President Bush says international cooperation is vital to winning the war on terrorism. In a Washington speech, Mr. Bush detailed the global effort that foiled a plot to use hijacked planes to attack Los Angeles.
The president first revealed the existence of the plot last October. Now he is providing details - part of an effort, according to White House officials, to highlight the role international cooperation is playing in combating terror.
The president says without the help of security personnel in other countries, many Americans might have died a death eerily similar to those killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
"We now know that in October 2001, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, had already set in motion a plan to have terrorist operatives hijack an airplane using shoe bombs to breach the cockpit door and fly the plane into the tallest building on the West Coast," he said.
The target was an office tower in Los Angeles. While al-Qaida recruited Arabs for the September 11th attacks, this time it used people from countries in Southeast Asia. That was where the plot was foiled in early 2002, when a key operative was arrested in a country that has not yet been named.
"Subsequent debriefings and other intelligence operations made clear the intended target and how al-Qaida hoped to execute it," he said. "This intelligence helped other allies capture the ringleaders and other known operatives who had been recruited for this plot."
President Bush says almost half the nations in the world are now cooperating in the war on terrorism, including several that once turned a blind eye to the terrorist threat. He points out how the attitude of Pakistan's government has changed in recent years.
"A little over four years ago, Pakistan was one of only about three countries that recognized the Taleban regime in Afghanistan," he said. "Today, Pakistani forces are risking their lives on the hunt for al-Qaida."
The president acknowledges that some allies in combating terror have to take more steps to implement their own democratic reforms. He says the United States is urging them to do so, adding leaders of these countries now realize that terrorists also threaten the lives of their people.
"These governments are taking important steps to confront terror," he said. "And as they do, we will continue to encourage them to take the path of political reform."
Mr. Bush says the enemy is weakened but still a threat. He says a recent taped message from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden shows they still want to carry out an attack on American soil. In his speech the president vowed, once again, that the United States will remain on the offensive and will continue to work with allied nations to strike real blows on the terrorist network.