August 23, 1998

President Swears to Use 'All Tools' Against Terrorism


WASHINGTON -- President Clinton vowed Saturday that the United States would use "all the tools at our disposal" to fight the terrorist network of Osama bin Laden, as the administration outlined efforts to squeeze him financially following the U.S. cruise-missile strikes Thursday in Afghanistan and Sudan.

"Our efforts against terrorism cannot and will not end with this strike," Clinton declared in his weekly radio address.

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The President Under Pressure

Sudan and Afghanistan

The Tomahawk Missile

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Pakistan Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tariq Altaf

President Clinton's National Address
U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering
U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger

Join a discussion on the U.S. Military Strike in Afghanistan

U.S. Navy: The Tomahawk Cruise Missile

As he vacationed with his family in Martha's Vineyard, Clinton announced that he had signed an executive order, effective a day earlier, that asks the Treasury Department to block any financial transactions with U.S. companies by bin Laden, two of his lieutenants and what the U.S. says is his principal terrorist organization, the Islamic Army.

Nearly 48 hours after the United States attacked a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan and a training camp in Afghanistan with roughly 75 cruise missiles, the administration also provided more detail on the damage it said was done to bin Laden's network.

A day after cloudy weather partly obscured the extent of the damage in Afghanistan, presidential spokesman Mike McCurry said Saturday that satellite photographs showed the strike hit all six separate sites within the sprawling training camp, located in a remote, mountainous area about 90 miles south of the capital, Kabul.

A full assessment could take more time, but McCurry, sticking to the measured claims of the day after the attack, said the strike had caused "moderate to severe" damage to the site's barracks, ammunition depots and other facilities. Bin Laden has used the camp in the past, but his whereabouts remained unclear on Saturday.

"We have severely damaged the ability of the Osama bin Laden network to operate from these camps," McCurry said, speaking to reporters on Martha's Vineyard.

Bin Laden, a Saudi exile accused of underwriting attacks by terrorist groups around the world, is believed to have an inherited fortune exceeding $200 million invested in a network of argricultural, construction and financial companies that, officials say, helps pay for and conceal terrorist activities.

The president's order, which he signed only hours after the U.S. strikes, places bin Laden and his associates on a list of terrorists monitored by the Treasury Department. The order prohibits all Americans and U.S. companies from having any financial transactions with them, including business and fund-raising. The order also requires banks to freeze any assets found to belong to them.

The effort is not likely to have a significant impact on bin Laden's financial empire because, a senior administration official said, he does not appear to have many assets that would fall under the scope of the law.

"We would not expect this single step to cripple this network any more than we would expect a single military action in Khost, in Afghanistan, to cripple this network," the official said. But the official said the administration hoped the formal legal step would prompt other countries to help freeze bin Laden's assets. In his address, the president called for precisely that.

"It takes money -- lots of it -- to build the network bin Laden has," Clinton said. "We'll do our best to see that he has less of it."

Around the world, the fallout from the bombing continued. The Arab League announced Saturday that it would hold a meeting in Cairo on Monday to coordinate support for Sudan. In Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, another day of protests began on Saturday. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir pledged to retaliate for the destruction of a pharmaceutical factory that, U.S. officials maintained, produced material for chemical weapons.

In Afghanistan, an Italian military officer working for the United Nations died Saturday, a day after he was shot in Kabul, though it was still not clear whether the shooting was related to Thursday's strikes.

Here in Washington, lawmakers rallied around the president.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., expressed strong support for Clinton's efforts. "The president deserves our support for acting swiftly and decisively," McCain said in the Republican Party's weekly radio address. "The military strikes he ordered against targets in Afghanistan and Sudan were appropriate. America's armed forces carried out their mission with skill and professionalism."

The president's senior national security advisers -- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Secretary of Defense William Cohen -- went to Capitol Hill to build support for the strikes. In a classified briefing on Friday, they also laid out the evidence the administration says links Bin Laden to terrorist attacks, including the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on Aug. 7, which killed 263 people, including 12 Americans.

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., who had sharply questioned the timing of the strikes given the controversy over Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky, emerged from Friday's meeting softening his remarks. "There does appear to be credible evidence to suggest that targeting an Osama bin Laden terrorist training site was necessary," Coats said.

However, he went on to say that Clinton's behavior had made skepticism about motives and timing of the missile strikes inevitable.

"It is the president's private scandal that is leading to the public's skepticism," he said.

In his radio address, Clinton thanked congressional leaders for offering bipartisan support for the attacks. He said the United States had "compelling evidence" that bin Laden's network "was poised to strike at us again -- and soon."

Clinton emphasized that Islam and its adherents were not the threat, trying to draw distinctions between the Islamic world in general and what he called "a callous, criminal organization."

"Hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world -- including millions right here in the United States -- oppose terrorism and deplore the twisting of their religious teachings into justification of inhumane, indeed, ungodly acts," he said.

Although he vowed to press the fight, Clinton, echoing similar remarks by Albright and other aides, grimly suggested that Thursday's strikes, however effective, were not likely to put an end to bin Laden's self-proclaimed war on the United States and U.S. interests. "We should have realistic expectations about what a single action can achieve," he said. "And we must be prepared for a long battle."

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