America Launches Strikes Against Al Qaeda, Taliban
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2001 America is striking back.
President Bush announced the U.S. military has launched attacks on Al Qaeda training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The attacks started at about 12:30 p.m. Eastern time.
"These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and attack the military capability of the Taliban regime," Bush said in a White House address to America.
Bush said Great Britain is also participating in the strikes. Canada, Australia, Germany and France have also pledged forces for the operation. As the president spoke, TV pictures showed strikes on the Afghan capital of Kabul and the southern city of Kandahar, a city that is the center for Taliban support.
Bush said more than 40 countries in the Middle East, Africa and across Asia have granted air transit or landing rights. More countries have shared intelligence.
"We are supported by the collective will of the world," the president said.
The strikes follow the Taliban rejection of U.S. demands following the terror attacks of Sept. 11. In a speech before a joint session of Congress, Bush called on Afghanistan's rulers to close terrorist training camps; hand over the leaders of the Al Qaeda terrorist network, including Osama bin Laden; return all foreign nationals unjustly detained; and open the terrorist training sites to U.S. inspection.
"None of these demands were met," Bush said. "And now, the Taliban will pay a price."
U.S. attacks, he said, are aimed at the camps that train recruits and at communications nodes they use to implement "their evil plans." This opening move in the campaign will clear the way for "sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive (terrorists) out and bring them to justice," Bush said.
At the same time coalition forces are attacking the terror network, they will also airdrop food, medicine and relief supplies to the refugees within Afghanistan. "The United States of America is a friend to the Afghan people," Bush said. "We are the friends of almost a billion worldwide who practice the Islamic faith.
"The United States of America is an enemy of those who aid terrorists and of the barbaric criminals who profane a great religion by committing murder in its name," Bush said.
The president said the military action is just "another front" in the ongoing U.S. effort against the terror networks.
"Today, we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader," he said. "Every nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral ground. If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents, they have become outlaws and murderers themselves. And they will take that lonely path at their own peril."
Bush said Americans will need patience and be prepared to sacrifice in this war on terrorism. "Today, those sacrifices are being made by members of our armed forces, who now defend us so far from home," he said.
"A commander in chief sends America's sons and daughters into battle in a foreign land only after the greatest care and a lot of prayer," he continued. "We ask a lot of those who wear our uniform: We ask them to leave their loved ones, to travel great distances, to risk injury, even to be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives."
Bush said service members are dedicated and honorable and represent the best of America. "To all the men and women in our military -- every sailor, every soldier, every airman, every Coastguardsman, every Marine -- I say this: Your mission is defined, your objectives are clear, your goal is just. You have my full confidence and you will have every tool you'll need to carry out your duty."