NATO Displays Solidarity For Terrorism Fight, Says Official

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, Belgium, Sept. 26, 2001 -- NATO nations are displaying "enormous solidarity" with the United States and an "outpouring of feeling and emotion" over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, a senior U.S. official said here today.

Based upon his impressions of a half-day's worth of meetings between NATO's 19 defense ministers, the official remarked that there is "broad-based support" within the organization "for the campaign against international terrorism."

The official noted the United States regards the battle against terrorism as "a long-term commitment" that will require a myriad of coalitions and the employment of a variety of responses, not just military.

Information sharing between coalition partners would be effective in finding and shutting down terrorists' financial networks, the official noted, adding that diplomatic and humanitarian efforts should be employed as well.

The United States is concerned that some of the states known to harbor terrorists are also working on weapons of mass destruction programs, he said. This situation, he added, raises the specter of international terrorist networks gaining access to biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and the means -- to include ballistic missiles -- to deliver them.

The official emphasized that the war against terrorism "is in no way a war against Islam," or other religions or ethnic groups.

"This is a war against international terrorism and tyranny," the senior U.S. official said. "We believe we have common cause with people affected by international terrorism."

The official noted that the United States will continue to focus on other important issues like peacekeeping in the Balkans, especially in Macedonia. The United States will also move forward in transforming its military to address asymmetrical threats such as terrorism, WMD and the proliferation of ballistic missiles.

Regarding Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the official noted that "he and his organization clearly remain a focus of our attention." But, he added, global terrorist networks often overlap and cooperate among themselves.

"They're transnational in character," he said, and that's why information gathering and sharing will be a key component in the fight against terrorism.

"Intelligence can help you to prepare the battlefield, and military action can help you to gather intelligence," he remarked.

The U.S. official said it was important to communicate to the NATO defense ministers that the war against global terrorism will have to be a multifaceted campaign.

"It cannot be viewed strictly as a military-only solution to the problem," he concluded.

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