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Bush: Recent Terror Attacks Seem to Fit a 'Pattern' - 2002-10-14

President Bush says recent terrorist attacks in Indonesia, Kuwait and Yemen seem to fit a pattern. The president says they show al-Qaida operatives are active one year after the start of the war on terrorism.

President Bush says a line can be drawn connecting the car bombing in Bali, the attacks on American soldiers in Kuwait, and the bombing of a French oil tanker off Yemen.

"It does look like a pattern of attacks, that the enemy, albeit on the run, is trying to once again frighten and kill freedom loving people," he said.

He said there has been progress in the war on terror, but these attacks offer proof that al-Qaida cells still exist and must be eradicated. "It's a reminder about how dangerous the world can be if these al-Qaida are free to roam," he said.

The President spoke during a hastily arranged session with reporters as he left the White House for a political trip to the state of Michigan. He said he had discussed the Bali incident earlier with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who lost many of his countrymen in the car bombing. Mr. Bush was then asked if he plans to call Indonesian Prime Minister Megawati Sukarnoputri.

"I will speak to Ms. Megawati soon. She is in Bali right now and she is obviously grieving for her citizens that lost their lives," he said. "And I am going to make it clear to her that we need to work together to find those who murdered all those innocent people and bring them to justice."

Indonesia is the world's most populous predominantly Muslim nation. And Mr. Bush made clear he wants Jakarta to take a stronger stand against extremists.

"I hope I hear the resolve of a leader that recognizes that anytime terrorists take hold in a country it is going to weaken the country itself," he said.

The president also spoke about the need for action against Iraq, rejecting criticism that it would detract from efforts to combat terrorism. Mr. Bush stressed that this is another front in the war on terror, and said once again that Iraq must disarm.

"If we don't deal with Saddam Hussein and disarm him and hopefully it will be done peacefully, he becomes more and more dangerous," he said.

Mr. Bush won approval last week from the U.S. Congress to use force, if necessary, to disarm Iraq. He urged the United Nations to take a similar tough stand, although he said he would leave it to the diplomats to work out the precise language of a Security Council resolution.