Bush Denounces Terrorist Exploitation of Islam
Bush Denounces Terrorist Exploitation of Islam for Violent Ends
Says United States is combating terrorism with a five-point strategy
President Bush says that terrorists have demonstrated their brutal nature by targeting innocent people and that their ideology differs greatly from the Islamic faith they seek to exploit.
Speaking November 14 at the Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, Bush described terrorists as being “fanatical and extreme,” but said “we must recognize that this ideology is very different from the tenets of the great religion of Islam.”
Their radicalism, he said, “exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment -- by terrorism, subversion, and insurgency -- of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom.”
Bush warned that “evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously.” He outlined a five-point strategy for combating terror and said that the United States “did not ask for this global struggle, but we are answering history's call with confidence.”
The United States is working with allies to destroy terrorist networks and incapacitate their leaders, and the effort has foiled attacks and killed or captured many al-Qaida leaders, Bush said.
The president said his administration also is committed to denying outlaw regimes weapons of mass destruction and the ability to support or provide sanctuary to radical groups.
The United States is determined to “deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and launching pad for terror,” Bush said, citing the continuing struggle against remnants of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and against militants in Iraq.
Bush said the United States is seeking to replace “hatred and resentment with democracy and hope” in the broader Middle East.
“If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny ... and advance by their own energy and participation as free men and women ... then the extremists will be marginalized -- and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow, and eventually end,” Bush said.
The president made his remarks en route to Asia where he is scheduled to visit Japan, South Korea, China and Mongolia.
Following is the text of the president’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
November 14, 2005
Remarks on the War on Terror
(As prepared for delivery)
Thank you for the warm welcome. Laura and I were in the neighborhood ... so we thought we would drop in on our Nation's "Arctic Warriors." We are proud to stand with the courageous airmen of Elmendorf Air Force Base ... the soldiers of Fort Richardson ... the men and women of the Alaskan Command ... and all those who wear the uniform in this great state. Thanks for coming out to say hello.
It is great to be back in Alaska. This is a homecoming for me -- I believe that I am the only President to have ever lived in Alaska. I worked in Fairbanks in the summer of 1974. This is a vast and beautiful state -- the mountains, sea, and sky are a great reminder of America's boundless frontiers and limitless potential. And here at Elmendorf Air Force Base, you are defending our Nation's frontiers -- and securing freedom for future generations of Americans. Servicemen and women have departed this base to help liberate Iraq and Afghanistan ... assist tsunami victims in Indonesia ... and help those hit by the recent earthquake in Pakistan. Your courage and commitment are saving lives each day. And I have come to Alaska to tell you: The American people are grateful for your service -- and so is your Commander in Chief.
I also want to thank all the military families here today. I know that for many of you Alaska is a long way from home -- and it can get especially lonely when your loved ones are deployed on dangerous missions in distant lands. You have built a strong and close-knit community here. You support each other -- and you support your loved ones who stand in harm's way. I am proud of our men and women in the Armed Forces -- and I am grateful to the military families who stand behind them.
In the 20th century, the men and women of Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson stood guard on the frontlines of freedom -- serving in the shadow of the Soviet Union. From here, you gave our Nation "Top Cover" -- standing ready to defend America at a moment's notice. And because of the courage of men and women like those who served here, the cause of liberty prevailed in the Cold War -- and millions who once lived in chains now live in freedom.
On September 11th, 2001, history called on our Nation to defend freedom once again. On that morning more than four years ago, Americans witnessed the violence and hate of a new enemy. We saw the terrorists' destructive vision for us and for all who love freedom. And in the face of this threat, our Nation has made a clear choice: We will confront this mortal danger. We will stay on the offensive. We will not wait to be attacked again. We will press on until this war is won.
You are helping to carry out this vital mission. Since September 11th, 2001, thousands of men and women from Elmendorf, Fort Richardson, U.S. Army Alaska, and the Alaska National Guard have served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other fronts in the war on terror. The 517th Airlift Squadron has served for over a year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Crews from the 68th Medical Company have saved the lives of our injured and wounded in Afghanistan. The 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team is taking the fight to the enemy with Task Force Freedom in Mosul. Soldiers of the 95th Chemical Company are in Kuwait dealing with port de-contamination and hazardous material operations. And the Fourth Battalion of the 123rd Aviation Regiment has been flying support missions throughout Iraq and Kuwait. From the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan, America's Arctic Warriors are leaving their mark -- and a legacy of freedom.
Each of you is a volunteer. You stepped forward and took an oath to defend America. And every day you put on your uniforms, you reflect our Nation's highest values and our greatest hopes. Through your hard work and dedication to duty, you are sacrificing to build a better and safer world for all Americans. And as you defend our freedom, the American people stand behind you.
Every man and woman who volunteers to defend our Nation deserves an unwavering commitment to the mission -- and a clear strategy for victory. And a clear strategy begins with a clear understanding of the enemy we face. For more than four years, we have seen the brutal nature of the terrorists. They have targeted the innocent in a host of countries from almost every walk of life. In Casablanca, they killed diners enjoying their evening meal. In Bali, they killed tourists on holiday. In Beslan, they killed Russian school children. They have murdered workers in Riyadh ... commuters in Madrid ... hotel guests in Jakarta ... guests at a wedding celebration in Amman ... and Iraqi children in Baghdad.
The tragic images of innocent victims can make it seem like these terrorist attacks are random, isolated acts of madness. While these killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks flow from an ideology and a terrifying vision for the world. Their acts are evil, but they are not insane.
Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever we choose to call this enemy, we must recognize that this ideology is very different from the tenets of the great religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment -- by terrorism, subversion, and insurgency -- of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom.
We know the vision of the radicals because they have openly stated it -- in videos, audiotapes, letters, declarations, and websites.
These extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace and stand in the way of their ambitions. The tactics of al-Qaida and other Islamic extremists have been consistent for a quarter-century: They hit us, and expect us to run. The terrorists witnessed our response after the attacks on American troops in Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1993, and they concluded that America can be made to run again -- only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences. The terrorists are mistaken. America will never run. We will stand ... we will fight ... and we will win the war on terror.
The terrorists want to use the vacuum that would be created by an American retreat to gain control of a country -- to build a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Jordan for potential takeover. And for a time, they achieved their goal in Afghanistan -- until they came face to face with the men and women of our Armed Forces.
In Afghanistan, we put the terrorists on the run -- and now they have set their sights on another country. They are trying to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban -- a terrorist sanctuary from which they can plan and launch attacks against our people. The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.
These militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow moderate governments in the region -- and establish a radical Islamic empire that reaches from Spain to Indonesia. If they are not stopped, the terrorists will be able to advance their agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction ... to destroy Israel ... to intimidate Europe ... to break our will and blackmail our government into isolation. I make you a solemn commitment: This will not happen on my watch.
Some might be tempted to dismiss the terrorist goals as fanatical or extreme. They are fanatical and extreme -- but we cannot afford to dismiss them. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory.
We did not ask for this global struggle, but we are answering history's call with confidence -- and with a comprehensive strategy to win the war on terror:
First, we are determined to prevent attacks by terrorist networks -- by protecting the homeland, and working with our allies to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leaders. Together with our coalition partners, we have disrupted a number of serious al-Qaida terrorist plots since September 11th -- including several al-Qaida plots to attack inside the United States. Our coalition against terror has killed or captured nearly all those directly responsible for the September 11th attacks ... several of bin Laden's most senior deputies ... and al-Qaida managers and operatives in numerous countries. And we will stay on the hunt. We will not relent until the terror networks that threaten us are exposed and broken -- and their leaders held to account for their acts of murder.
Second, we are determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation. Working with Great Britain, Pakistan, and other nations, we exposed and disrupted a major black-market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan. Libya has abandoned its chemical and nuclear weapons programs -- as well as its long-range ballistic missiles. And in the last year, America and our partners in the Proliferation Security Initiative have stopped more than a dozen shipments of suspect weapons technology -- including equipment for Iran's ballistic missile program. And so long as I am your President, we will continue to deny the world's most dangerous men the world's most dangerous weapons.
Third, we are determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. So I have laid out a clear doctrine: The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor the terrorists -- because they are equally guilty of murder. Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization -- and the civilized world will hold those regimes to account.
Fourth, we are determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and launching pad for terror. This mission has brought new and urgent responsibilities to all of you who wear the uniform. American troops are fighting beside our Afghan partners against remnants of the Taliban and their al-Qaida allies. And you are fighting alongside courageous Iraqis against the remnants of a regime and a network of terrorists who want to stop the advance of a free Iraq. Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power -- and so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.
As we pursue the terrorists, our military is helping to train Iraqi security forces so that they can defend their people and take the fight to the enemy. We are making steady progress. With every passing month, more and more Iraqi forces are standing up, and the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence. At the time of our Fallujah operations a year ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today, there are nearly 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the terrorists alongside our forces. American and Iraqi troops have conducted several major assaults to clear out enemy fighters in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. Iraqi police and security forces are helping clear the terrorists from their strongholds ... hold onto areas we have cleared ... and prevent the enemy from returning. Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. And when our commanders on the ground tell me that the Iraqi forces can defend their freedom, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.
Iraqis are also making inspiring progress toward building a democracy. A month ago, millions of Iraqis turned out to vote for a constitution that guarantees fundamental freedoms and lays a foundation for lasting democracy. In a few weeks, Iraqis will vote again -- to choose a fully constitutional government to lead them for the next four years. With their votes, the Iraqi people are proving their determination to build a future founded on democracy and hope -- and we will help them succeed.
The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits -- by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. If the Middle East is left to grow in bitterness ... if countries remain in misery, while radicals stir the resentments of millions ... then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger. If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny ... and advance by their own energy and participation as free men and women ... then the extremists will be marginalized -- and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow, and eventually end. History has proven that free nations are peaceful nations, and that democracies do not fight their neighbors. By advancing the hope of freedom and democracy for others, we will make our own freedom more secure.
The work ahead involves great risk. A time of war is a time of sacrifice -- and the greatest burden falls on our military families. We have lost some of our Nation's finest men and women in the war on terror. Each of these men and women left grieving families and loved ones back home. Each loss of life is heartbreaking. The best way to honor the sacrifices of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren.
The outcome of this war will affect every American. That makes it a subject of vital debate -- and it is important to be clear about the facts. When our Nation was attacked on September 11, leaders of both parties recognized a new reality -- if we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. We had to take a hard look at every threat to America -- and when we did, one stood apart ... Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
Under Saddam's dictatorship, Iraq was the only country in the world where American military pilots faced regular attack. Iraq was the only country that had used chemical weapons on its own people ... invaded its neighbors ... and fought a war against the United States and a great coalition. Iraq was one of only seven countries listed as a state sponsor of terror -- and it was judged by intelligence agencies around the globe to possess weapons of mass destruction. After more than a decade of diplomacy, we gave Saddam Hussein a final chance to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions ordering him to disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. When he refused, we had a choice: Do we take the word of a madman and forget the lessons of September the 11th -- or do we take action to defend our country? Given that choice, I will defend America every time.
Combat forces of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Poland, and other countries enforced the demands of the United Nations -- and put an end to Saddam's regime. Because we acted, the Iraqi people now live in freedom -- and the American people are safer.
Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war -- but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled them and the American people. Leaders in my Administration and members of Congress from both parties looked at the same intelligence on Iraq -- and reached the conclusion that Saddam Hussein was a threat. Let me give you quotes from three senior Democrats: First, quote, "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons." End quote. Here's another one, quote, "The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as [Saddam Hussein] is in power." End quote. And here's the way another Democratic leader summed it up, quote, "Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think that the President's approaching this in the right fashion."
The truth is that investigations of the intelligence on Iraq have concluded that only one person manipulated evidence and misled the world -- and that person was Saddam Hussein. In early 2004, when weapons inspector David Kay testified that he had not found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he also testified that, quote, "Iraq was in clear material violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1441. They maintained programs and activities, and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their programs. So there was a lot they wanted to hide because it showed what they were doing that was illegal." Eight months later, weapons inspector Charles Duelfer issued a report that found, quote, "Saddam Hussein so dominated the Iraqi Regime that its strategic intent was his alone. He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction when sanctions were lifted."
Some of our elected leaders have opposed this war all along. I disagree with them, but I respect their willingness to take a consistent stand. Yet some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force are now rewriting the past. They are playing politics with this issue and sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. That is irresponsible.
As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.
Thanks to our men and women in uniform, the Iraqi and Afghan people are building democracies and inspiring people across the broader Middle East -- and freedom's advance has only just begun. In our lifetime, we have seen the power of freedom to conquer evil, and take root in previously unfamiliar soil. Freedom is the mightiest force of history -- because the desire for liberty is embedded in the soul of every man, woman, and child on earth. If we are steadfast, if we do our duty, this young century will be freedom's century -- and we will lay the foundations of peace for generations to come.
Thank you for your service in freedom's cause. God bless all those who serve our Nation, and all those who love them.