President Bush's national security advisor says the United States cannot afford to halt its war on terrorism during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Condoleezza Rice says attacks on Taleban and terrorist targets in Afghanistan will continue.
Condoleezza Rice says the military action must go on. She says America has a mission to fulfill. "The United States was attacked on September 11 with incredible brutality," she says. "We continue to be concerned about further attacks. We have no choice but to try to go both to the source of this in Afghanistan and to try to root these organizations out wherever we can. And we have to get about that business. We cannot afford to have a pause."
Leaders of countries with large Muslim populations have been urging the United States to halt attacks on Taleban and terrorist targets in Afghanistan during Ramadan.
Ms. Rice says she does not believe the enemy will pause for the Muslim fasting month. "This is an enemy that has to be taken on and taken on aggressively and pressed to the end," she says. "And we are going to continue to do that. We have to continue the military action." During a session with White House reporters, Condoleezza Rice spoke at some length about the various fronts in the war on terrorism. She says President Bush will outline further action to freeze the flow of money to terrorists in a speech next week. That speech is part of an enhanced Bush administration effort to get its message out to the public at home and abroad.
White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer said the United States is stepping up its public relations campaign with information centers in Washington, London and Islamabad to counter lies from the Taleban. "We are dealing with a regime that has lied not only to its own people but to its neighbors and to the people of the United States, the people of Pakistan and around the world," he said.
Mr. Fleischer said Taleban officials lied Thursday when they claimed to have detained U.S. citizens. He said no Americans are in custody, except for two aid workers who were arrested before the war on terrorism began.
The White House spokesman also dismissed a letter believed to be from Osama bin Laden that was delivered to the Kabul office of the Arabic satellite television station al-Jazeera. The handwritten message calls on Muslims in Pakistan to rise up in defense of Islam. "I think it is just more of the same propaganda that people have been hearing and I dismiss it as such," he said.
Osama bin Laden is the Bush administration's prime suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Last month, the White House asked television networks to stop airing videotaped messages from Osama bin Laden in their entirety.