Bush Responds to Threats from Qaeda Leader President Bush fires a rhetorical broadside at an al Qaeda leader who aimed videotaped threats at the United States and Great Britain. After al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, released a statement, Bush vowed to continue the mission in Iraq until it is complete.
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Bush Responds to Threats from Qaeda Leader

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Bush Responds to Threats from Qaeda Leader

Bush Responds to Threats from Qaeda Leader

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

A new al-Qaeda videotape has surfaced. It features Osama bin Laden's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri. He issues a warning that attacks on Great Britain and other countries will continue until the US removes all of its troops from Muslim countries. President Bush, who is spending the month at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, reacted defiantly. He called Zawahiri and al-Qaeda `terrorists and killers,' and vowed to continue the mission in Iraq until it is complete. NPR's Don Gonyea reports from the White House.

DON GONYEA reporting:

Here is the tape of al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri as aired on the Arab television network Al-Jazeera.

(Soundbite of videotape)

Mr. AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI (Al-Qaeda; Osama Bin Laden's Second in Command): (Foreign language spoken)

GONYEA: In the tape, Zawahiri mentions 9/11 and the London bombings, though he does not claim al-Qaeda responsibility for that subway attack of one month ago. He says Osama bin Laden offers a truce, but that more attacks can be expected until the United States pulls out from Muslim countries. He warns that the loss of life the US has seen in Iraq and Afghanistan and New York on 9/11 are only the beginning.

The president's response came during a joint news conference with the president of Colombia, who's visiting the Crawford ranch today. He said the tape shows that the terrorists do not understand the US or his vow to stay on the offensive.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: The comments by the number-two man of al-Qaeda make it clear that Iraq is a part of this war on terror, and we're at war.

GONYEA: For the White House, videotapes like this new one and earlier recordings of bin Laden himself can cut two ways. On one hand, they put a face on the terrorist organization and remind Americans about who was behind the attacks of 9/11, creating fresh outrage. But such tapes, recorded in some unknown location, can also serve as a reminder that al-Qaeda is still in business and that its top leaders have not yet been apprehended despite a global manhunt and the president's personal pledge to bring them to justice.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, meanwhile, speaking in Beverly Hills, California, today, dismissed any link between terrorist attacks in places like London and Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and the war in Iraq.

Secretary DONALD RUMSFELD (Defense Department): Some people seem confused about the motivations and intentions of terrorists and about our coalition's defense of the still-young democracies in Afghanistan and in Iraq. They seem to cling to the discredited theory that the recent attacks in London and elsewhere, for example, are really in retaliation for the war in Iraq or for the so-called occupation of Afghanistan. That is nonsense.

GONYEA: President Bush today also commented on what has been a deadly week in Iraq for American soldiers. Twenty-one Marines have died in the past days. The president spoke of the 14 Marines killed when their transport vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. They were from a Reserve unit based in the Cleveland, Ohio, suburb of Brook Park.

Pres. BUSH: The people of Brook Park and the family members of those who lost their life--I hope they can take comfort in the fact that millions of their fellow citizens pray for them. I hope they also take comfort in the understanding that the sacrifice was made in a noble cause.

GONYEA: But the president said, quote, "We will stay the course." He said the US has had these kinds of clashes before and has prevailed. Don Gonyea, NPR News, the White House.

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