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War on terror in 'second stage'
By Joseph Curl
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020312-881964.htm

 

     President Bush yesterday said the U.S.-led war against terrorism has entered its "second stage" as he urged all nations to deny terrorists aid, sanctuary and even "a safe place to sleep."
     In a White House speech to 1,300 people including members of Congress, more than 100 ambassadors and about 300 family members of people killed in the September 11 attacks the president said there can be no "safe haven" for those who "target the innocent for murder."
     "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," Mr. Bush said.
     Six months to the day since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the president said in the South Lawn ceremony that the military coalition had removed Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia from power and decimated the al Qaeda terrorist group it sheltered.
     "Now that the Taliban are gone and al Qaeda has lost its home base for terrorism, we have entered the second stage of the war on terror: a sustained campaign to deny sanctuary to terrorists who would threaten our citizens from anywhere in the world."
     Mr. Bush said all nations of the world should join the war against terrorism a war in which there can be "no neutrality."
     "September the 11th was not the beginning of global terror, but it was the beginning of the world's concerted response. History will know that day 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 will remember September the 11th as the day their reckoning began," Mr. Bush said.
     The White House event was somber despite the pomp. Flags from 176 nations rustled in the cold breeze as the Harlem Boys Choir sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Amazing Grace."
     In his 19-minute speech, Mr. Bush commiserated with the family members of the victims of the September 11 attacks, saying he understood that "each day brings new pain; each day requires new courage."
     "Your grace and strength have been an example to our nation," he said. "America will not forget the lives that were taken, and the justice their death requires."
     Mr. Bush later met in the Oval Office with the three New York firemen who were captured in an instantly famous photograph as they raised the American flag over the World Trade Center rubble hours after the attacks.
     The president unveiled a 45-cent postage stamp based on the photograph.
     The stamp is the first to depict living individuals, and 8 cents from the sale of each will go to the September 11 victims' families.
     "I appreciate you all ... allowing the Postal Service to use you as a way to help our nation remember the terrible incident that took place six months ago, and help people get their lives back in order," Mr. Bush told the three men.
     Using the phrase "second stage" for the first time since the war in Afghanistan began Oct. 7, Mr. Bush said on the South Lawn stage that terrorists are trying to regroup in nations that tolerate their activity.
     "In Afghanistan, hundreds of trained killers are now dead. Many have been captured. Others are still on the run, hoping to strike again. These terrorist fighters are the most committed, the most dangerous, and the least likely to surrender."
     He said the U.S.-led coalition must also focus on keeping terrorist organizations from obtaining weapons of mass destruction.
     "Men with no respect for life must never be allowed to control the ultimate instruments of death," he said to applause.
     Among the guests of honor on the huge stage, decked with gold-colored chairs, was Sung Chul Yang, South Korean ambassador to the United States.
     In comments before the president spoke, he recalled how the United States defended South Korea against communism in the Korean War, at the cost of 33,746 American lives.
     "As we then fought side by side and shoulder to shoulder, now the Korean people actively support the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism and will do so until it is eradicated. Terrorism is the scourge of mankind," Mr. Sung said.
     Jibril Aminu, Nigerian ambassador to the United States, also spoke and told Mr. Bush: "Even as you are doing what has to be done on the war front ... it is reassuring that you are also sensitive to the need to move on."
     Mr. Bush said the United States already is helping governments dismantle terrorist groups linked to al Qaeda in the Philippines, Georgia and Yemen which he warned could become "another Afghanistan."
     But he warned much work remains to be done.
     "For America, the war on terror is not just a policy, it's a pledge. I will not relent in this struggle for the freedom and security of my country, and the civilized world."
     Mr. Bush praised coalition members for their courage.
     "With us today are representatives from many of our partners in this great work, and we're proud to display their flags at the White House this morning. From the contributions these nations have made some well-known, others not I am honored to extend the deepest gratitude of the people of the United States."
     Seventeen nations have deployed troops in Afghanistan, providing more than half of the foreign troops currently there.
     Meanwhile yesterday, Attorney General John Ashcroft also shored up the U.S. coalition by telling criminal justice officials at the Organization of American States that the terrorists had "badly misjudged" the resolve of the United States and its OAS neighbors.
     "Far from being weakened, our resolve to fight terrorism together has only been strengthened," he said. "Terrorists are motivated not by nationalism or ideology, but by hatred hatred of everything for which we here today stand."
     Shortly after the September 11 attacks, at an OAS meeting in Peru, the group became the first multilateral organization officially to condemn the attacks, designating the terrorist strikes against the United States as an attack on the entire hemisphere.
     Mr. Ashcroft called on the OAS officials to "find ways to make the likelihood of future terrorist surprise attacks less likely," adding that the United States and its OAS neighbors needed to work together to "detect and investigate terrorist organizations collectively and effectively."
     At the White House, Mr. Bush said the United States will help other nations deal with terrorists. "If governments need training or resources to meet this commitment, America will help."
     He also said September 11 is creating a new world order in which former foes become U.S. allies.
     "Many old conflicts will appear in a new light without the constant fear and cycle of bitterness that terrorists spread with their violence. We will see then that the old and serious disputes can be settled within the bounds of reason, and good will, and mutual security."
     Instead of closing his speech with the traditional "God bless America," Mr. Bush said, "May God bless our coalition."
      Jerry Seper contributed to this report.


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