Some normalcy returns as military action, investigation pick up steam

Sunday, September 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ After nearly two weeks of flags flying at half-staff, President Bush plans to raise the Stars and Stripes high at Camp David on Sunday.

National Football League teams will return to the field the day after emotional displays of patriotism at college stadiums.

Residents of Battery Park City, near the collapsed wreckage of the World Trade Center, will wake up, at long last, in their own beds.

Still, the nation continues to mourn the thousands of people dead or missing after the terrorist attacks Sept. 11. The United States is gearing up for a full-scale military campaign against prime suspect Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network. As recovery efforts continue in downtown Manhattan, investigators press their international search for suspects.

On the diplomatic front, Bush lifted sanctions barring economic and military assistance to Pakistan and India. The United States will need assistance from those countries to uproot bin Laden from his refuge in neighboring Afghanistan.

As the Pentagon rolled out B-52 bombers and moved more troops and equipment into place in the Persian Gulf, America's Middle East allies stepped up to support the operation. The United Arab Emirates cut ties with Afghanistan's Taliban leadership, and NATO ally Turkey said it would let American military planes use its airspace and airports.

Bush and Russian President Putin spoke for an hour by phone, their third talk since the attacks. Putin said later, ``We must unite forces of all civilized society.''

The president signed a $15 billion aid package for the battered U.S. airline industry late Saturday, less than 24 hours after it cleared Congress. Many analysts predict the country will not escape recession.

Still, said Bush in his Saturday radio address, ``No terrorist will ever be able to decide our fate.''

The Washington Post reported Sunday that investigators have identified four or five al-Qaida groups operating in the United States, but have not been able to connect them to the Sept. 11 attacks.

An investigator familiar with the global probe, speaking on condition of anonymity, said one of the four people arrested in Britain on Friday was a pilot who took flying lessons in Arizona with one of the alleged hijackers on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

One of the four, identified by the source as the pilot's brother, was released Saturday. The source said the four were taken in at the FBI's request and were not being cooperative.

The Justice Department said Saturday that federal investigators found box-cutter knives _ like those used by the hijackers _ after searches of some planes on the ground after the hijackings. A federal official said the security sweep discovered box cutters in two airplanes, but the official did not know where.