WASHINGTON (AP) — Retaliating 13 days after the deadly embassy bombings in East Africa, U.S. forces launched cruise missile strikes against alleged terrorist camps in Afghanistan and a chemical plant in Sudan on Thursday. “Our target was terror,” President Clinton declared.
In an address from the Oval Office just three days after he spoke to the nation about the Monica Lewinsky investigation, Clinton said he acted to “counter an immediate threat” of more terrorist acts.
He said U.S. intelligence indicated that a “gathering of key terrorist leaders” was planned at the site in Afghanistan for Thursday.
Clinton and defense officials said the facilities attacked were linked to Osama bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire whom U.S. officials call a major sponsor of terrorism.
Bin Laden was unharmed, according to a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers.
The strikes involved Tomahawk cruise missiles fired by Navy ships in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, according to administration and congressional officials. Between 75 and 100 cruise missiles were fired. No aircraft were involved and there were no U.S. casualties, said defense officials.
Acting on intelligence information that Clinton said pinpointed “one of the most active terrorist bases in the world” and an industrial plant that made agents for chemical weapons, Clinton said he ordered the attacks not only in response to the Aug. 7 bombings of two American embassies, but also to pre-empt more planned terrorist attacks on Americans.