Taliban Told To Give Up Bin Laden

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As President Bush led a moment of silence at the White House Tuesday morning exactly one week to the minute after the first terrorist strike at the World Trade Center U.S. officials awaited word from Afghanistan's Islamic spiritual leaders on the future of prime suspect Osama bin Laden.

Senior Pakistani officials who yesterday delivered a warning to Afghanistan's ruling Taliban that they should turn over bin Laden within three days or face American wrath met with other leaders from the Taliban early today.

Taliban leaders told CNN that they would give the message due consideration in the meeting of Islamic religious leaders, expected to last two or three days once it begins.

However, the Taliban have already said bin Laden was not responsible for the attacks and have resisted calls to hand him over. United States Secretary of State Colin Powell has said there is no indication that the Taliban will change their decision, despite the risk of U.S. attack.

In other national developments:

Wall Street Stock markets spent Tuesday morning fighting to recover from Monday's record one-day stock market point loss. The 685-point drop surpassed the previous record loss of 618 points set on April 14, 2000.

The FBI is looking for 185 people it believes may have information regarding the attack; 49 people are in Immigration and Naturalization Services custody.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans told CNN that nations that do not cooperate with the U.S. military response to last week's attack could face "measures ... sanctions, or other kinds of barriers to our markets."

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said he is concerned there may be more terrorist assaults planned against the United States.

Despite initial hope to the contrary, Iran will not support any U.S. military action against neighboring Afghanistan.

"We do not believe just in order to punish a bunch of terrorists, it is legitimate to attack a country," Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said Monday.

On the homefront

Just as there is not a far corner of the country that hasn't been affected by last week's terrorist attack on America, there is not a far corner of Payson that has not been stirred.

A survey of area churches conducted Monday revealed an approximate 25-percent increase in attendance across the board for Sunday services. Rim country residents apparently not only sought solace in candlelight ceremonies, they turned to religious leaders for comfort.

On the local school front, Payson High School Counselor Judy Michele said, "We are counseling the students on an as-needed basis ... All the teachers had their televisions on last Tuesday and openly discussed the events as they occurred throughout the day with the students."

Michele added that the classroom teachers should be credited for dealing with issues on a case-by-case basis, and that the approach seems to have been effective: the high school had no major incidents to deal with among students following last week's disaster.

Is Payson prepared?

Meanwhile, the State of Arizona placed the Payson Fire Department on standby last week in the event they were needed to assist in rescue and recovery efforts in New York.

While the department has personnel trained for this type of incident, Payson Fire Chief John Ross said, Payson did not get called due to the immediate response from larger agencies.

"It is with profound sadness that the Payson Fire and Police departments acknowledge the catastrophic events that occurred on Sept. 11," Ross said. "Our hearts and prayers go out to all of the families that suffered losses and injuries to loved ones."

According to Ross, Payson does have an emergency operation plan and the resources to handle emergencies.

"We are not a terrorist target, however we are affected financially, emotionally and spiritually," Ross said. "Our plan covers response to wildland fire, major flood and large aircraft crash."

Ross said the people of Payson are very lucky to have as many agencies and equipment available in case of emergency as many towns of this size are not nearly as fortunate.

It is unlikely that any agency in town was more deeply touched by last week's events and the ongoing search for almost 6,000 victims, including more than 200 missing New York City firefighters than the Payson Fire Department.

In light of that, fire department personnel have made a cash donation to help the families of their fallen brothers and sisters.

Ross encouraged those who want to help in the relief to also contribute cash to one of the assisting agencies. He suggested the New York Firefighters 911 Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 65858, Washington, D.C., 20035-5858; Red Cross, (800) HELP-NOW; the United Way, 212-251-4035; and Salvation Army, (800) SAL-ARMY.

According to the FBI, there are no telemarketing firms authorized to raise money through phone calls. No one should consider sending money to anyone who solicits money by phone or in person. All donations should be made through an authorized relief organization.

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