Iran Focus: London, Sep. 08 United States President George W. Bush discussed on September 5 Americas Global War on Terror during a speech at the Military Officers Association of America in Washington, DC. His speech came days before the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The following are excerpts of his remarks relating to Iran: Iran Focus
London, Sep. 08 United States President George W. Bush discussed on September 5 Americas Global War on Terror during a speech at the Military Officers Association of America in Washington, DC. His speech came days before the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
The following are excerpts of his remarks relating to Iran:
President Bush: Five years into this struggle, it’s important to take stock of what’s been accomplished — and the difficult work that remains. Al Qaeda has been weakened by our sustained offensive against them, and today it is harder for al Qaeda’s leaders to operate freely, to move money, or to communicate with their operatives and facilitators. Yet al Qaeda remains dangerous and determined. Bin Laden and Zawahiri remain in hiding in remote regions of this world. Al Qaeda continues to adapt in the face of our global campaign against them. Increasingly, al Qaeda is taking advantage of the Internet to disseminate propaganda, and to conduct “virtual recruitment” and “virtual training” of new terrorists. Al Qaeda’s leaders no longer need to meet face-to-face with their operatives. They can find new suicide bombers, and facilitate new terrorist attacks, without ever laying eyes on those they’re training, financing, or sending to strike us.
As al Qaeda changes, the broader terrorist movement is also changing, becoming more dispersed and self-directed. More and more, we’re facing threats from locally established terrorist cells that are inspired by al Qaeda’s ideology and goals, but do not necessarily have direct links to al Qaeda, such as training and funding. Some of these groups are made up of “homegrown” terrorists, militant extremists who were born and educated in Western nations, were indoctrinated by radical Islamists or attracted to their ideology, and joined the violent extremist cause. These locally established cells appear to be responsible for a number of attacks and plots, including those in Madrid, and Canada, and other countries across the world.
As we continue to fight al Qaeda and these Sunni extremists inspired by their radical ideology, we also face the threat posed by Shia extremists, who are learning from al Qaeda, increasing their assertiveness, and stepping up their threats. Like the vast majority of Sunnis, the vast majority of Shia across the world reject the vision of extremists — and in Iraq, millions of Shia have defied terrorist threats to vote in free elections, and have shown their desire to live in freedom. The Shia extremists want to deny them this right. This Shia strain of Islamic radicalism is just as dangerous, and just as hostile to America, and just as determined to establish its brand of hegemony across the broader Middle East. And the Shia extremists have achieved something that al Qaeda has so far failed to do: In 1979, they took control of a major power, the nation of Iran, subjugating its proud people to a regime of tyranny, and using that nation’s resources to fund the spread of terror and pursue their radical agenda.
Like al Qaeda and the Sunni extremists, the Iranian regime has clear aims: They want to drive America out of the region, to destroy Israel, and to dominate the broader Middle East. To achieve these aims, they are funding and arming terrorist groups like Hezbollah, which allow them to attack Israel and America by proxy. Hezbollah, the source of the current instability in Lebanon, has killed more Americans than any terrorist organization except al Qaeda. Unlike al Qaeda, they’ve not yet attacked the American homeland. Yet they’re directly responsible for the murder of hundreds of Americans abroad. It was Hezbollah that was behind the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans. And Saudi Hezbollah was behind the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 Americans, an attack conducted by terrorists who we believe were working with Iranian officials.
Just as we must take the words of the Sunni extremists seriously, we must take the words of the Shia extremists seriously. Listen to the words of Hezbollah’s leader, the terrorist Nasrallah, who has declared his hatred of America. He says, “Let the entire world hear me. Our hostility to the Great Satan [America”> is absolute Regardless of how the world has changed after 11 September, Death to America will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan: Death to America.”
Iran’s leaders, who back Hezbollah, have also declared their absolute hostility to America. Last October, Iran’s President declared in a speech that some people ask — in his words — “whether a world without the United States and Zionism can be achieved I say that this goal is achievable.” Less than three months ago, Iran’s President declared to America and other Western powers: “open your eyes and see the fate of pharaoh if you do not abandon the path of falsehood your doomed destiny will be annihilation.” Less than two months ago, he warned: “The anger of Muslims may reach an explosion point soon. If such a day comes [America and the West”> should know that the waves of the blast will not remain within the boundaries of our region.” He also delivered this message to the American people: “If you would like to have good relations with the Iranian nation in the future bow down before the greatness of the Iranian nation and surrender. If you don’t accept [to do this”>, the Iranian nation will force you to surrender and bow down.”
America will not bow down to tyrants.
The Iranian regime and its terrorist proxies have demonstrated their willingness to kill Americans — and now the Iranian regime is pursuing nuclear weapons. The world is working together to prevent Iran’s regime from acquiring the tools of mass murder. The international community has made a reasonable proposal to Iran’s leaders, and given them the opportunity to set their nation on a better course. So far, Iran’s leaders have rejected this offer. Their choice is increasingly isolating the great Iranian nation from the international community, and denying the Iranian people an opportunity for greater economic prosperity. It’s time for Iran’s leader to make a different choice. And we’ve made our choice. We’ll continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution. The world’s free nations will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.
The Shia and Sunni extremists represent different faces of the same threat. They draw inspiration from different sources, but both seek to impose a dark vision of violent Islamic radicalism across the Middle East. They oppose the advance of freedom, and they want to gain control of weapons of mass destruction. If they succeed in undermining fragile democracies, like Iraq, and drive the forces of freedom out of the region, they will have an open field to pursue their dangerous goals. Each strain of violent Islamic radicalism would be emboldened in their efforts to topple moderate governments and establish terrorist safe havens.
Imagine a world in which they were able to control governments, a world awash with oil and they would use oil resources to punish industrialized nations. And they would use those resources to fuel their radical agenda, and pursue and purchase weapons of mass murder. And armed with nuclear weapons, they would blackmail the free world, and spread their ideologies of hate, and raise a mortal threat to the American people. If we allow them to do this, if we retreat from Iraq, if we don’t uphold our duty to support those who are desirous to live in liberty, 50 years from now history will look back on our time with unforgiving clarity, and demand to know why we did not act.
I’m not going to allow this to happen — and no future American President can allow it either. America did not seek this global struggle, but we’re answering history’s call with confidence and a clear strategy. Today we’re releasing a document called the “National Strategy for Combating Terrorism.” This is an unclassified version of the strategy we’ve been pursuing since September the 11th, 2001. This strategy was first released in February 2003; it’s been updated to take into account the changing nature of this enemy.