Terrorism not at end, Bush warns

Recalling Sept. 11, president foresees new terrorist attacks

`Inaction is not an option'

Eliminate havens, halt spread of deadly arms, coalition told

March 12, 2002|By David L. Greene | David L. Greene,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - President Bush marked the six-month anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks with a stark warning yesterday that even after the recent killing of hundreds of terrorists in Afghanistan, many others are hunting for new hide-outs around the world and are intent on striking again.

In a solemn address on the South Lawn of the White House, Bush reflected on the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And he reminded world leaders that the United States expects any country with terrorists within its borders to pursue and defeat them.

The next phase of the campaign against terrorism will focus, the president said, on eliminating potential havens for the al-Qaida network and ensuring that nations such as Iraq do not develop weapons of mass destruction that could wind up in terrorists' hands.

"We face an enemy of ruthless ambition, unconstrained by law or morality," Bush said. "The terrorists despise other religions and have defiled their own, and they are determined to expand the scale and scope of their murder. Against such an enemy, there is no immunity, and there can be no neutrality."

Bush delivered his remarks before more than a thousand members of victims' families, police, firefighters and elected officials as commemorations took place around the globe, from New York City to the hills of rural Pennsylvania, and from London to Australia.

Near the ruins of the World Trade Center, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani told a crowd that it must look to the victims "for our inspiration and our sense of purpose."

"They would want us to lift up our heads very, very high," he said.

In rural Shanksville, Pa., 80 miles east of Pittsburgh, several hundred people gathered where a United Airlines jetliner crashed that September morning. Calls to relatives from passengers aboard the plane suggested that some had stood up to hijackers - believed to have been headed for a target in Washington - and diverted the aircraft into a remote field, killing all 40 passengers and crew members.

"We remember the horror and heroism of that morning," Bush said, "the death of children on a field trip, the resistance of passengers on a doomed airplane, the courage of rescuers who died with strangers they were trying to save. And we remember the video images of terrorists who laughed at our loss."

September 11th, the president said, will be remembered "not only as a day of tragedy, but as a day of decision when the civilized world was stirred to anger and to action."

"And the terrorists," he added, "will remember September 11th as the day their reckoning began."

With the Taliban ousted from power but with fierce battles still raging in Afghanistan, the president hoped to use his remarks yesterday to try to hold together and perhaps expand the coalition that has supported his campaign against terrorism so far.

Bush continues to command overwhelming public support for that campaign.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released yesterday indicates that nine in 10 Americans back the U.S. military action in Afghanistan. Seven in 10 say they would support sending U.S. troops into other countries, such as the Philippines and Yemen, to fight terrorists.

Bush spoke against a backdrop of flags of more than 100 nations that have joined the loosely held coalition that has supported the war. In his remarks, the president tried to rally the world behind two goals: to deny terrorists access to countries outside Afghanistan where they could hide and organize, and to prevent them from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

The first goal, a senior administration official said, was largely a reiteration of the doctrine Bush laid out in a speech to Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks, declaring that nations that knowingly harbor terrorists would be regarded as enemies of the United States. The official said the president wants to make plain that he is prepared to use that doctrine to justify possible intervention beyond Afghanistan.

The U.S. military, Bush noted, is already helping to train soldiers to fight al-Qaida terrorist cells in nations that have asked for assistance. (He specifically named the Philippines, Georgia and Yemen.)

At the same time, the president signaled that he would not hesitate to send troops to confront terrorism in countries that have not asked for help - a policy that could spark tension between the United States and other nations.

"America encourages and expects governments everywhere to help remove the terrorist parasites that threaten their own countries and peace of the world," Bush said. "Every terrorist must be made to live as an international fugitive, with no place to settle or organize, no place to hide, no governments to hide behind, and not even a safe place to sleep."

By laying out his goal of barring terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, the senior administration official said, Bush was further warning the nations that are part of what he has described as an "axis of evil" - Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

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