Bush seeks support from world leaders in battle against terrorism
Wednesday, September 19th 2001, 12:00 am
News On 6
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush urged world leaders Wednesday to aid the United States openly or even secretly in a campaign against terrorism and those responsible for last week's attacks in New York and Washington.
``Help us round up these people,'' he said, eight days after hijackers flew airlines into the World Trade Center twin towers and the Pentagon, killing thousands.
Bush spoke with Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, leader of the world's most-populous Muslim nation, at his side in the Oval Office, and one of several foreign leaders he has spoken with since the attacks.
Bush mounted his diplomatic campaign while Pentagon officials worked on plans for military retaliation and his administration and Congress worked on legislation to help the economy, including the battered airlines industry.
The stock market fell sharply for the second time in three days, as new job cuts sent shudders through the airlines and aircraft industry.
Bush said that some nations may ``take a more active role than others'' in battling terrorism. At the same time, he said, ``Some nations will be comfortable supporting covert activities, some nations will only be comfortable with providing information. Others will be helpful and will only be comfortable supporting financial matters. I understand that.''
As he has repeatedly in recent days, the president urged the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan to turn over Osama bin Laden, the suspected chief culprit behind last week's attacks.
The administration prevailed on Pakistan last week to pressure the Taliban to comply.
In a nationally televised speech during the day, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf sought to reassure his country the war against terrorism does not target Islam. While Musharraf has pledged to help the United States, his nation has also been the site of anti-American rallies in recent days as Bush steps up his rhetorical attack against bin Laden.
The death toll in the attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon are expected to top 5,000.
Attorney General John Ashcroft, leading the U.S. investigation, used the wounded Pentagon as a backdrop for a declaration that terrorists had benefitted from the help of some foreign governments.
``It is pretty clear that the networks that conduct these kind of events are harbored, supported, sustained and protected by a variety of foreign governments,'' he said.
``It is time for those governments to understand with crystal clarity that the United States of America will not tolerate that kind of support for networks that would inflict this kind of damage on the American people.''
In addition to his meeting with the Indonesian leader, Bush also was scheduled to see the foreign ministers of Russia and Germany during the day.
He called South Korean President Kim dae Jung, who promised to participate in the international coalition, and the two leaders indicated they still plan to meet in Seoul next month, Fleischer said.
At the same time, the administration is moving to get the money to pursue its effort. Bush signed into law Tuesday a $40 billion package, most of which will go to recovery efforts in New York City, Washington and southwestern Pennsylvania _ where four hijacked planes crashed last week, killing thousands of people _ and to battle terrorism.
He was meeting Wednesday with Democratic and Republican lawmakers to discuss a financial for reviving an economy stung by the Sept. 11 attacks. Fleischer said Bush was likely to embrace some economic stimulus, though he was open to what form it would take.
The president also signed a congressional resolution authorizing him to use military force against the terrorists responsible for the attacks, the worst in U.S. history.
These efforts came as the exhausting search for victims and the cleanup continued at New York's World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pa., and as federal authorities ratcheted up their hunt for collaborators to the terrorists who killed themselves and thousands others in the attacks. Authorities expect the total death count to exceed 5,400.
As the U.S. military moved toward a war footing, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday the nation's response to the attacks must reach beyond finding bin Laden, the Saudi exile in Afghanistan who is considered the prime suspect.
``This is not a problem of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden,'' Rumsfeld said on CNN. ``It is a problem of a number of networks of terrorists that have been active across the globe.'' He said there is evidence bin Laden and his associates are operating in 50 to 60 countries, including the United States.
As Rumsfeld spoke, the 15,000-strong USS Theodore Roosevelt battle group prepared to leave Norfolk, Va., for a long-scheduled deployment in the Mediterranean that has become more than routine in light of the terrorist attacks.
``There are great young American sailors and Marines on those ships,'' the commander, Rear Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, told ABC's ``Good Morning America.'' ``I've looked into the eyes of many of them this week and, boy, they are ready and determined. ... Whatever the president needs us to do, we're ready to do it.''
As the administration shored up support and drew battle lines, the massive investigation continued to find evidence of other plots against America.
Three Detroit men were arrested Tuesday on charges of identity fraud and misuse of visas. Court records said the FBI seized documents suggesting the men worked in food preparation for airlines at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and collected information about an American military base in Turkey, a U.S. ``foreign minister,'' an airport in Jordan and diagrams of aircraft locations and runways.
Authorities have grown increasingly certain _ from intelligence intercepts, witness interviews and evidence gathered in hijackers' cars and homes _ that a second wave of violence was planned by collaborators. They said Sept. 22 has emerged as an important date in the evidence, but declined to be more specific.
The Sept. 11 attacks were ``part of a larger plan with other terrorism acts, not necessarily hijacking of airplanes,'' said Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. ``Those acts were going to occur in the United States and elsewhere in the world.''