US President George Bush has warned Americans not to expect a quick victory in the fight against terrorism. His warning came in a speech to a joint session of Congress on 20 September in Washington DC in which he also gave Afghanistan’s Taliban leadership an ultimatum – hand over the leaders of the terrorist group al Qaeda or face the consequences.
Mr Bush detailed the US response to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September. His key message to the American people was that they “should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.”
In a speech which praised the efforts of rescue workers and the response of US allies, it was the ultimatum that Mr Bush gave to the Taliban regime in Afghanisaton which has been the focus of most attention. He called on the Taliban to:
- Hand over the leaders of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda group.
- Release all foreign nationals imprisoned in Afghanistan.
- Protect foreign aid workers, journalists and diplomats in the country.
- Close all terrorist training camps in the country.
- Allow the US to verify that the terrorist camps are closed.
If the Taliban fail to do this immediately, Mr Bush made it clear that they would share the same fate as the terrorists themselves. However, he was keen to emphasise that the US was not conducting a war against Islam, but only against terrorism.
The creation of a new cabinet-level post, the Office of Homeland Security, to coordinate the US response to terrorism was announced in the speech. Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge will head this office.
Earlier in the day, EU and US officials had issued a joint declaration stating that they would “work in partnership in a broad coalition to combat the evil of terrorism.” For details of this and other European initiatives see EURACTIV’s