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Powell: Bin Laden Tape 'Encourages' Coalition Participation

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2003 – Despite their apparent goal of scaring the international community away from supporting the coalition in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Oct. 19 that new tapes purportedly from Osama bin Laden will have the opposite effect.

The Arab network Al Jazeera aired two audio tapes Oct. 18. The speaker, believed to be the fugitive Al Qaeda leader, vowed more attacks by his terror organization inside and outside the United States, and labeled any countries helping the American effort as targets.

In an interview with CNN's John King, Powell said the threat will lead more countries to begin or increase military or financial aid to the coalition in Iraq.

"I know that it now encourages them," Powell said. "It might have scared them in the past, but everybody now knows you are not immune, you can't hide from it, you can't walk away. He is a threat to all of us.

"And when you see these kinds of tapes," he continued, "it just reminds us that this kind of terrorist is still on the face of the earth, and we have to come together, and we have to do even more with the exchange of law enforcement information, intelligence information (and) the use of military forces. We all have to come together."

Earlier, in an interview on "Fox News Sunday" with Tony Snow, Powell cited the passage Oct. 16 of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1511, which calls for international support for reconstruction and multinational participation in a stabilization force in Iraq.

"The real achievement of the resolution was to bring the power of the Security Council, and, in turn, the United Nations, behind the strategy that we are following," Powell said. He described that strategy as creation of a multinational force and the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq in a measured way as Iraqi institutions become ready to accept authority. He added the strategy avoids arbitrary deadlines, such as, "In the first of January, we're out of here, and you've got your country back, and we won't have anything else to do with it."

Powell praised the Security Council for passing the resolution unanimously.

"There were some nations who had some reservations about that resolution, but nevertheless voted for it," Powell said. "And we now have the entire international community aligned with our policy of gradually but as fast as we can, nevertheless in a gradual way restoring sovereignty to the people of Iraq and coming home as fast as we can.

"But we're going to do it right," he continued. "And when we have done it right, Iraq will be a better country, living in peace with its neighbors."

A democratically elected government in Iraq, Powell said, would not threaten its neighbors, develop weapons of mass destruction, create mass graves, destabilize the region or provide weapons to terrorists.

Also on Oct. 19, Powell spoke with Bob Schieffer, host of the CBS program "Meet the Press." In that interview, Powell said he can't predict whether the current American casualty rate in Iraq will continue.

"I can't look into the future," he said. "What's clear, though, is that we still have a dangerous environment in Iraq. There are still remnants of the old regime who do not want to see progress. But I am confident that our military leaders there and the wonderful young men and women who are serving their nation so proudly will ultimately get the security situation under control."

The secretary added that over time, the new Iraqi police force and army increasingly will take on security responsibilities.

"It's going to take us time, and we have to persevere, and there will be casualties -- and we regret each and every one of them," Powell said. "But not one of these casualties is a life lost in vain, or an injury sustained in vain. We are doing this for a better world, a better region, and I think history will be a good judge of not only our intentions, but our accomplishments."

Powell spoke from Bangkok, Thailand, where he accompanied President Bush for an economic summit.

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