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Sunday, 16 September, 2001, 20:49 GMT 21:49 UK
America widens 'crusade' on terror
USS Enterprise
US preparations for military strikes are increasing
President Bush and his senior officials aim to uproot perceived terrorist networks spanning 60 countries in America's war against those who carried out Tuesday's suicide plane attacks in New York and Washington.

This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a long time

President Bush
"I want to remind the American people that the prime suspect's [Osama Bin Laden] organisation is in a lot of countries," Mr Bush told reporters on the White House lawn.

He was speaking after returning from discussions with top advisers at the Camp David presidential retreat on plans for a military response to the attacks, in which more than 5,000 people are believed to have died.

Mr Bush and his officials again stressed that any state harbouring terrorists would face what Vice-President Dick Cheney called the "full wrath" of American military might.

Earlier Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the US was engaged in "a large multi-headed effort that probably spans 60 countries, including the United States".

In other developments:

  • US Attorney-General John Ashcroft says he will ask Congress for stronger anti-terrorism laws, including wider phone-tapping powers
  • Pakistan is sending a delegation to Afghanistan to persuade the Taleban to hand over Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi-born dissident who has been their guest since 1996
  • Mr Bin Laden issues his first direct denial of involvement in the attacks
  • Afghan citizens flee built-up areas fearing imminent US air attacks
  • A man is arrested in New Jersey in connection with the attacks - the second confirmed arrest in a massive investigation involving 4,000 FBI agents
  • New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani reports that 180 bodies have now been recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center, while 5,097 people remain missing
  • US Vice-President Dick Cheney says that after Tuesday's attacks, orders were given to shoot down any further unauthorised passenger flights over New York and Washington

Resilient economy

On his return to the White House, Mr Bush emphasised that America would show the world its resilience when it returned to work on Monday.

"No question about it, this incident affected our economy but the markets open tomorrow, people go back to work and we'll show the world.

"People will be amazed at how quickly we rebuild New York, how quickly people come together."

Officials have made it clear that, apart from air or missile strikes, the use of ground troops may be under consideration, to destroy the network behind last Tuesday's attacks, and then try to eradicate state-sponsored terrorism.

Mr Bush praised Pakistan for its offer to help the US and said he was pleased by the "very positive" response from other countries such as India and Saudi Arabia.

The BBC Washington correspondent says the US would like to build a firm coalition of states supporting its action before launching any retaliation, even if that means some delay.

Opinion polls show strong support among Americans for the use of military force against whoever was responsible for last Tuesday's attacks.

Mr Bush has singled out Osama Bin Laden as the prime suspect.

But his top officials stressed on Sunday that the problem was much wider than just one man.

Vice-President Cheney singled out the Egyptian group Islamic Jihad on NBC's Meet the Press programme.

Threat to Taleban

Mr Bin Laden issued a statement on Sunday denying any involvement in the attacks.

"The US is pointing the finger at me but I categorically state that I have not done this," he was quoted as saying by the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency.

site of World Trade Center
Hopes of finding anyone else alive in the New York ruins have receded
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has meanwhile welcomed Pakistan's decision to allow the US full co-operation, possibly including the use of its airspace.

Mr Bush has backed this up by telephoning Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to thank him for his government's support. The Taleban has warned Pakistan that it faces war if it allows the US to launch an attack from its territory.

Noble Eagle

At the same time, the president's military advisers are concerned that the immediate threat of attacks on US civilian targets is not over and a plan - Operation Noble Eagle - has been launched to improve defences.

The extent of the damage at the Pentagon has become clearer
Warplanes are patrolling the skies above major US cities and military installations, warship battle groups are on guard off the country's east and west coasts, and tens of thousands of reservists have been called up to protect the homeland.

Throughout New York memorial services are being held on Sunday, with thousands expected to attend the main ceremony at St Patrick's cathedral.

The message from White House aides is that Mr Bush wants ordinary Americans to defy those who carried out the attacks by returning to the normal course of their lives as soon as possible.

New York's Stock Exchange, which has been closed since the attack on the heart of the city's financial district, is due to reopen on Monday - as is the US baseball season, suspended as a mark of respect.

The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"All military options are being explored"
Sandy Berger, Former US National Security Advisor
says ground troops may have to be deployed in Afghanistan
The BBC's David Frost
speaks to William Farish, US Ambassador to Britain
See also:

16 Sep 01 | Americas
Second US arrest in terror probe
16 Sep 01 | Americas
Hijacker's passport found
13 Sep 01 | Americas
Q&A: Military options
16 Sep 01 | Americas
Global message of caution for Bush
16 Sep 01 | Americas
US prepares for war
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