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Bush Extends 'Second Chance' to Taleban - 2001-10-12


President Bush has offered Afghanistan's ruling Taleban a second chance to surrender suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and members of his al-Qaida network.

In a nationally-televised White House address late Thursday, Mr. Bush said the United States and its partners would reconsider the military offensive being waged inside Afghanistan, now in its sixth day, if the Taleban immediately handed over Osama bin Laden and leaders of his terror network.

Mr. Bush has said Mr. bin Laden orchestrated the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and Washington and must be brought to justice. The terrorists used hijacked airliners as guided missiles, leaving some five-thousand-500 people dead or missing after toppling New York's World Trade Center and seriously damaging the Pentagon in Washington.

The president says the military strikes in Afghanistan, which began on Sunday, have the terrorists "on the run." But he warned the American people that the fight against global terrorism will take a long time.

Mr. Bush said it may take a year or even two. But, as he put it, "We will prevail."

After nearly a week of punishing air attacks, the president said he does not know whether Osama bin Laden (-- whom he called "the evil one" --) is dead or alive, but he said Mr. Bin Laden would never again find safe haven inside Afghanistan.

Mr. Bush reiterated that Washington is not at war with Islam but against murderers, who he said hijacked a great religion for evil deeds.

The president indicated America does not plan to let total chaos reign in Afghanistan should the Taleban be removed from power. And, for the first time, he talked about a possible role for the United Nations during a transition period.

In a question-and-answer session with reporters, Mr. Bush said he was "amazed" that there is such misunderstanding in the Muslim world about what America is about and that people would so hate the United States.

His comments capped a national day of remembrance -- one month since the terrorist attacks transfixed the nation.

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