Mon, May 19, 2003 - Page 1 News List

In wake of attacks, Bush continues anti-terror war

REUTERS , WASHINGTON

On alert after bombings in Morocco and Saudi Arabia, US President George W. Bush warned on Saturday of the threat still posed by al-Qaeda, which he said was weakened but "not idle" despite US military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Two weeks after declaring aboard a US aircraft carrier that "we have seen the turning of the tide" in the war against terrorism, Bush called the deadly bombings in Saudi Arabia "a stark reminder" of the dangers ahead.

His remarks were recorded hours before suicide bomb attacks in Morocco's biggest city, Casablanca, killed 41 people and injured scores. A Jewish community center and Spanish club were among the targets and US officials said the bombings could have been the work of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

In a statement late Saturday, Bush condemned the attacks. "These acts of murder show, once again that terrorism respects no boundaries nor borders," Bush said.

"These acts demonstrate that the war against terror goes on."

Bush said the US was offering assistance to the government of Morocco to help "track down and bring to justice those responsible."

Bush said the US was taking "unprecedented measures to defend the homeland," and was hunting al-Qaeda operatives from Pakistan to the Philippines to the Horn of Africa. Despite a global manhunt, bin Laden remains at large.

"The enemies of freedom are not idle and neither are we," Bush said in his weekly radio address, paying tribute to US soldiers on Armed Forces Day. Eight troops injured in Iraq joined Bush in the Oval Office to tape the address on Friday. The president was at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland for the weekend.

Before the Morocco bombings, US intelligence agencies had warned that al-Qaeda may be poised to strike again. Officials cited potential threats to Western interests in countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kenya, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The US government has asked Americans to be on watch for suspicious activity involving trucks, though the Department of Homeland Security said it had no specific information to indicate that a truck bombing of any kind was being planned in the US.

Some Democrats have said Bush's focus on removing President Saddam Hussein in Iraq may have strengthened al-Qaeda, which was blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Bush has claimed several successes in his subsequent global war on terrorism, including the ouster of the Taliban, al-Qaeda's protectors, in Afghanistan.

He estimated that nearly one-half of al-Qaeda's senior operatives had been captured or killed.

He also asserted the war in Iraq had "removed allies of al-Qaeda, cut off sources of terrorist funding, and made certain that no terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein's regime."

The US has yet to account for Saddam's alleged cache of chemical and biological weapons.

"Yet the terrorist attacks this week in Saudi Arabia, which killed innocent civilians from more than half a dozen countries, including our own, provide a stark reminder that the war on terror continues," Bush said.

Suicide bombers attacked Riyadh compounds housing mainly foreigners, killing at least 34 people, including eight Americans.

The US believes that al-Qaeda was behind those attacks and is assisting Saudi Arabia in the bomb investigation.

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