- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

President Bush said yesterday he wants prime suspect Osama bin Laden "dead or alive," and recounted how terrorists "slit the throats of women on airplanes in order to achieve an objective that is beyond comprehension."

In his sternest words yet on those who masterminded terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Mr. Bush said the massive manhunt now under way reminded him of the Wild West.

"I remember that they used to put out there in the Old West a wanted poster. It said: 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.' … America wants him brought to justice. That's what we want," he said.

"There's no rules. It's barbaric behavior … they slit throats of women on airplanes in order to achieve an objective that is beyond comprehension," he said.

The president, asked whether that was a call for bin Laden's head, repeated his answer, then reiterated his administration's stance on terrorism.

"We're going to find those evildoers, those barbaric people who attacked our country and we're going to hold them accountable, and we're going to hold the people who housed them accountable," said Mr. Bush, referring to Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, a radical Islamic group now shielding bin Laden.

"The people who think they can provide them safe havens will be held accountable, the people who feed them will be held accountable. The Taliban must take my statement seriously."

The president began his day early, arriving at the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House before 8 a.m. to greet returning administration workers.

"I'm here to remind people that the best way to fight terrorism is to not let terrorism intimidate America. … There are a lot of courageous people here and they're coming back to work, and I want to thank them for that and remind them we've all got a job to do," he said as he shared a cup of coffee with staffers.

"Have a cup of coffee on me," he said to one worker.

Mr. Bush then went to the Pentagon, where he met with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Richard Myers. There, he discussed the call-up of 35,000 reservists to active duty.

"They will help maintain our air defenses so they can stay on high alert. They will check shipping in ports. They will help our military with airlift and logistics. They will provide military police. They will participate in engineering projects. They will help gather intelligence. And they will perform work as chaplains," the president said.

Asked about possible American casualties in what he has described as a "sustained campaign" against terrorism, Mr. Bush said: "The U.S. military is ready to defend freedom at any costs. We will win the war and there will be costs. The military folks understand that, and so do I," he said.

Mr. Bush made an unscheduled stop in the Pentagon's cafeteria, where staffers cheered as he shook hands with workers and posed for group pictures. He spoke with a pregnant woman whose husband died in the Pentagon attack for five minutes, draping his left hand over her shoulder and rubbing her back before kissing her on the cheek.

At one point, a civilian woman began singing "God Bless America," which the entire room then spontaneously joined. Mr. Bush, already on his way out, stopped and sang along to the end, finally leaving with his head bowed.

Later yesterday, Mr. Bush visited an Islamic center in Washington to decry violence against Muslims. Since the terrorist attacks, there have been more than 300 incidents of harassment of Muslims, of threats, discrimination and violence, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"Fellow Americans must treat each other with respects. … Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace," he said at a mosque at the Washington Islamic Center.

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