September 11, 2001
Statement of Congressman Brad Sherman
Member of International Relations Committee and
its Subcommittee on the Middle East
September 11, 2001 is a day that will live in infamy. This may be
the greatest loss of life on American soil since the civil war.
Today’s loss of life may approach or exceed the loss of life at Pearl
Harbor. After Pearl Harbor some suggested appeasement, and withdrawal
from Asia and the Pacific. Instead the greatest generation made the
greatest sacrifices to win our greatest victory.
America must mobilize for a war against terrorism, not only against
the criminals responsible for today’s horrific events, but all terrorism.
This is not a war against Islam, or against Muslims. Our last three
wars were waged to protect people who happen to be Muslim. We restored
independence to the people of Kuwait and then engaged in two further
wars in which we had no economic stake. In the mid-1990s, we protected
the Bosnian Muslims from genocide. In 1999, we went to war against
Serbia, a Christian country, to protect its Albanian Muslim minority
from ethnic cleansing.
Today we suffered greater casualties than in all three of those wars
There are some dancing in the streets of certain foreign cities who
believe that the terrorists who killed thousands of American civilians
have proven their strength by killing thousands of civilians. America
has the power to kill civilians by the tens of thousands or the tens
of millions. However America’s great strength is that we do everything
possible to avoid killing civilians, even those who dance today in
For years, we have begged our friends to curtail investment and aid
to countries which support terrorism. Now in this war for decency
and civilization we must have the full support of our allies. Those
who claim to be friends of America can no longer do business as usual
with countries which harbor terrorists.
We appreciate the statements of sympathy from the Taliban government
in Afghanistan, but this is clearly insufficient. The Taliban government
must turn over Osama bin Laden and his associates to the United States.
If the Afghan government gives us excuses instead of giving us bin
Laden, we must take harsh action. This would include providing arms
and perhaps air cover to the forces in Northern Afghanistan and the
legitimate government of that country. These forces have fought the
Taliban to a standstill without our help. With very substantial American
help these forces will march into Kabul.
We appreciate the statements of sympathy from chairman Arafat, but
we must demand that he arrest terrorists in areas he controls.
We should not wait until we have identified the particular criminals
responsible for today’s tragedy, nor should we limit our response
to one particular terrorist organization. Osama bin Laden may or may
not be responsible for today’s crimes, but he is responsible for the
attack on the USS Cole and for the second worst terrorist attack against
America, the bombing of our embassies in east Africa. We must demand
bin Laden be turned over to the United States to be tried for those
Even if we totally destroy the organization responsible for today’s
crimes, other organizations will try to surpass today’s evil. We must
root out all terrorist organizations. We must take harsh action against
any country that harbors or supports terrorists.
We should seek UN approval for our action; but we must act even if
the UN does not.