Major Developments: Wednesday, September 19


The Pentagon ordered combat aircraft to bases in Persian Gulf as part of "Operation Infinite Justice." They presumably will be joined by the "Theodore Roosevelt" aircraft carrier battle group, which left Norfolk, Va. Wednesday "headed east." A Marine Amphibious Ready Group is scheduled to leave from North Carolina Thursday.

The White House is turning up the pressure on Afghanistan to hand over alleged terrorist mastermind Usama bin Laden. After the leader of Afghanistan's Taliban government suggested a meeting with U.S. officials, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "It is time to act, not negotiate."

President Bush continues to work on assembling an international coalition to fight terrorism. He met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov at the White House. He also spoke by phone Wednesday morning with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and met with Indonesia's president.

Pakistan's leader is trying to calm anger and fear in his country over his willingness to help the U-S track down Osama bin Laden in neighboring Afghanistan. In a televised address, General Pervez Musharraf said Islam and the people of Afghanistan are not the targets of the U-S campaign.

A council of Islamic clerics from the Taliban is expected to make a final decision on the fate of bin Laden on Thursday, the Afghan Islamic Press reported. "It is expected that the session will continue tomorrow and the final discussion and fatwa (edict) can be expected," Taliban Education Minister Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, a member of the council, said.

The head of a grouping of 35 Pakistani Islamic organizations said on Wednesday they would have to obey any Taliban order for a religious war if the United States attacked Afghanistan.

Iraq is pushing for a "united Arab stance" against any military action by the U.S. And it's denying any involvement in last week's attacks. Senior U.S. officials have also said there is no evidence linking Iraq to the assaults.

Mullah Mohammad Omar, spiritual leader of the Taliban, appealed on Wednesday to the United States for patience in demands for the handover of bin Laden, the Afghan Islamic Press said. "We appeal to the U.S. government to exercise complete patience," Omar said. The Pakistan-based agency said the leader made the comments during a speech read out to a meeting of hundreds of clerics gathered in the presidential palace in the capital, Kabul.

A new poll finds widespread support among Europeans for military action against the terrorists behind the suicide attacks in the U-S. Nearly 80 percent of British adults polled by a French newspaper said they back a military response.

During his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope John Paul invited the crowd to pray for God to "guide the minds and hearts of world leaders."

The U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday formally postponed its annual gathering of world leaders because of security difficulties in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks.

The Investigation: 

• Department of Justice spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said the FBI is investigating whether or not the hijackers may have used stolen identities. Tucker said that as of now, the 19 names are "the best information" that the Justice Department has.

• Sources told Fox the FBI is poring over hundreds of e-mail communications from both private and public computers. The FBI officials said the agency is more interested in content as opposed to volume and says the content not only contains information related to events on September 11 but also chitchat as well. In reference to the Internet, an official said, "they used it and they used it well."

• A senior official with knowledge of intelligence operations against terrorists told Fox News that the American intelligence community has not been constrained by any restrictions either from Congress or any self-imposed constraints. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "no request has ever been turned down."

• Federal investigators are trying to track the money used by the terrorists who carried out last week's attack. Banking regulators have sent a list of 21 possible suspects to all banks around the country. Any transactions in their names are to be reported immediately to the FBI. The feds also are setting up law enforcement teams in Chicago and San Francisco to prosecute money laundering by suspected terrorists.

• FBI agents have arrested three men in Detroit and charged them with fraud and misuse of visas, passports and other immigration documents. They are the first criminal charges arising from the terrorist investigation.

• New Jersey may have served as the hub of a terrorist-funding operation that aided the World Trade Center hijackers. The Star-Ledger of Newark reports there's evidence that Usama bin Laden used a group of New Jersey operatives to send wire transfers of cash to conspirators throughout the U.S. The newspaper cites unidentified law enforcement sources. Twenty people have been arrested or detained in Jersey City, across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

• Authorities in California say they are questioning a foreign national who may once have lived with one of the hijackers.

• An Oklahoma flight school says FBI agents were asking about one of its students more than two weeks before the attacks. That student is now in custody.

The Victims:

More searchers at the ruins of the World Trade Center are wearing badges reading "Recovery," indicating they're looking for bodies and body parts — not survivors.

• The bodies of two police officers were pulled early Wednesday from the wreckage, police detective Bobby Bell said. Police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers and volunteers at the site saluted the victims.

• U.S. State Dept. officials say the number of countries reporting dead or missing citizens in the attacks has risen to 67.

• In the bombing at New York's World Trade Center, 5,422 are still missing; 233 are confirmed dead, with 170 of them identified. That includes 92 people on American Flight 11 and 65 of United Flight 175.

• In the attack on the Pentagon, 189 are now believed to have been killed; 124 of them were on the ground, 64 were on American Flight 77.

• 44 people were killed when hijacked United Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.


The economic fallout from last week's terrorist attacks sent stocks spiraling again Wednesday, but a late burst of buying pulled the Dow back from a 423-point loss. The index fell 144.27, or 1.6 percent, to 8,759.13. For the week, the Dow is down 746.81, or 8.8 percent.

Boeing announced late Tuesday it is planning to lay off as many as 30,000 workers by the end of next year as a result of an expected slowdown in orders caused by the terrorist attacks. Major air carriers have already announced more than 26,000 layoffs and say that figure could reach 100,000 in the coming weeks.

The parent of American Airlines said Wednesday it would lay off at least 20,000 employees as it deals with declining air traffic since last week's terrorist attacks.

The chairman of Delta Airlines is asking Congress to provide $17.5 billion to help the airline industry recover from last week's terrorist attacks. He told a House panel today that unless there's federal help, "almost no airline is strong enough to survive for long."

American, Continental, Delta, Northwest and United have scaled back schedules by 20 percent in an effort to remain solvent. 
After a slow start, shares rallied across Asia on Wednesday as a global round of interest rate cuts helped reassure jittery investors.

House and Senate leaders from both parties are scheduled to meet with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, chief Bush administration economist Larry Lindsey and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin Wednesday to discuss what steps are needed to bolster the economy.

The Home Front:

A Pew Research Center poll finds that seven in ten Americans surveyed say they've been depressed since the terrorist attacks last Tuesday. Nearly half report having trouble concentrating, and about a-third say they're having difficulty sleeping.

The state of Missouri is lowering the boom on service station operators who jacked up prices at the pump in the hours right after last week's attacks. The state attorney general says any station that raised prices above two dollars and 49 cents a gallon must pay one-thousand dollars in reparations -- or face legal action.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command says jets were only eight minutes away from one of the hijacked airliners when it crashed into the World Trade Center. NORAD says two other military jets were 12 minutes away when an airliner later hit the Pentagon.

Jay Leno returned to the air Tuesday for the first time since the terrorist attacks. Leno opened the Tonight Show standing in front of a large video image of the American flag. Crosby, Stills and Nash closed the show singing "America."

At least 100 students at the University of California at Berkeley are engaged in a sit-in at the offices of their school newspaper. They're upset over what they call a racist editorial cartoon, depicting two Muslims in Arab dress sitting in a demon's hand, about to be consumed by the flames of hell.

Airline pilots are seeking additional security in the wake of last week's hijackings and terrorist attacks. The Air Line Pilots Association says a number of measures should be considered — including bulletproof and grenade-proof cockpit doors and maybe even armed pilots. Officials are also looking at short-term solutions, including putting webbing behind the cockpit door to entangle an intruder.

The NFL has decided to play a 16-game regular season. Last weekend's postponed games will be made up the first weekend in January, when wild-card playoff games had been scheduled.

Baseball's American League resumed play Tuesday night. The New York Yankees managed to shake off thoughts of the destruction that occurred about eight miles from Yankee Stadium. They hit three homers in the seventh inning of an 11-to-3 pounding of the Chicago White Sox.

The Associated Press contributed to this report