16th September 2001

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Gory, Gory America

  • US set for sweeping war
  • 'I love you, may not see you again'
  • US set for sweeping war

    By Alan Elsner,

    WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Saturday (Reuters) - President Bush vowed today to "smoke out of their holes" those behind this week's terror attacks on the United States, as rescue workers sifted wreckage and lifted body parts from New York's World Trade Center, where thousands remain entombed.

    As winds of war strengthened, Bush for the first time singled out Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, holed up in Afghanistan under the protection of its radical Islamic government, as a prime suspect behind the attacks. Bush warned bin Laden and his backers they would not be able to hide from America's wrath.

    "We will find those who did it, we will smoke them out of their holes, we will get them running, and we will bring them to justice," Bush told reporters before meeting his national security advisers at Camp David, the secluded presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains.

    Fearful Afghans began fleeing the country. Their hardline Taliban rulers threatened to wage a holy war against anyone helping Washington launch attacks on their country.

    In his weekly radio address and in comments to reporters, Bush stepped up his rhetoric to its highest pitch since Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which have left hundreds confirmed dead and almost 5,000 people still unaccounted for.

    "We are planning a broad and sustained campaign to secure our country and eradicate the evil of terrorism, and we are determined to see this conflict through," Bush declared.

    "I will not settle for a token act. Our response must be sweeping, sustained and effective. ... You will be asked for your patience, for the conflict will not be short. You will be asked for resolve, for the conflict will not be easy. You will be asked for your strength because the course to victory may be long," the president said.

    In brief additional remarks to reporters, Bush spoke for the first time about bin Laden, the multi-millionaire who has devoted his fortune to attacking U.S. targets in the name of a radical anti-Western, fundamentalist ideology.

    Bush said: "He is what we would call a prime suspect. If he thinks he can hide from the United States, and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken.

    In New York, meanwhile, where the heart-breaking work of excavating the wreckage continued, family members of those missing were asked to bring in hairbrushes, toothbrushes or clothing of their loved ones to help in DNA identification of body parts.


    Stepping up diplomatic efforts to build an international coalition for the forthcoming military campaign, the United States secured the crucial agreement of Pakistan, which borders Afghanistan, to back its efforts.

    The United States has sought from Pakistan permission for military overflights and a closing of its border with Afghanistan, among other requests.

    "We put before the Pakistan government a specific list of things we would like cooperation on and they have agreed to all those items. The Pakistan government was very forthcoming and we're appreciative," said Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    For its part, Pakistan said it would comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions on the terror attacks. "The government will discharge its responsibilities under international law," Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said, adding that he did not expect Pakistan to take part in military operations outside its borders.

    At ground zero in Manhattan, gray and brown clouds of smoke and dust continued to billow from the rubble of what were once New York's tallest buildings, and a stench rose from the site. The dust from mountains of ash continued to drift up and down the island, raising fears about air quality.

    Almost four days after hijacked planes brought the massive 110-story skyscrapers crashing to the ground, the rescuers had made only a small dent in their task of clearing the wreckage.

    Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said the number of missing had fallen to 4,717.

    He said 124 people were confirmed dead, 59 of them identified, but did not explain why the figure was lower than the 184 bodies reported on Thursday. No survivors have been found since Wednesday.

    At least 190 people are believed to have died when hijackers crashed a third plane into the Pentagon near Washington. Forty five more died in a fourth plane that crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers fought with hijackers and foiled their plan to crash into another landmark building.

    The cockpit voice recorder retrieved from the wreckage on Friday evening appeared to be in "fairly good condition," investigators said today, Washington's message to other nations, including Arab and Islamic states, is that they must choose sides. In the coming storm, they are being told they must either back the United States or risk diplomatic and economic isolation.

    India also signaled it was ready to let the United States use its military bases. India could provide a large base for any military strike at Afghanistan, but U.S. jets would still have to cross Pakistani air space to reach Afghanistan.

    Bin Laden, speaking through aides, this week denied involvement in the carnage, but described it as "punishment from almighty Allah."

    Congress late on Friday authorized Bush to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against those responsible for Tuesday's attacks.

    Meanwhile, the nation remained wrapped in mourning. Most weekend sporting events were canceled, including Major League baseball and National Football League play which never happened throughout World War II or in response to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

    Commercial flights resumed, but at less than half their former capacity. Continental Airlines, the nation's fifth largest airline, said it would immediately reduce its long-term flight schedule by about 20 percent and lay off about 12,000 employees.

    In New York, technicians planned to test trading and computer systems in readiness for the planned reopening of the stock exchange and financial markets on Monday. Analysts predicted great volatility and said it was not certain the systems would hold up under the pressure.

    The FBI on Friday named 19 hijackers, including seven pilots, who commandeered the four airliners used in Tuesday's terror attacks, sought to question more than 100 people and made the first arrest in the investigation, a witness said to have "material" information on the suicide attacks.

    Search crews on Friday found the cockpit voice recorder of United Airlines Flight 93 at the Pennsylvania crash site, an FBI spokeswoman said. Officials had earlier found the flight data recorder from the aircraft.

    With one dissenting voice, an outraged U.S. House of Representatives gave final congressional approval to a use-of-force resolution that won unanimous Senate backing earlier in the day.

    Short of a formal declaration of war, the measure gave Bush the green light to strike both individuals and nations he determines "planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks."

    "We are coming after you and the fury of hell is coming with us," Rep. Charles Norwood, a Georgia Republican, raged before the House voted 420-1 for the resolution.

    California Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, the lone opponent, said, "Some of us must urge the use of restraint."

    In a statement, Bush said he was gratified "the Congress has united so powerfully by taking this action. It sends a clear message our people are together, and we will prevail."

    Short of a formal declaration of war, the measure gave Bush the green light to strike both individuals and nations he determines "planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks."

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld activated 35,000 reservists out of 50,000 authorized by Bush to provide "strike-alert" jet fighter protection and perform other duties at domestic military bases.

    On a day of national mourning, thousands held candlelight vigils across New York and its suburbs on Friday night as America's largest city tried to recover some sense of normality.

    Wall Street moved a step closer to resuming business as usual when subway trains began rolling into the financial district early on Saturday for the first time since Tuesday's attacks, which shut stock markets for the longest time since the First World War. The markets plan to reopen on Monday.

    Pennsylvania's two U.S. senators said the doomed passengers of the hijacked airliner that crashed near Pittsburgh could be awarded America's highest civilian honors after apparently thwarting an attack on a U.S. landmark.

    Ameraic gears for war

    Taleban threatens to wage war against any country supporting a US assault on Afghanistan. Pakistan and India have pledged support to the US.

    "This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing," says Bush. Battle hymns were played after his proclamation.

    Secretary of State Collin Powell says Taleban will have to pay the price for sheltering Bin Laden.

    Congress authorises Bush to take necessary and appropriate action against terrorists or those harbouring or assisting them.

    California Democratic Representative Barbara Lee casts the only dissenting vote, urging restraint.

    Black box of flight that crashed into Pentagon is badly damaged.

    All football games in US and Canada this weekend cancelled.

    Emmy Awards ceremony today postponed.

    It is believed that there are more trained terrorist pilots in the US.

    US$ 40 billion passed for battle against terrorists and for relief to victims..

    Reports of backlash against Arabs/Muslims and looting.

    One million people at NY memorial services.

    19 suspects involved in the hijackings were identified.

    27 detained at airports.

    2 hijackers believed to have been trained Florida flying school.

    50,000 US Reservists have been called up.

    US Treasury to issue war bonds for the first time since World War II.

    4 US Air Force jets scrambled to take on the hijacked planes but were too late.

    Bomb threats increase. US warns of people making false calls.

    4,700 are listed missing in New York.

    US fleet moving to Diego Garcia for possible strike on Afghanistan. B 52 bombers can fly from there.

    'I love you, may not see you again'

    By David Hearst

    Extraordinary moments of human suffering and poignancy are emerging both on the hijacked planes and inside the targeted buildings. Within seconds of passengers desperately contacting loved ones by mobile phone, workers inside the towers of the World Trade Centre were witnessing the impending crashes.

    Simon Oliver, 34, a British lawyer working on the 57th floor of tower one the told Channel 4: "Suddenly the building lurched violently forward, I was flung across my desk, the building suddenly corrected itself. Then it moved forward very violently again.

    "I was standing right by the window and just on the other side I saw what I now appreciate was the remains of the plane and that was a truly horrific sight. It was falling 3ft in front of my face. It was burning fuel that was alight, there were chairs going past, there were things that I won't tell you about."

    Mr Oliver began to descend the stairwells in the centre of the building. "We'd gone down about five storeys from the 44th floor when suddenly there was lots of screaming from above us to move over to the right and to get into single file and the burnt and the walking wounded walked past us. By this stage we were aware that it was a plane that had hit our tower."

    "About the 20th floor, I met the first firemen starting to go up into the building and we were thanking them. They were struggling up the increasingly hot stairwell carrying huge equipment. They were exhausted and we were trying to cheer them on."

    For some, in the last agonising moments of their lives, the mobile phone was used to establish final contact with their families.

    A New Jersey resident, Liz Emery, posted a message seeking information about her husband, Ed Emery, who worked on the 97th floor of tower two.

    The last she heard from her husband was a cellphone call he made just after the plane struck. "The building's been hit by something," he told her. "I love you." "Can you get out?" she asked. "I don't know," he replied. Then the line went dead.

    At least four of the 45 passengers on board United Airlines Flight 93, the Boeing 757 which crashed in a field near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, placed cellphone calls.

    In San Francisco, Alice Hoglan picked up her phone about 9.45 eastern time (13.45 GMT), 15 minutes before the plane crashed, to hear the voice of her son, Mark Bingham, 31. Mrs Hoglan told CNN: "He said 'We've been taken over. There are three men that say they have a bomb.'.

    "He said: 'I want you to know that I love you very much, in case I don't see you again.' He went on: 'I'm in the air.' He repeated that he loved me. Then he became distracted, as if someone was speaking to him. He said something to the effect that it was true. Then the phone went dead."

    Another call from the same flight was from a man who had locked himself in the plane's lavatory and had phoned up emergency services. Glenn Cramer, the operator who took the call, said the man said repeatedly: "We're being hijacked" and reported that his call was not a hoax.

    "He heard some sort of explosion and saw white smoke coming from the plane and we lost contact with him," Mr Cramer said. The man never identified himself.

    The fourth caller was Cee Cee Lyles, a flight attendant who called her husband Lorne, a Florida police officer, and four sons in Fort Myers, Florida. "She called him and let him know how much she loved him and the boys," said her aunt, Mareya Schneider. She said that Mrs Lyles was crying and her husband could hear people screaming in the background.

    - Guardian, London

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