Terrorists

Washington, 13 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says Washington is moving quickly to punish whoever is responsible for the terror attacks against New York and Washington on 11 September.

Speaking at the State Department in Washington yesterday, Powell said the punishment may come at the hands of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. He said the alliance was preparing a mechanism that would invoke NATO's Article Five, requiring all members to help any other member that is attacked.

But he emphasized that even if Article Five is invoked, not all members must take up arms against the attacker. But all must provide some help to the defensive effort.

Powell also restated U.S. President George W. Bush's intention to retaliate not only against those responsible for the attacks, but also against those who harbor the terrorists.

"We will find out who is responsible for this [coordinated act of terrorism], and they will pay for it."

Powell also said the U.S. is working to build a coalition to counter terrorism. He said this would be an effort not just to fight those responsible for the 11 September attack, but all terrorists worldwide.

A questioner noted that many reports say the Muslim terrorist Osama bin Laden is suspected of being responsible, and asked Powell if Islamic nations would be included in the anti-terrorism coalition. The secretary replied that joining would be to their benefit.

He also said he and other State Department officials have been in contact with officials in Pakistan, a neighbor of Afghanistan, which is believed to be harboring bin Laden. Pakistan also is one of only three countries that recognize the Taliban militia as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

Powell said he and his subordinates have made it clear to Pakistan that they expect full cooperation in the search for those responsible for the acts of terror.

The secretary said it appeared that the lives of Americans are, for the most part, returning to normal despite the strikes. A reporter asked how the nation could be normal so soon after being the target of the worst terror attack in history. Powell replied:

"We cannot be a people who are afraid to live. We cannot be a people who move away from a relatively open society. We cannot be a people who walk around terrified. We're Americans, we don't walk around terrified."

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, both houses of Congress unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution condemning the strikes and declaring 12 September "a national day of unity and mourning." The resolution also vowed to increase the nation's effort to fight terrorism, and it thanked other countries for expressing condolences and solidarity with the U.S.