It has been said by many people in the West and the terrorists themselves
and radical groups, they complained that in Egypt, brutal methods were used by
the government; torture, execution, unlawful imprisonment that these methods
were used to try to stop the terrorists. Is this true?
No, they try to say that but it is not true. The truth is that sometimes when
they are going to arrest someone of them, they try to kill the policemen, and
the policemen must do something to defend themselves against them.
So are you saying no one has been tortured in Egyptians prisons?
When they go against the rules of prison, our law tells us how to deal with
them. When Brotherhood [members] were in prison in 1954, they tried to burn the
prison and kill one of the generals in the prison. Then the policemen attacked
them and killed some in the prison.
Because Egypt was very tough on terrorists, many of them left your country
and went to live in other countries. Can you tell me what happened to these men
when they came to live in England and the United States?
Yes, in 1981 after Sadat was killed, some of these organizations el-Jihad and
al-Gama al-Islmayia, got out of Egypt. First, they went to Sudan, then Saudi
Arabia, then Afghanistan. And now many of them live in Britain. Some of them
went to the States -- the famous one is Omar Abdel Rahman. I think it is a big
mistake to give them the political asylum in England and some other place in
We have been told by the Egyptian government that currently there are 21
different Egyptian terrorist organizations who have now headquarters in London,
and that there are many terrorists that you would like to persecute and put in
prison, but they live in the United Kingdom and the British government have
refused in the past to give them back to Egyptian courts.
... I think there are not 21 organizations, but more than 51. [We went through
the legal procedures] to ask the British authority to deliver them but they
refused because they think it is a matter of human rights. That's why they
They say they will not give back these people because they think these
people will be ill-treated; they will be tortured or beaten. Was that a
legitimate fear? Was that a legitimate reason for the British not to give these
I can say, in Egypt, all the world know that our judges are the best judges in
all the world, and [defendants] can get all the rights [necessary] to defend
themselves if they can. [Ten years ago] we opened courts and all the
journalists from all the world were there, and they say that there is nothing
[taken away from] the rights of those criminals. ...
The young men who become terrorists. It is very difficult for Americans to
understand the mentalities and personalities of these people; they are often
portrayed as psychopaths. Is that your experience?
... I can say especially in Egypt most of them are psychopathic, and not
clever. That I get from my experience. I think also in other countries there
are the same thing.
There is a very well known terrorist called al-Zawahiri and he works
with bin Laden and he is Egyptian. Tell me about your personal experience with
In 1981, after Sadat killed, he was one of al-Jihad organization. He was
student in medical school; his uncle, Mr. Salem Azam, is a very big leader from
the Brotherhood who lives in London. Azam and al-Zawahiri made connection with
al-Jihad organization after he got out of prison and went froml Egypt to Saudi
Arabia. Then he met bin Laden and Omar Abdel Rahman and went to Afghanistan.
Before we come to that, back to 1981--he was arrested after the
assassination of President Sadat, and you had the opportunity to interview him
and interrogate him. What kind of man was he?
I think he is not clever. ... I think he had some problems in his life. But he
wasn't very aggressive as you think [of him] now. I don't know what happened
after he went to Afghanistan and see bin Laden.
When you look back, could you imagine that he could be responsible and help
plan for murder thousands of people?
If you mean what happened in the United Sates, I think it is very difficult to
see that Ayman al-Zawahiri or bin Laden commit this crime. But I think there
are a big organization from many religions from many nationalities. Maybe
al-Zawahiri and bin Laden got an opportunity to connect with this organization.
But by themselves only, it is too difficult. ... This crime depends on people
who lived in America for a long time and study about flights in the States,
because they made this crime in a very good way. Bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri
do not have this experience and they are not clever enough to make this crime
in this way. ...
It has been said that it is war against terrorism and evil. The U.S
president has vowed to hit back at the terrorists and bring justice to them and
to the nations that protect them. And every one assumes he means Arab nations,
where these terrorists have bases and support. Is that the way the battle
should be fought to prevent further attacks?
We hate terrorism; we are against terrorism. But I think the war is not the
best way to attack the terrorism and make success against them. From our
experience, I can say that the violence against terrorism is not the way to get
success against them. The best way is to know what they want, why they are
against us, why they do that crime. If we know that and if we explain to them
all the wrong thoughts in their minds, I think this is the best way. ...
I understand exactly what you are saying. But it is difficult for Americans
to accept that they must now talk to these terrorists who have just murdered
thousands of American citizens, innocent people. Why should America talk to
I do not want to say that you are going to talk with terrorists but [to try to
understand] with their thoughts. Because if you [don't], after one year or two
years or three years or more or less, they begin to come back because the
thoughts are still under the ground. They can come up and they make a new
organization. From my experience, I can assure you that when they come back
they will become more violence, more crimes, and they make revenge because they
think that they put in the prison without trial. That is why they become more
violence and make crimes after that.
I know that it is a very big problem for the States now and they must do
something. But I think that it will be a big mistake if they make a war, which
terrorists are going to make a war against all the world. There are many
organizations all over the world--in Britain, in Brussels, in Germany, in
Turkey, in Japan, in Israel. And you know that Sharon has a big history as a
terrorist man. What are you going to do -- you will make a war against
Afghanistan only? That is a big mistake to go in this way.
In Egypt, for a long time the government thought the best way of fighting
terrorism was with an iron fist, to lock people up, to beat them, to execute
[And] what happened after that? They killed Mr. Sadat. ... that's what happened
when they take [the iron fist approach]. But now, what's happened? After ten
years, after we take the best way to make a dialogue with them, we become
But you cannot expect Americans to start having dialogue with the people who
attacked the World Trade Center?
With their thoughts -- not with them. First, they must know the organization.
Second, they must know why they do these crimes. Third, they must explain to
them that this is a wrong way and this is a wrong thought. After that you can
get a good result. But how are you to make a war against those who live in
Japan? There are many organizations in the States. Are you going to make war on
... If they hate some policy of the States, maybe it is wrong; maybe it is
right. But you must discuss this. You must know the reasons why they oppose the
States. It is not the best way to go ahead to make war. But the best way is to
know why they come in this way and why they do this crimes. And to make a
dialogue with their thoughts to explain that they understand a wrong thing and
you must correct their thoughts to be safe in the future.
Given all your experience, are you optimistic that America will be
successful in its war on terrorism?
If they study this problem in a good way, they must make success. But if they
go in the wrong way, I think it will be a big problem, not only for the States,
but for all the world.
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