Monday, October 8
By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Oct. 8) - Washington said Monday it was still looking into who was behind last month's attacks on the United States and warned that it may have to launch military strikes against other nations and groups besides Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
''We may find that our self-defense requires further actions with respect to other organizations and other states,'' U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said in a letter to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council.
Britain, Washington's closest ally in the military campaign launched Sunday, quickly insisted the current action was limited to targets in Afghanistan.
''The agreement at the moment is that (the strikes) are confined to Afghanistan. That is where the problem is and that is the military action in which we are involved,'' British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in Luxembourg when asked about the U.S. statement.
European diplomats said any attempt to extend the campaign by targeting Iraq, as some U.S. officials have suggested, would blow apart the global coalition against terrorism, and alienate not only Arab and Muslim states but also key European partners including Russia.
The White House said the Negroponte letter was only the latest such warning from President Bush's administration.
''The letter states what the president has been saying very publicly all along, that the United States reserves the right to defend itself wherever it is necessary,'' Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters.
Asked what other countries the letter may have been referring to, Fleischer declined to provide a list.
Negroponte's letter said a U.S. probe into last month's attacks ''has obtained clear and compelling information that the al Qaeda organization, which is supported by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, had a central role in the attacks.''
INQUIRY IN EARLY STAGES
However, the letter added, ''there is still much we do not know. Our inquiry is in its early stages.''
Negroponte wrote that U.S. military raids on Afghanistan, joined by Britain, were launched under the authority of Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which allows nations under attack to defend themselves.
''On Sept. 11, 2001, the United States was the victim of massive and brutal attacks in the states of New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia,'' his letter said.
''These attacks were specifically designed to maximize the loss of life; they resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 persons, including nationals of 81 countries, as well as the destruction of four civilian aircraft, the World Trade Center and a section of the Pentagon.''
In carrying out its attacks, Washington was ''committed to minimizing civilian casualties and damage to civilian property'' and would carry on with efforts to provide badly needed humanitarian aid to the Afghan people, Negroponte said.
Negroponte and Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, later briefed the Security Council in closed session on the military action.
Ambassador Richard Ryan of Ireland, this month's council president, told reporters afterward that ''members of the council were appreciative of the presentation made by the United States and the United Kingdom.''
Diplomats said all members expressed support for the raids, although with differences in tone. Russia and France, for example, gave strong endorsements while China and Tunisia stressed the need to avoid civilian casualties.
''We and others who have been involved in this military action continue to enjoy a strong understanding of the actions we have taken and, I think, a clear understanding that we are acting in our inherent right of self-defense,'' Negroponte said after the briefing.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that Washington had framed the military strikes as authorized by the U.N. charter and emphasized that a recent Security Council resolution had reaffirmed U.N. members' ''inherent right of individual or collective self-defense.''
To defeat terrorism, ''we need a sustained effort and a broad strategy that unites all nations and addresses all aspects of the scourge we face,'' Annan said.
In the military operation dubbed ''Enduring Freedom,'' Bush said the Taliban and its military were paying the price for supporting terrorism and sheltering bin Laden, who is accused of masterminding the attacks on the United States.
The raids were launched 26 days after last month's suicide hijack attacks and targeted one of the world's least developed countries with Tomahawk cruise missiles, high altitude bombers and submarine-launched missiles.
Reuters 20:05 10-08-01
"We condemn any strikes against any Muslim country whether it is Afghanistan or any other state," said Alaa al-Ashqar, a literature student at Zaqaziq University who helped organise the demonstration there.
He said students held banners and shouted slogans against the British and American attacks, launched on Sunday in retaliation for hijack-suicide attacks that killed thousands of people in New York and Washington last month.
Ashraq said one banner said the strikes amounted to a "war against Islam."
Security sources said a total of more than 14,000 students protested against the attacks at six different universities across northern Egypt while security forces stood by outside the campuses to keep the protests from spilling over into the streets.
Egypt has made no official comment on the attacks, but President Hosni Mubarak had said previously he supported the "fight against terrorism."
Street protests are rare in Egypt, a nation of 67 million people where authorities are wary of civil unrest and tend to move quickly to contain tensions between the communities.
But authorities routinely allow students to demonstrate on campus so long as protesters stay inside university grounds.
By KAREN GULLO
.c The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (Oct. 8) - More than 600 people have been arrested in the investigations following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and more than 200 people are still being sought, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Monday.
He warned law enforcement authorities and other Americans anew to be on heightened alert for terrorist acts and to report anything suspicious. Local police, banks, oil and gas firms, shipping companies and nuclear facilities have all been put on the highest state of alert, he said.
''We're counting on each American to help us defend our nation in this war,'' Ashcroft said.
Meanwhile, the FBI took the lead in an investigation of anthrax contamination in Florida. One man has died after inhaling anthrax and one of his co-workers had anthrax bacteria in his nostrils. The deadly bacteria were also found on a computer keyboard at the newspaper office where both men worked.
Ashcroft said investigators don't have enough information to know whether the cases are related to terrorism and are working with health officials.
''We have sealed the building,'' said Ashcroft. ''We regard this as an investigation that could become a clear criminal investigation. We haven't ruled out anything at this time.''
The FBI began an initial criminal investigation on Saturday and has been collecting evidence, examining visitor logs for the building and checking out who had access to the areas where the affected men worked.
What they have yet to determine is if anyone planned to infect people. They are also working with health officials to determine whether the two men contracted a naturally occurring form of anthrax or whether the bacteria was a type made in laboratories.
Fears about a chemical or biological attack surfaced after authorities said some of the hijackers who crashed jetliners on Sept. 11 had visited a Florida airport and inquired about crop-dusting.
Authorities have arrested or detained 614 people in connection with the terrorism investigation, including 165 people who have violated immigration laws. Investigators are still looking for 229 people who are either suspects or are believed to have information important to the case.
The FBI stepped up its warnings about possible terrorist attacks, which are viewed as more likely now that U.S. forces have begun bombing Afghanistan.
Ashcroft said the FBI has advised 18,000 local law enforcement agencies and 27,000 corporate security managers to be on high alert. Warnings have also been sent to telephone companies, electrical power companies, banks, oil and gas facilities, computer companies, water service providers and railroads.
Nuclear facilities are on the highest state of alert and are screening all employees and others who have access to plants.
By ROBERT BURNS
.c The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (Oct. 8) - The U.S.-led bombing campaign in Afghanistan, scaled back on Monday in a second round of air- and sea-launched attacks, has been at least modestly successful against its first set of targets, senior Pentagon officials said Monday.
Five long-range bombers - a pair of B-2 stealth bombers flying from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., and three B-1B's from the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia - joined 10 strike planes launched from aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea in sending bombs and missiles at air defense and other military targets across Afghanistan.
The Pentagon initially said 10 bombers were involved but it later corrected the number to five. Officials later said that all the aircraft returned safely after the missions.
Two U.S. Navy ships, the destroyers USS John Paul Jones and USS McFaul, and one submarine launched a total of 15 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
In Sunday's opening assault, 15 bombers and 25 carrier-based strike aircraft participated. A British submarine was among the vessels that fired 50 cruise missiles in Sunday's attacks but none were involved Monday, U.S. officials said.
Officials said early indications were that strikes against air defense sites and airfields were at least partially successful, although it was less clear in the case of ''leadership targets'' - leaders of both the al-Qaida terrorist network and the Taliban militia that harbors the terrorists.
In addition to Monday's bombing, C-17 cargo planes air dropped about 37,000 packages of food rations for displaced civilians in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said. A similar mission was carried out Sunday, and officials said they expected to continue the humanitarian air drops for at least several more days.
In revealing more details about the first salvos of missiles and bombs, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cautioned that the number of munitions fired and the number of targets hit are not the best measure of success for President Bush's campaign against terrorism.
''In this kind of warfare, against this kind of enemy, the true measure of effectiveness, in my opinion, will not necessarily be in numerical terms,'' Myers said at a joint news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Success depends on weakening the Taliban, aiding opposition groups, feeding displaced Afghans and demonstrating that harboring terrorists will not go unpunished, he said.
Rumsfeld made a similar point.
''There is no silver bullet,'' he said. ''The cruise missiles and bombers are not going to solve this problem. We know that. What they can do is to contribute by adding pressure, making life more difficult, raising the cost for the terrorists and those that are supporting the terrorists, draining their finances and creating an environment that is inhospitable to the people that are threatening the world.''
Even though the Taliban have only a rudimentary military, the U.S.-led bombing is not aimed mainly at those forces, he said.
''It's unlikely that the airstrikes will rock the Taliban back on their heels,'' Rumsfeld said. ''They have very few targets that are of high value that are manageable from the air.''
Rumsfeld declined to discuss the possibility of sending U.S. ground forces into Afghanistan.
Like any air campaign, early strikes have targeted air defenses that jeopardize allied pilots. And some strikes have been aimed at military command and control facilities, airfields and the small number of Taliban aircraft on them, as well as the training camps of the al-Qaida network, Myers said.
But more broadly, the military campaign is meant to paralyze al-Qaida's operations inside Afghanistan and set the stage for opposition groups like the northern alliance to put further pressure on the Taliban and eventually topple the religious militia.
''The only way that the Afghan people are going to be successful in heaving the terrorist network out of their country is to be successful against ... that portion of Taliban and the Taliban leadership that are so closely linked to the al-Qaida,'' he said.
''We are working with the elements on the ground that are interested in overthrowing and expelling that group of people,'' Rumsfeld said.
In a related development, another 1,071 members of the Army Reserve and Army National Guard were called to active duty as part of a mobilization authorized by Bush shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. Among those called up are personnel who specialize in criminal investigation, infantry or special operations.
In all, 27,025 reservists from 44 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been called up.