Wednesday, September 12, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 335



Staff Editorial


Tom Carpenter        Ken Fountain 
Nikie Johnson          Keenan Singleton       Audrey Warren

And so it begins

Yesterday, President George W. Bush made good on his promise to bring the fight against terrorism to its home ground, with the launch of bomber and
missile strikes against the al-Qaeda organization of Osama bin Laden and his protectors, the Taliban regime of Afghanistan.

Sunday's attack was the first military operation in a multi-pronged effort against the worldwide threat of terrorism, in response to the Sept. 11 suicide attacks
in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania which killed more than 5,000 people.

As Bush said in a speech announcing the attacks, "The United States of America is a friend to the Afghan people. And we are the friends of almost a billion
worldwide who practice the Islamic faith. (We are) an enemy of those who aid terrorists and of the barbaric criminals who profane a great religion by
committing murder in its name."

The distinction is critical. In his own taped message, bin Laden said the world is now divided between "two sides -- the side of the believers and the side of
the infidels." 

But he is wrong. As Muslim scholars and clerics the world over have made clear since Sept. 11, Islam condemns the targeting of innocents in war. By
ordering the slaughter of thousands of innocents, and doing it in the name of Allah, bin Laden proved himself the ultimate blasphemer and infidel.

Now that the battle is joined, it is incumbent on the United States to make certain our message to the world is clear and undiluted. We must do what is
necessary to stamp out the terrorist organizations. At the same time, we must do everything possible to protect civilian lives. When the Taliban government
is removed, we must see that a stable, representative government that protects its people takes its place.

In building a coalition of nations to engage the enemy, the U.S. has stepped into a hornet's nest of complications. We have made overtures to Pakistan to
seek their support; this will have implications on our relationship to India. Both Russia and China, in agreeing to back our actions in Afghanistan, will seek
our tacit support their own battles against Muslim separatist movements.

In this potential geopolitical quagmire, we must step carefully. We cannot abandon our deepest principles. The world must see that we are fighting a just

To that end, we must endeavor to capture bin Laden alive, and having done so, we must allow him to be tried before an international body, such as the
World Court in The Hague, Netherlands. If and when he is legitimately found guilty of the heinous acts of Sept. 11, we will be able to show the world our
steadfast belief in justice, not vengeance.

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