Articles

Thursday, May 04, 2006 Moussaoui trial analysis on CNN

I want to bring in our terrorism analyst, Peter Bergen.

You spent a lot of time studying al Qaeda, studying this case. What do you think the reaction among the terrorists is going to be to this verdict?

Ayman al-Zawahiri, a cerebral Egyptian surgeon who joined his first jihadist cell at age 15, is as much the force behind al-Qaeda as his more famous friend Osama bin Laden. When the two first met in Pakistan in 1986, al-Zawahiri made a powerful impression on the younger, inexperienced Saudi millionaire. Within a couple of years, bin Laden was funding al-Zawahiri’s militant group Al Jihad, while Egyptian militants close to al-Zawahiri were helping bin Laden found al-Qaeda. That was the beginning of a powerful symbiotic relationship that continues to this day.

In the days following Adolf Hitler’s suicide in 1945, amid the rubble of Allied aerial bombardment, the Red Army’s westward advance and Nazi surrender, a company of American infantrymen made their way up Munich’s Prinzregentenstrasse, toward the late Fuhrer’s personal aresidence. Hitler had owned a second-floor luxury apartment in Munich. The soldiers’ mission was to commandeer important Reich documents that might be stored there and to locate Hitler’s will. In the apartment, they found a sculpture and a painting of Hitler’s niece and love interest, Geli Raubal. (Hitler was rumored to have murdered her in the bedroom.) They found costly furnishings, spacious rooms and state-of-the-art gadgetry. They did not find important Reich documents, nor did they find a will. Several floors below there was a bomb shelter. There was also a safe, which an Army mechanic managed to force open. Save for twelve first-edition copies of Mein Kampf, the safe contained not a scrap of paper.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think it’s really an attempt to interfere with the tourist economy in Egypt, an attempt to attack the Egyptian government indirectly since tourism is such an important component of the Egyptian economy. We’ve seen now a campaign of attacks against Egyptian tourist targets in the past year and a half. Before that, there was really no attacks on tourists since 1997 when most of the main Egyptian terrorist groups did a sort of cease-fire with the Egyptian government. That cease-fire is clearly dead now. These groups inspired by Al Qaeda or perhaps links to Al Qaeda certainly inspired by Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden’s number two guy in Al Qaeda.

Books in Canada In 1997, Peter Bergen travelled to Afghanistan to interview a young Saudi who, word had it, was using his family wealth to finance international terrorism. Bergen listened for an hour as the tall, thin man in camouflage quietly declared war against the West. Asked about his plans, he replied: “You’ll see them and hear about them in the media, God willing.”

BUSH administration defenders, right-wing bloggers and neoconservative publications are crowing about Iraqi documents newly released by the Pentagon that, they say, prove that Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were in league.

Even though the 9/11 commission found no ”collaborative relationship” between the ultrafundamentalist Osama bin Laden and the secular Saddam Hussein, the administration’s reiterations of a supposed connection — Vice President Dick Cheney has argued that the evidence for such an alliance was ”overwhelming” — have convinced two out of three Americans that they had ”strong” links.

Friday, Mar 24, 2006 review of OBL I Know in Le Monde

Wanted: dead or alive, announced President George W. Bush over four years ago. Despite a reward of $25m Osama bin Laden is still at large. The mass of books claiming to explain the phenomenon have more than anything only deepened the mystery.

The man sitting opposite me in the hotel room in downtown Baghdad was adamant. His group did not ever combine forces with al-Qaida. They had never done so and they never would. “We met some of them, but we have refused to work with them because it is too dangerous,” he said. “They are really bloodthirsty people. They do not care if they kill honest Iraqi people. They are crazy, I tell you.”

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 The Madrassa Scapegoat

Peter Bergen is a Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation and an adjunct

professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Swati Pandey is a researcher and writer at the Los Angeles Times.

Bergen, author of the acclaimed Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden, has pieced together the accounts of over 50 people who have known bin Laden to construct a narrative of the man and his deeds.