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Myths and Facts: The International Strikes on Terrorists, Their Supporters

BG0108E | Date: 2001-10-11

Analysis by the State Department's International Information Programs

Myth: Al-Qaida statements have cast the recent terrorist attacks in the U.S. as an effort by Muslims to punish the U.S.

Fact: The September terrorist attacks in the United States were an attack against people of all faiths and nationalities. Citizens of some 80 countries, including hundreds of Muslims, lost their lives in these attacks. These victims, now thought to number between 5,000 and 6, 000, were innocent people. The World Trade Center is not a symbol of the United States, but of international trade, prosperity and opportunity.

It is this international ideal of global progress that the terrorists sought to destroy. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said, "The United Nations must recognize that just as there are common aims, there are common enemies. To defeat them, all nations must join forces in an effort encompassing every aspect of the open, free, global system so wickedly exploited by the perpetrators" of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Myth: The campaign against the Taliban and the terrorists in Afghanistan are an attack on the Afghan people.

Fact: The Taliban do not represent the Afghan people. At a time when the Afghan people face starvation and displacement from drought and the Taliban's ongoing fighting with other factions in Afghanistan, the Taliban have opened their country to thousands of non-Afghan terrorists. These foreigners do not share the hardships of ordinary Afghans, and have exploited Afghan resources and manpower for their own interests, which have nothing to do with the Afghan people.

Myth: The international coalition currently attacking targets in Afghanistan will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Fact: While terrorists were killing thousands of innocent people on Sept. 11, the U.S. was funneling food and humanitarian aid to suffering Afghan people. The Taliban have done nothing to address the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, while the U.S. and the international community have. Over the past few years, millions of Afghans have fled their homeland because of widespread misery and starvation brought on by the Taliban's misuse of the country's resources. The U.S. is and has been the largest donor of humanitarian aid to Afghans, both inside Afghanistan and in refugee camps. On October 4, President Bush announced an additional $320 million in food, medicine and other humanitarian aid to Afghans. This amount is in addition to the approximately $184 million the U.S. has already contributed.

Myth: The U.S. cares only about avenging the thousands of citizens from around the world killed by al-Qaida, and does not care about the effect its military actions will have on the Afghan people.

Fact: The U.S. seeks to liberate the Afghan people from the oppression and misery brought on by the Taliban. While U.S. warplanes attacked the terrorist infrastructure in Afghanistan on October 7, U.S. pilots risked their lives to airdrop some 37,000 pre-packaged rations to concentrations of Afghan refugees inside Afghanistan. A similar airdrop of provisions took place on October 8.

Myth: The U.S.-led action against Afghanistan is an example of a large country unjustly attacking a small state.

Fact: The Afghan people are not the target of this international campaign-the targets are the terrorists who have committed mass-murder in the U.S. and Africa, and their clients in the Taliban regime. The U.S. remains committed to the welfare of the Afghan people and is committed to helping them rebuild their country following years of Taliban oppression.

Myth: The U.S. is alone in its efforts to overthrow terrorists and their supporters in Afghanistan.

Fact: Dozens of countries have contributed to the campaign against the terrorists and their supporters in Afghanistan through direct military support, landing and transit rights, basing opportunities and intelligence support. The nineteen members of NATO have agreed to send sophisticated surveillance aircraft to help the U.S. in the battle against terror, and the NATO Secretary-General has stated that other NATO allies have pledged "direct military support as this operation unfolds."

Myth: The U.S. is engaged in "nation-building" and is supporting the Northern Alliance.

Fact: The U.S. is not "nation building." We are, however, going to clear the way for Afghans to do their own nation building. Only Afghans can build their nation, and establish a broad-based government. Only Afghans can bring their country back into the community of nations and build their future. Our purpose is to make it possible for them to do that. The U.S. recognizes no faction in Afghanistan. We are currently cooperating with the Northern Alliance in order to destroy the ability of the Taliban and al-Qaida to engage in terrorism.