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U.S. wants Islamic world's support



By Andrea Koppel and Elise Labott
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday the international coalition against terrorism is "coming together" as the Bush administration seeks to consolidate support from the Islamic world and Central Asian states.

The "first round" of a U.S. campaign against terrorism would deal with punishing those responsible for Tuesday's terrorist attacks, said Powell, stressing the investigation so far implicates Osama bin Laden and his followers.

"We are after the al Qaeda network," he said. "Osama bin Laden is the chairman of a holding company and within that holding company are terrorist cells and organizations around the world, any one of them are capable of committing a terrorist act."

Getting Islamic countries to join such a coalition would indicate to the Arab world that the attacks in New York and Washington were "un-Islamic," said Powell.

President Bush underscored that strategy Monday during a visit to a Washington mosque. "Islam is peace," he said. "These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war."

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That tactic that should be pursued carefully, said Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations. "We have to manage the response in such a way that it does not lead to new divisions within countries and between countries," he said. "Today ... we have to make sure that we don't get into a division between the west and Muslims."

Saudi Arabia key

The United States has asked Saudi Arabia and Islamic countries to go after terrorist cells within their borders, administration officials said. The U.S. also has called on them to stop allowing bin Laden operatives to travel through their countries; cut the flow of terrorist-support money from wealthy citizens; and provide the U.S. with intelligence on terrorist groups. Officials also said they would like to see the Islamic countries stop sending anti-U.S. messages through their education, media and prayers.

Saudi Arabia, whose foreign minister is visiting Washington this week, is seen as a country whose support would be key in an international coalition. in the Islamic world, officials say. Similarly, United Arab Emirates, where some wealthy elites are believed to be supporting bin Laden's network, is another important link in a coalition, sources say.

A UAE diplomat told CNN that the UAE has "pledged to cooperate with the exchange of information about any individual involved in supporting terrorism" and will curtail its contacts with the Taliban.

"Intelligence, money, everything ... the UAE is ready to cooperate to dry them up," the diplomat said. "We have passed the message all over the world that this is against Islam."

Yemen, where the U.S.S. Cole was attacked, also appears to be cooperating, officials note. Powell spoke Monday with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Salih, and said the country is helping the U.S. "with respect to leads" in Tuesday's attacks.

Focus on Pakistan

Shoring up Islamic support also could be crucial for Pakistan, whose Islamic population is against any Pakistani support for a campaign against Afghanistan, officials say.

A Saudi emissary traveled to Pakistan for consultations this weekend; following that visit, a Pakistani delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet with the Taliban's leadership, sources say. Delegates brought with them a letter from Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that warned the Taliban to hand over bin Laden within three days or risk U.S. military retaliation.

An Israeli official told CNN that Israel has pledged full intelligence and military cooperation with the U.S. and has been sharing information about Tuesday's attacks.

Another goal, officials say, is shoring up support from the Central Asian countries, an area that intellgence sources say serves as a transit point for terrorists leaving Afghanistan. The United States is asking the Central Asian nations to do a better job in sealing off their borders to terrorists seeking to hide in the rugged terrain on their border, providing intelligence on terrorist groups and arresting terrorists, sources say -- a proposal that could prove expensive for the U.S.

"We have already tried to work Central Asia with their own terrorist problem," one senior State Department official told CNN. "We really want to help them get rid of the terrorist problem that they know exists."

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will travel to Moscow later this week for what have been "very detailed" conversations on what the U.S. can learn from Russia's experience fighting in Afghanistan, officials say.







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