The prospects of retaliation against American and possibly Israeli targets is high in the wake of U.S. military attacks against terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan.
Compelling information that Islamic terrorist Osama bin Laden planned additional terror attacks against Americans and others is “presumed to include Israeli targets,” according to a Clinton administration official.
U.S. forces attacked terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan Thursday after receiving information that Saudi millionaire bin Laden, who lives in Afghanistan, orchestrated the Aug. 7 bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Bin Laden, whose fortune is estimated by U.S. officials at $300 million, founded the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders.
President Clinton called bin Laden “perhaps the pre-eminent organizer and financier of international terrorism in the world today.”
Clinton, in a televised address, said, “With compelling evidence that the bin Laden network of terrorist groups was planning to mount further attacks against Americans and other freedom-loving people, I decided America must act.”
In a telephone interview with a Pakastani journalist Thursday before the U.S. attacks, bin Laden urged “Muslims all over the world to continue their jihad against the Americans and Jews.”
Bin Laden has spoken out in the past against Israel for “occupying Muslim land,” against America for supporting the Jewish state and has called on his followers to oppose Arab rulers who made peace with Israel.
According to two Israeli officials in the United States, security is “ongoing” at Israeli sites across the world but in instances such as this, some sites go on higher alert.
Jewish groups in the United States and abroad were expected to beef up security, Jewish officials said, calling this move “routine.”
U.S. officials take threats seriously from bin Laden, who U.S. intelligence believes bankrolled the World Trade Center bombing and has had a role in numerous attacks against U.S. forces overseas.
“There is a high probability of retaliation somewhere in the world by this network or others who may seek to retaliate,” said a senior U.S. intelligence official hours after American forces bombed a Sunni Muslim terrorist training camp in Afghanistan and a suspected chemical weapons factory in Sudan.
The United States plans more action in its aggressive campaign against the terrorist threats.
“People should understand that this is not a one-shot deal here,” the U.S. senior intelligence official said. “We are engaged in a real war against terrorism.”
Israeli officials hailed the U.S. action.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai praised the “decisive, brave action” of the United States.
“The war against terrorism is a continuous struggle — a vital struggle — in order to maintain security and stability in the world,” Mordechai said.
Israel did not supply military assistance to the United States for the attack, according to an Israeli official who said it is “highly likely” that the Jewish state provided intelligence support.
“Israel salutes the United States which has proven once again that it will fight the scourge of terrorism,” said Zalman Shoval, Israel’s ambassador to the United States.
Jewish groups in the United States were quick to praise the attack against Middle Eastern terrorism.
The leadership of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations praised Clinton for ordering the raids and offered its “full support” of the action.
This attack “gives credibility to the U.S. policy that those who kill Americans abroad will be pursued,” said Malcolm Hoenlein and Melvin Salberg, the executive vice chairman and chairman, respectively, of the Conference of Presidents.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.