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Saudi Arabia  Interviews

arrowPrince Bandar bin Sultan

Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan has served as Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States since 1983. In this interview with FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman, Prince Bandar argues that while U.S. policy in the Middle East has its flaws, it cannot be blamed for the atrocities of Sept. 11 -- Osama bin Laden and like-minded extremists must bear full responsibility. Prince Bandar also speaks candidly about dissidents within his own country, about relations between Saudi Arabia and other governments in the Middle East, and about the role that Saudi Arabia may take in the fight against terrorism. This interview was conducted late September 2001.
arrowSaad al-Fagih

A Saudi Arabian dissident living in exile in London, Dr. Saad al-Fagih heads the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia. In this interview, he explains the factors fueling anti-Americanism in Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations, and explains the Saudi government's dilemma if it allies itself with the U.S. in the war on terrorism. This interview was conducted late September 2001. In an earlier 1999 interview with FRONTLINE, Dr. al-Fagih described the loose organization of individuals that make up Al Qaeda.
egypt interviews
arrowNabil Fahmy

Nabil Fahmy is Egypt's ambassador to the United States. In this interview he discusses how Egypt successfully repressed its own internal terrorism and what it took, why the U.S. is a target for terrorists, and what fuels anti-Americanism in general in the Middle East. He also talks about the problems of extraditing Egyptian terrorists who are living in other countries, and the new international arrangements that are needed to fight terrorism. This interview was conducted mid-September 2001.
arrowFouad Allam

For 20 years, General Fouad Allam headed Egypt's security service. Following Anwar el-Sadat's assassination in 1981, the new president, Hosni Mubarak, and General Allam waged a campaign against radical Islam not seen since the days of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s. It included unlawful arrest, detention without trial, and torture to force confessions. Thousands of suspected terrorists were rounded up and jailed, among them Shiek Omar Abdel Rahman, who was later convicted of conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is one of two top lieutenants in Osama bin Laden's organization. This interview was conducted mid-September 2001.
arrowAhmed Sattar

Ahmed Sattar is an Egyptian-born U.S. citizen. Like many disaffected Egyptian middle-class students, Sattar was attracted to the views of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who preached that the only way to establish an Islamic state in Egypt was through a massive armed struggle or jihad. Sattar later became a close aide to Rahman, who was convicted of conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks. Sattar explains why many in the Islam world agree with bin Laden and oppose the U.S. -- either violently or peacefully. Sattar also answers questions about bin Laden's Egyptian allies. This interview was conducted in 1999 for FRONTLINE's report "Hunting bin Laden."

UPDATE: In New York on April 9, 2002, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that Sattar was one of four people indicted for providing material support to the Islamic Group, which he described as an Egyptian terrorist group. Ashcroft said that Sattar had served as a "surrogate" for Rahman.

arrowYasser el-Sirri

An Egyptian dissident based in London, Yasser el-Sirri is the director of the Islamic Observation Center. In 1994 he was sentenced to death, in absentia, for his alleged involvement in a failed assassination attempt on former Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Sedki in which a young girl was killed. He denies the charges. El-Sirri tells FRONTLINE the Egyptian regime is "dictatorial" and that change will come in Egypt only through a military coup or a popular uprising. He also refutes charges made in the British newspaper Daily Mail that he was involved in the Sept. 9, 2001, death of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Afghan Northern Alliance. This interview was conducted through a translator in mid-September 2001.

UPDATE: In New York on April 9, 2002, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that el-Sirri was one of four people indicted for providing material support to the Islamic Group, which he described as an Egyptian terrorist group. Ashcroft said that el-Sirri had been charged with "facilitating communications among Islamic Group members and providing financing for their activities."

U.S. Policy/ U.S. Intelligence Interviews
arrowRichard Armitage

Richard Armitage is the U.S. deputy secretary of state; he previously served as a special emissary to Jordan's King Hussein during the 1991 Gulf War and assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs from 1983 to 1989. He defends overall U.S. policy in the Middle East and tells FRONTLINE that in the past, the U.S. has been "playing defense" in regards to terrorism, but after Sept. 11 "the president's decided that we're going on the offensive." This interview was conducted in September 2001.
arrowRich DiSabatino

Rich DiSabatino is the director of Intelligence Support Group Ltd., a private company providing electronic intelligence training, support, and equipment to government, military, and law enforcement agencies within the U.S. and approved foreign countries. Here, he warns of the limitations of electronic intelligence, arguing that it can only augment human intelligence, not replace it. This interview was conducted mid-September 2001.
arrowBill Esposito

A former deputy director of the FBI in the Clinton administration, Bill Esposito talks about the need for far better working relations between the FBI and CIA, and the lack of agents skilled in Arabic languages. Esposito doesn't believe that the Sept. 11 attacks were the result of intelligence failures. Despite the sophistication and reach of U.S. intelligence, he tells FRONTLINE, it is still very difficult to detect some of the more stealthy terrorist groups. This interview was conducted mid-September 2001.
arrowPorter Goss

The chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a former CIA officer, Porter Goss (R-Fl.) says the intelligence community was unprepared for the new terrorist threat. He calls for a new emphasis on qualified personnel to infiltrate terrorist organizations and analysts who can decode and understand the information gathered by electronic and other surveillance methods. This interview was conducted mid-September 2001.
arrowWarren Rudman

A former U.S. senator, Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) chaired the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1997 to 2000. Together with former Senator Gary Hart (D-Colo.), he also chaired a bipartisan commission that studied issues of national security for more than two years and issued its findings in January 2001. Rudman tells FRONTLINE he was not surprised by the Sept. 11 attacks and points to a failure of U.S. intelligence. However, he argues that although intelligence agencies may be able to assess security threats, they are rarely able to predict terrorists' intentions. This interview was conducted mid-September 2001.
arrowLewis Schiliro

Until his retirement in 2000, Lewis Schiliro headed the FBI's New York bureau, where he supervised several counterterrorism investigations, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. He questions whether the U.S. has had enough resources for intelligence operations and whether it has the will and the technical ability today to infiltrate terrorist groups. This interview was conducted mid-September 2001.
arrowMichael Sheehan

From 1998 to 2001, Michael Sheehan was the coordinator for counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State. He calls the Sept. 11 attacks a failure of intelligence and says that the scale of the attack was completely unexpected. Sheehan offers insight into the structure of Al Qaeda, as well as Osama bin Laden's relationship with the Taliban and his role as psychological leader of an international organization. This interview was conducted mid-September 2001.
arrowJeffrey Smith

Jeffrey Smith was general counsel of the CIA from 1995 to 1996, during which time he was instrumental in drafting new regulations governing the conduct of U.S. intelligence activities. Here, he reflects on claims that those regulations -- as well as regulations prohibiting political assassinations and governing the surveillance of foreign agents -- have hamstrung the intelligence community. Although some procedures and policies may need review, he concludes those policies did not necessarily lead to the intelligence failure of Sept. 11, 2001. He warns that the regulations were put in place for good reasons and should not "be thrown out just because of this one terrible intelligence failure." This interview was conducted mid-September 2001.
arrowEdward Walker

Walker was assistant secretary of state for Near-Eastern affairs from 2000 to 2001. He also served as U.S. ambassador to Egypt from 1994 to 1997. In this interview, Walker says that there are many reasons for anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, and that the U.S. needs to address some of the grievances cited by Osama bin Laden. Walker also discusses the social and economic issues facing Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and says that young men are drawn to Islam by a lack of opportunities. This interview was conducted mid-September 2001.
arrowNabeel Musawi

An Iraqi dissident, Nabeel Musawi is the political liaison for the London-based Iraqi National Congress. Alleging an intelligence connection between Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, and Iraq, he tells FRONTLINE that he believes Saddam Hussein's regime was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Musawi says U.S. support of "corrupt regimes" in countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia is a major factor fueling anti-Americanism in the Middle East. This interview was conducted late September 2001.

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