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World Reacts to Terrorist Attacks on U.S.

Aired September 12, 2001 - 16:30   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The world, of course, has been watching all of this unfold as you have, and has been reacting to this as you have. Christiane Amanpour joins us now from London. She has been watching the world react. Christiane, good evening.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Aaron. Well, all day, really, people have been describing this as really a day that will live in infamy. The shock is growing. And it is a profound sense of shock. And really, people and nations across the world have been shaken to the very core, that if the once impregnable fortress, America, can be attacked in this unbelievably appalling manner, they say, then which nation is safe?

Now in an unprecedented act, NATO has met today and invoked a Cold War-era treaty clause that says, essentially, when one member is attacked, all measures are attacked. Therefore, NATO saying in essence, that should the United States decide that it needs to take a military response, NATO will stand full square behind the United States and help it militarily or politically.

Now amongst the United States allies around the world, particularly here in Britain, outpourings of sympathy and solidarity. People here really believing that the momentum is gathering for some kind of retaliation, some kind of attempt to, as the British Prime Minister says, defeat and eradicate these terrorists. Leaders here saying that while cool heads should prevail, while leaders should make sure that they do not act under impulse, that they should be cool. They should neither ignore the scale and the magnitude of what has happened, not just in the United States but to the entire civilized world.


(voice-over): Flags are flown at half-staff in England and around Europe. Flowers pile up at U.S. embassies. Sympathy and especially shock are growing. In the wake of the worst terrorist attack anywhere, on a scale Western leaders say they had never even contemplated, newspapers talk of a declaration of war on America. Politicians from the world's democracies say that today, everyone is American.

TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF ENGLAND: We all agreed that this attack is an attack not only on America, but on the free and Democratic world. It demands our complete and united condemnation, a determination to bring those responsible to justice.

AMANPOUR: European bosses and brokers suspended trading for a minute to show respect for the dead.

European leaders have called emergency security meetings, and for the first time in its history, NATO has invoked its cold war treaty that provides for all members to come to the defense of any one of its members under attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We stand firm, we stand committed. Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: One after the other, world leaders stood up in sympathy and solidarity. President Vladimir Putin saying Russia saying that Russia will observe a moment of silence on Thursday.

German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder says that Germany stands with America and everyone who is for peace and freedom around the world. The same messages came from all European capitals, from Japanese leaders and the Chinese president as well. There were sour notes sounded too. Some people in some countries said the catastrophe should be a warning to the United States.

"To have so many people die, though it's unreasonable, is a warning to Bush and his administration not to make policies that bully other countries," says this Chinese taxi driver.

Back in Britain, which is one of America's strongest and closest allies, Prince Charles came to offer condolences to the United States Ambassador, mindful that many Britains working in New York are likely to be among the victims.


In terms of other countries around the world, America's Arab allies, moderate Arab states, have also unanimously condemned the terrorism attack against the United States. The 57 Islamic nations that make up the Organization of the Islamic Conference have also condemned the attack saying it stands against Islam.

Countries who we might who we might not expect sympathy from, countries like Libya, who has history of antagonism with the United States has also expressed sympathy and support. Countries like Cuba have also done the same. There has been some isolated incidents, for instance among some of the Palestinians in refugee camps and in parts of Israel and the occupied territories who have celebrated what happened in the United States.

And there is, it has to be said, an increasingly anti-American feeling on the streets of the Arab nations and particularly in the occupied territories since these 11 months of the of the Intifada, the Palestinian uprising. But overwhelmingly, the feeling around the world has been one of sympathy, support and solidarity, solidarity, not just for the United States but for the values, they say, the common values that make everyone in the world a target. We are now joined by General Wesley Clark, who is in Little Rock, Arkansas. General Clark was the Commander of NATO forces, and is now a CNN military consultant. General Clark, we've have been speaking about NATO invoking this clause. Can you explain to us exactly and precisely what that means and what action NATO took tonight that is so important?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK, FMR. NATO SUPREME COMMANDER: Well,this is the essential political action taken by NATO members acting together to say they stand with, and will stand with the United States in taking whatever actions might become necessary to deal with this attack on the United States. So it is the precondition that will make everything else possible.

AMANPOUR: Is this important in the speed with which it was done? I mean, you remember from building the coalition for Kosovo that it took a long time, relatively, to do so. Is this an important timeline that we see here?

CLARK: I think the timeline is highly significant. Of course, this is in response to an attack on a NATO Member State. It's the first time, to my knowledge, that article 5 has ever been invoked. It's the first time we have had an attack on a NATO member state. And I think that NATO scholars and Diplomats from previous eras would never have suspected that that state that would be attacked first would be the United States.

So, I think this is a very, very clear signal to those around the world, that the United States is supported completely by its NATO allies and I think that is a very powerful weapon to have in our arsenal.

AMANPOUR: General Clark, this is an unprecedented attack, not just against U.S. interests and territory, but against any interest that we have seen in recorded memory. There has not been this kind of act of terrorism that anybody I talked to can remember. Does the United States have to take military action to -- not in revenge, but to deter any further kind of terrorism such as this?

CLARK: Well, the first thing United States has to do is determine precisely what its objectives are. As we heard the president articulate over the last couple of days, it seems pretty clear that the objectives are beyond revenge, they are certainly beyond retaliation.

He wants and he has directed, it seems, that we are going to go after and destroy these terrorist organizations, and we will hold any states that supported them equally responsible. So this is, thus far, probably the most sweeping interpretation of the objectives. And what it means is that we are in for a relatively long campaign. We have seen some of the opening moves here by the United States today.

We have seen the FBI extraordinarily active and very, very effective by first reports. We have had today, the word from Attorney General Ashcroft, and FBI Director about their activities and what they found in the Boston area, for example. And they are following up leads in Florida and presumably other nations are right now taking the same or similar activities either in response to this or other chains of evidence that might be available.

So the first step is to gather the information and follow it through and take this organization and the people out. And Christiane, if I could just say, there might well be a military strike or whatever is associated with this, but let's remember that the target here -- these are not buildings that we are after, these are the people that masterminded this and all of their supporters. And so, simply striking in revenge at an isolated training camp, or whatever, that's not likely to be the objective here at this time, not now.

AMANPOUR: So what is, General Clark? We are talking about a faceless, maybe nameless terrorist organization potentially, if they decide that it is Osama bin Laden, this is an organization apparently that has successfully morphed into sort of semi-autonomous operating cells around the world. Can you tell us how you take these people out?

CLARK: Well I think we are seeing the first evidence of that right now by the action of the FBI and the local police in Boston. I think you take them out person by person, face by face. It is an organization with faces and they can be identified and removed.

AMANPOUR: General, we have to go. We have some breaking news that Atlanta is making us aware of -- Bill.



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