White House warns Taliban to heed Bush ultimatum on bin Laden

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon committed more aircraft to the Persian Gulf and the gathering war on terrorism Friday as Afghanistan snubbed a demand from President Bush to turn over Osama bin Laden and others blamed for last week's death and awesome destruction.

''This is not the time for negotiations or discussions,'' warned President Bush's spokesman.

One day after Bush delivered a nationally televised message of reassurance and resolve came a freshly sobering warning about more terrorist attacks.

''Everybody knows that if you take a look at this group and Osama bin Laden that there will be a next attack. ... It's not a matter of if, but when,'' said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., emerging from an FBI briefing in a secure room of the Capitol.

The economy suffered further aftershocks from the attacks estimated to have killed more than 6,000, brought down the World Trade center's Twin Towers and wounded the Pentagon. The stock market fell sharply, nearing the end of one of the gloomiest weeks in Wall Street history.

The airline industry was buffeted by fresh layoffs - a total of well over 100,000 since the attacks - and Congress hastened to provide billions in relief. The administration debated internally whether to seek fresh economic stimulus legislation in Congress. Aides involved in one meeting during the day said a consensus seemed to emerge to heed Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan's advice and wait a week or two before acting.

There were determined expressions of optimism as the nation sought to rally from 10 days of anxiety and sadness.

''We will rebuild New York. It's our nature. It's our spirit,'' said Attorney General John Ashcroft, touring the still-smoking ruins of the World Trade Center. Members of the New York Mets baseball team and their manager and coaches all agreed to donate their wages for the day to the relief effort, $450,000 in all. And a long roster of stars volunteered for a morale-boosting nationally broadcast entertainment program.

For the first time since the attacks, Bush did not speak in public, working instead in private meetings with his national security advisers, representatives of the insurance industry and others. Dozens of flag-waving White House aides sent the president off to Camp David as he boarded his helicopter at mid-afternoon. First Lady Laura Bush gave her husband a peck on the cheek before they boarded Marine One.

Halfway around the world, Pakistan, next door to Afghanistan, stood as a prime example of the complexities behind Bush's efforts to rally all nations to the anti-terrorism banner. The president was burned in effigy during the day as thousands of Muslims protested their government's decision to cooperate with America.

At the same time, several sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the administration had notified Congress it was moving to ease Pakistan sanctions that had been in place for several years in an attempt to curtail weapons programs.

''We have to give something to them, and I think the sanctions have outlived their usefulness,'' said Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

Afghanistan's ambassador to Pakistan responded to Bush's demand that bin Laden and others be turned over. If America has proof, ''we are ready for the trial of Osama bin Laden in light of the evidence,'' said Abdul Salam Zaeef. Asked if the ruling Taliban were ready to hand him over otherwise, he said: ''No,'' a refusal amended by his translator to say, ''No, not without evidence.''

To Bush's demand, the ambassador added a warning of his own: ''It has angered Muslims of the world and can plunge the whole region into a crisis.''

Fleischer, responding a few hours later from the White House podium, referred reporters to the conditions Bush laid down Thursday night, ''to cease their efforts to support and harbor terrorists and to turn terrorists over to the United States or other authorities, and to allow the United States access to the terrorists camps,'' he said.

Asked to detail evidence of bin Laden's and the al-Qaida network's alleged involvement, he refused. ''They would like nothing better than to be able to hide where they are hiding and have the United States reveal what we know and how we know it,'' he said.

In the FBI-led investigation into the suicide attacks, federal prosecutors said they charged a man with trying to fly into Chicago aboard a German airliner with an illegal passport and airline uniforms on the day of the attacks. He was reported in custody in Canada.

Overseas, authorities in England reported arresting three men and a woman in connection with the U.S. attacks, and German prosecutors issued arrest warrants for two men. French authorities arrested seven people allegedly involved in a plot to harm U.S. sites in France.

The Pentagon released little by way of detail about the deployment of forces around the globe. One senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said more Air Force planes had been ordered to support a buildup of firepower in the Persian Gulf region. The dozen or so additions will join more than 100 warplanes already ticketed for the effort to wipe out terrorism.

''You'll see a lot of activity,'' said Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke in an interview. ''We're preparing for what could very well be a wide range of options. So, you will see a lot of people moving, you'll see a lot of equipment moving.''

Bush's prime time speech drew strong support among Americans, according to surveys conducted in the aftermath of the address, and from most overseas leaders who have pledged America their backing.

And yet, Bush's warning that the Taliban would share the fate of bin Laden if they didn't meet U.S. demands sparked expressions of anger not only in Pakistan.

Cleric Bakir Abdul-Razak condemned ''the new crusade'' as ''war with a new cover'' in prayers carried on Iraqi state TV.

''By God's will, the Americans will not have an upper hand on us,'' the Iraqi cleric said. ''We call for jihad (holy war), and we defy you, the Americans.''


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