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The White House rejected the recommendation by Islamic clerics that Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, leave Afghanistan voluntarily. The clerics' suggestion "does not meet America's requirements," press secretary Ari Fleischer said.

As President Bush prepared to address a joint session of Congress on the US's response to terrorism, the Air Force was dispatching dozens of warplanes to the Persian Gulf for the promised war on terrorism. Senior defense officials said combat aircraft, including F-16s and F-15s, will be preceded by airlift control teams from bases in California and New Jersey. Meanwhile, the Army is preparing for "sustained land combat operations," a spokesman said. A deployment order signed by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld includes possibly dispatching Army troops to the Middle East.

Treasury Secretary O'Neill said his department would block bank accounts that might be tied to "terrorist fund-raising" activities. He said the effort already was under way in cooperation with other governments. The FBI also was turning to financial institutions globally to help follow a money trail tied to last week's attacks. With the number of people detained for questioning in the probe rising to 115, the FBI sent a list of 21 alleged hijackers to banks, asking them to search for financial transactions involving them.

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A Middle Easterner on the FBI's list of persons wanted for questioning in the terrorism investigation was arrested outside Chicago. Nabil al-Marabh reportedly had been on the run since early in the week, when agents raided a Detroit residence with his name on its mailbox. He holds a license that certifies him to transport hazardous materials. In addition, another man suspected of having aided last week's plane hijackers was arrested near Boston.

Bush asked Congress to approve an immediate $8 billion package to aid the airline industry, which has suffered a huge blow following last week's terrorist attacks. About $5 billion would go to help with any lawsuits, and $3 billion would help pay for enhanced airport and airplane security. Ultimately, the industry wants $24 billion to avert bankruptcies. Congress suggested a $15 billion package but is still considering a final amount.

In his first public comments since the attacks, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told Congress they produced a "significant" drop-off in activity in an already weak economy. But he said the US's long-term prospects remained strong. Although Greenspan didn't address future Fed actions, economists said they believe the central bank, which cut interest rates for the eighth time this year Monday, will continue doing so until the economy stabilizes.

New housing construction plunged 6.9 percent in August, the steepest in 17 months, as builders and prospective home buyers grew more cautious. The number of new housing units fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.53 million, the Commerce Department reported.

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