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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 8, 1998
                              TO THE NATION
                             The Oval Office

10:06 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I want to talk to you about the terrorist bombings yesterday that took the lives of Americans and Africans at our embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; to tell you what we're doing; and how we are combatting the larger problem of terrorism that targets Americans.

Most of you have seen the horrible pictures of destruction on television. The bomb attack in Nairobi killed at least 11 Americans. In Dar-es-Salaam, no Americans lost their lives, but at least one was gravely wounded. In both places, many Africans were killed or wounded, and devastating damage was done to our embassies and surrounding buildings.

To the families and friends of those who were killed, I know nothing I can say will make sense of your loss. I hope you will take some comfort in the knowledge that your loved ones gave their lives to the highest calling -- serving our country, protecting our freedom, and seeking its blessings for others. May God bless their souls.

Late yesterday, emergency response teams, led by our Departments of State and Defense, arrived in Africa. The teams include doctors to tend to the injured, disaster relief experts to get our embassies up and running again, a military unit to protect our personnel, and counter-terrorism specialists to determine what happened and who was responsible.

Americans are targets of terrorism in part because we have unique leadership responsibilities in the world, because we act to advance peace and democracy, and because we stand united against terrorism.

To change any of that -- to pull back our diplomats and troops from the world's trouble spots; to turn our backs on those taking risks for peace; to weaken our opposition to terrorism -- that would give terrorism a victory it must not and will not have.

Instead we will continue to take the fight to terrorists. Over the past several years, I have intensified our effort on all fronts in this battle -- apprehending terrorists wherever they are and bringing them to justice; disrupting terrorist operations; deepening counter-terrorism cooperation with our allies; and isolating nations that support terrorism; protecting our computer networks; improving transportation security; combatting the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; giving law enforcement the best counter-terrorism tools available. This year I appointed a National Coordinator to bring the full force of our resources to bear swiftly and effectively.

The most powerful weapon in our counter-terrorism arsenal is our determination to never give up. In recent years we have captured major terrorists in the far corners of the world and brought them to America to answer for their crimes -- sometimes years after they were committed. They include the man who murdered two CIA employees outside its headquarters. Four years later we apprehended him halfway around the world, and a Virginia jury sentenced him to death. The mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing who fled far from America -- two years later, we brought him back for trial in New York. And the terrorist responsible for bombing a Pan Am jet bound for Hawaii from Japan in 1982, we pursued him for 16 years. This June we caught him.

Some serious acts of terror remain unresolved, including the attack on our military personnel at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia; the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland; and now, these horrible bombings in Africa. No matter how long it takes or where it takes us, we will pursue terrorists until the cases are solved and justice is done.

The bombs that kill innocent Americans are aimed not only at them, but at the very spirit of our country and the spirit of freedom. For terrorists are the enemies of everything we believe in and fight for -- peace and democracy, tolerance and security.

As long as we continue to believe in those values and continue to fight for them, their enemies will not prevail. And our responsibility is great, but the opportunities it brings are even greater. Let us never fear to embrace them.

Thank you for listening.

END 10:11 A.M. EDT