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Remarks in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, on Military Action Against Terrorist Sites in Afghanistan and Sudan

August 20, 1998

Good afternoon. Today I ordered our Armed Forces to strike at terrorist-related facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan because of the threat they present to our national security.

I have said many times that terrorism is one of the greatest dangers we face in this new global era. We saw its twisted mentality at work last week in the Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which took the lives of innocent Americans and Africans and injured thousands more. Today we have struck back.

The United States launched an attack this morning on one of the most active terrorist bases in the world. It is located in Afghanistan and operated by groups affiliated with Usama bin Ladin, a network not sponsored by any state but as dangerous as any we face. We also struck a chemical weapons-related facility in Sudan. Our target was the terrorists' base of operation and infrastructure. Our objective was to damage their capacity to strike at Americans and other innocent people.

I ordered this action for four reasons: first, because we have convincing evidence these groups played the key role in the Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; second, because these groups have executed terrorist attacks against Americans in the past; third, because we have compelling information that they were planning additional terrorist attacks against our citizens and others with the inevitable collateral casualties we saw so tragically in Africa; and fourth, because they are seeking to acquire chemical weapons and other dangerous weapons.

Terrorists must have no doubt that, in the face of their threats, America will protect its citizens and will continue to lead the world's fight for peace, freedom, and security.

Now I am returning to Washington to be briefed by my national security team on the latest information. I will provide you with a more detailed statement later this afternoon from the White House.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:55 p.m. in the gymnasium at Edgartown Elementary School, prior to his departure for Washington, DC.

William J. Clinton, Remarks in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, on Military Action Against Terrorist Sites in Afghanistan and Sudan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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