'We Will Not Falter. And We Will Not Fail,' Bush Pledges

U.S., Britain Launch Airstrikes Against Targets in Afghanistan

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 8, 2001

U.S. and British forces launched airstrikes at terrorist training camps and military targets throughout Afghanistan yesterday, opening what President Bush pledged would be a "sustained, comprehensive and relentless" campaign against those responsible for the worst terrorist attacks in American history.

Using sea-based cruise missiles, long-range bombers and fighter aircraft, the allied strikes hit their first targets about 12:30 p.m. Eastern time -- about 9 p.m. in Afghanistan -- and continued throughout the night, pounding antiaircraft sites, military headquarters, terrorist camps, airfields and a concentration of Taliban tanks.

Speaking from the White House Treaty Room barely half an hour after the strikes began, Bush promised a tireless assault against the threat of terrorism. "The battle is now joined on many fronts," he said. "We will not waver. We will not tire. We will not falter. And we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail."

With the threat of additional terrorist attacks in the wake of the military strikes, federal and state authorities stepped up security precautions at home and abroad. The FBI ordered law enforcement agencies across the country to move to their "highest level of vigilance."

Bush said the "carefully targeted actions" were aimed at disrupting the al Qaeda terrorist network of Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden and the military capacity of the Taliban militia ruling most of Afghanistan. He said that the campaign was aimed at "the barbaric criminals who profane a great religion by committing murder," and that it was not against the Muslim world.

Shortly after the first missiles hit Afghanistan, bin Laden, who has been in hiding since the Sept. 11 attacks, appeared in a video exulting over the destruction of the World Trade Center and calling on Muslims to join a war against the United States. The video appeared to have been prepared before the strikes began.

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