11 September 2001>News Stories>World stunned by `new evil'

World stunned by `new evil'
Herald wire services . Miami Herald . 11 September
WASHINGTON, DC (AP)-- Posted at 2:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday, September 11, 2001

The world reacted with horror, fear, sympathy -- and in a few cases, glee -- at the news of a brutal string of terrorist attacks in the United States this morning.

At one end of the spectrum were leaders like Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who said it was a ``terrible day for the world,'' and French President Jacques Chirac, who called the attacks ``monstrous . . . there is no other word for it.''

At the other end were Palestinian refugees in the Burj al-Barajneh camp in Beirut, who sat off fireworks and chanted ``Big and small, America is full of pigs.''

All across the globe, tight security was clamped in place not only at U.S. diplomatic and military installations, but virtually any building that might seem an inviting terrorist target.

NATO headquarters in Brussels closed. So did the London and Toronto stock exchanges. Israel emptied its diplomatic missions in the United States, and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer canceled a visit to Washington that was to have begun tonight.

Russia put its anti-aircraft defenses on a war footing. South Korea's security forces were put on maximum alert. The European Union called an emergency meeting of its foreign ministers on Wednesday morning in Belgium.

U.S. embassies from Turkey to Thailand stepped up security. In Paris, police had cars towed away from streets near the American Embassy; in Bangkok, police SWAT teams and snipers swarmed around the main U.S. mission.

Some closures had as much to do with sympathy as with security. In Berlin, the Budestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, abruptly dropped its discussion of next year's national budget and shut down.

``We should not act as if we could just continue the debate,'' the acting speaker, Anke Fuchs, said.

In France, Chirac went on television during a visit to Brittany to pledge that ``the French people as a whole are behind the American people.''

The horror that many world leaders expressed was coupled with a sense of outrage that cut through the ordinarily bland cadences of diplomat-speak. ``It is impossible to fully comprehend the evil that would have conjured up such a cowardly and depraved assault upon thousands of innocent people,'' Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said, calling the attacks ``an offense against the freedom and rights of all civilized nations.''

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's voice nearly broke as he denounced terrorism as ``the new evil in our world today.''

``It is perpetrated by fanatics who are utterly indifferent to the sanctity of human life, and we the democracies of this world are going to have to come together and fight it together,'' Blair said.

But there was also a palpable sense of helplessness born of bafflement. Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned his condolences from a chair in front of his television set, which was apparently delivering more information than Moscow's intelligence services. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, told of the attacks during a meeting with the European Union envoy to the Middle East, Miguel Angel Moratinos, emerged to tell reporters, ``This is not believable.''

``We completely condemn this very dangerous attack,'' Arafat said, ``and I convey my condolences to the American people, to the American president and to the American administration, not only in my name but on behalf of the Palestinian people.''

That was not the universal reaction in the Middle East. On the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians celebrated the attacks, chanting ``God is Great'' and distributing candy to passersby.

``What happened in the United States today is a consequence of American policies in the hottest region in the world,'' said Nafez Azzam, a top official of the radical Islamic Jihad group.

But others saw an injury that went much deeper than the United States. In South Africa, Cape Town's Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane asked his countrymen ``to join forces in prayer.''

``We need to pray for the families of all those dead and injured,'' Ndungane said. ``We need to pray for all involved in emergency services in New York and other affected areas. We need to pray that the American leadership is granted wisdom to deal with this horrific situation.

``We need to pray for our worlds.''