Baltimore County

U.S. vows a 'global assault,' warns of more terror attacks

Sun National Staff

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration promised yesterday an intense and prolonged military campaign in a "global assault" against terrorism as officials signaled that credible threats exist of immediate attacks against more U.S. targets.

President Bush is scheduled to tour the devastated site of the toppled World Trade Center towers on the southern tip of Manhattan this morning. He declared today a national day of prayer and remembrance.

But yesterday, his administration seemed intent on preparing the country for war.

Talking to reporters in the Oval Office, he said, "I'm a loving guy. And I am also someone, however, who's got a job to do, and I intend to do it."

For the first time, a senior administration official, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, openly identified Osama bin Laden, a Saudi billionaire and terrorist mastermind who has been given sanctuary in Afghanistan, as a prime suspect in the assaults. He said the United States will present its case against that group to the world.

"And at that point, we will go after that group, that network and those who have harbored, supported, and aided that network, to rip the network up," he said. "And when we're through with that network, we will continue with a global assault against terrorism in general."

Officials sharpened their estimates of the number killed in the suicide attacks. More than 5,000 people are thought to have been killed in Tuesday's attacks, including those aboard the doomed flights and those who perished on the ground. That is more than double the number killed in the Japanese attack that drew the United States into World War II in 1941.

The estimated death toll from Tuesday included 190 at the Pentagon and 4,763 who were reported missing by New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. There were 266 people aboard the planes.

In New York and Washington, rescue workers held out hope of finding survivors among the rubble, while investigators had some success tracking down more supsects in the United States and abroad.

ABC News reported last night that 10 people were detained at John F. Kennedy and La Guardia airports in New York after authorities discovered them carrying fake identification, knives and certificates from a Florida flight school used by the men who crashed two commercial airlineers into the World Trade Center on Tuesday.

Five of the detained men reportedly had tried to board a plane around the time of Tuesday's hijackings but were turned away.

At a briefing last night, FBI officials denied that the detained men were carrying weapons or fake flight certificates and said that only false identification was found.

They confirmed that "a number" of people have been taken into custody since Tuesday and held for immigration violations. They were in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a Justice Department official said. Some of them could be charged today, which would enable officials to detain them beyond tonight, which would otherwise be the deadline for releasing them.

Investigators also made headway at the crash sites, recovering a "black box" data recorder from the airplane that went down in Pennsylvania.

They also picked up a signal from a black box in the jet that smashed into the Pentagon and hope to recover that device today.

FBI Special Agent Bill Crowley said the recorder in Pennsylvania was found about 4:20 p.m. in an 8-foot crater caused by the crash. Crowley said the recorder will be analyzed by the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington. "We're hoping it will have some information pertinent to what happened on the plane," Crowley said. "This development is going to help a lot."

FBI officials also said they have obtained transcripts of conversations between pilots on the flight and a control tower.

German connection

In Germany, investigators said yesterday that three hijackers aboard the planes in the U.S. terror attacks once lived in Hamburg and were part of an organization formed this year to destroy U.S. targets.

"These people of Arabic background lived in Hamburg and were Islamic fundamentalists, and they formed a terrorist organization with the aim of launching spectacular attacks on institutions of the United States," German prosecutor Kay Nehm said.

German authorities, acting on tips from the FBI, also said they had detained at least one man in connection with Tuesday's attacks and were searching for another.

Other investigations were under way in France, Rome, the Phillipines and elsewhere.

Two of the men identified by Hamburg police as having died in the attacks were Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, both from the United Arab Emirates, who authorities have said were students of a Florida flight school.

Bush administration officials said retaliation for the attacks will not be quick surgical strikes, such as the cruise missile attacks the Clinton administration launched against bin Laden in his stronghold in Afghanistan. Rather, they talked of a sustained mission that could take weeks, months or years.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the administration's retaliation will be "sustained and broad and effective" and that the United States "will use all our resources."

"It's not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism," Wolfowitz said.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was considering asking for presidential authority to activate the National Guard and Reserve, a defense official told the Associated Press.

Anti-terrorism funds OK'd

Congress approved early this morning an allocation of up to $40 billion for rescue efforts and anti-terrorism measures. That is twice the amount Bush had originally requested.

In addition, congressional leaders were working on a resolution giving Bush broad powers to retaliate against the attackers.

But even with the Bush administration's warnings that the military was poised to act, there were signs that threats of further attacks on U.S. targets remain.

The Bush administration took the extraordinary security measure of shuttling Vice President Dick Cheney to Camp David yesterday afternoon for security reasons.

The Secret Service widened its security perimeter around the White House, and Air Force jets were patrolling above major U.S. cities as commercial flights took to the skies for the first time since Tuesday.

All three New York area airports closed a few hours after reopening, and Reagan National Airport in Washington remained closed.

In another sign that life in the United States has changed, Congress spilled out of the Capitol during a brief evacuation yesterday while authorities examined a suspicious package that turned out to be harmless.

It was one false alarm of among dozens around the country.

The National Football League postponed this weekend's games, and Major League Baseball canceled its schedule through Sunday.

Former President Bill Clinton, who now lives in New York and has an office in Harlem, made a public appearance yesterday with his daughter, Chelsea, at a National Guard Armory on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

City officials have set up an information center for people seeking news of loved ones.

'They misjudged America'

Clinton said of the terrorists who carried out Tuesday's attacks: "They misjudged America. The people who were going about their business didn't deserve this. And the people who did this will find out how wrong they were. ... We're going to be all right. We're going to get through this."

At the armory, the line of people stretched around the block. Many carried photos of missing family members. Some wept and hugged.

Others phoned doctors and dentists, trying to pin down details of dental work and surgeries needed to fill out official forms for the missing.

Many firefighters at the disaster site pinned flags to the backs of their heavy black coats. Fire engines and emergency medical vans flew huge flags. Street vendors shouting "God Bless America!" sold thousands of them.

In a city boiling over with frustration at the nation's seeming inability to strike back effectively against terrorism, the patriotic displays brought a measure of solace and support.

"The enemy should know America is not going to say this is over until we say this is over," said Rep. Charles B. Rangel, a New York Democrat. "We stand united in this struggle. ... America is together in this fight."

Officials strained yesterday to cloak the city in a veneer of normality, announcing that lower Manhattan will be reopened today from 14th Street south to Canal Street.

Election rescheduled

The city's mayoral primary, canceled Tuesday after two hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center towers, was rescheduled for Sept. 25. In the city's devastated financial district, the bond market reopened yesterday. Officials announced that the New York Stock Exchange is expected to reopen Monday.

But even with those harbingers of routine, the city continued to focus on the disaster site on the southern tip of the island. Early yesterday, exhausted firefighters slept on the street after a full night of work.

Surrounded by flattened buildings and crushed vehicles, all caked in white dust, search teams continued to gently pick at the wreckage, probing for the living and the dead.

Frank Terry, 34, lowered himself onto a filthy ledge, unable to continue. He had pulled a man's torso from the rubble.

"I wasn't prepared for this," he said quietly, unable to take his eyes off the partial corpse. "You can't get it out of your mind. You can't forget this."

Sun staff writer Childs Walker, The Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad