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Bush announces 'most wanted' terrorist list

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The "most wanted" list includes 22 suspected terrorists  


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House released Wednesday a "most wanted" list of 22 suspected terrorists that includes not only Osama bin Laden and some of his top allies, but those thought responsible for a range of other deadly strikes.

The names include bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Al-Zawahiri is thought to be a top adviser to bin Laden and living in Afghanistan. The list also includes several suspects in the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa already named in U.S. court filings.

Bush announced the list formally Wednesday morning at FBI headquarters, accompanied by FBI Director Robert Mueller, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

"We list their names, we publicize their pictures, we rob them of their secrecy," the president said at the FBI headquarters that has been at the epicenter of the massive investigation into the September 11 suicide hijackings that killed thousands in New York and Washington.

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U.S. officials hope the terrorist most-wanted list will generate more tips to aid the investigation into the attacks. CNN's Kelli Arena reports (October 11)

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Complete list of most wanted terrorist suspects  
 
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FBI releases photos of 19 hijacking suspects  
 
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Case file: The U.S. embassy bombings trial  
 

On the list are bin Laden, his two top deputies and several members of his al Qaeda network implicated in earlier bombings overseas against U.S. interests.

"They have blood on their hands from September 11 and from other acts against America in Kenya, Tanzania and Yemen," said Powell, who also announced a State Department reward program offering large bounties for assistance that leads to the terrorists' arrest.

The 22 indicted suspects are the most dangerous terrorists, Bush said, "the leaders, key supporters, planners and strategists. They must be found, they will be stopped."

The White House was also working with the TV show "America's Most Wanted" to put together a special broadcast on the list, officials said. And Ashcroft created a "9/11 Task Force" within the Justice Department that will handle terrorism case prosecutions and focus on preventing further attacks.

The task force will be comprised of prosecutors from U.S. attorneys offices in New York and northern Virginia and from the department's terrorism and violent crimes unit. The aim is to centralize information on terrorism and formulate indictments for cases, said Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden. The task force was first reported in The New York Times.

Ashcroft said the new "most wanted" list will boost global publicity for the United States' manhunt and leave terrorists "no place to hide."

The list identifies only earlier-indicted defendants and not suspects in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Listed just below bin Laden's name among those indicted for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania were two Egyptians, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohamed Atef, who long have been identified as bin Laden's most trusted lieutenants.

Officials have said evidence gathered since September 11 has connected both men to the suicide hijacking plot.

The international police agency Interpol also issued an arrest warrant for al-Zawahiri since the hijackings that alleges he "masterminded several terrorist operations in Egypt" and is "accused of criminal complicity and management for the purpose of committing premeditated murders."

Al-Zawahiri, a doctor by training, is the former head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad terrorist group that merged in 1998 with bin Laden's al Qaeda network. The Egyptian Islamic Jihad had been linked to terrorist activities dating to the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in the early 1980s.

The release of the "most wanted" list comes two days after the administration notified the United Nations it reserves the right to strike targets in other nations besides Afghanistan in its campaign against terrorism.

All those listed have been indicted by federal grand juries. A rewards program offers up to $5 million for the capture of each fugitive.

-- CNN White House Correspondent John King contributed to this report.



 
 
 
 



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