For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 15, 2004
President's Radio Address
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week, our nation was sickened by the murder of an American civilian, Nicholas Berg. The savage execution of this innocent man reminds us of the true nature of our terrorist enemy, and of the stakes in this struggle. The terrorists rejoice in the killing of the innocent, and have promised similar violence against Americans, against all free peoples, and against any Muslims who reject their ideology of murder. Their barbarism cannot be appeased, and their hatred cannot be satisfied. There's only one way to deal with terror: We must confront the enemy and stay on the offensive until these killers are defeated.
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To the south, in and around the cities of Najaf and Karbala, U.S. Army soldiers and Iraqi security forces are systematically dismantling the illegal militia led by the radical cleric al Sadr that has incited violence and attempted to seize control. Iraqi security forces ejected elements of this militia from a mosque in Karbala that was being used to store ammunition. The Iraqi people oppose the actions of this illegal militia, and Shia religious leaders have called on it to withdraw. Recent days have seen demonstrations in which ordinary Iraqis have taken to the streets, calling on the militia to withdraw from their cities and towns.
As we attack and defeat the enemies of freedom in Iraq, we will continue to work with Iraqi leaders to build a free, democratic and independent government. The United Nations Special Envoy, Mr. Brahimi, is now back in Iraq, consulting with diverse groups of Iraqis. In the next few weeks, important decisions will be made on the make-up of an interim government. And on June 30th, the flag of a free Iraq will be raised, and Iraq's new interim government will assume a sovereign authority. America will keep its commitment to the independence and national dignity of the Iraqi people. Yet the vital mission of our military in helping to provide security will continue on July 1st and beyond.
Coalition forces are training thousands of Iraqis to protect a free Iraq from external aggression and internal subversion. Our forces will remain in Iraq to assist the Iraqi people until Iraqis can secure their own country. Our country has great respect for the Iraqi people, and we are determined to expose and punish the abuse of Iraqi detainees. Charges have been filed against seven soldiers, and the first trial is set to begin next week. My administration and our military are determined that such abuses never happen again.
All Americans know that the actions of a few do not reflect the true character of the United States Armed Forces. No military in the history of the world has fought so hard and so often for the freedom of others. Today, our forces are keeping terrorists across the world on the run. They're helping the people of Afghanistan and Iraq to build democratic societies, making America more secure. By their example, the people of those countries and of the countries around the world are coming to know that freedom is the answer to hopelessness and terror. Our servicemen and women are defending America with unselfish courage, and their achievements have brought pride and credit to this nation.
Thank you for listening.