- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2001

President Bush yesterday said the United States has frozen 30 bank accounts controlled by the Afghanistan terrorist group al Qaeda and arrested a terrorist involved in a 1986 hijacking, but he repeatedly warned that the campaign now under way will unfold "slowly but surely."
In a progress report delivered to workers at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Bush said the United States has deployed nearly 30,000 military personnel in two carrier battle groups, detained and investigated more than 400 people and garnered worldwide support since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
"Thus far, we've frozen $6 million in bank accounts linked to terrorist activity," Mr. Bush said. "We've frozen 30 al Qaeda accounts in the United States and 20 overseas. And we're just beginning."
The president said that "through the collaborative efforts of intelligence and law enforcement," authorities over the weekend arrested Zayd Hassan Abd Al-Latif Masud Al Safarini, a terrorist responsible for the deaths of two U.S. citizens during a hijacking in 1986.
Mr. Bush said that while "this terrorist is not affiliated with al Qaeda," the arrest is "an example of the wider war on terrorism and what we intend to do."
"Here's a man who killed two of our own citizens when he hijacked a plane in Pakistan. By the way, obviously, there's only two Americans. That's two too many, but there was a lot of people from other countries, as well, involved. And he was convicted and sentenced to death. Yet he only served 14 years," he said.
"Well, we arrested him; we got him; we brought him into Alaska. And today the United States of America will charge him with murder," Mr. Bush said to applause.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said Safarini was arrested by American authorities Friday after he was released in Pakistan.
Safarini likely will be brought to Washington as early as today to face a 1991 indictment for the Sept. 5, 1986, hijacking in Karachi, Pakistan. He and five other men are charged with 126 counts, including murder and attempted murder of U.S. citizens outside America.
In that hijacking, four men disguised as security guards took control during boarding of Pan American World Airways Flight 73 bound for New York. The flight crew managed to escape, leaving the 379 passengers in the hands of the kidnappers.
Over the next 16 hours, the hijackers executed an American citizen, Rajesh Kumar, in an attempt to force the flight crew to return. When the plane's auxiliary power unit stopped working, the hijackers opened fire on the passengers and threw hand grenades at them, killing another 21, including a second American, Surendra Patel, Justice Department officials said.
Safarini and the three other hijackers were captured and prosecuted in Pakistan. Safarini served 14 years in prison in Pakistan before being released by Pakistani authorities.
Mr. Ashcroft said the arrest shows the world the depth of U.S. resolve.
"This arrest demonstrates the commitment of the United States to track down persons charged with having committed terrorist acts against Americans, no matter how long it takes," he said.
Still, Mr. Bush returned frequently to a refrain of "slowly but surely," using the phrase five times in the 11-minute speech.
"You see, the evildoers like to hit and then they try to hide. And slowly but surely, we're going to make sure they have no place to hide. Slowly but surely, we're going to move them out of their holes and what they think is safe havens, and get them on the move," he said.
"We're a patient nation. We're a nation who has got a long-term view a nation that's come to realize that in order to make freedom prevail, the evildoers will be forced to run, and will eventually be brought to justice," Mr. Bush said.
The arrest of Safarini is one example of America's patience paying off. "In my speech to the Congress, I said, sometimes the American people aren't going to see exactly what's taking place on their TV screens. But slowly but surely, the results are coming in," he said.
While finding Osama bin Laden who Taliban officials now say is under their control in Afghanistan and attempting to round up al Qaeda members in up to 60 countries will be difficult, Mr. Bush said American resolve will win out.
"We're beginning to share intelligence amongst our nations. We're finding out members of the al Qaeda organization, who they are, where they think they can hide. And we're slowly but surely bringing them to justice. We're slowly but surely calling their hand and reining them in," he said.
In his progress report, the president said the United States has deployed more than 29,000 military personnel and called to active duty about 17,000 members of the reserve forces, along with several thousand National Guard members.
"As I said, this is a different kind of war. It's hard to fight a guerrilla war with convention forces. But our military is ready," Mr. Bush said.
The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, which had been undergoing repairs for routine deployment later this fall, left its base near Tokyo yesterday. Officials would not release the destination of the U.S. Navy's oldest ship, which carries more than 80 F-14 Tomcat and F-18 Hornet fighter jets.
Mr. Bush yesterday touted the global coalition against terrorism, a day after Gen. Henry Shelton, who just completed a four-year stint as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more than 100 countries are now on board the U.S.-led anti-terrorism campaign.
"In this new kind of war, one that requires a coalition, we're making good progress on the diplomatic front. We've had 46 declarations of support from organizations, including NATO, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Organization of Islamic Conference and the Organization of American States," Mr. Bush said.
The United States is also making an effort to assist groups within Afghanistan that oppose the ruling Taliban regime.
"The purpose of the mission is to eliminate those who harbor terrorists," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. "We will work with a variety of people, all of whom have an interest in establishing an Afghanistan that is peaceful and does not practice terrorism."
Jerry Seper contributed to this report

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