13 September 2001
Terrorist Attack in America Met With Outpouring of Overseas Help
(Nations offer rescue teams, solidarity against terrorism) (890)
By Jim Fisher-Thompson
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- The terrorist attacks on Washington and New York
September 11, which may in the end result in thousands of deaths, have
been met with an outpouring of concern and offers of aid from
countries ranging from France to Turkey and from organizations like
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union
Millions worldwide witnessed over cable television the total
destruction of the two World Trade Center towers in New York and the
damaging attack on the Pentagon building in Arlington, Virginia, by
passenger aircraft that had been hijacked and used as missiles.
In Washington, where fires were still raging in the Pentagon building
24 hours after the attack, the federal government organized a blood
drive among its employees for the victims. Meanwhile, county rescue
teams that specialize in pulling people from buildings collapsed in
earthquakes were speeding to New York. Travel was difficult because
all commercial air flights over U.S. skies were cancelled immediately
after the attacks.
As the two towers that were the fourth tallest buildings in the world
collapsed in Manhattan, trapping and killing hundreds of policemen and
firemen and perhaps thousands of office workers, offers of aid began
to pour in from countries around the world to counter what President
Bush termed "acts of war."
France, America's oldest ally, offered its condolences for the
numerous victims of the well-planned and well-orchestrated attacks,
and President Jacques Chirac pledged his government's full support in
hunting down the perpetrators.
Chirac said: "I want to reiterate to the American people the
solidarity of all Frenchmen in this tragic test. Our thoughts go
particularly to all the victims, their families and their loved ones."
France also offered a 60-person rescue team to search through the
rubble of the World Trade towers, whose collapse, some observers said,
created a rubble pile between 10 and 30 meters high.
The United Kingdom, through Prime Minister Tony Blair, offered any
assistance needed to help survivors. Blair said: "The full horror of
what has happened in the United States earlier today is now becoming
clearer. We, therefore, here in Britain stand shoulder to shoulder
with our American friends in this hour of tragedy, and we, like them,
will not rest until this evil is driven from our world."
The German government pledged the use of a 24-member team of search
and rescue (SAR) personnel consisting of rescue dogs, power saws,
high-speed cutters, drilling equipment, and optical and acoustical
devices to locate trapped people.
The North Atlantic Council (NAC), the executive body of the 19-nation
NATO Alliance, which includes the United States, met the evening of
the attack and issued a statement roundly condemning the attack,
offering condolences for the victims and stating that "the mindless
slaughter of so many innocent civilians is an unacceptable act of
violence without precedent in the modern era."
The NATO statement went on to say: "All allies stand united in their
determination to combat this [terrorist] scourge."
The European Union (EU) convened an emergency foreign ministers'
meeting the day after the attack and offered assistance, including
thermal cameras, blood supplies, and dog rescue teams.
Other nations that are familiar with the aftermath of earthquake
damage have volunteered assistance, including Japan, which has offered
to dispatch a 100-person emergency response team and 20 doctors.
Greece offered to send two fire emergency teams, which helped in the
1999 Istanbul earthquake, to assist with rescue and relief operations.
Turkey has placed two SAR battalions on alert that can be deployed to
the United States immediately.
The attacks by aircraft filled with enough fuel to get them to
California resulted in numerous burn victims, and Belgium has offered
to send medical burn specialists to help deal with the casualties in
the two cities affected.
The government of Switzerland announced that it can provide, on about
14 hours' notice, up to 100 rescue personnel, search dogs, and
doctors, including psychiatric assistance for survivors of the
Israel offered rescue teams, field hospitals, and any other assistance
needed, and its foreign minister said it could have the teams en route
immediately upon request. Not expecting an immediate response, the
government planned to preposition the teams in Mexico and Iceland.
Expressions of grief and concern by foreign leaders have poured in
since the terrorist attacks, including a letter from the president of
Benin and a phone call from the Embassy of Sudan indicating that its
foreign minister, traveling in Saudi Arabia, had publicly denounced
the attacks and reaffirmed his government's willingness to cooperate
fully with the United States in bringing the terrorists to justice.
The Chinese government faxed a message of condolence for the victims
of the attack to the State Department from President Jiang Zemin to
President Carlo Ciampi of Italy summoned the charge d'affaires at the
U.S. Embassy in Rome to express his solidarity with the United States
and gave him a copy of a letter to President Bush and a statement he
had made on Italian television calling for a "fight without quarter"
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list