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interview: saad al-fagih

You say that [U.S.] analysts and institutions aren't working? What's going on?

The impression is that the whole thinking machine -- strategy centers, think tanks -- are paralyzed. The whole country, which is supposed to be the best element of the West with the ideology of democracy -- where all the brains are melded in a proper decision for the sake of the future of the country -- all this has vanished. ...

To follow bin Laden, to put him under very close surveillance, they are ending up with this: that they don't know [anything] about him. He's attacking with four planes on their own land, the very symbols of America -- a defense symbol, an economic symbol, and probably the third symbol would be the political symbol -- and they are asleep. Why don't they ask themselves why? What went wrong? ...

If they had been modest and humble enough and put arrogance aside and say, "Well, let's study the phenomenon, what is the case of bin Laden?" they would have reached a completely different conclusion and hence a completely different way of dealing with the problem.

What's the different conclusion?

That depends on understanding the problem. The problem is a phenomenon consisting of at least four ingredients. The first ingredient is the huge hatred of the United States because of its polices in Palestine, its policies in Iraq, its policies in the Arabian Peninsula.

The second element of this phenomenon is the hopeless leaders in our region, which are regarded by people as oppressors, as traitors, as [stooges] for the United States.

about saad 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 by Martin Smith. In an earlier 1999 interview with FRONTLINE, Dr. al-Fagih described the loose organization of individuals that make up Al Qaeda.

And those are?

[The leaders] of Saudi Arabia, of the Gulf countries, of Egypt, of most of the Arab countries, including also some Muslim countries like Pakistan and other areas. But specifically to Arab countries, and because we are dealing very much with a Saudi phenomenon here by the huge list of Saudi names, more specifically of Saudi Arabia. So this is the second element.

Then you have the third element of the personality of bin Laden himself, where people are eager to see somebody who is faithful to what he believes in and who has abandoned his luxury to fight for what he believes in.

Then you have another American element -- not in the sense of hatred, but in getting the certificate to bin Laden that he is the hero people are waiting for. That came after the Nairobi bombing.

We gave him a certificate. Do you mean saying that he was the mastermind behind it?

No. You gave him the certificate that he is the proper antagonist, the proper challenge to the arrogant superpower which is hurting Muslims.

To someone watching this, bin Laden is involved in taking human life, in terrorist acts. Yes or no?

Well, that is the short cut of the story.

He's been indicted in the United States for the Nairobi bombing. He's publicly said that he approves of these kinds of acts and it appears that he is allied with, if you believe what you read and see, a group of people internationally who are focused on killing Americans and Jews. That's what they said, and they seem to be doing it.

If you talk about Nairobi bombing, we were monitoring people's response to the bombing. And there was a big controversy whether this act is bad or good. In the first few days after the incident, people were very upset with the scene of Africans and civilians with a lot of blood after the incident.

This is people in the Islamic community.

In the Islamic world, including Saudi Arabia. There was a lot of controversy whether this act was good or bad. And indeed, the tilt was towards that it is bad.

When the Americans responded by throwing missiles to bin Laden and President Clinton stood on the platform saying, "Bin Laden is my enemy and bin Laden has inflicted hurt on me," being the biggest authority in the United States to admit that bin Laden is his antagonist, the controversy, the discussion, the argument on who did the Nairobi bombing vanished, disappeared completely.

Nobody turned his head to what has been said about whether this was bad or good. All the focus was that bin Laden is the hero because he inflicted hurt on America to the degree that the president of the United States himself acknowledges this fact, and to the degree that America is forced to respond to him.

The point that I make is it did not stop there. It went on -- making statements, behaving politically and behaving in every other domain as if bin Laden is an ongoing danger to the United States. If bin Laden had paid billions of money for any company to make a PR service for him, he would not have achieved the same thing. ...

You say people hate America, but millions of Muslims come to America, want to live in America, come for education, and can travel freely. For people in America, this is a contradiction -- if you say they hate us, but they want to come to our country -- at the same time, and we let them in.

... There's an important point here that this hate is not the natural hate people have to a prosperous superpower. It's not that sort of hate. It's very specific hate for the sake of policies in the Middle East, which people perceive or understand that those policies are very much directed against them in terms of their identity, being Arabs and Muslims.

They ask themselves why, for God's sake, America sacrificed its interests for the case of defending Israel. The interests of America are in oil in the Gulf and other areas. Why would America lose money and lose face and get continuous embarrassment for the sake of defending the aggressive, very, very bad policies of Israel, and keep declaring that nobody should touch the security of Israel, and stand in a way in which America with all its huge machine becomes a tool for Israel to manipulate?

If it has interests in the region and it hates Saddam Hussein, why does [America] not contain Saddam alone and leave the people alone? Let the people eat and drink. Why should America starve 20 million people and Madeleine Albright stand up and say it is the price? ...

You're talking about continuing the embargo of Iraq.

Yes. She said killing half a million children is a price worth paying. She's justifying the killing of civilians. Not only killing them -- starving them to death, and forbidding medicine and food from them.

If they see this going on and going on and going on, that will continue feeding terrorism hate to America. Not because it is a prosperous superpower; it's because of what they believe. They may be wrong, but they believe that it is intentional damage to them and their identity.

That is the dangerous consequence we will have now. The people are perceiving the American response to the incident, the Tuesday incident, the New York incident -- they perceive it as if it is a matter of identity. They see all this political campaign, military campaign, whatever President Bush does deny that it has nothing to do with Islam. They have a blind eye, a deaf ear on that. They understand it's a campaign again Muslims. If America wants to deal with terrorism, it has to go to the roots, to the reasons, why did this phenomenon take place?

The question was raised to me the other day, why doesn't the United States take the same view of the IRA or Christian right groups in America that have fed people like Timothy McVeigh? This was coming from the Egyptian ambassador. Why is it always Muslims? Is that what you mean, that we're always focused on Islam as being the source of terrorists?

Well, this is a separate issue. This is also a point which has got to do with Muslims in America. They are very upset why they are singled. What matters for many Muslims in the area of the Middle East, especially Arabs, is the behavior and policies of the United States. Even if an earthquake happens, even if it's not terrorism, even if there's a single ordinary natural disaster happening [in the U.S.], they will feel some sort of satisfaction. It's God's punishment to them. They've been hurting us. Well, God wanted to punish them. That's the way they see things.

So since the Nairobi bombing, has there been an upsurge of support for bin Laden in Saudi Arabia?

In two intervals. There was huge emotional support from the ordinary person. It became almost like a stigma for you if you don't support or respect bin Laden on the ordinary street level.

On a specific level, people started asking how to go and get trained under the auspices of bin Laden's groups. Since the Nairobi bombing, there was a new big wave of recruitment going to Afghanistan.

From Saudi Arabia?

Yes. All the active groups of bin Laden now are new recruits. Most of his old recruits from the Afghan Soviet era have vanished or disappeared or changed their mind. Very few of them are still loyal to him. After the successful PR service of the Americans after the Nairobi bombing, hundreds and thousands of people flocked into Afghanistan to get trained under bin Laden and to convey a message for others to consider that. ...

Has bin Laden been successful in fundraising in Saudi Arabia?

There are two answers to this. First, there are some funds going to bin Laden activity or any other violent Muslim activity. But those funds are very little, and they never use the classical Western way of transfers. All the people speaking about bank statements and charities is foolish for people who understand the way bin Laden and his group mobilize money.

What do you mean? They don't use banks?

They don't use banks, simple. They don't use the West for the transfer of money.

So how do they move their money?

There's plenty of money in the Gulf region, and there's a huge cash culture in the area. If you are an ordinary real estate owner and you want to buy a big building, it's very normal in our society to bring $1 million in your bag. It's not something sinister or abnormal or worrying or throwing questions. So a cash culture is normal in our country. Even if they go and look for cash, they can't. Everybody is getting cash. Nothing to ring a bell when you see somebody carrying any cash.

And Islamic banking, as I understand it, is also different?

In Islamic banking, they don't take interest, because interest is forbidden in Islam. But again, Islamic banks are the most cautious, because of their name, not to have links with bin Laden. They are even [more] over-cautious than ordinary banks. If you would expect bin Laden as a group to mobilize their money, they would not consider Islamic banks, because they don't want a close eye on them on that field.

But I will go to the other answer to [the earlier] question, and that is that most of those incidents like the Nairobi bombing, the Cole bombing, even the last incident, they don't need millions. It has been calculated the recent bombing, which was a huge process, the whole cost might have not exceeded $100,000.

I heard $300,000 yesterday from a government official.

Well, still in terms of this complex logistics, it's still not very expensive. If you talk about the Nairobi bombing, it might have cost hardly $40,000. Somebody told me the [1993] World Trade Center first incident was hardly $10,000. So you don't need a lot of money. You need devoted people. You need skill and training.

You were laughing before because President Bush has announced that he's going to go after bin Laden's money and the money of all his associates.

I'm laughing because I know that bin Laden never used bank accounts in a [non-]Muslim country even before indulging himself in this business. He's got very strong belief that he should not put his money in a non-Muslim country, nor investment, nor bank accounts in those countries, let alone America.

So when they say they're going to freeze his assets?

It's inconceivable for me. I cannot understand what they're talking about, what assets he has in America. Can they tell us?

Worldwide. They're going to go to all the banks in the world, all the countries in the world.

If [his assets] have been there since the Nairobi bombing, then it is an admission by them that they have done nothing since then.

You had an analogy before that what's going on here is like it's an Egyptian joke or an Egyptian saying.

I'm describing what's happening now, picking people here and there who the evidence about their link with bin Laden is minimal and making a big story about them is similar to this Egyptian joke:

Somebody lost his money in this street and he's looking for the money somewhere else. Why? He says because there is light here and there's no light there. But the money is there.

He looks on a street where there's a streetlight because there's a streetlight there, even though he lost his money on a dark street.

Exactly. They have accessed two people in America and Europe. So they extend their stretch for the legal chance to arrest them and interrogate them and maybe even prosecute them to the maximum, while the bulk of people are outside Europe and America. They are there in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries. And I can tell you with confidence followers of bin Laden, real supporters of bin Laden in Saudi Arabia and in the Gulf countries are probably fivefold or tenfold the people in Afghanistan.

Has there been more activity in the mosques in Saudi Arabia in support of bin Laden in the wake of the World Trade Center bombing?

Unfortunately, we are dealing with a very oppressive regime where there's no freedom of expression, no freedom of assembly.

In Saudi Arabia?

Yes, which ends up giving you the wrong impression about what's going on. And the regime did not replace this lack of information by giving sincere, correct information to the States through its intelligence channels. It has always been deceiving the United States on the reality of what's going on inside Saudi Arabia. It does not want the American government, the American authorities, to get the impression that the royal family is losing control in Saudi Arabia, and hence, the American government will lose faith in them as keepers of their interests. ...

My question was since the bombing on Sept. 11, have there been people in the mosques talking about what has gone on?

Not in a public way. The sentiment is very strong. People are very jubilant over what happened. ...

You're saying that, under the surface, there's a lot of jubilation that there was a successful attack on the United States.

The first thing that happened after the incident, people received a message in their mobile phones, "Congratulations." And then the next message in the mobile phone was, "Our prayers to bin Laden."

That was very natural. Not in the religious circles, in the zealot circles or the Islamically devoted circles, [but] very much in the liberal and corrupt circles, people who do not observe Islam, who do not [go] to mosque or [are] maybe involved in drinking or women or even drugs. They were very jubilant and happy and looking at bin Laden as a hero. People started killing sheep and killing camels and making big feasts and inviting their relatives and friends to celebrate the big event in America.

You cannot see those things. There's no freedom of expression. There's no freedom of assembly. There's no way to expose those feelings. ...

Is it true, as some people have said to me, that the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia, which is a very strict fundamentalist version of the Islamic religion, is in fact close to the Taliban in terms of its roots and its nature? Not the person, but the practices, there's a kind of sympathetic feeling here between the cultures.

Not in the sense of names of the sects, but in terms of adherence to Islamic values, regardless of the name of the sects, there is a huge sympathy between the Saudis and the Taliban. Indeed, Saudi Arabia as a state regards itself as inheriting the legacy of what they call Tawhid, which is the puritan values of Islam. Among those values is the relation between Muslim states and non-Muslim states, and especially when there is a conflict between a Muslim state or a group and a non-Muslim state or a group. What is your position?

What's happening now, the Saudi rulers are abandoning those values, as people perceive them. They are abandoning this legacy, while Taliban are sticking to them and becoming the natural inheritor of those values. ...

So [the Taliban] have become, in a sense, more legitimate as an Islamic government or Islamic way of life?

More than that. Even in the narrow sense of the Tawhid legacy of the position regarding non-Muslim in times of conflict, the position of Taliban is very much closer to the Wahhabi sect than the Saudi rulers. So the shift of allegiance has somehow gone away from the royal family towards Taliban.

So what you're saying as a background may help explain why there appear to be so many Saudis involved in this Sept. 11 catastrophe.

There are other reasons as well for Saudi involvement. Bin Laden himself is Saudi. Whether his nationality is that or not does not make any difference. His roots are there. His family is there. His relatives are there, his friends, and other links are there. Bin Laden's network is most active in Saudi Arabia. There is huge Islamic sentiment in Saudi Arabia, the nature of society at least. The majority of people have got good Islamic ideals.

And then recently, there has been an element by the regime itself where it's becoming more and more and more corrupt and people became resentful to the regime. They are looking for anybody with better credentials than the regime.

It appears almost a classic example, because it's an authoritarian regime that has become corrupt, and people are not given an alternative. They go to the one existing alternative -- in this case, a Muslim fundamentalist ideology and movement that has been able to survive and succeed.

Yes, and that's explained very much by the continuous crackdown on the peaceful opposition, which started after the Gulf War -- a massive crackdown which reached its climax in 1994, where even very senior, respectable scholars were thrown into jail, university professors, judges. Imagine a judge in jail only because he does not like the government policies in a very peaceful way. So the people gave up. Peaceful means do not work, so the only means left over are violent means.

The U.S. recently was going to set up its command operation in Saudi Arabia, the Defense Department, at one of the airbases there, and apparently, the Saudi government said, "We don't want you doing that."

I think the Saudis are in a very, very awkward position. The Saudi government cannot say no to the Americans. They are very much in the orbit of America. They cannot go outside the orbit of the United States.

At the same time, they are faced with a nation which is supporting bin Laden, and there are smaller groups which are not all supporting bin Laden. They are ready to do something against Americans in Saudi Arabia or the royal family themselves if they go ahead and support a non-Muslim force against a Muslim nation like Taliban. So they are in a very awkward position.

They were asked by the Americans to give all the intelligence information they have. They were asked for logistical support. They were asked for a real contribution by Saudi forces, like any other country. Of course, there's no way they can send Saudi forces. If they send any Saudi force, it can very easily shift to Taliban and fight the Americans.

Intelligence ... they will be extremely economic on what they give the Americans, and that has been their policy all the time. They will not [give] the Americans the real story of bin Laden's supporters, bin Laden's extent inside the country.

Regarding logistics, if they would give logistics to the Americans, they would ask them not to tell that, for this to be discreet and secretive. And they will avoid any Saudi personnel involved in this, because every Saudi in this conflict with this huge sentiment against America, whoever he is -- if he's in the army, in the National Guard, or any civil servant -- every Saudi is a potential bin Laden candidate. So you can never trust a single Saudi in the airport to suddenly decide to hit an American airplane.

The Saudis know this. So if they would agree, they would agree in a very discreet, secretive way where no Saudi personnel are involved. And they will go on asking the Americans to make a very low profile about it and to tell the rest of the world that there is no support from Saudis. ...

Do you see Saudi Arabia as being completely destabilized if the United States were, for instance, to begin bombing Afghanistan?

Very much so. I think they will be destabilized not only because the bombing campaign has started, but because there has been a huge accumulation of two things.

First, the resentment again the regime itself and seeing it as a stooge to the Americans and conspiring with Americans to loot the country's resources, which is another element for the hatred, by the way.

The other reason is because the regime has involved its official clergy establishment too far in issuing very much artificial decrees to justify its non-Islamic stance. So it has bent completely its official clergy establishment, and it's completely unreliable now to justify the regime's stance.

Were there clerics in Saudi Arabia who criticized the fatwa that was issued in Saudi Arabia condemning the bombing of the World Trade Center? My understanding is that there were some public dissent.

Since the Gulf War, the religious establishment had a huge division between the independent scholars and the official scholars. This rift was going on and getting wider -- that is, the definition of non-official scholars who people believe and take decrees from much more reliably than the official scholars. ...

There was recently the first stand regarding the position of a Muslim regime supporting America against Taliban was from an independent scholar in the country. He said it very frankly this is treason to Islam and this is hostility to Islamic values.

And he said this publicly.

He said it publicly and his statement was published on the internet. It was published in leaflets. Everybody knows about it. He was summoned to the local governorship in his area and he was asked if he really published that. He confessed that he did publish that and he stands by it and he takes full responsibility for it.

But that is only in Saudi Arabia. If you go to Jordan, if you go to Egypt, if you go to the Gulf area, there has been something like seven or eight or ten fatwas saying the same thing.

So there is a growing public opinion supported by the clergy that they cannot support a war by the United States against Afghanistan.

Yes. I mean, when the [Sept. 11] events happened, there was controversy whether they were justified or not. Most of the people were against them. They are not justified. Most of the clergy--

--were against the alleged bin Laden attacks?

No, no. They did not mention bin Laden. They said killing civilians is not acceptable. So there was controversy. But the same thing happened after Nairobi. All the controversy is lost now. There is a new problem and that is America is going to fight Taliban, and Muslims dissenters [want the] Americans to fight Taliban.

What is the Islamic position? There is almost a consensus now in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, by the scholars that this is absolutely forbidden. And many went as far as saying if it happens, then the jihad is a must with Taliban against America, even though they did not approve of the incidents in New York.

So the reaction of the United States to what happened here could actually make the situation worse.

It's actually going further than making it worse. America is doing exactly with bin Laden wants. Bin Laden wants America to respond by a massive, comprehensive, worldwide campaign against Taliban, against him, against Muslims. They don't say that -- against Muslims -- but whatever they say, it would appear in front of people in the area as if it is a campaign against Muslims. And it's going to be an ongoing campaign.

America is going to have a hard time in fighting Afghanistan. And this program, once it is rolled, once it starts, America is not going to be able to control it. Imagine complications happening in Saudi Arabia, complications happening in Egypt, complications happening in the Gulf region. Very fragile regimes. What is America going to do with them?

Is it [going to] deal with an Afghani dilemma that's going to last for 20 years of fighting in the mountains? Is it going to deal with troubles in Saudi Arabia, where 25 percent of the world's oil is being pumped? So I think America has dug its own grave by responding in this way, and that is what bin Laden wanted.

Before you were talking about U.S. policies creating this resentment in the Muslim world and particularly in Saudi Arabia. How do U.S. policies hurt people in Saudi Arabia? We buy Saudi Arabia's oil. We defend the country when it's threatened with attack. We're friendly with the royal family. We assist in projects.

That is a basic problem with American mentality or approach to things. They are very simplistic. They like the human intelligence, which makes them understand what's going on. They rely on what the regime tells them. They also rely on their satellites and computers.

Does American policy create poverty in Saudi Arabia?

Well, it is an irony that most of the resentment in the Arab world to America is not from the very poor countries. It's coming from Saudi Arabia itself, where allegedly it's a better life than the poorer countries.

I would not be exaggerating if I say hate to America in Saudi Arabia is more than hate to America in Palestine. The reason for that -- and that's why I say there is a complete failure of American human intelligence in Saudi Arabia -- has got a lot to do with Saudi politics, Saudi culture, the Saudi way of life, and the current and recent events in the country.

It goes like this. You've got a fairly religious country. Many people are devout Muslims and they look at their land as a holy land, a sacred land prohibited from non-Muslim groups or units or buddies to settle on it, let alone military units with domination. So even if you are not military, even if you are a community staying alone in a non-Muslim community, according to Muslim text, you are not allowed to settle in the Arabian Peninsula. But if it is a military unit, then it is a huge and massive insult and humiliation to Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula to accept this sort of presence. That is one factor.

The other factor, which is also specific to Saudis, is that they always look at America as conspiring with their leaders, with the royal family in looting the country's resources. Who can believe that a country pumping nine million barrels a day with a small population, between 15 million and 20 million, is in a $200 billion debt now? Why would this country go into this debt? This country has had an income of $3 trillion in the last 25 years, 20 or 25 years. Why would we end up with a $200 billion debt, 130 percent of our GNP?

Why would this happen unless their people say unless there is a massive loot of our resources by a conspiracy between the royal family and the Americans? So that is a specific reason for hate inside Saudi Arabia.

But I'm talking about standard of living, real harm done to people.

Oh, things have changed dramatically. The unemployment now in Saudi Arabia is 30 percent, 35 percent. People put it out to 40 percent. Services have collapsed completely. Health services, education services are horrendous. Transport is bad. Everything is bad in the country. You don't see things as if they were in the early 1980s, where there was an abundance of money. ...

Now, in addition to that, you are not seeing something to relieve people by some political reform. You're not seeing any improvement on freedom of expression, no improvement on freedom of assembly, no improvement on power sharing. They take taxes. They don't allow representation. It has always been said "no taxation without representation."

The royal family, on the other hand, still behaves as if we are living in the 1980s. Their wages, their contracts, their commissions are extremely high. They enjoy life in big palaces and Rolls Royces, although they are in the thousands. They always travel by private jets. They're always treated high class. They don't go to courts. They'll never be punished.

So people are no longer asleep. The people are no longer in the dark. They have satellites. They have the internet. They see the way the rest of the world is living.

Islam sounds to me like the Protestant religion, with many different denominations. Some allow for preachers who just preach. Anyone can get up and be a preacher. And people listen. They have credibility. It is not hierarchical in the sense of the Roman Catholic Church. Is that correct?

Yes. There's no ordination, no certification, and there's no hierarchy.

When this gentleman was preaching the other day on television in the Islamic world, about, "It was treason for Islam to support the United States," does he have credibility?

Yes. His credibility is not a matter of certificates or stamp or ordination. His credibility comes in a very gradual way, of fulfilling or satisfying Muslims. In terms of dealing with Islamic matters in a way which is credible, you are a learned person when you say you're supported by enough textual evidence. And then your argument to fix this point on this textual evidence is very impressive. This is one point.

The other point, which is in Muslim history, is very interesting. The most popular scholars are the scholars who do not side by the regimes. When you are opponent the regime, when you don't like the regime ... you are most popular. You are more credible, usually, than the persons who are aligned with the regimes.

So there is status in being a dissenter?

Status in being a dissenter, yes. Very few scholars in Muslim history were regarded as very popular when they were siding by the rulers, and those only when the rulers were very just and very good in their Islamic adoption. ...

Can you explain this concept of Umma? That's a collective of all Muslims?

The concept of Umma is a short term to summarize the meaning of universality of Islam. There's no boundaries. There are no nationalities. Every Muslim is a brother of other Muslims. ...

When Saudis hate America because of what's happening in Iraq or what's happening in Palestine, this is natural. You don't need to be Palestinian to have opposition against America or to be Iraqi, to have opposition against [America]. And indeed, people's readiness to go on fighting in Palestine, fight the Israeli occupation in Saudi Arabia is very high. ...

This universal meaning of Islam has to be understood by non-Muslims to know how to deal with those complex matters.

So the idea of the U.S. putting its troops on the ground in Afghanistan or in other Muslim countries because we're angry and we want revenge, and we want to wipe out terrorism -- could in fact blow up in our faces?

It probably more than could. It would blow up on the faces of America. It's going to be very much natural response [when] a non-Muslim force attacks a Muslim country. Especially if you add to this element what people perceive now, the reason is because they are Muslims; they are people of principle, of Islam. They're holding to their values of Islam.

This is the Taliban?

This is the Taliban. Because they don't want to ... hand over our Muslim to non-Muslim force. They've been offered everything to do that in the past.

They are now facing the whole world to fight. They've never given up. This is something which can never underestimate how impressive it is on the minds of many Muslims who lived for 100 years under treason after treason after treason, under obedience to the non-Muslim powers. ...

Some people who believe in violence, who support what bin Laden apparently is involved in, do live in the United States. It presents in this culture, as you know, politically, a big problem, because we allow freedom of movement. We allow freedom of expression. We allow people of different nationalities to come and go freely. And in fact, as it's turning out in this investigation, it's that freedom that allowed, in a sense, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to be vulnerable.

... The nature of Western societies and political assistance are in their basic structure, vulnerable, and you can never protect them by security means. The only way to protect them by security means is to abandon this openness, democratic life, and go back to military life, and close the country and live in box. The only way to deal with the matter is to go to its roots and prevent it, rather than dealing with it by intelligence and security.

What you're saying is that we better understand where this came from, because that's the only way we may be able to preserve our way of life?

Yes. This vulnerability of the West [is] because of the very basic nature of the political system. The only way to prevent this thing happening again is to understand the whole phenomena and look for prevention rather than treatment.

If you just see the record of three years between Nairobi bombing and Tuesday, Sept. 11, you can see the hopeless fundamental failure of security and intelligence departments in preventing this incident -- because they looked at it only from that angle.

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