in search of al qaeda
homethe journeyinside the tribal areasground zero: pakistandiscussion
join the discussion man with a gun islamabad


Dear FRONTLINE,

I want to say first that I find your programs very insightful and well done overall. However, I saw the program on Al Queda tonight and found myself very concerned about the reporter interviewing children in Yemen to find out about Al Queda subjects. I am worried that there could be very serious consequences for those children speaking to you. Since they are not old enough to make a conscious decision about the possible consequences of speaking to you, you do not have a right to bring them into this discussion. Moreover, western journalists have a moral obligation to exclude them. After all is there any way of assuring that they do not get beat up or worse?

These world issues are adult problems. The fact you have so much difficulty getting adults to talk about these issues speaks to the dangers out there. Sadly, these children are already involved in such a violent world. We must not involve them any more than they already are especially when we can offer them no protection.

Laura Wyatt
seattle, wa


Dear FRONTLINE,

Your excellent documentary utterly refutes Tom Daschle's ill-tempered diatribe concerning our inability to catch bin Laden - yet! It does not, however, justify the claims of some of your correspondents that the overall problem of anti-Americanism can be resolved simply by dropping a few zillion dollars of 21st Century economic aid into areas dominated by a 7th Century anti-materialist religion!

Having worked for over 30 years in the foreign aid field, I can testify that both dollars and advice are largely worthless UNLESS the recipients themselves are willing to make the changes in attitude that are essential to effective utilization of that aid.

The fact that most of the terrorist leaders are wealthy should make it clear that religious fanatacism and atavistic tribalism, far more than poverty, pose the principal problem.

Paul Wenger
west hartford, ct


Dear FRONTLINE,

Amazing insight into a land that has been forbidden to the West and it reveals how primitive they still live and view the world.

If they did not have an Usama bin Laden declaring jihad because of Western ties to Saudi oil and airbases, they'd be busy killing each other for territory. It's what they have always done, similarly to Jews and Palastinians.

Yet, this documentary sums up visually how they live and feel, which helps me connect their perspective to some rationale. Many Arabs come from such impoverished villages and have corrupt governments whose political motivations keep tight reign (thought control?) on their people so that they don't know better. Plus, these people have nothing to lose nad everything to earn by declaring jihad (what's in their water?). Brain washed and armed makes for a disaster.

The problems in the middle-east obviuosly have been cataclysmic and felt here too. Objective journalists must continue to bridge these gaps where real ideas are expressed because politicians are too busy preparing or spreading war instead of peace and solutions.

gainesville, fl


Dear FRONTLINE,

Is the only answer to peace in terms of these militant muslims American withdrawal from the region? If the U.S. does remain engaged in the muslim world, it must choose far more peaceful policies than it has so far. Bullying Iraq is only going to backfire. I find it a little ridiculous that Iraq is portrayed as a direct threat to the U.S. when these Pakistani tribal areas and Al-Qaeda form a far greater threat. Perhaps the U.S. is afraid to face the real challenge because they might not win or might not have the answer to the problem?

What would it take for the U.S. (and the rest of the West) to do something positive for a change in this part of the world?

It seems also that the United States has a serious threat here, one that cannot be vanquished by military means (unless you do the unthinkable and carpet bomb vast areas). I still wonder whether the U.S. will be pushed back from the Muslim world as the militant Muslims become stronger, a U.S. afraid to fight real battles, with all their bloodiness and struggle, in a region of the world where they don't belong?

Michael Miller
montreal, quebec


Dear FRONTLINE,

Anti-American sentiments from Islamism writ large were perfectly portrayed in the program. Their anger is toward America writ large and not American individuals. This seems to be the only hope in the matter.

Religiously fundamentalist and politically reactionary groups are the antagonist; yet the followers of this piece of Islamism's spectrum were at least talkative and even seemed friendly.

Could it be that personal contact between Westerners and people of confessions foriegn to us might keep hold of the only peace available?

Wade Iverstine
baton rouge, la


Dear FRONTLINE,

the woman at the end clearly stated she didnt believe in war, but it was the Israel and foreign Policies of US, forcing her to hate and even willing to join Al Qaeda for revenge. Hate towards america is actually in-direct hate for Israel.

Pakistani tribals were hailed as Heros and warriors when US needed them in Afghanistan against USSR and now they are branded as al qaeda helpers and terrorist. We really need to be fair when it comes to distinguish between terrorist and people trying to keep their traditions and soverenity. Overall i think, the situation is much better then portrayed in frontline program

jason LK
lovers lane, ny


Dear FRONTLINE,

If the US does not change the current diplomatic strategy in the Middle East there will be fires burning all over this world and all the fire-fighters and all the peace-makers will only be able to watch it burn. Where are all the Ivy-League minds? Where is the Christian Leadership?Why is nothing being done to develope a new and revolutionary relationship with and in the Islamic world.Where is the debate between the Jews and the Muslims being held? This country was born from revolution and has yet to be severed from that root but; there are many here who have lost or never had what was the Great American Revolution. If we do not define and promote this spirit for all the world to see we will watch scenes of horror come upon us and rip at our very soul.

philip sprinkle
charlotte, nc


Dear FRONTLINE,

At the end of the Frontline Report it was chilling to hear the educated Moslem woman reporter say how she loved Bin Laden and almost fainted with joy when the Trade Tower and Pentagon were attacked on 911. Other al qaeda backers shown and the inability of Pakistan, Yemen and Saudi governments to catch al qaeda in their own countries helped show how difficult it will be to win this war on terrorism. This war on terror can be won. It will be challenging and any solution will have to eventually include a lasting peace agreement with Israel and Palestine as well as much better communtication between Americans and the citizens of Arab countries. It's harder to hate those you know. A war with Iraq is likely going to be necessary. How this will help or hurt our relations with citizens in Iraq or other Arab countries remains to be seen. There are no easy solutions.

Patrick Kelly
eagan, mn


Dear FRONTLINE,

Kudos on your production from a collegue at Fox News. Your report was very well done, expansive, and balanced. Do keep up the good work!

Best wishes and safe travels,

Transmission/Field Engineer, Fox News

benjamin johnson
alexandria, va


Dear FRONTLINE,

This Frontline report shows that Al Qaeda is just one part of much bigger problem for the US: the rising hatred of the people of region towards us. If we don't find a way to dissipate this hatred, we will have many Bin Ladens to deal with for years to come.

Chris Johnson
jamestown, nd


Dear FRONTLINE,

A very important insight into the complicated world in which we live. I just wish you had been more willing to contextualise American involvment prior to Sept. 11. In Pakistan, you failed to mentioned that it was the CIA and their $3billion of aid -- mainly in the form of weapons - that helped to foster the fundamentalists and the ISI and left the country in such a mess.

We need to start connecting the dots by also understanding the links between US forign policy words and deeds, or else we risk repeating all the same mistakes all over again. The why is just as important as the how?

ny, ny


Dear FRONTLINE,

I think the only way the war on terror can be won is for us to realize that force will not do it. This applies not only to the war on terror and to the Israel/Palestinan conflict.

We need to recognize that the standard of living of the combatants needs to be raised. We need a Middle East "Marshall Plan". Unfortunately, we Americans are following a course that I don't think will lead to lasting peace.

Robert Kaplan, in "Warrior Politics" I believe sets out a road map of where we are going if we continue on the present political course, especially by not including other nations.

Marvin Margolin
shaker hts., ohio.


Dear FRONTLINE,

Your journalist did a fine job except in missing a wonderful chance at the end to probe the motives of the anti-Americans he found. At the end of the program he finds a young man and woman who freely admitted that they rejoiced when the Twin Towers fell. He did not really press them on why! When they mentioned American policies that oppressed Arabs, and uttered the word "Israel", he should have asked, "What would America have to do to win your friendship or neutrality???" That could have taught us a very great deal. What an opportunity lost!

Gordon Shull
wooster, ohio

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