February 09, 2006
The president gave his assessment of the war against terrorism in a speech to the National Guard Association February 9.
Critics, who predicted his strategy of taking the fight to the terrorists would drive away international support, have found that the opposite has happened, Bush said.
"Today more governments are cooperating in the fight against terror than ever before," the president said. And "many nations that once turned a blind eye to terror are now helping lead the fight against it," he added, calling this a "most significant development."
The president said that at the time of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, only three governments - one of which was Pakistan -- recognized the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which gave sanctuary to terrorists. But now Pakistani soldiers "are risking their lives in the hunt for al-Qaida," he said.
The president also quoted Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf as saying, "Terrorism threatens to destabilize all modern societies. It cannot be condoned for any reason or cause."
Saudi Arabia, Bush said, has changed from a place where al-Qaida fund-raisers and facilitators plied their trade. Noting the Riyadh bombings of May 2003, he said, now the Saudi government recognizes that it is a prime terrorist target.
Since May 2003 bombings, Bush said, "Saudi forces have killed or captured nearly all the terrorists on their most-wanted list. They've reduced the flow of money to terror groups and arrested hundreds of radical fighters bound for Iraq."
The president said that the terrorists "cannot hide the inhumanity of their ideology."
Since 9/11, he noted, the majority of terrorist victims have been innocent Muslims. In the cities of Riyadh, Istanbul (Turkey), Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt), Jakarta, and Bali (Indonesia), all sites of terrorist attacks, "the people of those countries are starting to turn against the terrorists, he said.
"When people in the Arab world see al-Qaida murdering Iraqi children or blowing up mourners in an Iraqi mosque, their outrage grows," Bush said.
After dozens were killed in November 2005 in the bombing of a Palestinian wedding in Amman, Jordan, Jordanians protested in the streets. One demonstrator, Bush said, carried a sign calling the attack, "Jordan's 9/11," while others chanted, "This is not Islamic. This is terrorism."
When it became known that the author of the attack was the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, his own tribe denounced him, Bush said, saying they "disown him until Judgment Day." Zarqawi is the leader of the terrorist group, al-Qaida in Iraq.
"Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by spreading the hope of freedom to troubled regions of the world," the president said.
The United States still has a long way to go in spreading "the hope of liberty across the broader Middle East," Bush said. But the effort is necessary, he said, because free nations "don't wage wars of aggression [and] don't give safe haven to terrorists." Instead, they "replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against the terrorists."
The president gave details about a 2002 terrorist plot against the United States that was foiled through cooperation with Southeast Asian governments.
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