Fri, Sep 14, 2001 - Page 1 News List

World joins with US in preparing for response

REUTERS AND AFP , WASHINGTON AND NEW YORK

Smoke rises where New York's World Trade Center once stood, as the Statue of Liberty stands guard yesterday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

US resolve to wreak revenge loomed large yesterday after hijackers armed with knives and box cutters stunned the superpower by flying passenger jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, causing untold carnage.

President George W. Bush won support from a range of world leaders for plans to forge an international coalition against terror, as rescue efforts went on through the night in the ruins of the New York City skyscraper and at the Pentagon in Washington.

About 50,000 people worked in the 110-story towers, which crumpled to the ground on Tuesday after the hijackers flew a passenger airliner into each of the towers.

At the Pentagon, partially demolished by a third hijacked airliner in the coordinated attacks, about 200 people were still missing.

"Coming here makes me sad on the one hand," Bush said during a visit to the US military nerve center.

"It also makes me angry. The deliberate and deadly attacks which were carried out yesterday against our country were more than acts of terror. They were acts of war."

Bush declared yesterday a "National Day of Prayer and Remembrance," in honor of those who lost their lives in the attacks.

Bush said: "This will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil, but good will prevail," and vowed that the US would use all its resources to "conquer this enemy."

A White house spokesman Gordon Johndroe said no effort would be spared to find those responsible. "He [the president] will continue to ensure that the full resources of the federal government are in action to assist the rescue workers to help locate victims," Johndroe said.

"And [he will] ensure that the full resources of the federal government are also used to continue this investigation to find the perpetrators."

Republican congressional leaders and the White House on Wednesday agreed on a US$20 billion emergency recovery package, and hoped to push the plan through Congress late yesterday.

But Democrats, who control the Senate, said the announcement was premature. They complained that the measure was written so broadly that it threatened to usurp congressional oversight over how the relief funding is spent.

However, a bipartisan resolution vowing US retaliation won unanimous congressional approval in the early hours yesterday. The House of Representatives passed the nonbinding measure by a vote of 408-0, about 12 hours after the Senate approved it 100-0.

Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican and veteran of the Vietnam war, said the US had a message for those behind the attacks: "We are coming after you. God may have mercy on you, but we won't."

US officials have said Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, now a "guest" of the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan, was almost certainly responsible for the attacks. Bin Laden is said to have denied involvement.

Bush won the public support yesterday of two key nations in the region -- Pakistan and Saudi Arabia -- as his administration planned its response to the attacks.

Coalition building

A White House spokesman said Bush arrived at the Oval Office shortly after 7am, where he immediately began a series of national security and intelligence briefings.

Bush made a series of phone calls to world leaders in a bid to shore up support for an international coalition against terror.

Saying that the attacks were not just on the US but on "all freedom-loving people everywhere in the world," Bush said on Wednesday the US would "rally the world" to fight those responsible for the attacks which have likely killed thousands.

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