George W. Bush photo

Satellite Remarks to the Central European Counterterrorism Conference

November 06, 2001

Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. It is a real pleasure to be back in Warsaw, this time by telecast. I had a wonderful visit to the region in June, and I know I'm among friends today.

I thank all the nations of Central and Eastern Europe at this conference. You are our partners in the fight against terrorism, and we share an important moment in history.

For more than 50 years, the peoples of your region suffered under repressive ideologies that tried to trample human dignity. Today, our freedom is threatened once again. Like the Fascists and totalitarians before them, these terrorists—Al Qaida, the Taliban regime that supports them, and other terror groups across our world—try to impose their radical views through threats and violence. We see the same intolerance of dissent, the same mad global ambitions, the same brutal determination to control every life and all of life.

We have seen the true nature of these terrorists in the nature of their attacks. They kill thousands of innocent people and then rejoice about it. They kill fellow Muslims, many of whom died in the World Trade Center that terrible morning, and then they gloat. They condone murder and claim to be doing so in the name of a peaceful religion.

We have also seen the true nature of these terrorists in the nature of the regime they support in Afghanistan, and it's terrifying. Women are imprisoned in their homes and are denied access to basic health care and education. Food sent to help starving people is stolen by their leaders. The religious monuments of other faiths are destroyed. Children are forbidden to fly kites or sing songs or build snowmen. A girl of 7 is beaten for wearing white shoes. Our enemies have brought only misery and terror to the people of Afghanistan, and now they are trying to export that terror throughout the world.

Al Qaida operates in more than 60 nations, including some in Central and Eastern Europe. These terrorist groups seek to destabilize entire nations and regions. They are seeking chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Given the means, our enemies would be a threat to every nation and eventually to civilization, itself.

So we're determined to fight this evil and fight until we're rid of it. We will not wait for more innocent deaths. We will not wait for the authors of mass murder to gain the weapons of mass destruction. We act now because we must lift this dark threat from our age and save generations to come.

The people of my Nation are now fighting this war at home. We face a second wave of terrorist attacks in the form of deadly anthrax that has been sent through the U.S. mail. Our people are responding to this new threat with alertness and calm. Our Government is responding to treat the sick, provide antibiotics to those who have been exposed, and track down the guilty, whether abroad or at home.

And we fight abroad with our military, with the help of many nations, because the Taliban regime of Afghanistan refused to turn over the terrorists. And we're making good progress in a just cause. Our efforts are directed at terrorist and military targets because, unlike our enemies, we value human life. We do not target innocent people, and we grieve for the difficult times the Taliban have brought to the people of their own country.

Our military is systematically pursuing its mission. We've destroyed many terrorist training camps. We have severed communication links. We're taking out air defenses, and now we're attacking the Taliban's frontlines.

I've seen some news reports that many Afghan citizens wish the Taliban had never allowed the Al Qaida terrorists into their country. I don't blame them. And I hope those citizens will help us locate the terrorists, because the sooner we find them, the better the people's lives will be. It may take a long time, but no matter how long it takes, those who killed thousands of Americans and citizens from over 80 other nations will be brought to justice, and the misuse of Afghanistan as a training ground for terror will end.

As I've said from the start, this is a difficult struggle of uncertain duration. We hunt an enemy that hides in shadows and caves. We are at the beginning of our efforts in Afghanistan. And Afghanistan is the beginning of our efforts in the world. No group or nation should mistake America's intentions: We will not rest until terrorist groups of global reach have been found, have been stopped, and have been defeated. And this goal will not be achieved until all the world's nations stop harboring and supporting such terrorists within their borders.

The defeat of terror requires an international coalition of unprecedented scope and cooperation. It demands the sincere, sustained actions of many nations against the network of terrorist cells and bases and funding. Later this week, at the United Nations, I will set out my vision of our common responsibilities in the war on terror. I will put every nation on notice that these duties involve more than sympathy or words. No nation can be neutral in this conflict, because no civilized nation can be secure in a world threatened by terror.

I thank the many nations of Europe, including our NATO Allies, who have offered military help. I also thank the nations who are sharing intelligence and working to cut off terrorist financing. And I thank all of you for the important, practical work you are doing at this conference. The war against terrorism will be won only when we combine our strengths.

We have a vast coalition that is uniting the world and increasingly isolating the terrorists, a coalition that includes many Arab and Muslim countries. I am encouraged by what their leaders are saying. The head of the 22-nation Arab League rejected the claims of the terrorist leader and said, he— Usama bin Laden—"doesn't speak in the names of Arabs and Muslims." Increasingly, it is clear that this is not just a matter between the United States and the terror network. As the Egyptian Foreign Minister said, "There is a war between bin Laden and the whole world." All of us here today understand this: We do not fight against Islam; we fight against evil.

I thank all of our coalition partners and all of you for your steadfast support. The last time I was in Warsaw, I talked of our shared vision of a Europe that is whole and free and at peace. I said, we are building a house of freedom whose doors are open to all of Europe's people and whose windows look out to global opportunities beyond. Now that vision has been challenged, but it will not change. With your help, our vision of peace and freedom will be realized. And with your help, we will defend the values we hold in common.

Thank you for joining us. And may God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke by satellite at 7:10 a.m. from the Blue Room at the White House to the conference meeting in Warsaw, Poland. In his remarks, he referred to President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland; Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa; Usama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist organization; and Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher of Egypt. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Satellite Remarks to the Central European Counterterrorism Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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