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Homeland Security

American Forces Press Service

Bush: Terrorist's Arrest 'A Serious Blow to al Qaeda'

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2003 -- The arrest in Pakistan of a senior al Qaeda leader "struck a serious blow" to the terrorist group, President Bush said today.

Pakistani officials over the weekend reported the arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a top al Qaeda leader, during a March 1 raid in Rawalpindi.

"The man who masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks is no longer a threat to the United States of America," Bush said today to cheers and applause at a conference of the American Medical Association in a Washington hotel.

He called Mohammed "the top operational planner (and) the top killer of the al Qaeda network."

The president told the group the war against terrorism is different from previous wars and that it requires patience and focus.

"It's a war in which we will hunt down those who hate America one person at a time. The terrorists are learning there is no safe place for them in the world," he said. "They're discovering that justice can arrive by different means, at any hour of the day and night."

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America changed this country in ways far beyond the deaths of 3,000 people. "We learned a harsh lesson, and that is oceans can no longer protect us from those who hate America and what we stand for," Bush said.

He noted America is committed to "dealing with Iraq" because that country's dictator has weapons of mass destruction, he's demonstrated he's willing to use them, and "he can't stand America, he can't stand our friends, he can't stand our allies."

Bush said the United States has worked with allies and international organizations in the war against terrorists and will continue to do so in dealing with Iraq. "(America) went and got another resolution almost four months ago, unanimously approved by the (U.N.) Security Council, which said clearly: 'Saddam, you must disarm,'" he said.

The president has said often, and said again today: The choice between war and peace is Saddam Hussein's to make.

"It's his choice whether to listen to the demands of the free world," Bush said. "But no matter what his choice may be, for the sake of peace, for the sake of freedom, for the sake of security of our people, Saddam Hussein will be disarmed."


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