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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Jane Standley in New York


Louis Sibande, Blantyre, Malawi asks: Should we expect strikes to begin within the next seven days? And do you think they will only be against Afghanistan?

Jane Standley:

As we know from the Bush administration here - we feel that something, of course, is going to happen in Afghanistan - we don't know about other countries. We are hearing from the US Government that this will be a prolonged and well thought out - a sustained war on terrorism.

Very much here the feeling is that people have expected strikes before now. Much like in 1998 when the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed - then the Clinton administration went straight in almost to Sudan and to Afghanistan. But people now have got used to the idea that this is a slower process.

It is very odd, people are still saying - well we could wake up tomorrow and we could be at war. So, I think, there is no real sense of when this is going to happen beyond that slower more thought out response - putting this coalition out together that's coming from the Bush administration.


Dennis Jubane, London, England asks: Why is it taking so long to act against Bin Laden?

Jane Standley:

Well exactly as James said and as I said before, it is this putting together of a strategic plan - a strategic coalition - among other Middle Eastern and Muslim states. Getting people on board and putting the pieces into place. I think that the Americans have certainly seen some of the history of Afghanistan. They have seen that the British and the Russians had great difficulty there and came away not having conquered the terrain or the people.

I think there are memories, certainly in President George Bush's mind, of his father's own difficulties in another ungovernable or unconquerable country - Somalia. Certainly when I saw the American action there - obviously it was very different, it was a protection force that was supposed to help relief supplies get to famine victims - but it eventually became a rather misguided and uncoordinated plan to find one particular Somali war-lord.

The terrain also in Somalia was difficult. It seems to me to have very similar parallels. Very much the American Government pulled back from the failure there - it felt its fingers were burnt. We are hearing in American planning circles - we can't have another Somalia - we can't go against a warrior race that has good tactics on the ground and lose our footing from the beginning. America lost that battle though it was a very, very different battle - but it came home with its tail between its legs.


Fawad, Pakistan asks: What is wrong with the Taleban asking for proof of guilt before they hand over Bin Laden?

Jane Standley:

You can say that there is nothing wrong with that of course. That would be a view of many, many people across parts of the world. It is certainly not the view here in America, which has been swept in large parts by this very jingoistic, very militaristic approach that it's definitely Osama Bin Laden.

People are believing President Bush actually in a way that certainly some people would not have followed him before this attack - people, say, who didn't vote for him. But that doesn't seem to matter to Americans - Osama Bin Laden, he is definitely the candidate.


Sandra McNabb, Dallas, Texas USA asks: If Osama Bin Laden is captured alive will he be tried?

Jane Standley:

Certainly people are expecting him to be tried if he is caught alive and people are expecting him probably to be tried here in New York. The bombers of the American Embassies in 1998 in Kenya and Tanzania have been tried here in New York and sentenced very, very recently.

But you can imagine the security would be very, very difficult here in New York and very disruptive. Huge parts of downtown Manhattan are still completely in chaos - traffic jams, no communications - it is going to take a long time to rebuild and also to get to any point of having a trial here - if indeed there is going to be a trial.

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