President Bush is defending his handling of the war on terror as the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States rapidly approaches. Mr. Bush says the nature of the terrorist threat is changing, and vows there will be no negotiations with the enemy.
The president says five years after the September 11 attacks, America is safer but not safe enough.
He says the al-Qaida terrorist network has been weakened, but remains angry and determined. He says the movement has become less centralized, with small dispersed groups plotting violent acts. "Some of these groups are made up of home grown terrorists - militant extremists who were born and educated in Western nations or indoctrinated by radical Islamists or attracted to their ideology and join the violent extremists cause," he said.
He says whether these radicals are Sunni or Shi'ite, Western born or from the Middle East, there can be no appeasement, and no middle ground. "These radicals have declared their uncompromising hostility to freedom. It is foolish to think that you can negotiate with them," he said.
In the latest of a series of speeches defending his policy on the war on terrorism, President Bush made the case for vigilance. He did so by quoting the words of the leaders of the terrorist movement, including comments by al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden on the fight for the heart and soul of Iraq. "He says the whole world is watching this war and that it will end in victory and glory or misery and humiliation. For al-Qaida, Iraq is not a distraction from their war on America. It is the central battlefield where the outcome of this struggle will be decided," he said.
Mr. Bush also cited statements made by Iran's leaders, drawing a link between the regime in Tehran and the hierarchy of al-Qaida. "Like al-Qaida and the Sunni extremists, the Iranian regime has clear aims. They want to drive America out of the region, destroy Israel and dominate the greater Middle East," he said.
The president spoke just hours after the White House released an updated version of its 2003 report on the administration's strategy for winning the war on terrorism. The report contains no new policies, but it does put together in one document for public consumption all the various elements of the counter-terrorism strategy put in place since 2001.
President Bush said the bottom line is to stop acts of terrorism before they occur. He said the enemy has evolved, and so has the response.