Bush, in determined mood, says 'I will not yield'

President's ultimatum to Taliban: hand over all terrorists or face military action
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President George Bush issued an ultimatum to theTaliban regime to hand over Osama bin Laden and all terorrists in Afghanistan or face military action.

Addressing a joint session of Congress on Thursday, nine days after suicide hijackers killed more than 6,000 people in New York, President Bush clasped the badge of a dead policeman in his fist and declared: "I will not forget this wound to our country, or those who inflicted it. I will not yield. I will not rest."

In a 40-minute speech, during which he was interrrupted by applause on 28 occasions, including more than 20 standing ovations, the President said that the September 11 attacks had put the United States on notice that the world's only superpower was not immune to attack.

He blamed Osama bin Laden and demanded that Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia surrender the suspected terrorist and give the United States full access to terrorist training camps.He directed US military forces to "be ready" for the gathering battle: "The hour is coming when America will act and you will make us proud."

He asked every nation to take part, by contributing police forces, intelligence services and banking information.

With Tony Blair watching from a House gallery seat at first lady Laura Bush's right arm, President Bush thanked Britain for its support and said that the US had "no truer friend."

He said: : "The civilized world is rallying to America's side. They understand that if terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens may be next. Terror unanswered cannot only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate governments and we will not allow it."

He compared the terrorists to evil in the 20th century: "By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions - by abandoning every value except the will to power - they follow in the path of fascism and Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends, in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies."

In a nationally televised address, his fourth prime-time speech since taking office, President Bush tried to explain to a horrified nation the anti-American hatred of its enemies.

He blamed last week's attacks on suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and his followers - the same forces suspected of bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and last year's bombing of the USS Cole.

"The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans and make no distinctions among military and civilians, including women and children," the President said.

Bush condemned the Taliban religious militia that rules most of Afghanistan and gives bin Laden refuge.

He demanded that the Taliban turn over to the United States all the leaders of bin Laden's network "who hide in your land," and to release all foreign nationals, including American citizens who have been imprisoned in Afghanistan.

Further, he demanded that the Taliban "close immediately and permanently every terrorist camp in Afghanistan and hand over every terrorist and every person in their support structure to appropriate authorities."

He demanded full US access to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan "so we can make sure they are no longer operating."

These demands are not open to discussion, the President said. "They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate."

Even as he spoke of wiping out terrorism,heconceded that the violent extremists had already extracted a heavy toll.

"Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss and in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war," he said.

While cautioning that Americans need remain on alert, President Bush said, "It is my hope that in the months and years ahead, life will return almost to normal."

He asked for patience. He warned of more casualties.

This war against elusive terrorists, he said, "will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat."

He said it would be a war unlike any in history. "It may include dramatic strikes, visible on television, and covert operations, secret even in success."

Still, he assured the nation, "We'll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass."