You don't believe, as I take it, that this was the work of simply a private
No. Absolutely not. Private networks don't function that way. This kind of
operation requires logistical support, training [and] funding. No private
network is capable of carrying out the planning of this operation over a period
of at least two years with total secrecy unless they have a serious support and
backup from professionals to a degree that goes beyond Taliban. It goes beyond
Osama bin Laden. They're amateurs, compared to what we have in the Middle
Who are amateurs?
The Taliban. They only started years ago, compared to, for example, Iraqi
intelligence, who have been around for over 30 years. They've carried out many
terrorist operations outside Iraq. They've supported many terrorist
organizations. They have the expertise. They have the logistics. They have
the finances. They have what it takes to support a front organization like
Taliban, or Abu Nidal previously, to carry out any operation they want outside.
But I think what we have now is, again, a new phenomenon. Because Mohamed Atta,
according to the press, had five shots of vodka the night before he got on the
plane on Sept. 11. So I think it reflects a new dimension now. The new
dimension is that these people are involved with the likes of Osama bin Laden
to vent a degree of anger and frustration at what's happening over in the
In your words, this has now become a kind of fusion of the religious and the
political, and supported, you believe, by some state apparatus?
A U.S. government counterterrorist official, Mr. Sheehan, told us that the
one reason why he does not believe the Iraqi government would be involved is
that they were getting what they wanted up until now -- release from the
embargo, sponsors in the U.N., increasing trade and a Palestinian war with the
Israelis, which is creating more sympathy for them. So why would they be
involved in something that could backfire, or get them bombed again?
I think those who advocate this view don't understand the mentality Saddam
Hussein possesses, and the mentality of the Iraqi regime. Saddam Hussein
neither forgives nor forgets.
He was humiliated by the United States and the coalition back in 1991. He kept
telling the Iraqi people and the world for the past ten years that there is one
more war. If you follow his speeches for the past ten years, it's always been
indicating one more war to avenge the honor. I don't have right now direct
evidence to present to you of Saddam Hussein's connection to the WTC and to the
attack on the Pentagon.
But what I can tell you is that the connection between the Iraqi regime and
Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and Taliban, although ideologically they are
totally opposed to each other, the intelligence connection is there. We knew of
its existence three years ago. We issued a press release at the time of the
meeting between Farouk Hijazi and Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
Let's go one step at a time. Three years ago, you say there was contact
between bin Laden and an Iraqi security official?
Yes, the special security service. We know some of the details in the meeting.
The Iraqis proposed a cooperation and support of Osama bin Laden and his
organization. They even offered him a home in Baghdad if he wanted to move,
because they felt that they could accommodate him over there. He declined to
take them up on their offer of the to move to Iraq. But he accepted the
support. They offered financial [and] logistical training.
We got hold of the information through a security source inside Baghdad. We
issued a press release at the time, even naming the individual who heads the
Iraqi team. Now, we know cooperation and liaison continued after that. The
nature of that, we are not sure about. But we know it's on the special security
level in Iraq. And this is under the data control of Qusay, Saddam's younger
son. Qusay is the younger one who's deputizing for his father. He's in charge
of the special security service and the Republican Guards. Basically, he's the
effective ruler of Iraq now.
And Farouk Hijazi went to Afghanistan ... with two [Iraqi security officials]
in a private jet. They met Osama bin Laden. They stayed there for a couple of
days, and went back.
But there may have been meetings with the representatives of the Pakistani
ISI and Osama bin Laden. There may have been meetings with the Saudi
intelligence and Osama bin Laden, because that's what intelligence services do.
Yes. The fact that we're talking about the possibilities of chemical and
biological terrorist attacks somewhere in the West or in the United States is an
indication of the Iraqi connection. They are the only regime that possesses the
know-how, and [is] sick enough to allow a terrorist organization like Osama bin
Laden access to it. They are the only regime in the world that possesses
chemical and biological weapons and used them many times. And they are willing
to use it again.
... Do they have the people in place who can do it, who are not even in
Iraq or in the Middle East?
Of course. Over the past few years, many infiltrators from Iraq came over to
the West, asked for political asylum, and they settled here. We know for a fact
that they continue to have their intelligence connection with the Iraqis and
intelligence connections with others pro-Iraq.
Do you think that people who carried out the operations on Sept. 11 worried
about the consequences of their action? They did not. They were quite proud of
what they did. To their colleagues, they are martyrs. So don't think people
will shy away from taking this a step further and use chemical or biological
weapons. It is sheer madness to think that the likelihood of this, "Who's going
to take on the West? Who dares to take on America?" They took on America. It's
And you believe they'll do it again in some other form?
I believe they will do it again and again, unless the United States and the
coalition tackles the root of the problem. It might not happen this month or
next year or even ten years from now. But it will come back to haunt us again.
But they didn't do it during the Persian Gulf War, apparently because of the
threat made by the United States. [With] a situation where their relationship
seems to be getting better, and they may get rid of the embargo, why would they
risk it now?
Well, the nature of any terrorist operation is the difficulty of pinpointing
one person or one organization as directly linked to such an attack, especially
if you have individuals who are willing to commit suicide in the process of the
operation. Establishing that connection is very difficult, as we know now.
As I said earlier, Saddam Hussein is someone who neither forgives, nor forgets.
The fact that the Arabs now, for example, that the Egyptians and the
Saudis, are setting preconditions on the United States in order to cooperate
with the coalition, that they should leave Arabic countries out of it, meaning,
"No bombing of Iraq. Don't link us to this."
Well, isn't it rational that they have to deal with public opinion in their
own countries, and that it's difficult enough as Muslim countries, to aid and
abet a war against other Muslims? And so, they have to keep it limited?
We had the Gulf War. [In] 1991 the Saudis allowed the American troops to establish
bases inside Saudi Arabia.
But this is one of the reasons bin Laden has given for his own war against
America and the Jews, and the Saudi royal family.
But Arabic public opinion is outraged at the operations of Sept. 11. The
fact that the Saudis want to -- and they have -- set preconditions for their
cooperation with the United States [is] because they are more afraid of the
domino effect of any serious change inside Iraq and the effect that it might
have on them as a regime, and not as a direct result of public opinion.
You're saying that the Saudi regime and the Egyptian regime have demanded
that we exempt Iraq from retribution in this, without us having found out
exactly who did this and when and why? Yet we understand, that for people in
the Saudi opposition, there is a lot of public support in Saudi Arabia for bin
Laden. There was some actual celebration there, privately, quietly, of the
operation on Sept. 11.
There is public support as you've put it, but from within a certain segment of
society. I think we should come to that in a minute. But the point that I was
trying to make earlier was it's already been declared by the United States and
Britain that the aim of this war, as a first step, is to establish a new
government in Afghanistan, because the Taliban is just simply a terrorist
organization, and they cannot deal with it in civilized manners. They have
already stated that if they establish any connection between this operation and
any other state, the same thing will happen, meaning Iraq.
We know already that the Saudis are aware of American plans to strengthen the
Iraqi opposition and help them to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein. The
Saudis are afraid a change in Iraq might have a domino effect, a knock-on
effect, on the Saudi regime itself. ...
They would rather have the man who threatened them with invasion than have
Yes. But at least when you compare the Saudi regime to that man, the Saudi
regime become extremely civilized and extremely liberal, even. ... But if
you're going to establish, or help establish, a liberal, fairly democratic
regime in Baghdad, then the knock-on effect, the one that you remember from
1989 in eastern Europe, will probably finally occur in the Gulf. And the Saudis
will be the first on the front line.
I know that your colleagues believe that there is not only a financial, but
also a spiritual connection in the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia that is the
ruling sect in the country [and the Taliban]. Maybe you could explain that.
What is that perspective?
The Wahhabis believe in the same principle as the Iranian revolution back in
1979, which is exporting the revolution, exporting Islam, to other countries.
Now the Iranians have stepped back from the principle and have said no more.
The Wahhabis have adopted a completely different principle.
I can tell you from my own personal experience in northern Iraq during the
1990s, what they do is, they would go to tiny, very poor villages. They would
establish a center. The center would serve as a mosque, a school, as a
These are the Saudis?
These are the Wahhabis, yes. Before you know it, they are totally dominating
the life in the village. These villages are extremely poor. It's fertile ground
for recruitment of young men who have nowhere to go, who have no future, no
So they become totally dedicated to the cause of the Wahhabis, even if they
started their life as something else, as probably moderate Sunnis or moderate
Shia, they end up being extreme Wahhabis, because they were the only ones who
offered them hope. That's how it works.
Similarly with the Taliban?
Similarly with the Taliban, exactly. It's exactly the same principle they used.
Is there a connection between elements of the Saudi regime and bin
Yes. For sure. ...
The Khobar bombing?
Yes. The reason why the Saudis were so cautious in releasing any details about
the investigation and why the CIA ... and the FBI [were so frustrated] was due
to the fact that the Saudis established very early on in the investigation the
connection not only to Osama bin Laden, but to people from within the elite of
Saudi society. I'm referring to people very close to the royal family, who
funded and supported and facilitated the operation in Khobar. And to them, this
would've rocked the foundation of the regime in Saudi Arabia. ...
I can show you at least ten different statements from similar individuals
inside the Saudi government, leveling charges at different groups of totally
different loyalties, ranging from extreme Shia to Sunnis to foreign elements to
Afghani Arabs. They were contradicting themselves after every few months.
Because within the family itself, there were arguments of how much information
should the public be made aware of, and how much information should the
Americans be made aware of, as the victims were American soldiers.
So I'm sitting here, an American. We got a surprise attack on Sept. 11.
Our government is pointing towards a private network run by Osama bin Laden.
Some people, yourself, former CIA director Jim Woolsey, are saying, "Hey,
wait a minute. Take a look at Iraq." Why would Bush not want to, if you will,
get even with Saddam at this point?
I think it's their eagerness to form some kind of coalition, even if it's for
public consumption. They want to show that they have Muslims on board like the
Saudis, like the Egyptians, like other governments.
They want to show whom?
They want to show the world. They want to show the Islamic world, specifically.
Because they are becoming more Islam-sensitive now. ... I think the less they
expand this war, the more likely they can demonstrate a victory in the near
future, some sort of victory.
If they expand it, if they include Iraq, and if they include other countries
that might be linked -- the Syrians, for example, might be linked to other
terrorist operations somewhere else against American interests from the 1980s,
early 1990s -- then before you know it, you're confronting about six, seven,
eight different countries. And what do you do? You implement a regime change in
all of these countries? So they're limiting the scope of this war.
At the moment, Afghanistan, yes.
Have you contacted the U.S. government?
When you present this information to the U.S. government, do these officials
you meet with indicate, "Yes, we have other intelligence that would corroborate
what you're saying?"
Most people within the U.S. government privately declared their worry [of] what
Saddam Hussein might do. They know Saddam Hussein is a willing partner in any
terrorism, anywhere, even in the deepest, darkest Africa. Saddam Hussein wants
to always have the power to exert pressure on countries. This is his form of
diplomacy. This is his form of bringing people on his side.
But Iraq is a complicated issue from the American point of view, because they
have their friends in the region. And the friends in the region, like the
Saudis, like the Emirates, even Kuwait, sometimes oppose a change the way
America would be willing to support a kind of change, which is more democratic,
opening the country.
But from what we understand, one of the motivations for the
groundswell sympathy for anti-American acts is our intermittent bombing of
[Iraq] and the embargo which causes all of this suffering for the majority
of people in the country.
No. The majority of people in the Middle East view American policy in the
region as extremely cynical. While America declares its support for democracy
and human rights for Americans and for the First and the Second World, the
Third World, which is mainly made of these countries in the Middle East...
Like Egypt? Saudi Arabia?
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Iraq Kuwait, all these countries, Libya,
North Africa. Millions and millions of people see American officials at peace
[who] support, prop up extremely corrupt, crumbling regimes in the Middle East,
regimes that have no sympathy for any democratic notion in their countries.
They have no notion of support in any kind of human rights for their own
But they see Americans appeasing them. They see Americans supporting them --
and I'm talking about the American officials here, many administrations. This
is not only restricted to the current administration. So they view this as an
act of hostility towards the people of these countries.
And that causes this groundswell of anti-American acts?
Exactly. The dislike of American policy in the region did not start with the
bombing of Iraq. Look at before, pre-1991, there was still that feeling. In the
1980s, in the 1970s, in the 1960s. Because it's always been constantly American
policy of supporting regimes that they know if they pull the plug on them,
they'll fall. It's as simple as that. If they pull the plug on their support of
the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, they won't be able to survive for two years in
But then we worry that we won't be able to have the oil we need or that
Europe needs or Japan.
But you see, people in the region can't drink oil. They have to sell it. And it
is the world that consumes it. It's as simple as that. Having democracy there
does not prevent you from getting the oil. ... What are we going to do with the
oil buried underground? We need the money. We need your money. You need our
oil. It's a simple exchange. ...
You were saying this is a situation of personal relationships with bin
Well, that region runs on tribal loyalty and tribal connections. So in order to
secure your position within a tribe or within a region, then you marry. It's an
old tradition that's been running for centuries. So bin Laden chose to follow
the same path very successfully, and married his daughter to Mullah Omar, the
so-called effective ruler of Afghanistan.
So he has one daughter married to the ruler of Afghanistan?
That's right. But bin Laden himself is married to a niece of Hassan al-Turabi,
the effective ruler of Sudan for many years, and very well known throughout the
Middle East for his very close ties to Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime. And
so the tribal connection, the personal connection or the bond, the strong bond,
is there. ...
So to expect, for example, Mullah Omar or Taliban to give up Osama bin Laden is
nuts. It will never happen. They will see the whole country destroyed and the
whole population wiped off the face of the earth before they would even
contemplate such a thought, because they've made that blood connection. That's
the way that part of the world runs. It's been running like this for centuries,
and no Bush or Dick Cheney or Colin Powell will ever change that.
We believe the way to tackle this war against terrorism and against Osama bin
Laden and Taliban is to tackle the root of the problem, and that is to help
democratic forces bring about a serious change in that region. I'm not only
referring to Afghanistan or Iraq; it has to happen throughout the region. That
is the way to protect international law and local law. That's the way to
prevent terrorism from prospering in that region, and exporting terror to the
So what you're saying is, in a sense, we're looking in the wrong direction?
You're looking at the right direction. But you're looking at the wrong policy
or of the wrong way of tackling the problem of terrorism. Yes, you'll probably
kill Osama bin Laden. You'll probably get through the Taliban. You'll probably
have an effective change of government in Afghanistan.
Then what? Has the problem of terrorism been resolved? Absolutely not. Will you
be able to find individuals in the Middle East who are willing to commit
suicide in the streets of New York and Washington and Los Angeles? Yes. ...
[Can you describe] the nature of the Wahhabis, the Taliban. From a
religious point of view in the Judeo-Christian tradition, what are they like?
Wahhabism ... as a movement, they took Sunnis a step further.
Sunnis being the mainstream Islamic belief?
Yes. They kind of moved it a step further, more conservative than sort of
mainstream Sunnis. The kind of Wahhabism that Osama bin Laden and his people
represent is two steps even further from that. They are far more extreme, to
the point where, to them, even using radios is against Islam. Even shaving your
beard is against Islam, which really has nothing to do with Islam. ...
But [if] they believe all of that, how come they're using rifles or
airplanes or encrypted phones or all these other modern [technologies]?
They used it because they have their own political ends. They sell this
ideology to the people to control the masses. It's two different spheres here.
They need to do something to control the masses. Hence, going even a step
further and become more extreme. As far as they are concerned, they recruit
individuals who are willing even drink alcohol -- from what we know now of
Mohamed Atta and others, the night before they commit suicide and become
martyrs. So there is a cynical view of their own, regarding Islam and
justifying what they do. And of course, not allowing others to do it. ...
The sanctions against Iraq have hurt the people. How badly?
Very badly. Very, very badly. It wiped out the middle classes in Iraq. The
effect of sanctions on Iraq has been devastating.
The regime has been left totally immune from the effect of sanctions. In fact,
they have more access to cash now than they did back in 1990. We have always
maintained that sanctions as a policy is a bankrupt and immoral policy. If you
speak to anyone in the streets of Iraq, in any street in the Middle East, they
will tell you a sanction is an American ploy. It's a conspiracy between the
Americans and Saddam Hussein, believe it or not. This is what the man in the
street believes. I don't believe that. ...
Again, I take you back to the point where people see cynicism in American
policy. They see American policy kind of deal with the people with contempt.
You don't know anything. We know best. So we'll put sanctions for 11 years and
we'll see what happens, because we have better foresight than you do.
Do you agree that U.S. policy in relationship to the Palestinians and Israel
is also another cause of--
Oh, absolutely. It's the cynicism. Sometimes it's perceived as bias by the
Bias towards Israel?
Bias towards Israel, bias towards dictatorship in general. Why allow murderous
regimes like Saddam Hussein to stay in power? Why not help the democratic
Leaving Iraq aside for a moment, the bombing and the sanctions, the
corruption of the Saudi and Egyptian regimes and others, the tilting towards
the Israelis and let's say, an acceptance of people like Sharon, who represents
to many people in the Arab world, if you will, a mass murderer. That's from
their perspective. Sounds like a lot of the list of grievances that I read in
Osama bin Laden's [fatwa].
That's right. That's right. That's why despite people's outrage at what
happened [on Sept. 11] ... there is also this attitude that, you know, they
had it coming. You can't go on decade after decade running this policy in the
region and not expect some payback. The existence of the likes of Osama bin
Laden and the people who carried out the Sept. 11 attack is a direct result
of policies in the region.
I travel quite a lot to the United States. This attitude that everything is
happening across the ocean, we're far from it, anytime we feel like it we shut
our air space and we're immune -- this myth has been destroyed forever now.
America is part of this world, and you need to play fair. You're the godfather
now. You're the superpower. So you have an obligation to play fair. If you
play an imbalanced policy in the region, this is what happens. This is the
You have an axe to grind here. You want to get rid of Saddam, his family.
So for those listening at home, isn't it possible you're just using this ...
as an excuse to complete what the U.S. government didn't do in 1991?
But we're talking about the rest of the region here, as well. ... If you're
going to tackle the problem, it's not only in Baghdad. Whether you establish a
data connection between Osama bin Laden or Saddam or not, that's another issue.
But you need to look at the big picture and see why there are Saudi elements
and Iraqi elements and Egyptian elements and Tunisian and Moroccans involved in
atrocities, and prepare to commit further atrocities.
And die doing it.
And die willingly. That's the real war on terrorism. It's not bombing Kabul.
It's not killing Osama bin Laden only.
Or Saddam. There is a wider picture here that needs to be tackled. And it's
really the responsibility first and foremost of the United States as their
influence and their policies in the region that is required. But to be
redirected, they have to stop their perceived support of these corrupt regimes.
By the end of the day, the United States is the only superpower. It has claimed
that mantle. And it continues to insist that it is the only superpower, and its
word that has to be heard and respected. We accept that. We don't argue with
We have a new world order.
We have a new world order. We accept that. But that carries a high degree of
responsibility. You're not going to be a superpower and respected as a
superpower, and dealt with as a superpower, unless you fulfill the obligations
that you've have towards the people in the street. This is not about appeasing
King Fahd. This is not about appeasing Hosni Mubarak. ...
You're talking about a solution that requires the population of the United
States and in western Europe as well, to have a deeper understanding of
globalization. Unlikely, isn't it, in this kind of atmosphere, where the
president of the United States says, "Wanted, dead or alive." Is it possible
we're going to play into the dialectic of tit for tat?
This is a long-term solution. This is not going to happen overnight. I realize
and understand the American public now expects some revenge. They want to see
blood for the blood that was spilled in New York and Washington. Fine.
The U.S. will sort of go through probably some sort of fighting engagement in
the region. They'll bomb Afghanistan. They'll probably bomb other targets, and
they'll satisfy public opinion. I'm talking about the point from beyond that.
What is going to happen? Will the U.S. retreat back and say, "OK, we've done
our bit, we're happy and we've avenged the innocent people who died in New York
and Washington?" Or will there be a clear, levelheaded policy of tackling this
problem from its roots?
Now, if we're going to follow that logical levelheaded approach, then hopefully
as we say, "In Sha'allah," five, ten years from now, we feel that we have dealt
with the issue of terrorism very seriously.
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