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Bush: bin Laden Wanted - 2001-09-18


A shaken U.S. stock market has suffered heavy losses on the first trading day since last week's terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, President Bush tried to shore up Americans' morale, and said the prime suspect, Osama bin Laden, is wanted, "dead or alive."

By the time the closing bell rang on Wall Street, the key American stock indexes had tumbled amid fears of war and recession. A half-percentage point interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve Board did not stem the tide. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down more than 680 points, or about seven percent. However, analysts say there was no panic on the trading floor.

President Bush and his aides tried to assure other Americans their economy is still basically sound. Mr. Bush kept a high profile, visiting the damaged Pentagon and a Washington Islamic center, in a bid to calm any public backlash against Arab-Americans. But the president made clear his own anger at terrorists who hijacked planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "It's barbaric behavior," he said. "They slit throats of women on airplanes in order to achieve an objective that's beyond comprehension. And they like to hit and they like to hide out. But we're going to smoke them out."

When asked if he wants Osama bin Laden dead, Mr. Bush replied in the language of America's Old West. "I want justice," he said. "And there's an old poster out west as I recall, that said "Wanted: Dead or Alive.'"

The United States has enlisted the government of Pakistan to help bring Mr. bin Laden to justice. After meeting with a high-level Pakistani delegation, Afghanistan's Taleban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, said he will let the country's Islamic scholars decide whether to expel Osama. bin Laden, and avoid a possible U.S. military strike. In Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell kept up the pressure. "The Taleban, of course is responding in the way that it always has, that Osama bin Laden and his associates are guests in their country. Well, it's time for the guests to leave," said Mr. Powell.

Mr. Powell says all roads lead to Osama bin Laden as authorities investigate the deadly terrorist assault. Meanwhile, the government is trying to track down others who were involved.

FBI Director Robert Mueller says 49 people have been held for questioning or detained because of problems with their immigration status. However, no one has been labeled a suspect in the plot. Mr. Mueller denies suggestions the bureau ignored warnings of an imminent attack. "There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country," he said.

There are reports that some of the hijackers' names were on special anti-terrorist 'watch lists' before the strikes, but the men were never arrested.

Attorney General John Ashcroft has announced the government will put more armed guards aboard airliners in hopes of preventing new hijackings. The administration is also urging Congress to pass anti-terrorist legislation, which would allow expanded wiretaps (phone taps) and stiffen the penalties for harboring a terrorist.

Officials hope the national psychological wounds from the attack are beginning to heal. But while gently urging Americans to carry on with their lives, the administration is also asking them to remain on guard.

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