WASHINGTON -- President Bush, somberly marking the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, told the nation last night that failure to defeat terrorism could lead to a Middle East dominated by ``radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons."
After listing security measures taken, Bush said: ``Five years after 9/11, our enemies have not succeeded in launching another attack on our soil."
But, he warned, ``they have not been idle."
Bush's warning of nuclear terrorism echoed assertions about weapons of mass destruction made by his administration before going to war against Iraq. Those weapons were not found in Iraq, but Bush said last night the threat is growing in the region.
``We are in a war that will set the course for this new century and determine the destiny of millions across the world," Bush said in the nationally televised address from the Oval Office.
Five years earlier, when Bush addressed the nation on the night of the attacks, he vowed to hunt down those responsible.
While some have been captured or killed, the top two leaders of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, are still at large, and new threats from Zawahri against US interests were broadcast even as anniversary events unfolded.
Bush acknowledged that bin Laden and others have eluded capture, but he renewed his vow to find them. ``No matter how long it takes, America will find you, and we will bring you to justice," Bush said.
Bush acknowledged that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was not responsible.
But the president said that Hussein was a ``clear threat," and that the world is safer with him out of power. Bush also said that a connection between bin Laden and Iraq now exists, warning, ``If we yield Iraq to men like bin Laden, our enemies will be emboldened."
The Oval Office address followed a tour by the president of ground zero in Manhattan, where planes struck the World Trade Center towers; a field in Shanksville, Pa., where a plane intended for a Washington target was crashed after passengers rebelled; and the Pentagon, where another jet struck.
``Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country," Bush said, speaking two months before midterm elections that could determine whether Republicans retain control of the House and Senate. ``So we must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test. "
Bush warned that the fight against terrorism is far from over.
``We face an enemy determined to bring death and suffering into our homes," he said. ``America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over . . . But the war is not over -- and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious."