Bush slams 7/11 terror attacks, shows solidarity with India

WASHINGTON: Outrage and revulsion coursed through the American political, diplomatic, business and financial leadership from President Bush down as Washington rallied behind India in an unprecedented manner following the serial terrorist blasts in Mumbai.

Expressions of anger at the attack and support and solidarity for India came from the highest levels of the government, Congress, and financial sector as the events of Mumbai’s 7/11 resonated strongly here with America’s 9/11.

As the gravity of the terrorist attack gradually became evident by Monday evening here, Bush, who was traveling in mid-west US, issued a statement condemning ”in the strongest terms these atrocities,” and pledging to stand by India.

”Such acts only strengthen the resolve of the international community to stand united against terrorism and to declare unequivocally that there is no justification for the vicious murder of innocent people,” Bush said.

The US President is slated to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later this week at the G8 summit in St Petersburg where the continuing terror attacks on India is certain to figure now.

The President’s statement late in the evening was preceded by similar remarks by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who said the incident showed that ”this kind of hideous attack can occur anywhere in the world,” — an indication that Washington is finally beginning to connect the dots in the war on terrorism instead of simply ascribing attacks in India to local causes and groups.

”There is no political cause that can justify the murder of innocent people. The United States stands with India in the war against terror. Those responsible for these terrible acts should be swiftly brought to justice,” Rice said in a statement that addressed the attacks both in Srinagar and Mumbai.

The statement clearly indicated that Washington believes the two events to be linked. The only ugly note on a day of anguish here was struck by Pakistan’s visiting foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri, why cynically suggested in a wire service interview that the blasts showed that Pakistan and India need to resolve disputes that can be exploited by extremists.

”I think the Mumbai incident — however tragic it may be and it is undoubtedly very tragic — underlines the need for the two countries to work together to control this environment, but they can only do so if they resolve their disputes,” Kasuri said in a vulgar reprise of his military leader Pervez Musharraf’s threat some time back that if India did not address the Kashmir issue, Pakistan had ”other options.”

Meanwhile, for the first time, reports here aligned the blasts to similar attacks on transport systems in Madrid and London, and linked it to worldwide terrorist activity, instead of ascribing it to local militant movements, as they tended to do in the past.

Many reports referred to Pakistan’s role in terrorist activity against India over the years as commentators focused on the ISI-spawned Lashkar e-Taiba, a lesser known entity here than Al Qaida.

Analysts who appeared on TV shows also spoke of the activities of Dawood Ibrahim, the fugitive who is reported to be living in Pakistan under official patronage and who the US has sanctioned under laws relating to terrorism.

The blasts caused New York City to puts its transit system on a high alert. It also caused a ripple in the stock market, where ADRs of listed Indian companies dropped significantly after news of the blasts.

Senators and Congressmen too burnt the wires with expressions of sympathy and solidarity for Mumbai and India, as the blasts received unprecedented coverage on American cable and television networks.

Quite unusually, even international financial institutions expressed support for India. ”I want to add my voice to the others in condemning this atrocious attack on the innocent people of Mumbai. As the head of a collaborative international institution, I must stress that the IMF will continue to do its part in the fight against the financing of terrorism,” IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato, said, in a statement.

There was also a swift outpouring of support from law-makers. ”Today, our hearts and prayers are with the Indian people. Just as they stood with us on September 11th, we are standing with them on July 11th and each day forward as our two nations continue to fight terrorism and protect our freedoms,” Congressman Joe Wilson said in a statement.

A prominent Senator warned that the attack would not go unanswered. ”Terrorists – enemies of freedom – will stop at nothing in their efforts to disrupt freedom and democracy, and today’s events serve to remind us that the war on terror continues. But such acts of terror will not go unanswered – America will stand firmly beside India as it works to bring these terrorists to justice,” Texas Senator John Cornyn, who is also chairman of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee, said in a statement.

Earlier, within an hour of the news of the blasts here, the Bush administration it ”in the strongest possible terms” and offered all help to India.

”We have been touch with the Indian Government concerning these attacks and, of course, we will offer any assistance that they might request,” state department spokesman Sean McCormack said, as stories and visuals of the blasts dominated TV headlines in the morning news hour here.


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