- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The United States attacked terrorist targets inside Afghanistan from the air for the second night in a row today as President Bush vowed to bring “evildoers to justice.'' Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge reported for duty as head of the new Office of Homeland Security.
A senior defense official in Washington confirmed the new wave of attacks was under way. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
The disclosure came almost precisely 24 hours after the opening of the conventional military campaign aimed at military targets and Osama bin Laden's terrorist training camps.
Halfway around the world, anti-aircraft fire could be heard in the Afghan capital of Kabul, and electricity was cut for the second night in a row.
Less than 90 minutes earlier, Mr. Bush presided over a swearing-in ceremony for Mr. Ridge.
“On all efforts, on all fronts, we're going to be ongoing and relentless as we tighten the net of justice'' against terrorists, said the commander in chief.
He added that the United States is working “to not only protect ourselves but to bring the evildoers to justice.''
That was a reference to those responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that killed thousands.
Mr. Bush spoke at the White House after British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said 30 sites had been hit in yesterday's opening wave of U.S.-led attacks, including the military infrastructure of Afghanistan's Taliban regime and the bases of bin Laden and his al-Qaida terror network.
Adm. Sir Michael Boyce, chief of the British defense staff, said some of the camps may have been empty. Still, he said, “There is certainly merit in denying those camps further use. And that is what we have done.''
Earlier, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said all planes returned safely to their far-flung bases following the onset of military action designed to bring the battle to the terrorists responsible for the attacks that killed thousands in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
A senior defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the next wave of attacks would hit again at the Taliban's military airfields, tanks and MiG fighters. The attack would use hunter-strike aircraft from naval ships in the region and fewer long-range bombers, the official said.
Mr. Ridge, who resigned as Pennsylvania governor a few days ago, took his seat at the center of power in Washington. “The size and scope of this challenge are immense,'' he said moments after he was sworn in. His job, he added, is to close the gaps in the nation's current anti-terrorism efforts gaps that permitted small cells of terrorists to kill thousands when they flew hijacked planes into high-visibility targets.
Vice President Dick Cheney had been slated to swear in Mr. Ridge. But he remained at an undisclosed secure location, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas filled in for him.
Mr. Bush, presiding, said Mr. Rumsfeld had informed him “that the military mission of yesterday was executed as planned and at the same time, that our good nation dropped over 37,000 kits of food and medicine.''
With the FBI cautioning persistently about the threat of renewed terrorism, officials were looking warily to southern Florida, where local health officials reported finding anthrax bacteria in the nasal passage of a co-worker of the man who died last week from the disease. The building where both worked was closed after the bacteria also were detected there.
Mr. Bush was informed of the developments last night.
“There is no evidence to suggest anything yet and that's why the FBI is investigating,'' said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
As for the initial round of military targets, “We know they were successfully hit in many respects,'' Mr. Rumsfeld said. He told The Associated Press that the assault targeted two to three dozens sites, including terrorist training camps, military airfields, military aircraft, air defense radars and surface-to-air missile sites.
Mr. Rumsfeld rejected Taliban claims that they had shot down an aircraft, as well as claims of significant civilian casualties.
“We have approved every single target and each one is a military target,'' he told the AP.
Firepower struck military command centers of the Taliban regime in Kandahar, Pentagon officials said, and Afghan sources said smoke billowed from the high-walled compound of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who was believed to have fled.
Explosions also rocked Kabul, the capital, and were heard coming from or near some of the training camps of Osama bin Laden, the West's most hunted man.
The Taliban's ambassador to neighboring Pakistan said 20 civilians in the Kabul area were killed by missiles. Taliban officials also said three people were killed and three or four were injured in Kandahar. A check of Kabul's four hospitals turned up no reports of casualties.
In Pakistan, violence broke out in two volatile cities along the border with Afghanistan. Thousands of Taliban supporters battled police and burned buildings, with two U.N. offices among the targets. One person was killed and 26 were hurt in the southwestern city of Quetta, a doctor said.
Pakistan's president insisted his support of the U.S.-led coalition reflected the will of the people.
In all, Afghan targets were pounded by 15 land-based bombers, including B-2 Stealths from Missouri, and 50 U.S. and British cruise missiles fired from surface ships and submarines in the Arabian sea, said Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
They were supported by 25 other strike aircraft flying from carrier battle groups. One B-52 in the raid had its nose section repainted with the legend, “NYPD, we remember,'' in honor of the New York Police Department, one pilot said.
In a videotape recorded before the assault and released after it, bin Laden belittled the grieving of Americans for the thousands who died in the Sept. 11 attacks that sent hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.
“What America is tasting now is something insignificant compared to what we have tasted for scores of years,'' he said.
U.S. officials are holding bin Laden responsible for the attacks; he has denied involvement but in the tape had high praise for the hijackers.
Airports, sports stadiums, state capitols and office buildings heightened security precautions that had already been elevated since Sept. 11. The FBI urged law enforcement agencies nationwide to move to their highest level of alert.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide