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Bush cites al Qaeda in Bali bombings

'We are in a long struggle'

President Bush sent an FBI team to Indonesia to help officials there investigate who is responsible for the bombings.
President Bush sent an FBI team to Indonesia to help officials there investigate who is responsible for the bombings.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush linked the weekend bombings in Indonesia to attacks on U.S. Marines in Kuwait and a French tanker off Yemen, describing all three Monday as the work of terrorists and citing al Qaeda specifically in the case of the Bali explosions.

"It does look like a pattern of attacks that the enemy, albeit on the run, is trying to once again frighten and kill freedom-loving people," Bush said. "And we've just got to understand we are in a long struggle."

Bush spoke hours after a letter attributed to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden warned of new attacks on Western economic targets. Bush said he was awaiting the conclusion of U.S. experts about who was behind the recent attacks, but he cited bin Laden's terrorist network as the likely culprit in the Indonesia blasts.

"Clearly the attacks in Bali, I think we have to assume it is al Qaeda," Bush said.

The incidents in Yemen and Kuwait were each a "terrorist attack," he added.

Bush offered his condolences to the families of those killed in Saturday's bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. The attacks, which Indonesian officials blame on Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda, are believed to have killed more than 180 people, including numerous Australian tourists, about 30 Britons and a reported three Americans.

"We just learned a lesson this weekend: It's going to take a while to succeed," Bush said.

The attacks come as the Bush administration is pushing for a confrontation with Iraq over U.N. resolutions requiring that Baghdad give up weapons of mass destruction. Critics have said a possible conflict with Iraq would undercut U.S. efforts to hunt al Qaeda, but Bush said Monday the United States can achieve both objectives.

"I think they're both equally important. They're both dangerous," he said. "As I said in my speech in Cincinnati, we will fight, if need be, the war on terror on two fronts. We have plenty of capacity to do so."

Bush also said he is concerned about the possibility of new al Qaeda attacks on U.S. territory, but had no indication any were planned.

"Here at home we're not immune from these kinds of attacks, and I'm concerned about it," he said.

U.S officials fear the fatal Bali attacks, believed to be aimed at foreign tourists and possibly at Americans, may be proof that the reach of the al Qaeda terrorist network is growing.

"There have been problems in Indonesia of late involving signs that al Qaeda may have been involved in activities here. We've always suspected that, but some things recently mean that we can more or less confirm," Ralph Boyce, the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, said in Jakarta, shortly after the explosions.

Bush sent an FBI team to help Indonesian officials investigate who is responsible for the Bali explosions. Many of the dead and wounded were Australians. Two Americans and five Britons were among the confirmed dead.

The U.S. State Department ordered all nonessential U.S. employees and their families to leave Indonesia, and urged other Americans to do the same due to "increased security concerns." The United States issued updated travel warnings. Britain also urged its citizens to leave the country.

The attacks came just three days after the State Department issued a worldwide alert warning Americans they may be targeted by terrorists. The State Department has had a travel warning in effect for Indonesia for more than a year, but Bali had been considered relatively safe.

In the last week, U.S. officials said, they have seen evidence of al Qaeda's deadly intent. A French tanker was blown up at a port in Yemen, similar to the attack carried out two years ago against the USS Cole. Two Marines were ambushed in Kuwait a week ago this past Sunday, and audio tapes of both Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenant recently surfaced with messages that "al Qaeda continues to plan major attacks against U.S. interests."

"There have been indications recently overseas and otherwise that the al Qaeda, which is dispersed now around the world, including some perhaps in the U.S. -- that these are signals for attacks," Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told ABC's This Week. "What happened last week with the tanker, what happened with the shooting of the Marines in Kuwait, now in Indonesia. I think these are indications that a lot of things are coming together."

--CNN White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report



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