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U.S. unveils 'Most Wanted Terrorists'

By MICHAEL KIRKLAND, UPI Legal Affairs Correspondent   |   Oct. 10, 2001 at 2:00 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Saying "terrorism has a face, and today we expose it for the world to see," President Bush unveiled the nation's new "Most Wanted Terrorists" list Wednesday at FBI headquarters.

The 22 men on the list include Osama bin Laden and 12 members of his al Qaeda organization. All are indicted in the United States for crimes of terror, but all are believed hiding in "safe havens" abroad.

The acts of terror include the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in Athens, Greece; the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993; the plot to bomb 12 U.S. jumbo jets in the Far East in January 1995 and the bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998.

None has been directly charged in the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. However, speaking on background after the announcement, a senior administration official said some of those on the list have been connected to those attacks.

Joining Bush in making Wednesday's announcement, Secretary of State Colin Powell said a State Department rewards program is offering up to $5 million for information that helps thwart a future terrorist attack, or that leads to the arrest of a prominent terrorist suspect.

"Many of the individuals we are seeking are part of (bin Laden's) al Qaeda leadership," Powell said. "They have blood on their hands."

Powell linked al Qaeda to the acts of terror in East Africa, to the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen and to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The "Most Wanted Terrorists" list is designed to equal the success of the FBI's "10 Most Wanted Fugitives" list. Since 1950, that list has been the most successful law enforcement operation in history, leading to the capture of 94 percent of the wanted men and women who have been on it.

In announcing the list, Bush said it was the "calling of the United States of America" to destroy terrorism, and described the struggle in near-Churchillian terms.

Pointing to the 22 pictures on the wall of the FBI auditorium, the president said the men "put themselves on the list because of great acts of evil. They plan, promote and commit murder ... and by their cruelty and violence, they betray whatever faith they espouse.

America "will not tire" in the pursuit of terrorists, Bush said. "We will not relent .... Now is the time to draw the line in the sand against the evil ones ...."

Attorney General John Ashcroft appeared with other top officials to make the announcement, and introduced the president in uncharacteristically fulsome language.

Ashcroft said Bush is "the man whose character defines our spirit and whose resolve sustains our effort today and in the days and the weeks and in the years to come."

FBI Director Robert Mueller also spoke, calling the war against terrorism "the world's fight."

The State Department's "Rewards for Justice" program is accessible online at dssrewards.net. But anyone with information may contact the nearest U.S. embassy or facility.

Besides the millions in rewards, the United States is willing to relocate those coming forward with information, if necessary.

Speaking on background after the public announcement, one senior law enforcement official said some of the 22 on the list may be charged in the Sept. 11 attacks. The investigation into those attacks is codenamed "PENTTBOM" by the FBI.

"Will some of these people be tied to PENTTBOM? That's a safe assumption," one of the officials said. "How many? I can't tell you."

The "Most Wanted Terrorists" list will be disseminated throughout the world by leaflets, matchbooks and broadcast ads overseas.

The Voice of America will also broadcast the list in 65 languages.

One of the officials said the hunt for the terrorists will test the good will of those countries who have been considered safe havens for the suspects, but who have told the United States since Sept. 11 that they want to join the war on terror.

"If one of these guys shows up in Havana, will they step up" and turn him over to the United States?, the official asked.

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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