- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2001

Attorney General John Ashcroft said the government will use every law available including new ones passed yesterday by Congress to "arrest and detain" suspected terrorists hiding in this country.
Mr. Ashcroft, in a speech before the U.S. Conference of Mayors, sternly warned the terrorists that federal investigators are looking to take them "off the street," reminding the mayors that the Sept. 11 attack on America was "carried out by individuals living within our borders."
"We will use all our weapons within the law and under the Constitution to protect life and enhance security for America," he said. "Our single objective is to prevent terrorist attacks by taking suspected terrorists off the street."
Mr. Ashcroft warned "the terrorists among us" that they will be stopped, questioned and detained for any violation of the law, and praised the new anti-terrorism legislation passed by the House and Senate that President Bush is expected to sign into law today.
The nation's top law-enforcement officer called the legislation "a new era in America's fight against terrorism" and said it would allow investigators to impose "airtight surveillance" on suspected terrorists and speed efforts at tracking them down and disrupting their operations.
"The hour that it becomes law, I will issue guidance to each of our 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices and 56 FBI field offices directing them to begin immediately implementing this sweeping legislation," he said, comparing his efforts to target terrorists with similar tactics used by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in the 1960s to target organized crime.
The Ashcroft directive would include orders for investigators to begin immediately seeking court orders to intercept communications on an expanded list of crimes under the legislation, he said.
Mr. Ashcroft noted that communications regarding terrorist offenses such as the use of biological or chemical agents, financing acts of terrorism or materially supporting terrorism will be subject to interception by law enforcement. He said investigators will be directed to "take advantage" of the new standards for intelligence gathering.
He said the new standards will allow "roving" wiretaps, meaning that multiple phones a suspect may use can now be tapped instead of a single phone at one location. Investigators also can use devices that capture Internet sender and receiver addresses.
Investigators also can obtain search warrants for unopened voice mail stored on a computer and new subpoena power to obtain payment information such as credit-card or bank-account numbers of suspected terrorists on the Internet, he said.
"The new tools for law enforcement in the war against terrorism are the products of hundreds of hours of consultation and careful consideration by the administration, members of Congress, and state and local officials," Mr. Ashcroft said. "They are careful, balanced, and long-overdue improvements in our capacity to prevent terrorism."
Mr. Ashcroft told the mayors the Justice Department has arrested or detained nearly 1,000 people since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He said those found to have no connection to terrorism have been released. He did not say how many had been released.
Meanwhile, the FBI investigation continues to focus on Germany and the suspected ringleader of the Sept. 11 attack, Mohamed Atta.
Investigators said Atta, 33, the Egyptian pilot of one of the jetliners that hit the World Trade Center, planned the attacks as a member of a terrorist cell based in Hamburg, Germany.
Two other hijackers, Marwan Al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, lived with Atta in Hamburg.
Authorities believe Atta not only directed the operation, but arranged its financing. They said Sheik Sayid, an operative of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, al Qaeda, wired money to Atta in Pakistan. Sayid is believed to be bin Laden's finance chairman.
Authorities are tracking Atta's movements in Germany and in this country, trying to identify others who may have been associates or accomplices.

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