In this new war against terrorism, President George W. Bush has pledged that nations harboring terrorists are as much a target as those who practice this deadly game. That includes seven nations already identified by the U.S. as havens for terrorists: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Cuba, North Korea and Sudan.
But at the immediate head of the list is Afghanistan, the hideaway of suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, and its controlling government, the Taliban.
The leader of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia, which took control of most of the country in 1996, is Mullah Mohammed Omar, a reclusive zealot who, it is said, has never been photographed. No matter.
He will be found. He will be identified. And so will the other members of the Taliban who shelter bin Laden and support and help hide the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.
As all of this develops, it becomes a better known fact of life that Afghanistan is a deplorable place to live, wracked by poverty and starvation and oppression. It likewise is reported that the terrorists trained there and elsewhere in the seven deadly countries identified above operate largely on a shoestring.
But the higher echelon of the terrorist organizations feed off huge sources of money -- and that now has been made a prime target of the war.
In Washington on Monday, President Bush struck at what he called the financial foundation of the terrorists organizations, freezing the assets of 27 individuals and organizations.
He said his order applied to ''terrorist organizations, individuals, terrorist leaders, a corporation that serves as a front for terrorism and several nonprofit organizations,'' most of which operate overseas. ''We're putting banks and financial institutions around the world on notice,'' the president said -- and if they fail to cooperate, the U.S. will ''freeze their banks' assets and transactions in the United States.''
That should come as a jolt to some in high places in the financial world, including jarring to attention some who have in the past turned a blind eye to the activities of their shadier customers.
This war will touch everyone involved in terrorism, Mr. Bush said. And if that includes bankers and financiers in blue-striped suits in global money headquarters around the world, so be it.
Clearly, America's resolve goes beyond missiles and weapons. There's a money trail that leads to bin Laden, the Taliban and other terrorists, and Uncle Sam is on it.
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