Our bombing of Iraq?
... They feel that if we really wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein we'd do it.
... So why do we want him there? So that we can keep our troops in the Gulf.
That's the kind a convoluted logic that is very popular on the street.
And our backing of what many perceive as anti-democratic regimes, the Saudi
royal family, or Mubarak [in Egypt].
Well, I think that there are a number of people who would like to have greater
liberties, particularly in the area of free speech and in academic freedom and
so on. That's particularly true in Egypt, and there is resentment that the
United States is allied with regimes which are not providing these freedoms.
Democracy is a very delicate tool, and if you try to impose democracy without
the basic civil society that supports it, you get yourself into a serious
A factor [for the anti-American sentiments] is the holy sites in Saudi
Arabia. We have troops there.
The troops aren't around the holy sites.
Well, they're in the peninsula.
In the peninsula, yes.
Bin Laden aside, that affects people in the Islamic world.
It affects people if it is seen that the regime that is protector of the mosque
is, in some way, selling out its birthright to the United States, ... to
infidels. ... But we have a very disciplined military structure. They're not
visible. They are kept quite far away from any ... religious sites, for that
reason. We work very hard with the Saudi government to ensure that we're not
trampling on their sensitivities or the sensitivities of their people.
So the big problem is the movement from the Gulf War -- when everybody was very
happy to see American troops there. As the threat level goes down and people
don't perceive the threat to be the same, they wonder, "Why do we have to have
these Americans around anymore?"
And why do we?
Well, I think the threat is still there, but the reason it's not perceptible is
because we have the troops there. So it's sort of like the guy that has the
secret charm against the elephants. There are no elephants around; it must
In reality, if it weren't for the American forces there, I'm quite sure that
Saddam Hussein would very soon get anxious to repeat his efforts.
[The reasons you've cited for anti-American sentiment in the region sound]
like the fatwa of Osama bin Laden on why there should be war against all
Jews and crusaders. [It] sounds like interviews we've done with members of
Egyptian Islamic fundamentalist organizations. ...
Yes, and the difference is the solution. ... It's not the kind of thing that
can't be solved through a strong administration position on some of these
issues. Then we have to work on the communication and understanding so the
cultural differences don't make such a great impact.
I've interviewed people in Congress and when I've asked them what motivates
people to support, or be part of, the Al Qaeda organization, they say, "Well,
they're crazy, they're insane, they're psychopaths." ... We raise these issues,
they said, "Forget that." ...
See, what I'm trying to say is that there's no linkage. This is not a
justification for what they're doing.
Understood. This is a justification for the concern that is felt by Arabs on
the street in a lot of these countries. They are concerns that we can deal
with, and should deal with. But they have nothing to do with what Al Qaeda has
done, or what Osama bin Laden has done. What he is trying to do is to
eliminate U.S. presence in the Gulf because he thinks the U.S. presence is what
supports the regimes in the Gulf, and the regimes in the Gulf are corrupt and
anti-religious and they are preventing him from seeing his brand of extremist
Islam becoming the norm in the region. ... He's obviously concerned with the
He's concerned with the challenge to the traditions that he is trying to impose
on everyone, that is, that women don't have any rights, that they are
completely covered and so on and so forth.
We interviewed an Iraqi who said that until the United States publicly
addresses and practically addresses these issues of democracy, corruption, and
repression in the Arab world, and is not perceived as the supporter of these
regimes, this problem will not end.
Well, you don't end a problem by pulling down the entire house in order to
solve the problem. What you do is you try to work with the existing regimes in
order to develop the civil society that's necessary to make a strong democracy.
If you try to move from point A to point Z without any intermediate steps,
you're going to have revolution, you're going to have instability, and you're
likely to have the very extremist Islamic regimes come to fore that you were
trying to avoid by putting democracy in. You might also well have a real
problem with your economic development.
So you've got to take this one step at a time. It's irresponsible to try and do
it any other way.
Well, let's set aside for a minute doing it in one day. It doesn't seem to
be what's happening in Saudi Arabia.
Yes, I think Saudi Arabia is a different kind of structure. You've got to
remember, the Saudis have been moving in the direction of having a consultative
assembly. They've gone back and forth on some of these things. The process if
obviously slower there, but there is a process. It is not going backwards; it
is moving forward.
Would it surprise you that we have reports that, amongst some people in the
middle class in Saudi Arabia and higher up, there is sympathy for bin Laden?
... I wouldn't say "open celebration" because you couldn't do that in Saudi
Arabia, but there's some degree of feeling that there was a success here in the
events of Sept. 11. ...
It doesn't surprise me there would be people that were sympathetic. I don't
think that there were too many people sympathetic after they recognized exactly
what happened at the World Trade Center. There may have been initial reaction
that, "Ha ha, the United States got its comeuppance." But I think as people
saw the depth of the personal and human tragedy, that they've changed their
minds on it. That's not what I'm getting from my contacts there.
Certainly, before this event, there was considerable resentment. I mean, the
United States is terribly successful; we are a very large power; we are, in
most people's mind, the only superpower. We have an obligation, in many
people's minds, to solve the world's problems, and the fact that we can't, and
that we're not as strong in that sense as other people think, leads to some
Also, there's some of the innocent things that people do. Our cultures are
different. You take an American businessman, he goes over to Saudi Arabia,
he's a CEO, he's an important guy, he's responsible, he's respectful of other
people's time. He walks in, he wants to have a meeting with the CEO of another
company, and maybe with a crown prince, and he wants to do it in two hours, get
on his plane and go out. That's normal business practice here. That's an
affront in Saudi Arabia. That's insensitivity. That's arrogant.
So you just get that kind of difference as well. It's the kind a thing that you
can work on, but there will always be some resentments that exist.
Then how would you explain that, for example, in [the attacks on Sept. 11]
so many of the individuals involved appear to be Saudis?
Well, we're not exactly sure who all is involved. You've got to remember where
this whole thing came from in the first place. Osama bin Laden came out of a
fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. He brought a bunch of
volunteers with him to do this. We supported them. The Saudis supported them.
The Saudis supported, particularly, Osama bin Laden and his brand of Islam.
And the Saudis have supported the Taliban.
And the Saudis supported the Taliban. At that time we were all against the
Soviet Union. It was a question of the Cold War. Now, after the fact, you had
a lot of fighters there who had been drawn from a number of Arab countries,
many of them who went for very idealistic reasons, because they thought that it
was a campaign against godless communism. ...
So these young men go over there, and you've got in the multiples of thousands
of people from Algeria, from Egypt, from Saudi Arabia, and so on, and they
formed the core of the bin Laden or the Qaeda organization. Now those people, a
certain number of them, stuck with him. ...
Why so many Saudis, though? Because these are not Afghan Arabs. These are
not veterans of the Afghanistan war. They're too young.
But the veterans were, in significant numbers, Saudis because they were urged
to go and fight for Islam in Afghanistan. They come back, as I said, and they
start picking up the young men in the mosques. Every time you get people who
are dissatisfied with their lot in life [and] don't think that they're getting
their due rewards, ... they go to the mosque because it's one place where they
can go and feel relatively free. They find like-minded people, and they find
people who are veterans of the Afghanistan war. ...
We understand that there is funding that comes from Saudi Arabia, not only
middle class individuals. There is some information that, let's say, people on
the edges of the royal family, some of the banks and some of the wealthier
people have either put money into charity organizations that, in turn, have
helped fund these camps, or some of the peripheral operations, and that some of
the money is--
There is money not only from Saudi Arabia. There's some money from the United
States that's gone into these organizations. You've got to take a look at the
way this stuff is done. They have nominally charitable organizations build a
mosque, or maybe to do good works or so on, and that organization then siphons
a portion off that goes to this kind of activity. It's not always clear to the
donor exactly what he's doing.
Now we have urged a closer control of this, and certainly the Saudi government
no longer gives assistance to this kind of organization. But some individuals
still do, I'm sure, and it's harder to stop individuals from giving to
charitable organizations, or nominally charitable organizations, than it is for
a government to stop.
The allegation that the Saudi royal family, which is quite large, four to
five thousand individuals at least--
I'm sure there are some individuals who have done that. ... We haven't really,
until now, tracked the bank records or anything. So it's not as if it's a
well-charted course. I mean, there's a lot of suspicions that are out
One of our Saudi interview subjects laughed when we mentioned the question
of tracking bank records. He says, "You're talking about people ... [who]
don't believe in banks as you know them."
True. They have a different kid of bank.
They like cash. This is a cash economy, or gold economy. Just like they are
low tech in their operations, they're, in a sense, low tech in their financial
Well, it's certainly part of the problem in dealing with them. ... [The] things
that we put in in this country in order to deal with drugs and money laundering
[are] the kind of things that need to be put in on a much broader basis
worldwide: limits to the amount of cash that can be carried into any country;
limits to cash that can be transferred in a banking system without a report;
cooperation in tracking the movement of funds. That's part of the war that is
going to be engaged now.
There was always the talk, and some people say they could prove it, that the
Saudis used to pay the PLO, or pay various other, if you will, organizations we
called terrorist back in the '70s or '80s. ...
Yes, there was a period of time in which even some European countries were
accused of doing that.
Is that going on here?
I don't think it's going on now. There was a period, up until the mid '90s,
when some of that may have been going on ... with some of the other countries
in the region, the Gulf area, and so on. It's easier to close an eye to having
people go through your territory [and] use your territory as a way station than
to actually arrest somebody and create an enemy. And that I think has been
brought under control since things like the [USS Cole attack in Yemen] and the
Khobar Towers [in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia]. ...
As this kind of terrorism built up, countries have become more inclined to
support us and to prevent this movement across territory. ... These guys [the
terrorists] will "foul their nest," so to speak, by having events like the Cole
in Yemen or the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia and so on. There's no place
that's immune and you can't buy immunity for people like this.
That ... convinced governments that they could no longer make a deal with the
devil. They had to start getting serious about the question of terrorism
because it could create enormous problems for them.
By the way, I can understand $700 million a year in economic aid to Egypt, a
country with great poverty. But why [have we given] them $1.3 billion of military
aid every year for 20 years?
Well, there are a number of reasons for it. ... First of all, you will find a
lot of economists who think it should be the other way around. That the aid to
the economy is actually counterproductive.
Because when we hear from the Egyptians, fundamentalists, they say, "Who
pays the military police? Who put us in military courts? It's the United
Well, the military police would be paid for whether we gave them a penny or
not. So let's get serious about this.
But you know what I'm saying.
I know what you're saying, but the reason for the large amount of military aid
to Egypt is, well, it's got a lot of reasons. First of all, it helped to buy
the peace between Egypt and Israel. It was a promise.
Well, call it what you will. It was a promise because at that time, if you'll
recall, the Egyptians were alone in the Arab world. They had a security
threat. They even lost a president. And the military was seriously undercut
because of the war itself in '73. It needed rebuilding.
So I don't really consider it was a bribe. I think it was a necessary thing for
the defense of Egypt and for our own self-interests. That's one thing. Now
that period is over--
Twenty years later.
Then in the Gulf War, who stood beside us? Where was the one army, Arab army,
that had any real clout, any ability to stand with us? It was the Egyptian
army. They brought in their tanks. They had a division of tanks that went up
the right side of Kuwait. They stood by us throughout the whole thing. They
helped give us cover in the peninsula, as well as the Saudis, cover against
challenges of Islamists that we were profaning the holy sites. [It's] terribly
important, for any kind of action in this part of the world, that you have Arab
allies and you have Islamic allies. The Egyptians are those allies.
But what did we find in the Gulf War? We found enormous complications, because
we couldn't work together. They didn't have the same system, they didn't have
the same weapons systems. We couldn't resupply them. It was a nightmare. ...
Communications were a disaster. In fact when the [United Arab Emirates] asked
to go on bombing raids up into Baghdad, we had to escort them the whole way
because they didn't have IFF, that's the same kind of identification of
friendly fighters. So after the Gulf War, we made a decision in order to try
and integrate some of these forces, some of the capabilities, so that we could
fight together in a coalition in the future. A lot of what we do with Egypt is
built on that basis, and that's why we have the largest land exercise every two
years in Egypt.
... Does it mean we might change our policies? We just changed our policy on
Sudan the other day.
Yes, but look, there's another factor. Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, ... these
[are] countries which have a vested interest in their own economic development
and see now that we are serious about terrorism. It's an opportunity to see if
there's a new kind of relationship that can be formed, particularly with a
country like Syria.
[Syria's] interests aren't bound hand and foot with terrorism. They haven't
been engaged in terrorist activities directly for years, 10 years I think is
what the State Department says. And so is it really in their interest to have
training camps in Bekaa that are occasionally used like summer camps?
There is an opportunity to try to, in the process of eliminating this
terrorism, open a new dialogue with some of these countries. That would be a
very healthy thing.
As opposed to simply take out the Bekaa.
If you take out the Bekaa, you take out all of our bases in Saudi Arabia, and
you lose Turkey, and you lose a few other people. ...
So the process of reason seems to be working on a certain level here.
The process of reason makes a lot of sense because the target has got to
remain, first and foremost, international or global terrorism. As the
president said, it's time for the world to come together and do something about this disease. And with that, we can then play on some of the other
things to make progress in both our relations on a bilateral basis and some of
the areas of contest in the area.
But sooner or later if, in fact, bin Laden is the perpetrator of these
events, and we go after him, don't we create more support for him?
Yes, I think that it's very important that we make the distinction clear
between bin Laden and Islam or, again, to Arab countries and so on, that we
have a very clear policy that we are not, in any way, attacking Islam, we are
not, in any way, attacking Arab countries. We are attacking a very small
subdivision, faction, of unacceptable behavior, as conveyed by a relatively
small number of people in cells throughout the world.
If [Osama bin Laden] is successful, he will convince people that we're actually
attacking Islam. So, when Americans, for example, vilify Islam publicly or
when they attack Arab-Americans, they're supporting Osama bin Laden. ...
Is part of the cultural language problem here reflected in the fact that our
own intelligence agencies, our law-enforcement agencies, didn't have Arabic
speakers [and] don't have a sense of these organizations and the communities
that they come out of?
I don't think that's really the problem. We have excellent Arabic speakers, by
the way, in our intelligence operations. I've known many of them in my various
The FBI seems to have accused--
The FBI is not an overseas operation. The CIA and the NSA all have
extraordinarily fluent Arabic speakers, so does the military, so does the State
Department, for that matter. That's not the problem.
The problem is when you get a very tightly controlled organization which has
very limited links between them -- a lot of couriering of information so they
don't use telephones which you can intercept -- and they have a vetting process
which is so rigorous that they don't take anybody in unless he's gone through
six different versions of vetting and several trials, you can't infiltrate.
So even if you had substantially more money involved, it would be very hard to
infiltrate these organizations. They are very loyal to their perverted view of
what Islam is and what their objective is. So it's a very hard target, and I
think people are giving the intelligence agencies a bad rap on this one.
Aren't they supposed to predict and protect?
Well, they're supposed to predict and protect, but you've got to have the
information to predict with. Keep in mind, as well, that you've got flow of
information of extraordinary proportions these days. ... Some of it's
encrypted, some of it takes three or four days to decrypt. ...
Maybe you could explain for us, just because it has come up over and over
again. Why do we maintain sanctions and continue to bomb Iraq when it doesn't
seem to affect Saddam Hussein at all?
Well, when the new secretary of state [Colin Powell] came into office, he said
this doesn't make any sense at all. We're maintaining sanctions which have only
one impact. They lose the support from the Gulf region and among Arabs, and
they hurt Iraqi people, and they don't do a thing except make Saddam Hussein
wealthy and his cohorts wealthy because then the smuggling operation pays that
He still gets all of the liquor he wants, and he's still able to import Johnnie
Walker Black and so on.
Were you talking this way during the Clinton administration?
As a matter of fact, I was. The fact is that the secretary said, "Let's narrow
the sanctions to the things that count. Let's talk about weapons of mass
destruction. Let's talk about military items that can build his army again, not
every military item. [Let's] keep constraints on the things that threaten other
people and to heck with the rest of it."
But we haven't done that.
We haven't done it because we ran into a problem. It starts getting
complicated. The Russians were not very anxious to do this. They wanted a
different solution. They stopped the progress in the Security Council. It's
still under negotiation.
And meanwhile the Arabs, the people, are caught in the middle.
Meanwhile, yes. And it's something that's overdue, it's something that should
have been done, and it should be done now.
So it's feeding the discontent--
It feeds the discontent. ... And it actually makes Saddam Hussein stronger
because under the system of sanctions, he controls every nickel and dime that
go to his people, in terms of supplies, food and so on. He can direct it, as
he does, to loyal areas, he can withhold it from areas that are not loyal. It
gives him stronger leverage.
You know, the Soviet Union is gone. Some people have said this is the new
communism, Islamic fundamentalism. Is that what it is?
No. Let's not confuse even fundamentalism with what Osama bin Laden has done.
There is legitimate fundamentalism where people believe very strongly in basic
tenets as written, and we have Christian fundamentalism. You don't attack an
entire religious movement because of the actions of a few people.
People have the right to believe what they believe, provided they're not trying
to impose it on somebody else. That's where Osama bin Laden steps over the
bounds, because he's trying to impose what he believes on everybody else in the
entire region. That's unacceptable to anybody. He tries to impose it by force.
That's also unacceptable to anybody.
So let's keep it separated here as to what we're talking about. I don't even
like the word "Islamic fundamentalism" because it gives that impression.
Well, let me put it a different way. The Soviet Union fell. The Persian
Gulf War happens [and] we destroy the Iraqi army, ... conscripts in the army
are killed. We saw it on TV. We massacred 100,000 troops retreating from
Kuwait. Remember the Highway of Death?
Yes. ... I don't know whether casualties were that high. It's amazing what
people can live through. I'm not saying that we didn't kill a lot of
We've had a decade of prosperity where we've been promoting globalization --
computers, digital communications, the new, new economy -- and a bunch of guys
with box cutter knives get into the United States and create more damage than
any foreign, if you will, power since the War of 1812. Is this the nightmare
of globalization coming home?
It's something that's been in the back of people's minds and in some of the
planning for a long time. No matter how sophisticated your military is, no
matter how efficient it is at putting a missile inside of a two-by-four window,
box cutter knives, ... certain kinds of biological toxins, anthrax and so on,
are relatively easy to procure. [They] can be weaponized if you don't care
about the individual who is delivering it.
They are the kinds of things that terrorism, which relies on self-sacrifice,
can use. It's not all that easy yet, but we know that a number of
organizations and groups like bin Laden's have been working on just that kind
But if we hadn't had airplanes that you can go from Cairo to New York or
Rawalpindi to Tokyo? If you couldn't travel the way we travel and use digital
communications the way you can use it and if encryption wasn't available to
everyone, not just to the NSA, the way it was in the old days? If there wasn't
this sort of democratization, at least on a quantitative level in the world,
this wouldn't have been possible, would it?
Yes, but it would have been because these guys didn't use high tech. Yes, they
used some computers, but it wasn't based on high tech. You could have sailed
in a sailing vessel to get across the sea if you've got enough patience. You
could have used a box cutter's equivalent in the 1800s.
Yeah, but you wouldn't have had a jumbo jet---
You wouldn't have had a jumbo jet, but you could have had something else. This
is one of the dangers.
As we keep defending against the last incident, we've got to start thinking
ahead to the things that they can do. I think it's very healthy that the
government is looking at tanker trucks, movement of chemicals, other things
that could be relatively low-tech solutions to terrorism. That's what we've
got to think about.
To blame globalization, modernization is ... wrong. ... Remember what this guy
is trying to do. He's trying to take away all those things. He wants a society
that's back in the Stone Age, as we've seen in the Taliban. That's not really
a society that looks for computers or technology or so on. ...
You've been quoted as saying that many of these governments in the region
say one thing to their people in public and something else in private to us.
What's that about?
First of all, it's a tendency of politicians everywhere to want to appeal to
the people, their constituencies that support them, and they often appeal to
their constituencies in ways that they don't necessarily want to convey to
So you've got an incentive to talk to the people in the street and to satisfy
them that the government is doing something about the problems they're worried
about, and that maybe it's talking to the United States in harsh terms, ... or
it's going to keep the United States at arm's length. And yet in the
interchange between governments, often this kind of action is ameliorated or
reduced in the way it's managed. ...
Give me an example.
If you're talking in an election campaign in Cairo, and you want to appeal to
the mass that you're dealing with, you're going to criticize the United States
in pretty strong terms about its performance on the Palestinian issue, and
you're going to say the United States is not helping. You're going to say that
the Palestinians are being abused and so on.
[The politician will say that the U.S. is] pro-Zionists, controlled by the
Exactly. And then when the Mubarak government deals with the issue of the peace
process, it works to try to bring the peace process to fruition, to try to
convince Arafat to be flexible, to try to work with the United States
government to get peace. So there is a difference in the rhetoric that is used
and the actual actions of what that government often does.
So the government in Egypt, as I understand it, fosters to a certain extent
the popular views in Egypt that this is all a Jewish conspiracy? ...
Right. ... You don't get so much of that in government statements. You get a
lot more of it in the press.
You get this kind of thing in every country. In Israel, you get statements by
members of the Cabinet now that are really pretty strong about the behavior of
Racist, which we would call racist. So there is this problem throughout. ...
Do you think Saudi Arabia will democratize?
Ultimately yes, I do. ... It's going to take time. ... I think that they need
to move more quickly to get stronger representation in their system, move on
beyond just consultative assembly. A lot of the countries in the Gulf are
doing this now. You've got the Bahrainis that are moving in that direction,
the Qataris that are moving in that direction. This is a design and a path
which Saudi should follow as well, and I think that they will come to that.
And when people say that Mubarak is the butcher of Egypt, that he got peace
on the streets by literally rounding everyone up and, in fact, hounding them
out of the country?
Well, I would venture to say that if you had an absolutely, 100-percent free
election in Egypt today -- and it was monitored by the U.N. and the United
States and everything else, and you put up whoever you wanted to against
Mubarak -- Mubarak would win the election.
Because he's got more money?
No, because he is seen as a man who protects Egypt's interests. Most Egyptians
couldn't stand the terrorism. You know what it was doing to their tourism
industry when they attacked the Japanese tourists in Luxor? Nobody had jobs
any more. The main reason he won was not the suppression; it was the fact that
the people turned against these guys and started turning them in. So don't
think that populations at large necessarily object to strong methods.
And is it a mistake that we have focused so much attention on bin Laden?
I'm thinking of a headline in The Times of London on Monday that has "Bin Laden
and Bush Sign Declarations of War," and there are pictures of their signatures.
We have made them equal.
That's unfortunate. There is no equality. One is an outlaw in all nations'
views and in all religions' views.
I'm talking about the focus of attention.
Yes, but it is important to eliminate this threat. The threat is not bin
Laden. Bin Laden is a single individual. He's a representative. He's a
symbol, but he is a symbol of something that is a larger problem which affects
a lot more people than this, and various cells throughout the world. This
isn't just something that's in Afghanistan. It's in Rome, it's in Peoria. ...
And it's got to be rooted out because it is a threat to everybody and to every
... You agree that many of the issues that are raised by bin Laden are the
issues we do have to address.
Absolutely, 100 percent. We have to address the peace process and the
Palestinian issue. We have to address the Syrian-Israeli peace. We need to
address the economic problems of the region and the poverty that exists in
certain areas in the region. We need to start supporting the growth of civil
society so that democracies can grow in a responsible way.
There is an agenda out there which is very large and which we can have a very
positive impact on, and that's all part and parcel of the overall or the
longer-range effort that we have to engage in.
And we may finally be able to focus on it because of this tragic
I would hate to say that we weren't focused before, but I think we have a much
sharper focus now on some of these issues than we had before. The evidence is
the fact that the president [George W. Bush] and the secretary [Colin Powell, Secretary of State] were not prepared to allow the
talks between Peres and Arafat to stumble. There is a determination now. That
determination can be turned to real progress on virtually all of these areas.
I remember U.S. government statements no less than a year old where we were
saying we were taking bin Laden's organization apart limb by limb. We were on
top of this, we knew that there were threats out there. ... They took the World
Trade Center in 1993. They did the Nairobi bombing. They got the Cole. ...
And now the World Trade Center ... and the Pentagon.
It never pays to underestimate your enemy. Let's face it, this is an
organization that has tentacles throughout the world.
But it's this little, tiny organization?
It is in relative terms, yes. When you talk about the numbers of people who
are Islamic believers, and even of those, those who are fundamentalists, this
is a very small number of people.
But they're like guerrillas swimming in a sea, aren't they?
Yes, but you've got 20 people who took down four airliners. Twenty people is not
many people to put together. It may be more difficult to get 20 people who are
willing to commit suicide, but in this organization, it doesn't seem to be that
If you've got maybe a cadre of 5,000 or 6,000 people, you can do an awful lot
of damage in the world, particularly if you've got the right kind of security
and the right separation between units, you don't have to have a large number.
In fact, a large number is their own defeat because a large number means you
can infiltrate, it means you're susceptible. The tighter the organization, the
smaller the organization, the more dangerous it is.
And all of the assets of the United States government -- our flaunted power
to intercept all the electronic communications in the world and decipher them,
all of the power of the CIA as its people in the rest of the world believe it's
the all-powerful intelligence organization, the FBI, the $10 billion we spend
on counterterrorism -- it doesn't work.
As I said before, people tend to think that we're a superpower, we can do
anything. We have limits just like everybody else. Now the organizations you
mentioned do a lot, but there is no such thing as an impermeable barrier
against this. It has to be a constant vigilance and a constant effort, and you
can't do it one day and then relax the next.
We often try to defend against the attack of yesterday. We made all of our
embassies now fortresses. ... And so what's the terrorist going to do? He's
probably going to go back and shoot an ambassador in his car and get the same
kind of impact. You have to be aware of all of the threats, and this is a very
tough job to do. ...
Why, in this group as opposed to other groups, do you believe there were
educated people from Egypt and Saudi Arabia? In the past, we would expect
people of lower income, marginalized--
That's actually not true. That's not true. ... The Islamic Jihad in Egypt,
most of the people in that organization and in the other terrorist
organizations were educated. What has happened, though, is because the systems
don't prepare people for work that exists, they are out of work, educated
people. And so their sense of resentment is even greater.
So when [Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman]'s assistant [Ahmed Sattar] tells us on camera that the great
problem in the 1980s was educated people getting out of college unable to get a
job, unable to get an apartment, ... unable to have a future--
He's right. That's true. ...
There's no greater gap than in the Islamic world between wealth and poverty,
That's exactly right, yes. ...
As societies like Egypt, for example, open up to a world trading
environment, you start to get disparities in the society in terms of wealth,
which become all the more obvious. ... When you start this process of opening
up to the market, that means that your private investors are going to be the
ones that make the most money the most quickly. There's going to be a period of
time when they are making extremely high amounts of money, and the gap between
poor and rich becomes greater, and the middle class has to work hard. ...
We went through it in this country when you had all of the railroad magnates
and so on. There was a huge gap in this country between the people who had real
wealth and were investing it in the growth of the country, and the people that
were on the line piling in the spikes for those railroads. But it led to, over
time, a stronger middle class, a stronger society, and a stronger and a better
distribution of wealth. ...
So the disparity of income is very much a factor, and in both Saudi Arabia and Egypt,
unemployment, particularly of young university graduates, is a serious problem.
Part of the problem is that they aren't trained to do jobs that are needed, and
part of the problem is attracting enough investment so that jobs are created at
a level that will support the population growth. ...
That's why they turn to Islam.
That is why they turn to Islam and why some of them then, from that group, turn
to a more radical form. [It's] because they feel abused. They feel that there
is no hope, and they look for a way out. They build on each other's
And they see Mubarak, their enemy--
They see him as an enemy because he represents a system which hasn't fulfilled
their requirements. ... But if you're a government in a country as large as
Egypt, you can provide only so much, given the amount of money that you take
in. That means that there are significant gaps in the coverage for the social
Now what the Islamics do is they come in and they provide money to fill those
gaps. So a kid who is trying to get ahead and needs to pass the baccalaureate
-- a tough exam -- he can't get all of the education he needs in the school.
He needs to be tutored. So the Islamic fundamentalists come in, and they tutor
him for free, and they get the gratitude of the family. They also get the kid
and are able to tutor him in more than just what he needs to get through the
baccalaureate. So it's a whole system that's in place.
saudi arabia +
intelligence failure +
reporting from the ny times +
tapes & transcripts +
pbs online +
photo copyright © afp/corbis
web site copyright 1995-2014
WGBH educational foundation