Declaring that "freedom and fear are at war," President Bush on Thursday angrily called on Afghanistan to surrender terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and his accomplices or face fierce and certain punishment.
"I will not forget this wound to our country, or those who inflicted it," Bush said, nine days after terrorist attacks killed more than 6,000 in New York and Washington.
Clutching the badge of a policeman who died in the New York attack, Bush said: "I will not yield. I will not rest."
Speaking before a joint session of Congress and a worldwide television audience -- except in Afghanistan, where television is banned -- Bush offered no clear hint as to how and when America will retaliate.
Instead, in a stern, steady voice and with a steely glare, he outlined the beginnings of a long-term campaign against terror. As part of that effort, Bush created a new Cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security to coordinate domestic anti-terror policies, and he named Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge to head it.
In Islamabad, Pakistan, Taliban ambassador Abdul Salam Zaeef said today the Taliban would not hand over bin Laden without evidence, and he called for a United Nations investigation, telling reporters that Bush's ultimatum poses great danger for Muslims.
Bush said America was embarking on a fight for freedom against an evil ideology that wants to turn its medieval vision of Islam into the way of the world. Right now, he said, the world can see that vision made reality in Afghanistan, where radical Muslim clerics prevent girls from going to school and punish men who don't grow their beards long enough.
"By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power -- they follow in the path of fascism and Nazism and totalitarianism," Bush said. "And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends, in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies."
As Bush spoke, Air Force bombers and fighter jets were being moved toward the Persian Gulf region, and Army commando forces were preparing for possible action.
"Be ready," Bush told the armed forces. "The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud."
At the same time, though, Bush told the American people not to expect the kind of quick-strike, quick-victory war such as those the nation won in recent years in the Persian Gulf and Kosovo.
Instead, Bush said the fight against terrorism will be lengthy, involving everything from sudden military action to covert activities that the world will never see.
"We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence and every necessary weapon of war -- to the disruption and defeat of the global terror network," he said.
On the home front, Bush said it was necessary to better coordinate the sprawling anti-terror operations conducted by several federal offices and countless local law enforcement agencies. That's why he created the new Office of Homeland Security.
One of its goals, he said, will be to develop a plan to improve airport security, including more sky marshals on American commercial flights. "These measures are essential," Bush said. "The only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it and destroy it where it grows."
Bush also noted that terrorism grows overseas. With British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- one of America's most outspoken allies -- looking on from the House gallery, Bush warned other nations that have been not so resolute in joining America's fight against terror.
"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists," Bush said.
Bush made clear, though, that the fight was not with Islam, a faith whose teachings are "good and peaceful." Instead, he said, the fight was with a small group that had twisted Islam for its own, evil purposes.
"The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends," he said. "Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them."
That being the case, he admonished Americans not to discriminate against Arab-Americans.
"We're in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility should be to live by them," he said.
Republicans and Democrats alike greeted Bush's address with one raucous round of applause after another. Again and again, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., was the first to his feet.
"Tonight the president transformed the anguish and sorrow that has taken hold of America and turned it into a plan of action," Schumer said.
Buffalo's members of Congress were equally impressed.
"He was clearly the commander in chief," said Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence.
"He rose to the occasion as well as anyone could have," said Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda. "He took a giant step forward in uniting the country and other nations of the world."
That unity began to surface as soon as suicide pilots hijacked planes and steered them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11. Since then, Congress passed a $40 billion terror relief package and a measure granting Bush the power to retaliate, and Democratic governments worldwide vowed to work with America to root out terrorism.
And Thursday, Bush tried to show the world that all of America is united. Bush's guests for the speech included Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, Rabbi Joshua Haberman of the Washington Hebrew Congregation and Imam Hamza Hanson, a Muslim-American scholar.
Gov. George E. Pataki and New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani were there, too. The president smiled slightly when thanking them -- and it was the only smile that he showed during his half-hour speech.
One customary guest at presidential speeches was noticeably absent. Vice President Cheney was at an undisclosed location, kept away for security reasons.
That was just part of what was an unprecedented security operation set up for Bush's speech. Roads were blockaded for blocks around the Capitol. Helicopters hovered overhead Thursday, and even congressional staffers had trouble moving around the Capitol's locked-down hallways.
Bush warned Americans that they might have to put up with inconveniences as his administration strives to prevent terrorist attacks.
But the president reserved his most stern warnings for the terrorists. "Whether we bring our enemies to justice or justice to our enemies," he said, "justice will be done."
News Washington bureau assistant David Hill contributed to this report.