CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
America Strikes Back: President, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and FBI Head Unveiling Plan to Make Public More Aware of Most-Wanted List
Aired October 10, 2001 - 10:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: We take you to FBI headquarters, where Attorney General Ashcroft is about to speak, followed by the president.
Let's listen in.
JOHN ASHCROFT, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you. Good morning.
In his address to the American people following the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush spoke to a nation awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. All of America has risen to the cause that now tragically defines our times.
Everyday heroes, heroes who sacrificed their lives in the skies above Pennsylvania, at the Pentagon and in those towers of New York, these heroes inspire us. America's call to defend freedom has been answered resoundingly by men and women who protect justice every day, men and women here at the FBI, thousands of FBI agents, Department of Justice investigators and support personnel.
They've been joined by tens of thousands of state and local law enforcement officers to wage war against terrorism within our borders. They work beyond fatigue, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their effort is a testimony to the American spirit, a quiet but determined show of faith in the rightness of our cause, the endurance of our freedom and in the certainty of our justice.
Terrorists live in the shadows under the cover of darkness. We will shine the light of justice on them. Our global manhunt will track the trail of terror and leave no place to hide.
It is my honor to introduce the man whose character defines our spirit and whose resolve sustains our effort today and in the days and the weeks and in the years to come. Because his leadership has given us new reason to hope, it has given our enemies new reason to fear.
Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States, George W. Bush.
(APPLAUSE) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much for that warm welcome. I'm pleased to be back in town at the FBI to unveil a new line of attack on a war against terrorism, the most- wanted terrorist list.
Terrorists try to operate in the shadows. They try to hide. But we're going to shine the line of justice on them. We list their names, we publicize their pictures, we rob them of their secrecy. Terrorism has a face, and today, we expose it for the world to see.
Mr. General, thank you very much for your leadership, your strong resolve, the values you espouse. I want to thank all the Justice Department folks who are here today. I'm so honored to be up here with the Secretary of State who is doing a fabulous job of rallying the world to an honorable cause, and I want to thank the State Department officials who are here today as well.
And, of course, Director Mueller, I want to thank you and the fine men and women of the FBI, for your diligent efforts to disrupt and find anybody who tries to harm Americans.
I also want to introduce Tom Ridge, the director of the Office of Homeland Security. Thank you for being here, Governor. As well as General Wayne Downing, the deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism. Thank you all for coming.
The men on the wall here have put themselves on the list because of great acts of evil.
They plan, promote and commit murder. They fill the minds of others with hate and lies. And by their cruelty and violence, they betray whatever faith they espouse. These 22 individuals do not account for all of the terrorist activity in the world, but they're among the most dangerous, the leaders and key supporters, the planners and strategists. They must be found. They will be stopped, and they will be punished.
This effort is part of a worldwide assault on terror. All of our allies and friends will now be familiar with these evildoers and their associates. For those who join our coalition, we expect results. And a good place to start would to -- help us bring these folks to justice. Eventually, no corner of the world will be dark enough to hide in.
I want to thank all of the State Department employees for helping to build an unprecedented coalition to stand with us for freedom. I want to thank the American people for understanding that we are engaged in a new war, a war that will require a new way of thinking.
You know, there's a fascination about the conventional aspects of the military operations that are taking place now. And I can understand that.
But the American people must understand that we're making great progress in other fronts, that we're halting their money, that we've got allies around the world helping us close the net. And today, by shining the spotlight on the first 22, it's going to make it more likely they'll be brought to justice.
I say the first 22 because our war is not just against 22 individuals. Our war is against networks and groups, people who coddle them, people who try to hide them, people who fund them. This is our calling. This is the calling of the United States of America, the most free nation in the world, a nation built on fundamental values, that rejects hate, rejects violence, rejects murderers, rejects evil. And we will not tire; we will not relent.
It is not only important for the homeland security of America that we succeed; it is equally as important for generations of Americans, who we've (sic) yet be born. Now is the time to draw the line in the sand against the evil ones, and this government is committed to doing just that.
I also want to remind my fellow Americans, as we round up the evildoers, as we look for those who might harm our fellow Americans, we must remember not to violate the rights of the innocent. Our war is not against a religion. Our war is against evil. There are thousands of Muslim Americans who love America just as much as I do, and we will respect their rights. We will not let the terrorists cause decay of the fundamental rights that make our nation unique. As a matter of fact, what they'll find out is that our nation has responded in a way they never envisioned.
We're united, people of all faiths, all religions. All areas of our country are united in the common effort to stamp out evil where we find it. It is the right thing to do. It is the right course of action for our nation and the world, and I want to thank you all for helping.
It is now my honor to bring the director of the FBI to the podium.
ROBERT MUELLER. FBI DIRECTOR: Thank you, Mr. President. We appreciate your being here today.
I also want to thank the Secretary of State, the attorney general as well as the president for their leadership in launching this program, the newest weapon on America's war -- or in America's war on terrorism.
I'd also like to thank Governor Ridge for being here with us today. We very much, in the FBI, we very much look forward to working with the governor.
For more than half a century, the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives initiative has put a global spotlight on those attempting to flee from justice. A total of 467 dangerous criminals have been put under the watchful eye of the international community since 1950; 438 of those fugitives have been captured, a success rate of nearly 94 percent. Of that number, nearly one in three have been apprehended through a tip from a private citizen.
Now, with this new program, we're spotlighting those who attack freedom itself, terrorists who hide in the shadows and whisper their plots in the dark corners of the world.
Through the continuing support of the media, we're going to spread the names and faces of the most dangerous terrorists across the globe, so that they have nowhere to hide, nowhere to run.
Already, the support of the global community and the work of our legal attache offices overseas have helped to bring to justice four out of the five international terrorists on our original 10 most wanted fugitives list. One of those was Mir Amal Kansi who brutally murdered two CIA employees in 1993. Thanks to a tip from a private citizen overseas, we were able to locate and arrest Kansi and return to the United States to face justice.
A second international international terrorist we located through the fugitive list was Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Yousef was apprehended overseas, tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
The FBI's most-wanted program is one of the most successful law enforcement initiatives ever launched.
Now, we are once again combining the power and reach of the media with the eyes and ears of millions of concerned citizens worldwide in the fight against terrorism. And as the president has made clear, this is not just America's fight, it is the world's fight. We call upon all of those who cherish freedom and justice to join us in ridding our earth of the terrible scourge of terrorism.
And now, it is my privilege to introduce the secretary of state, Colin Powell. For many years, along with the Department of Defense and many other federal agencies, the Department of State has been our partner in fighting terrorism around the world.
Since 1987, it has helped us extradite 17 international terrorists. The partnership we have had in the FBI, the partnership we've had with the State Department has never been stronger than under Secretary Powell's leadership. As all of us here know and those across the country know that he has been a forceful and tireless leader, particularly in the past four weeks, and we in the FBI particularly appreciate his support in bringing to fruition this new terrorist list.
And I'd ask you to join me in welcoming here today Secretary of State Colin Powell.
COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Well, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here this morning with President Bush, Attorney General Ashcroft, Director Mueller and my new colleagues in government, Governor Ridge and my old war buddy, Wayne Downing. It's a pleasure also to have you here this morning and to be in the presence of so many of the accomplished professionals of the Justice Department and the FBI.
The State Department is proud, Mr. President, to be part of the team that, under your leadership, is going after those responsible for the September 11 attacks on America and on the world and also working to eliminate the threat posed by international terrorism to the civilized world.
The events of September 11 brought home to us in tragic fashion the global reach of terrorists in today's world. The lesson is clear: To defeat terrorists, we must identify them, we must find them and we must seize them wherever they are in the world doing their evil deeds or plotting new evil deeds.
Many of the individuals we are seeking are part of the Al Qaeda leadership. They have blood on their hands from September 11 and from other acts against America, in Kenya, Tanzania and Yemen. The effort to capture these and other terrorists requires a coordinated campaign within the United States government and with government and law enforcement officials in other countries.
We have put together such a campaign and our efforts are starting to pay off. We're all working together more closely, governments are cooperating around the world, known terrorists are being put behind bars. But we are only at the beginning of a long campaign, as the president said. Much remains to be done. We must be patient, but we must be persistent, and I know the American people understand the need for patience and persistence.
One of the most powerful tools we have for tracking down terrorists abroad is the State Department's Rewards for Justice program. This program offers rewards of up to $5 million for information that thwarts a terrorist attack on American or other interests or brings a terrorist to justice. Rewards for Justice is, as we say in the military "a force multiplier." It gives us millions of additional pairs of eyes and ears to be on the lookout. It puts potential informants in every place a terrorist might try to operate or to hide and it works.
Since the program's inception in 1984, we have paid over $8 million in 22 separate cases to people who provided information that put terrorists in prison or prevented attacks. One example was just touched on by Bob as to how this program works. Ramzi Yousef, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, was also engaged in a scheme to blow up 12 commercial airliners over the Pacific. But his plot was foiled when an informant in Pakistan, alerted by State Department flyers describing Yousef and his role in the bombing, turned him in. We want to see this story repeated everywhere, everywhere that a terrorist is plotting against us or our interests, everywhere a terrorist is hiding. We are getting the word out about our rewards for justice program in flyers and other ways of reaching the public, and we have a web site that will give you all the information you need about this program: www.dssrewards.com -- www.dssrewards.net. Let us know about it -- .net that is.
Ladies and gentlemen, the campaign against international terrorism requires us to use every tool we have -- political, diplomatic, intelligence, law enforcement, financial and military. Under the president's leadership, we are doing just that.
Here today diplomacy and law enforcement are standing side by side united as a country, united as a people. We will be successful. As the president has said, we will prevail and the State Department will play a role in this campaign and in this war and we truly will win.
Thank you very much.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: There you have it, the president of the United States with the secretary of state, attorney general and head of the FBI unveiling this plan to make the public much more aware of its most-wanted list. The president saying there are 22 names in all. He said but by printing names and publishing pictures that they hope to rob the murders of their identity.
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