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Afghan clerics issue ruling

Bush to explain 'sustained nature' of new war

F-15E fighters like this one are among the planes being deployed.  

(CNN) -- The senior clerics in Kabul have suggested that accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden be asked to leave Afghanistan for the good of the country.

The clerics, who met to debate bin Laden's fate, will recommend to the Taliban leadership the he be asked to leave at an appropriate time.

The announcement came as President Bush prepared to address Congress tonight about the terrorist attacks on the United States. Pentagon sources told CNN Wednesday that war planes were being deployed to the Persian Gulf region as part of the initial buildup of forces in America's "new war" against terrorism. (Full story)

Dozens of military planes will be "forward deployed" as early as Thursday in support of the president's objectives, sources said. A second deployment order, not yet issued, could put the number of aircraft involved to more than 100 planes.

The president's top security adviser cautioned that "this isn't Pearl Harbor" and that military forces would not be the only weapon in the new war against unconventional enemies.

"This is also of a war of will and mind. It is a war in which information may be the most important asset that we have. So we're asking a lot of countries to help us with information," said National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

She said Bush would use his speech Thursday to explain to Americans "what it is we face and how we're going to have to face it."

"I think the president is going to use this as an opportunity to talk about the sustained nature of this campaign," Rice said. "I think he will use it as an opportunity to urge patience and reason." (Full story)

The military campaign has tentatively been named "Operation Infinite Justice," according to sources.

 At a glance:
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan

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Among the aircraft being deployed are F-15E and F-16 fighters and B-52 bombers. Also likely to be deployed will be support planes such as AWACS and others that can track objects and vehicles on the ground, and U-2 planes that can provide military surveillance.

The additional aircraft would give Bush the maximum number of options should he decide to take any action against terrorists or their supporters. (Full story)

"America will hold those evildoers responsible," Bush said Wednesday afternoon from the White House.

Latest developments

Northern Alliance says supreme Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has gone into hiding. The alliance said it learned of this development by intercepting radio transmissions. (Profile)

• Police in Portland, Maine, released still images Wednesday from a surveillance video of two men they said are Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari -- two of the suspected hijackers -- as they went through a security checkpoint before boarding a flight to Boston, Massachusetts, where they apparently commandeered American Airlines Flight 11 and rammed it into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

• Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller will travel Thursday to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, to visit the site of the crash of United Airlines Flight 93.

• The FBI sent a list of 20 names to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the nation's banks, asking for any information about financial transactions involving those people. Many of the names are of the dead suspected hijackers and others are of people on a "watch list" of potential accomplices or associates of the men.

• The Justice Department reported 115 people were in federal custody and that authorities are searching for more than 190 others they want to question in the investigation of the attacks.

• U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer of New York are working to release a stamp commemorating the "911 heroes," Clinton said Wednesday on CNN's "Larry King Live." Profits from the venture would go to a fund to be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency "to help defray the costs and the needs of the thousands of people who have been affected by this tragedy," she said.

• Congressional leaders promised to act "as soon as possible" on the Bush administration's request for broad new powers to fight terrorism, but lawmakers rebuffed the request to act this week. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said there were concerns. "A lot are technical questions, in terms of what is your capacity to keep track of Joe Bad Guy without snooping on me too."

• Saudi Arabia is ready to cooperate in a U.S. coalition against terrorism, its foreign minister said Wednesday while meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell. Prince Saud Al Faisal told reporters, "We know what it feels like to be hit by terrorists. The fight is an international fight."

• New York is planning a prayer service at Yankee Stadium on Sunday for the families of victims of the World Trade Center attack.

• A leading Republican senator blamed "massive failure" by the U.S. intelligence community for last week's terrorist attacks. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, said information on suspects believed to have been involved in the hijackings was passed by the CIA to the FBI and to the Immigration and Naturalization Service -- but all failed to apprehend the men. (Full story)

• Bush said the war against terrorism would not be waged just against bin Laden and his organization, but against all terrorist activities. He made the comments while meeting in the Oval Office with Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, leader of the world's most populous Muslim nation.

• Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf addressed his nation to gain support for helping the United States capture bin Laden. Musharraf faces intense opposition among some Pakistanis, chiefly a coalition of Islamic groups. The opposition coalition warned that civil war would result if Pakistan cooperates with the U.S. against bin Laden. (Full story)

• Rescue and recovery efforts continue at New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, although hopes of finding survivors have drastically dwindled. More than 5,500 people are feared dead in the attacks. (Full story)

• The world's largest carrier, American Airlines, announced Wednesday it was laying off "at least" 20,000 employees. The cuts will affect American, American Eagle and TWA. American is the latest airline to announce layoffs in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Industry analysts said some carriers may file for bankruptcy. (Full story)

• Although U.S. stock markets were in negative numbers at the third closing bell since reopening after the terrorist attacks, there was somewhat of a bounce in the final hours of trading Wednesday. The Dow had been down 423 points, but that loss was cut by more than half by the time the market closed. (Full story)

• Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington, pledging Russia's cooperation in building a global antiterrorism network. (Full story)

• The Federal Aviation Administration began its hunt for new air marshals Wednesday, posting an advertisement on a government Web site seeking to fill "multiple" positions to augment its relatively small force of armed plainclothes officers that fly on commercial flights to prevent hijackings. (FAA Career Opportunities)

• U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said Wednesday the terrorists behind the attacks likely received support from other governments. (Full story)

• The U.N. General Assembly has formally postponed its annual gathering of world leaders. The 189 countries Wednesday adopted by consensus a motion to delay the event, which was to have started Monday. A new date will be discussed in coming weeks.

• Guided by New York Commissioner of Community Assistance Rosemarie O'Keefe, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and daughter, Chelsea, toured the Family Assistance Center set up at Pier 94.

• Senior opposition officials in Afghanistan told CNN that contact between the opposition Northern Alliance and the United States have reached "frantic" levels in the last 24 hours. U.S. officials are seeking information on possible targets for a potential military operation. One official said he believed an attack could come in a matter of days. (Full story)

• Boeing Co. says it will lay off between 20,000 and 30,000 workers in its commercial jet unit by the end of 2002 as a result of dwindling orders in the wake of the terrorist attack against the United States. (Full story)

• Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Wednesday his government will consider changing the law governing Japan's self-defense force to allow it to assist any international effort against terrorism. (Full story)

• The USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier battle group sailed Wednesday from Norfolk, Virginia, headed for the Mediterranean Sea "and perhaps points east" of there, officials told CNN .

• CNN's Nic Robertson was asked to leave Afghanistan by the ruling Taliban, who said they could not guarantee his safety if the United States attacks.

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