Striking Back: Latest Developments
• The United States told its NATO allies at a meeting in Belgium on Wednesday to prepare for a long, coordinated assault on terrorism but asked for no specific joint military action for the time being, citing a lack of credible targets.
• “If we need collective action, we’ll ask for it,” U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told defense ministers from Washington’s 18 NATO partners.
• Immediate military retaliation for terrorist attacks on the United States is difficult because little is known of the perpetrators’ whereabouts, he said.
• Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an Associated Press interview that the Taliban rulers could avert a war with America by turning over Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, the No. 1 suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and rip up the al-Qaida terrorism network.
• President Bush suggested that Afghanis rise up against the Taliban. He said the best way to fight terrorism “is to ask for the cooperation of citizens within Afghanistan who may be tired of having the Taliban in place or tired of having Osama bin Laden.”
• The leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Mohammad Omar, said in a rare interview that the United States could not defeat his movement in its attempt to obtain bin Laden. “Even if it (the United States) were twice as strong, or twice that, it would not be strong enough to defeat us. We are confident that no one can harm us if God is with us,” he told Voice of America in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.
• The increasing pressure on the Taliban comes as federal investigators find more evidence of an international terrorist network that may still be operating.
• Attorney General John Ashcroft on Tuesday told Congress that terrorists might be planning an attack using a truck carrying hazardous chemicals. Twenty people have been charged with trying to obtain fraudulent licenses to drive tanker trucks, officials said. Some of those arrested in connection with the tanker licenses may have connections to the hijackers, the Justice Department said.