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Friday, 21 September, 2001, 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
Bush raises stakes
President George W Bush
President Bush: "Justice will be done"
George W Bush has made the most crucial speech of his presidency, setting out the US response to the devastating attacks on New York and Washington in an address to both houses of Congress.

He said Osama Bin Laden and his followers in the al-Qaeda organisation were believed to be responsible, and demanded that the ruling Taleban in Afghanistan hand them over immediately or "share in their fate".

Bush's demands:
Hand over al-Qaeda leaders to US
Release "unjustly imprisoned" foreign nationals
Close terrorist training camps and allow US inspection
Putting further pressure on the Taleban, Mr Bush also said the United States must be given "full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating".

But the Taleban ambassador to Pakistan immediately responded by saying that the Saudi-born militant would never be handed over - such a move would be an "insult to Islam".

The suicide attacks, which killed more than 6,000 people, have prompted the US to deploy troops and extra warplanes to within striking distance of Afghanistan.

'Defending freedom'

The mobilisation was originally called "Operation Infinite Justice". But US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that name would probably be changed to avoid offending Muslims, who believe that only Allah can dispense infinite justice.

Mr Bush said the US had been "awakened to danger" and "called to defend freedom".

He also praised the heroism of rescuers who had fought to save people from the ruins of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, which were hit by hijacked airliners on 11 September.

In other developments:

  • An opinion poll conducted after Mr Bush's speech shows 90% of Americans support military action against those responsible for the attacks
    UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
    Tony Blair consoling families of British victims in New York
  • UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is to pay a landmark visit to Iran during a tour of the Middle East next week
  • The number of missing from the World Trade Center attack in New York rises to 6,333, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says the US economy has been hurt in the short term, but longer-term prospects are intact
  • In Pakistan's main cities many shops and businesses are closed following a call by religious leaders for a nationwide strike against the government's support for the US war on terrorism
  • Taleban officials warn that anyone who gives information to the US that leads to an attack on Afghanistan will be committing an "act of murder"
  • EU heads of state gather in Brussels to discuss the anti-terrorism campaign. They are expected to endorse new anti-terrorist measures agreed by EU justice and interior ministers on Thursday

In his address, Mr Bush carefully explained who Washington thinks carried out the attacks, and how the government was planning to respond.

Hatred

Mr Bush said the terrorists hated America because they hated democracy and freedom. "They stand against us because we stand in their way."


These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life

President Bush

"They follow in the path of Nazism and totalitarianism ... and they will follow that path all the way to where it ends: in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies."

And in a blunt warning, Mr Bush said: "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make ... either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

He was careful to insist that the US was conducting a war against terrorism, not Islam, and urged tolerance towards America's Muslims.

He also announced the creation of a Cabinet-level position for Homeland Defence, appointing Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge to co-ordinate efforts to prevent terrorism.

Humanitarian crisis

The fear of a US attack has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Aid agencies say some three million Afghans depend on food aid.


If Osama voluntarily leaves Afghanistan, he may. Otherwise we cannot force him to leave

Abdul Salam Zaeef, Taleban ambassador to Pakistan

Afghans are pouring out of the cities, heading for villages or the borders. The UK-based Oxfam organisation has warned of a looming "catastrophe" and wants aid resumed to prevent refugees from besieging Afghanistan's borders.

The main supplier of food aid, the World Food Programme, has stopped all transport of wheat into and around the country.

And there are reports of rising crime, particularly in the capital Kabul.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's James Robbins
"No American president has faced a greater test"
President George W Bush
"The Taleban must act and must act immediately"
Congressman Joseph Crowley
gives his reaction to the President's speech
See also:

21 Sep 01 | Americas
Analysis: Bush rises to the occasion
21 Sep 01 | Americas
Text: Bush address to Congress
20 Sep 01 | Americas
Chirac: Fighting terror a priority
19 Sep 01 | Europe
Germany backs military action
18 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair embarks on diplomatic offensive
17 Sep 01 | South Asia
Afghanistan - a tough military option
18 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
China demands US attack evidence
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