- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

United States and British soldiers, sailors and airmen opened the military phase of the fight against global terrorism on Sunday, launching retaliatory raids against terrorist training camps belonging to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda and Taliban military installations across Afghanistan.
The strikes come nearly a month after Sept. 11 suicide attacks carried out by bin Laden's Afghanistan-based terrorist network killed more than 5,000 people at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and a crash site in western Pennsylvania. The U.S.-led retaliatory raids also occurred more than two weeks after President Bush demanded that Afghanistan put bin Laden out of business and shut down all of the terrorist training camps on that country's soil. The Taliban responded with a plethora of patently false denials about their role in supporting terrorism, bizarre demands for "negotiations" with the United States, and threats against any country aiding U.S. military retaliation. It became increasingly clear that talking with the Taliban served no purpose, except to permit this vicious and brutal regime to stall for time.
President Bush's decision to launch Sunday's raids was an inevitable and morally justified response to a war against America that was declared by Osama bin Laden and his cohorts long ago. Terrorists controlled by or connected to bin Laden have been linked with numerous attacks against the United States, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; the brutal 1993 killings of U.S. soldiers in Mogadishu, Somalia; the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, which killed more than 300 people; and last October's attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. In a videotaped statement released shortly after the bombing began, bin Laden called this a "battle of believers and non-believers." In other words, according to the terrorist leader, it was a war between Islam and its enemies.
In fact, this is bin Laden's big lie. Over the past decade, United States has repeatedly put its sons and daughters in harm's way to protect Muslims, including military campaigns in Kosovo and Kuwait. Mr. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have repeatedly made it clear that this war is against the perpetrators of terrorism, not with Muslims the very people suffering the most under the Taliban's cruel dictatorship in Afghanistan today. Moreover, as Mr. Bush proclaimed in his speech announcing the attacks, "As we strike military targets, we will also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering men and women and children of Afghanistan."
Mr. Bush also said that this attack is a prelude to "sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive them [the terrorists] out and bring them to justice." Indeed, Sunday's strikes, which were launched with cruise missiles and bombers, were proceeded by an earlier attack on the financial assets of al Qaeda. Other assaults against bin Laden and his terrorist confederates both overt and covert are almost certain to follow. In his address, Mr. Bush said, "Given the nature and reach of our enemies, we will win this conflict by the patient accumulation of successes, by meeting a series of challenges with determination and will and purpose."
This campaign against terrorism will almost certainly claim additional allied casualties, both military and civilian. Thousands of Americans have first-hand experience with the shattering emptiness that comes from the loss of a loved one. Those terrorists who marked Americans with a red badge of wounding on Sept. 11 may well strike again in other indiscriminate and horrifying ways.
Americans and our Western democratic allies are hated by the Taliban and the bin Ladens of the world precisely because we cherish liberty and freedom. That will not change, so long as the forces of terror stalk the globe.
Freedom's volunteers have now joined the battle. Our thoughts and our prayers are with them. As Mr. Bush said in the benediction of his address, "We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail."

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