Bush Blames Al-Qaida for Kenya Attack (AP) By Sandra Sobieraj WASHINGTON 12/04/02 1:37 PM)
AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS
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WASHINGTON –– Voicing fresh terrorism fears that stretch from Africa
to the Middle East, President Bush said Wednesday he believes the al-
Qaida network was behind last week´s attacks in Kenya and that
terrorists have disrupted the Israel-Palestinian peace process.
Bush, fielding reporters´ questions at a White House bill-signing
ceremony, declined to criticize the Israeli government, whose troops
fired Tuesday on a taxi at a West Bank checkpoint, killing a 95-year-
old Palestinian great-grandmother.
"I am concerned that terrorists have disrupted the ability for peace-
loving people to move the (peace) process forward," Bush said. "...
And so I fully understand the Israeli government´s attempts to stamp
out terror, because we´ll never have peace as long as terrorists are
able to disrupt."
He added that he is as worried "about the plight of the Palestinian
people, concerned about suffering that has taken place as a result of
the activities of terrorists."
"The net effect of terrorism is to not only stop the peace process,
but to cause suffering amongst all the people of the region, and
that´s why our war against terrorism must remain steadfast and strong
wherever terror exists," the president said.
He did not directly reply when a journalist asked if he believes the
terrorists at work in the West Bank are part of Osama bin Laden´s al-
Qaida network. But Bush did finger bin Laden operatives for last
week´s coordinated attacks on Israelis in Kenya – a hotel bombing and
the firing of missiles at an Israeli charter flight.
"I am concerned about al-Qaida anywhere. I believe that al-Qaida was
involved in the African bombings in Kenya. I believe al-Qaida hates
freedom. I believe al-Qaida will strike anywhere they can in order to
disrupt a civil society and that´s why we´re on the hunt," the
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer later said that Bush was
not speaking definitively about the culprits or ruling out
involvement by other possible terror groups. "He´s sharing with you
suspicions you´ve heard from previous quarters," Fleischer said.
Questioned about world opinion, Bush said the United States is
unfairly cast as waging war on Islam because "the propaganda machines
are cranked up in the international community that paints our country
in a bad light." He ticked off a litany of American accomplishments
in postwar Afghanistan, among them the fact that girls can now attend
school in that country.
Army Lt. Gen. Dan K. McNeil, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan,
was at the White House earlier Wednesday and gave a briefing in the
Situation Room about improved humanitarian conditions, Bush said.
"The Muslim world will eventually realize – if they don´t now – that
we believe in freedom, and we respect all individuals. And unlike the
killers, we value each life in America," Bush said. "Everybody is
precious, everybody counts, and to the extent we need to continue to
make that message work, we will try to do so. But the best thing we
can do is show results from our activities."
(© 2002 The Associated Press 12/04/02)
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