U.S. considering pre-emptive airstrikes on Afghan air defenses
(CNN) -- A senior U.S. defense official indicated Thursday the United States is considering pre-emptive strikes against air defense sites in Afghanistan to ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian aid.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in Cairo, Egypt, refused to say whether the option was under consideration in an interview with reporters traveling with him.
Rumsfeld confirmed the Pentagon is drawing up plans for airdrops of food and medicine for the Afghan people, but would not say how the planes would be protected from the threat of surface-to-air missiles known to be in the possession of the ruling Taliban. (Full story)
President Bush announced a $320 million humanitarian aid package for the people of Afghanistan. Anticipating U.S.-led military strikes, many Afghans have attempted to flee into neighboring Pakistan. (Full story)
The influx of new refugees along the border and the approach of winter could lead to massive starvation, international aid workers fear. (Full story)
As a precursor to possible U.S. military action, Pentagon sources said the U.S. government is considering airdropping transistor radios into Afghanistan to allow Afghan citizens to hear broadcasts produced by the U.S. State Department or military psychological operations units.
The radio broadcasts would also emphasize that "the people of Afghanistan are not the enemy" of the United States and would not be "targeted" in a U.S. military action, the Pentagon sources said.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw broadcast a radio message early Friday to the people of Afghanistan to reassure them the international coalition against terrorism has no "quarrel" with them and that it only wants to bring peace to their country.
Rumsfeld met Thursday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the third leg of a tour to confer with allies in the Middle East and Central Asia in the battle against international terror. He met with Oman's Sultan Qaboos earlier in the day. (Full story)
The Pentagon announced Thursday the United States intends to sell to the Sultanate of Oman 12 state-of-the-art F-16 fighter jets, along with associated missiles, bombs and support equipment. The $1.12 billion sale would be the first sale of U.S. fighter jets to Oman, which currently operates aging British fighter jets.
NATO announced Thursday it is "ready to deploy" troops to support the United States in the international fight against terrorism. (Full story)
In Islamabad, a Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman said that evidence gathered by U.S. investigators against Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the terror attacks, was enough for an "indictment in a court of law." (Full story)
Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV on Thursday showed footage of Osama bin Laden and the leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Ayman al-Zawahiri, standing side-by-side at a unification ceremony of their terror groups. It is unclear where or when the video was made. (Full story)
German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Thursday the United States has his country's "unswerving support" in the war against terrorism -- a war, he said, "we will win." "I am definite that we will lay our hands on those terrorists. We will get hold of those regimes that protect them, that feed them, give them training ground," he said on CNN's "Larry King Live."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair will meet with Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf during a four-hour visit in Islamabad Friday afternoon, sources at the Pakistani Ministry of Information told CNN.
A Florida man diagnosed with anthrax is an "isolated case," the top U.S. health official said Thursday, and his illness is not linked to any threats of bio-terrorism against the United States. "People need to understand that our public health system is on heightened alert, so we may have more public reports of what appears to be isolated cases," said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. (Full story)
Attorney General John Ashcroft said Thursday he was "pleased and heartened" that progress is being made in Congress on legislative package of anti-terrorism measures, but he pushed for stronger language in some areas. (Full story)
A House subcommittee Thursday approved a resolution urging the Energy Department to purchase roughly 156 million barrels of crude oil to fill up the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the stockpile of oil set aside for emergency use. The precautionary measure is in anticipation of possible disruptions in world oil supplies because of the U.S. "war" on terrorism.
In London, police charged a chef Thursday with two counts of violating Britain's Terrorism Act, but authorities refused to say whether the matter was related to last month's terrorist attacks in the United States. Sulayman Balal Zainulabidin, 43, is scheduled to appear in court Friday, according to Scotland Yard. (Full story)
Algerian pilot Lotfi Raissi is also scheduled to appear in a British court Friday. Authorities believe Raissi instructed four pilots involved in the attacks in the United States. He is wanted in Arizona on minor charges of making false statement on his Federal Aviation Administration application for a pilot's license.
The Philippine military captured 13 members of the Muslim extremist group Abu Say and killed another in the southern Philippines Thursday, the government said. A government official said the operation was not linked to recent attacks on the United States. However, Abu Sayyaf has been linked to bin Laden and his network, al Qaeda.
In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told Parliament on Thursday that three of the 19 people identified as hijackers in last month's terrorist attack were confirmed associates of bin Laden. (Full story)
In a ceremony at the World Trade Center on Thursday, steel beams in the shape of a cross were removed from the wreckage at the World Trade Center. Names of some of the victims had been etched on the beams. (Full story)
Members of the Uniform Fire Dispatchers Benevolent Association recounted Thursday the agonizing experience of responding to calls from victims, survivors and rescue firefighters during the chaos that surrounded the September 11 attacks that leveled the World Trade Center.
Two Tunisian men arrested in Belgium and Italy on suspicion of planning attacks against U.S. targets in Europe earlier met with several of the six Algerians detained last week in Spain for presumed terrorist activity, police told CNN Thursday.
French anti-terrorist authorities said Thursday they are investigating a deadly chemical plant blast in the Toulouse area last month that authorities had said was an industrial accident.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon bluntly warned the United States Thursday not to "appease" Arabs at Israel's expense and said Israel will chart its own course in the fight against terrorism. "From now on, we will count only on ourselves," he said.
The attack that destroyed the World Trade Center will cost New York City as much as $105 billion over the next two years, the city comptroller's office said Thursday. (Full story)
In a move to head off potential criminal activity at the World Trade Center site, monitors will over seethe activities of contractors and subcontractors there beginning Friday, New York Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota said Thursday. The Manhattan district attorney is investigating reports that several truckloads of steel were taken from the site about a week after the attacks and sold as scrap, Lhota said.
Americans appear to be recovering from the initial shock of the September 11 terrorist attacks, but many are still reporting signs of psychological stress, including depression and difficulty concentrating, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released Thursday. More than 70 percent expressed concern about more terrorist attacks. (Full story)
Taliban Foreign Ministry officials in Kandahar said they do not suspect a British journalist who crossed into Afghanistan last week of spying. But they said preliminary investigations are under way and if evidence were brought forward, Yvonne Ridley, 41, would be tried under Afghan law.
The attorney for eight detained Western aid workers expressed "full confidence" Thursday his clients would receive a fair trial and said he was optimistic that even if they were convicted of proselytizing Christianity -- a crime in this Muslim nation -- their punishment could simply be expulsion from the country. (Full story)
The Bush administration offered a compromise proposal on the status of airport security screeners. A plan offered by Bush's transportation secretary would put government in charge of security screeners but delay for 18 months the decision whether to make them federal employees. (Full story)
New jobless claims jumped to 528,000 last week, the highest in nine years, the government said Thursday, citing job cuts made after the terrorist attacks. The number is well above Wall Street forecasts. (Full story)
Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is expected to propose legislation for a long-term reconstruction and development plan in Central and South Asia following any military campaign against Afghanistan, an aide to the senator told CNN on Thursday. (Full story)
With tightened security and a limited flight schedule, Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport resumed business Thursday morning. A short distance from the Pentagon and the White House, the airport was the last to reopen in the wake of the terror attacks. (Full story)
Mexican officials are working along the country's northern border to ensure that terrorists do not cross into the United States, Mexico's President Vicente Fox said on a tour of the wreckage of the World Trade Center on Thursday.
The latest figures put the number of people confirmed dead in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York at 380. Of those, 310 have been identified. Police department figures indicate 4,986 people are missing. (Recovery information)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will halt its search and recovery efforts at the trade center site Saturday, FEMA spokesman Brett Hansard told CNN Wednesday. The 20 teams originally involved in the process have been reduced to one. But other FEMA representatives will remain to help find shelter and funding for the displaced, he said.
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