Articles

Mar 02, 2003

More on KSM arrest, CNN

SHOW: CNN SUNDAY MORNING 07:00

March 2, 2003 Sunday 9:30 AM Eastern Time

Transcript # 030220CN.V46

SECTION: News; International

LENGTH: 1628 words

HEADLINE: Insight & Input

BYLINE: Heidi Collins, Anderson Cooper, Peter Bergen, Chris Burns

HIGHLIGHT: Reporters discuss the arrest of al Qaeda’s No. 3 man, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

BODY:
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Let’s go ahead and get some “Insight & Input” now into what the arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed means.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are welcoming your calls and your e-mails. You can e-mail us as wam@CNN.com. Our toll free number is 800-807-2620. Call us with your questions for our guests this morning.

They include CNN terror analyst Peter Bergen. He is joining us in our Washington bureau. And CNN’s Chris Burns is joining us from the White House. Thanks very much both of you for being with us.

Got an e-mail from Sumi in Nova Scotia, Canada. Sumi writes, “After the capture of Mohammed, it’s clear that the top three masterminds of the September 11 attacks are in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region. Do you think that the CIA or the INTERPOL are searching the Pakistan occupied Kashmir for Bin Laden?” Peter, let’s send that to you.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I mean, I think it’s likely that Bin Laden is in Pakistan, but I don’t think it’s in the area of Pakistan that’s Kashmir. I think it’s more likely that it’s on the border with Afghanistan on, again, the tribal territories, which are in the northwest frontier province. I don’t think that he’ll be in the Kashmir side. I mean, it’s possible, but I think it’s unlikely.

COOPER: Do you believe, though, that it’s likely that bin Laden and al-Zawahiri are in Pakistan still?

BERGEN: Yes, I think it is likely, for two reasons. First of all, it’s neighboring Afghanistan, which is where they were previously. Secondly, al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden have been visiting and living in Pakistan since the early ’80s. It’s a place they know very well. They have a number of supporters there. It makes logical sense that they will be there. We don’t know where they are, but if you were to make a bet where they are, you’d say they’re in Pakistan.

COLLINS: All right, Chris Burns, I think this one should go out to you. Gene is wondering from St. Petersburg, Florida, “How much closer are we to getting Osama bin Laden due to this latest arrest?” Obviously, the question that has been circulating ever since yesterday with this announcement.

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, very good question, because the White House saying that it is very important, it is fantastic, even, that Shaikh Mohammed was arrested, that they do hope that his arrest leads to other arrests. And the fact that he is one of the top members of al Qaeda, that that could lead to Osama bin Laden.

The White House holding out hope that they can capture him, but again, very, very difficult to nail down exactly where he is. As was said, it’s believed he could be in Pakistan just over the border from Afghanistan. But keep in mind that Pakistan is a very, very difficult place to operate. In fact, there is a lot of sympathy for al Qaeda or for militant Muslims in that country. There’s a lot of anger against the United States. We saw the tens of thousands turning out yesterday in Ankara against US — in Ankara, anyway, against US involvement. And in Pakistan today, there are tens of thousands protesting in Karachi against a war against Iraq. A lot of emotions in that country that the government has to deal with at the same time they try to crack down on Muslim militants, and the White House is very sensitive to that.

COOPER: All right, let’s get the next e-mail. This is from “R” in Providence, Rhode Island. “If Iraq is invaded by the United States, in your expert opinion, without political hyperbole,” misspelled, “will Islamic fundamentalist terrorism decrease in the world? Please discuss your answer. Thank you.”

Peter, we’re going to toss this to you, a man free of political hyperbole, misspelled or not.

BERGEN: If you throw a deck of cards up in the air, when they come down, you don’t know how they’re going to come down. And whatever your view about the war in Iraq, people have negative views about the outcomes, some people have positive views. We really don’t know what’s going to happen. I think we can guarantee that there be acts of terrorism that will be related to the war in Iraq. They may not be significant or they may be significant.

The outcome, I mean, the Wolfowitz-Perle view of the war in Iraq, is magically democracies will be created across the Middle East. The — let’s say, the opposite view is that the Muslim world will rise up against the United States as one.

I simply have no idea. I think anybody who has strong views on this subject, really, I don’t think we can really predict the future on this one. It’s a tricky one.

COOPER: It is interesting to note, Peter, how in the past, the statements which have been ascribed to Osama bin Laden have sort of shifted depending on what is sort of in the media headlines. At times, it’s the Palestinian issue. First, it was US troops in Saudi Arabia, then the Palestinian issue, then Iraq. Do you think any action against Iraq will be latched on to by al Qaeda and their sympathizers?

BERGEN: There’s no doubt that al Qaeda is going to try and produce a very strong anti-American attack tied to the war in Iraq. And if they can’t do that, then they’re out of business. But we know from our reporting about what they’re planning to do that they are trying to do something tied to the war in Iraq. So there’s no doubt about it, that they will do something.

You talk about how the, you know the Palestinian problem, the Iraq problem, and I take their statements very much at face value. It’s not simply a matter of cynical trying to get votes on their side, as it were. The Palestinian problem was a problem that came up and now the Iraq problem came up. Al Qaeda is trying to get in the game. And I think if we don’t see something from them, tied to the war in Iraq, they’re out of business.

COLLINS: All right, Peter. Along those same lines to Chris Burns now, another Peter from Maine wants to know, “It still amazes me how people believe there’s no connection between al Qaeda and Iraq. Saddam continues to play with the U.N. and the world, and we, the world, are too weak to do something about it.”

President Bush would probably disagree with that.

BURNS: Absolutely. The Bush administration believes that there are a lot of potential links there, that there are some indications of links. Keep in mind the assassination of the US diplomat recently that was linked to a group that is in northern Iraq, that is believed to be supported by Saddam Hussein.

It is a good question that there are not some major public obvious evidence, that there are indications that Saddam could increase his links to al Qaeda, especially if his back is against the wall. And, of course, keep in mind, it is said that in an unstable region, with Saddam Hussein, he could cause further instability.

COOPER: Our next e-mail is from James, not sure of the location. He writes, “We are the captured. For every terrorist you catch, ten more will be recruited. Isn’t that what happened to the Brits when they tried to beat us,” I assume to mean the Americans, “in the 18th century. Those who forget or ignore history are bound to repeat.”

Peter Bergen, let me toss this to you.

BERGEN: Well, Anderson, I think in a sense, one of the key questions we have to look at right now is, is al Qaeda an organization, or is a it ideology? 9/11 was obviously done by an organization.

But I think al Qaeda is evolving into an ideology that has been taken up around the world by people who don’t like what the United States is doing as a general principle. We saw that with the Bali bombing. This was not al Qaeda itself, but sort of a, kind of a franchise group in Indonesia.

So I think we’re going to be having this conversation for some time. Whether Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is captured, or Osama bin Laden himself, the train has sort of left the station, and I think al Qaeda is becoming an ideology that a lot of people are signing on to.

COOPER: That’s a really interesting point and one I actually have not heard before. And it seems to drive — I mean, you’re in a sense saying there are all these, sort of, almost wannabes out there who will sort of get on this train that you say has left the station.

BERGEN: I think if you’re running a McDonald’s in Karachi or Jakarta, when the war in Iraq starts, you should shut your business. We’re going to see a lot of people acting in the name of al Qaeda who’ve got nothing to do with the group, freelancers who are acting as if they were al Qaeda. This may not be a huge national security threat for us, but certainly if you’re an American in a predominantly Muslim country, I think the war in Iraq is going to be a big problem.

COLLINS: All right. Chris Burns, once again, from Vancouver, Anieta. We have a question. “What about North Korea? They are more of a serious threat to the world. Iraq was bombed already.”

BURNS: Well, very much keep in mind, of course, too, that U.S. forces have been increased in the region there. That the U.S. is very attentive to that. In fact, there are military exercises coming up next week in South Korea, but the US administration seems to believe that this can still be isolated. That, in fact, what North Korea is ranting and raving about is simply further isolating itself in the region, that it is a region that is relatively stable. That North Korea can be isolated, as opposed to Saddam Hussein.

COLLINS: All right, very good. I want to thank both of you for being with us this morning. Peter Bergen and Chris Burns. Thanks, guys

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