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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 22, 1998
                             TO THE NATION

The Oval Office

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I want to talk to you about our strike against terrorism last Thursday. Two weeks ago, a savage attack was carried out against our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Almost 300 innocent people were killed, thousands were injured. The bombs were aimed at us, but they claimed anyone who happened to be near the embassies that morning. They killed both Africans and Americans indiscriminately; cruelty beyond comprehension.

From the moment we learned of the bombings our mission was clear: Identify those responsible; bring them to justice; protect our citizens from future attacks.

The information now in our possession is convincing. Behind these attacks were the same hands that killed American and Pakistani peacekeepers in Somalia, the same hands that targeted U.S. airlines, and the same hands that plotted the assassinations of the Pope and President Mubarak of Egypt. I'm referring to the bin Ladin network of radical groups -- probably the most dangerous, non-state terrorist actor in the world today.

We also had compelling evidence that the bin Ladin network was poised to strike at us again, and soon. We know he has said all Americans -- not just those in uniform -- all Americans are targets. And we know he wants to acquire chemical weapons.

With that information and evidence, we simply could not stand idly by. That is why I ordered our military strikes last Thursday. Our goals were to disrupt bin Ladin's terrorist network and destroy elements of its infrastructure in Afghanistan and Sudan. And our goal was to destroy in Sudan the factory with which bin Ladin's network is associated, which was producing an ingredient essential for nerve gas.

I am proud of the men and women of our Armed Forces who carried out this mission, and proud of the superb work of our intelligence and law enforcement communities. I thank the congressional leadership for their bipartisan support. And I'm grateful to America's friends around the world who have expressed their solidarity. For this is not just America's fight; it's a universal one, between those who want to build a world of peace and partnership and prosperity, and those who would tear everything down through death and destruction. A fight that joins people -- from Northern Ireland and Africa and the Middle East. A fight not directed at any particular nation or any particular faith, but at a callous, criminal organization whose policies of violence violate the teachings of every religion.

In particular, it is very important that Americans understand that the threat we face is not part of the Islamic faith. Hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world -- including millions right here in the United States -- oppose terrorism and deplore the twisting of their religious teachings into justification of inhumane, indeed, ungodly acts.

Our efforts against terrorism cannot and will not end with this strike. We should have realistic expectations about what a single action can achieve. And we must be prepared for a long battle. But it's high time that those who traffic in terror learn they, too, are vulnerable.

I'm determined to use all the tools at our disposal. That is why I have just signed an executive order directing the Treasury to block all financial transactions between the bin Ladin terrorist group and American persons and companies. We'll urge other governments to do the same. We must not allow sanctuary for terrorism -- not for terrorists or for their money. It takes money -- lots of it -- to build the network bin Ladin has. We'll do our best to see that he has less of it.

Finally, as we close ranks against international threats, we must remember this: America will never give up the openness, the freedom and the tolerance that define us. For the ultimate target of these terrorist attacks is our ideals, and they must be defended at any cost.

Thanks for listening.