2003 Transcript
 

11/14/2003
News conference with Adel Al-Jubeir, Foreign Affairs Adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah. Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, DC. Subject: The November 9 terrorist attack in Riyadh

MR. AL-JUBEIR: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to our embassy. I wanted to make a few comments to you and then take some questions.

This week, once again, our two countries are joined in tragedy and sorrow. We look forward soon, God willing, to the time when we will be joined in victory over criminals and murderers who have no regard whatsoever for the lives of the innocent or for the stability or security of societies. There should be no doubt in anybody's mind about our commitment to go after those murderers, those who support them and those who condone their actions.

 

I would like to express our thanks and appreciation to President Bush for his expressions of sympathy and condolence, as well as to other American leaders and, most importantly, to the American public. We have had an outpouring of sympathy. We have received telephone calls, e-mails and letters from the American people. We are not surprised, because these actions reflect the noble values that the American people live by. And I want to say thank you to the American public for being with us during our time of tragedy.

It is unfortunate, however, that there continue to be some people who are insensitive and callous, and who seek to blame us for the killing and the murder of our own children. When people say things like "They reap what they have sown" at a time of tragedy and mourning, it shows an insensitivity that is unbecoming of anybody with a sense of humanity. It also plays into the hands of Osama bin Laden and his murderous cult, whose objective is to distance America from the Arab and the Muslim world, and whose objective is to destroy the Saudi state and replace it with a Taliban-like society.

But we have no intention of allowing them to succeed.

We have no intention of slowing down our progress -- our development. We have no intention of slowing down our reform process and we have no intention of living in caves.

We will fight the organization with determination. We will fight them with vigor. We will do everything in our power to make sure that they do not inflict harm on the innocent. We will cooperate with other countries who have an interest in doing so. We have been very vigorous in our pursuit of the criminals. We have made arrests of over 600 people. We have tightened our financial system to ensure that terrorists don't take advantage of the charity of our citizens. We have broken up dozens of al-Qaeda cells in Saudi Arabia. We have destroyed weapons-making factories. We have captured incredible amounts of explosives. And we have been able to avoid harm coming to our citizens and residents.

The tragic events of last week show that the danger still persists. But our determination is there and we will continue moving forward along these lines.

I wanted to make clear to you what our policies are with regard to the war on terrorism, because a lot of things are being ascribed to us that are just not true.

To begin with, it is our policy to pursue the terrorists with vigor and without mercy, and those who support them and those who condone their actions. We have made the arrests. We have imprisoned people. We have broken up cells.

Secondly, it is our policy to ensure that nobody can take advantage of the charity or generosity of our citizens in order to put those funds to evil purposes. In that vein, we have regulated our charities, we have tightened our banking system, we have frozen bank accounts, we have stopped our charities from sending money outside of Saudi Arabia. We have even stopped the collection of cash contributions at our mosques -- this would be like America stopping the passing of the plate during Sunday service -- because we want to make sure that people do not take advantage of the generosity of our citizens.

Third, our policy is to combat extremism in all its forms, whether in our mosques or schools, or outside of Saudi Arabia. We do not fund the so-called radical madrassas that people accuse us of funding, because that goes against our policy. We built institutions and shelters for Afghan refugees 20 years ago with the United States, but we do not fund radical madrassas.

And finally, our policy is to cooperate as closely as we can with all friendly governments in order to confront the scourge of terrorism. Our security depends on it. This is a global effort against terrorism. No nation can fight this battle alone, whether it's America or Saudi Arabia. And this war will be won -- God willing -- when all countries cooperate as closely as they can in order to destroy this murderous organization and eliminate the scourge of terrorism.

I would be happy to take some questions.

* * *
Q Adel, I wanted to ask you, you were saying that the terrorists are striking at the Kingdom and that they seek to overthrow the Kingdom. Does the Kingdom feel vulnerable now that there have been two attacks in the last six months on your soil? Do you feel that the stability of the Royal Family is at stake?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: No.  We feel anger because they are trying to disrupt the stability of our society. They have murdered the innocent among us. We are determined to crush them. We are united as a country, whether the government, the people, in our determination to weed out this evil -- and rooting it out from our society.

If the intention of the terrorists is to disrupt stability in Saudi Arabia, they will not succeed. If the intention of the terrorists is to destroy the Saudi state, they will not succeed. We will fight them with everything we have until we crush them. King Fahd has vowed to strike with an iron fist. The Crown Prince has declared total war on them. And our minister of Interior recently said that the only language we will use to communicate with them is the language of the rifle and the sword.

This will be – a long struggle, but we are determined to wage it. We have the backing of our public -- in fact, our public demands it. And there can be no doubt in the outcome of this battle. We will win, God willing.

Q Adel, what is the Saudi government's response to President Bush's call for democratization in the Middle East? And what effect, if any, do you think this will have on the Saudi government's own plans for -- (off mike)?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: Well, I'd like to make one thing clear here. What the terrorists want is not democracy. What they want is the dark ages. What's driving them to attack Saudi Arabia is not lack of democracy. What's driving them to strike at Saudi Arabia is pure evil. They would like Saudi Arabia to turn off the electricity. They would like us to withdraw from the United Nations, to cancel agreements we have with other countries. They would like us to essentially move back and try to find caves that we can live in. We have no intention of doing so. Our Islamic faith is one of learning and progress. It is one of seeking knowledge. It is one of inclusiveness and of tolerance. It is open to relations with other countries. And we intend to live by those principles.

With regards to the reform process in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has embarked on a path of reform long before September 11th. We believe in opening up the economy, attracting investment, generating jobs. We believe in making government more efficient. We believe in building institutions for civil society, whether it's a human rights organization or a journalist association, whether it's a center for national dialogue so people can publicly discuss issues of the day. We believe in broadening of political participation. And we have announced those. So, I don't see a conflict between that and the statements of President Bush.

We have restructured our municipalities, introduced municipal councils. Half of those municipal councils will be elected. The mechanics and modalities of that are currently being worked out. The path upon which Saudi Arabia has embarked is very clear, and we have every intention of continuing to move on that path at our own pace, commensurate with our Islamic values and the traditions of our society.

Our people expect and deserve efficient government. Our people expect and deserve opportunity and prosperity, and we are determined to bring that about.

Q Yes. (Name and affiliation off mike.) You mentioned this could be a long struggle. Could you sort of outline how well entrenched the terrorists are now in Saudi Arabia, what -- where their pockets are? And also, are you fearful of another attack, another imminent attack?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: Well, we have broken up cells in various parts of the country: in the farming region of Al-Qasim; in the Sudair region, north of Riyadh; in Riyadh itself; in the farming area south of Riyadh, in Al-Kharj; in Makkah and in the southern region. They have set up these cells in various parts of the country. But we are rounding them up, and we are destroying them before they can inflict harm.

The ability of our security services to find the terrorists before they strike and to kill them or jail them is enhanced with every passing day. Our ability to disrupt their communications and their logistics is improving with every passing week. The resources we devote to this effort, as we train people, are continually increasing.

We are getting much better at it, and the terrorists are on the run. That's why they engage in desperate acts like the killing of innocent people in a residential compound on the outskirts of Riyadh. It doesn't make sense. Why would they murder women and children in the middle of the night during the holy month of Ramadan, unless they are motivated by pure evil?

Can we expect another terrorist attack? I think we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. This is going to be a struggle that will take time.

But as I mentioned earlier, there is no doubt in my mind where it will end. Our public is outraged. Our public demands action. Our public will get action. We have seen a coming-together of our society that has turned our citizens into allies. They report suspicious activities to the authorities. They provide tips. They look out for each other. We are very united and determined as a country.  I have no doubt we will win this battle. But it may take a little bit of time.

Q There has been cross-border activity between Iraq and Saudi Arabia in recent months. Is it your belief -- do you believe that munitions from Iraq belonging to the former regime may have made their way into Saudi Arabia and are being used by or have been used by terrorists in your country, sir?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: We have a long border with Iraq. We have extensive patrols and security along our side of the border.

We have concerns, and we've expressed those concerns to the U.S. government.  It is important to seal the border on the Iraqi side.   We continue to patrol the border on our side, but the Iraqi border guards abandoned their positions during the war.  We made it clear to the U.S., and the U.S. is taking steps to ensure that the border is sealed on the Iraqi side.

Our concern was exactly what you pointed out, that it would be used to smuggle weapons and munitions into Saudi Arabia. Fortunately, we haven't seen much of that yet. We continue to work with the U.S. government on this area, and hopefully, we can ensure that we have no problems from the border with Iraq.

Q Have you seen an improvement in recent -- since you first indicated your –

MR. AL-JUBEIR: Yes, I just said that.

Q No, but, I mean what kind of changes have been made?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: The U.S. is patrolling its side of the Iraq border more extensively than they had been three or four months ago, so that's progress. We are paying attention to our side, the U.S. is paying attention to the Iraqi side, in order to make sure that we don't have trafficking in munitions or explosives.

Q Adel, do you think that the fact that so many of the victims of last week's attack were Arabs and Muslims, do you think that will eliminate whatever support for al-Qaeda exists in the Kingdom?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: Absolutely. There is no support for al-Qaeda in the Kingdom. There can't be. This is a group of deviants, misfits, criminals, who have no respect for the teachings of the Islamic faith or any other faith. They have no respect for the principles of humanity, and their objective is pure evil: it is to terrorize the innocent and it is to destabilize societies. We have been saying that al-Qaeda's objective is to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and to destroy the Saudi state. We have been saying that the two main targets of al-Qaeda are the United States and Saudi Arabia. We saw that in the first Riyadh bombing and we saw that again in the most recent bombing.

I've seen reports by people in the U.S. about how extensive Osama bin Laden's support in Saudi Arabia allegedly is, but these reports are not supported by the facts. People have made outrageous statements that 80 percent of the Saudi public supports bin Laden, but they can’t quantify it. The only polls I have seen are polls which indicate that over 90 percent of the Saudi public rejects bin Laden.

Our people, our society is one of faith. Our people are law-abiding and have strong beliefs.

And any person who has a sense of faith has a sense of decency and a value system that rejects actions such as this.

I think what has changed since the first Riyadh bombing is that our people recognize that there is a danger and that action needs to be taken. And that recognition and that desire for action have been reinforced with the most recent bombing.

Q Recently, your government has begun publicly attacking the Muslim Brotherhood. Do you now view the Brotherhood as part of the extremist problem in your country? Or how do you view the Brotherhood's role with al Qaeda and other extremists?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: When you look at the operational management of al-Qaeda, if we want to call it that, it all emanates from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Jihad in Egypt. The operations guys of al-Qaeda -- Ayman Zawahiri, Saif Al-Adil -- are Egyptians who have come from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Jihad movement.

The position that we take is anyone who advocates violence or the killing of innocents is somebody that should be held to task. Anyone who tries to organize cells, whose objective is murder, should be punished. And I assure you that punishment will be harsh.

Q Jeffrey Winograd from focus on Israel newsletter. I'd like to ask you how you distinguish the Saudi war on terrorism from that of Israel's war on terrorism? And what are the views of your government in terms of supporting Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: We believe that the killing of innocents, regardless of where it takes place, is wrong, period. I just explained to you our policy that we do not support terrorism or extremism that we fight it with vigor, and we do not fund it.  The charges of Saudi support for Hamas are not correct because it is not our policy.  And if there is evidence to the contrary, let's see it.

Q: If we follow up a little bit on the question that you said this is a long struggle.  Does that mean that you recognize that al-Qaeda is well organized, is powerful? And then, secondly, obviously, the two powder kegs of the Middle East are the question of Israeli-Palestinian question, and the question of the occupation of Iraq. Are you pressuring the administration, Bush administration, into pressuring Sharon to make more concessions?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: I think we would be naive not to recognize that al-Qaeda is an extensive organization. It operates in over 50 countries. We have seen them strike in New York, in Washington. We saw them strike in Bali. We saw them strike in Riyadh. We saw them strike in Morocco. We see them all over the place.

Their political wing is active in Europe, London, Spain and Germany. And the way to destroy this network is for the international community to work as closely together as it possibly can, because the terrorists, we believe, will seek areas of weakness and consolidate there, and then strike again. And we have to deny them any areas of weakness in the international system.

Having said that, in the Middle East, we have been very committed to pursuing the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The crown prince put forth a vision for peace, which was developed into the Arab Peace Initiative, which was passed unanimously by the Arab League at the summit in Beirut in 2002. That peace offer is still on the table. We have not heard a response to it from the Israeli government. And as a consequence, the process has been sitting still. We have worked on putting together the road map and on trying to implement the road map. We have urged the United States to be active in pursuing the peace process. The president has been active in this area. He expressed his vision of two states living side by side in peace and security.

We cannot have a viable peace process if we leave it to the whims of extremists on both sides. The policies of the Sharon government of closures and uprooting of trees and destroying of homes and assassination of individuals and freezing of Palestinian accounts have not brought them security. And the policies of the Palestinians in terms of suicide bombings have not brought them peace. What we do know is that the majority of Palestinians and the majority of Israelis want peace. And we should find ways to take the leverage away from the extremists on both sides and put it where it rightfully belongs, to the normal people in the middle.

We're beginning to see a grassroots movement in Israel that is consolidating around two plans. One is the Geneva Accords and the other is the Ben-Ami-Nusseibeh understandings. We see almost 200,000 Israelis and Palestinians who have signed on in support of these. And we hope that this trend will continue and that it will put some rationality and some sanity into the actions of the Israeli prime minister and his government, as well as the actions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad with regards to suicide bombings.

And with regard to Iraq, we have expressed our views to the U.S. government. We believe that it is very important that this not be an American occupation, but that it be an international effort to help Iraq back on its feet. We are working with the United States on finding ways to help the Iraqis. Our view is that power should be handed over to the Iraqi people as soon as possible, and that there should be a shared vision of what Iraq's future should look like, so we can all work towards it and contribute towards it, according to our own abilities.

We continue to provide Iraq with humanitarian assistance. We have set up water purification plants -- I believe eight or ten. We have a field hospital that has conducted over 100,000 operations, in Baghdad. We continue to send convoys of food and supplies and medicine to the Iraqi people. And we have offered Iraq a billion dollars' worth of support at the Madrid conference, in the form of soft loans and loan guarantees.

We are concerned that the situation in Iraq, unless we deal with it in a positive way, could erode and unravel. I believe that the president and the administration is fully aware of this and is trying to speed up the process of handing over to the Iraqi people, to  build Iraqi’s security forces and begin the process of withdrawal. It will take time, and it will be difficult, but that's the trend in which we're going.

Q Adel, in the war on terrorism, can you talk about the Saudi view of Iran and whether there are terrorists in Iran you would like to have extradited to Saudi Arabia? And if they're not being extradited, why do you think that is?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: Well, we know that there are al-Qaeda members who have fled to Iran from Afghanistan during the war. We have a sense of who these individuals are. We have been in contact with the Iranian government about extraditing the Saudis to Saudi Arabia or those who are implicated in crimes in Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian government has indicated to us that they would in fact do so, and we are still engaged with the Iranians to bring this about.

I can't speculate as to why they have been responsive, because I can't read people's minds. I may have some ideas, but I’m not in the business of speculating.

I have no doubt that ultimately the individuals will be handed over, certainly the Saudis, to Saudi Arabia. And we have faith in the commitments of the Iranian government. And we will just have to keep talking to them until we bring this about.

Q Thank you. What does your government think of General Wesley Clark's plan that Saudi Arabia and the U.S. should form joint units to go after Osama bin Laden? And how important do you think it is that Osama bin Laden be captured or killed?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: It is very important that Osama bin Laden be captured and brought to justice, because he is the head of al Qaeda. He is ultimately responsible for the murder of 3,000 people in New York and Washington, and the murder of over 50 people in two attacks in Riyadh, and the murder of people in Morocco, and the murder of people in Bali. There is no doubt. It's very, very important.

With regards to the comments or suggestion by General Clark that we put together commandos, while we appreciate his confidence in the ability of our special forces to conduct commando operations several thousand miles from our home territory, we have to be honest in terms of admitting that we really don't have that capability. We are focused right now on trying to build up our counterterrorism forces in the kingdom. We are focusing on building up our border security so we can control our borders better, whether it's along the southern border or the northern border. And that's really where our focus is.

We are working closely with the Pakistanis and with the U.S. in terms of intelligence and  information-sharing to try to ascertain where bin Laden is. But I am not sure that we have the expertise to send commandos 2,000 miles away to go look for bin Laden. And I have no doubt that if we could, we would. There are several hundred thousand Pakistani troops in Pakistan who are looking for him. There are thousands of American troops in Afghanistan who are looking for him. There are American satellites and electronic tracking devices trying to determine where Osama bin Laden is in order to capture him.  I have no doubt ultimately he will be captured, but it may take time.

When you have all these capabilities, what we can provide, I believe, in this area is very limited. And it's not to say that we are not willing to.  I believe,  while we appreciate the confidence General Clark has in our ability, we have to be honest that we're really not at that level yet. We wish we were.

Q On your government's position on Iraq, which has been your position for some time, what you're hearing this week from the U.S. government -- is the U.S. government, do you think, moving in the direction you prescribed? And on assistance for Iraqis, the billion dollars loan, soft loans, et cetera, is this being implemented? What is the -- can you get a little more specific about how it takes shape, how it is implemented?

MR. AL-JUBEIR:  I believe that the U.S. policy in Iraq is moving in the direction that you just outlined, that trying to find ways to, A, maintain security in the country; and B, hand over power as quickly as possible to an Iraqi body and move towards setting up a representative or a legitimate government in Iraq, so that investments and aid and loans can flow into the country. That's the direction in which the U.S. is moving.

I wouldn't call it a change in policy, but an acceleration of a policy. America has expressed its desire to do so. America has expressed its policy that it has no intention of staying in Iraq. And we don't doubt that policy.

Our aid to the Iraqis, in the form humanitarian assistance, which is worth several hundred million dollars, continues. And we do that because we are trying to reach the average Iraqi citizen.

The loans and export guarantees that we have offered to Iraq have not kicked in, because you need projects, and for projects you need security, and you need a legitimate governing entity that can enter into those agreements. I believe that that applies to the aid of all other countries that have provided assistance to the Iraqis. We will continue with our humanitarian assistance and with sending relief supplies to the Iraqi people. But it is very, very important that an Iraqi authority stand up as quickly as possible, so that there is a government that can make decisions and that can enter into commitments.

Q What progress has Saudi Arabia been making on stemming the flow of explosives and potentially al-Qaeda from Yemen?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: We have a very long border with Yemen in the South. And the border in most cases is desert, hundreds of miles of desert.  In the western part from the Red Sea going east, for about 200 or 300 miles, it is very rugged and very mountainous. We are working very closely with the Yemeni government to ensure that we can control the smuggling of explosives and weapons from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, and we appreciate all the effort and the assistance that the Yemeni government has provided in this area. We are working on this together.

We have better intelligence in terms of tracking. We understand better the routes that the smugglers use. We understand better the destinations. We have increased the amount of patrols, the intensity of patrols and the number of border guards at the border.  We are training to look for things that are suspicious. And we keep apprehending people who try to smuggle explosives into Saudi Arabia. Is it perfect? Nothing is perfect. But is it very good? Yes, it is very good, and we have captured tremendous amounts of weapons and munitions and explosives – bazookas and things of that nature.

Q (Off mike) -- American intelligence informed the Saudi authorities that an attack was imminent? And what exactly is the level of cooperation between the two countries right now?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: The level of cooperation between the two countries is excellent. I don't know that I would describe it as cooperation when you're working as one team.

With regard to the intelligence, the intelligence was intelligence that we all had -- "we" meaning the joint team, Saudi Arabia and the United States. The U.S., by closing its embassy, made public this intelligence, which was a result of the joint efforts of our services or the joint task force that's working together. We knew the attack was coming. We knew the timing of the attack within days. And that's what happened. What we didn't know -- "we" meaning Saudi Arabia and the United States -- what the target would be. And I don't know that one can know that without having an agent on the inside of the cell that is trying to do this. We apprehended the same within days. Days before the attack, we broke up a terrorist cell in Makkah, where they had booby-trapped Qur’ans and were making explosives.

We apprehended terrorists in Riyadh on Thursday morning, two days before the attack. And then the attack occurred.

With regard to the level of cooperation, I'd say it's excellent. With regard to the intelligence regarding a terrorist attack, yes, we knew about it because we were working this together.

I think we continue to learn and we continue to increase our ability to discover these cells and to destroy them.

Q When you talk about cells, in Makkah, everywhere, are they like small separate cells, or is it some kind of -- sort of central leadership? Or are they getting their instructions from abroad? What is the nature of their organization?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: When you think of a terrorist cell, the size differs depending on what the mission of the cell is. The cell that was responsible for the Riyadh bombings in May was composed of, I believe, 19 people. The cell that was responsible for the most recent attack we believe was composed of 12 to 18 people. Some of the cells we have broken up had as little as 8 to 10 people.

The set-up of al-Qaeda worldwide is that of a loose federation of terrorist organizations that span 50 or 55 countries. They tend to be fairly decentralized. They tend to leave the operational part to the subsidiaries, so to speak, but the strategic, and I mean the evilness, to the top management. And within countries, the way the cells would be set up is in a fairly decentralized, diffuse way. The idea behind doing it this way is if you capture one cell, you may not know where the other cells are. And very few of the operational leaders know where the connections are.

When I talk about breaking up a cell, when you have 10, 12, 15, 20 people who are working on making explosives, maybe scoping buildings or targets, who have some people assigned specific roles -- some would be drivers, some would be suicide bombers, some would be producing the explosives, some would be working on the financing of it -- that's a cell. And the size differs. And as I mentioned, we have unraveled cells that are smaller, and we have unraveled cells that are larger. But the range tends to be somewhere between 8 or 10 to 20 per cell.

And they tend to set them up in different locations, so that their ability to avoid law enforcement is enhanced. But our ability to find them improves with every passing week, as our experience level goes up. And we have been destroying them. We have destroyed over a dozen of them since May. And we will continue to go after them and destroy them.

Q How many cells do you think you'll have –

MR. AL-JUBEIR: I don't know. If I knew, they wouldn't be secret cells.

Q How safe are Americans and Westerners in Saudi Arabia? And are the cells that carried out the two bombings, in May and the most recent one -- do they have any connection at all?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: With regard to the safety of Americans and Westerners in Saudi Arabia, I believe they are very safe. We have taken all the precautions we can to ensure the safety of our citizens and our residents. We will continue to do so.

We have had two unfortunate terrorist attacks in Riyadh, one in May and one this past Sunday. But we believe that the situation is very safe in Saudi Arabia.

The most recent attacks targeted Saudis and Arabs and people from Muslim countries.   The attack in May targeted everyone -- American, British, Canadian, Saudi, Lebanese, Palestinians and others. So I don't believe the terrorists in Saudi Arabia are targeting Americans. I think they are targeting the innocent, period.

Q Are the cells that committed the two Riyadh bombings related?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: We have no doubt. The way it was executed, the style, the explosives and the motives are the same.  Al-Qaeda has the foot soldiers, the cells and the desire. And that's how they struck, and they struck using fairly similar methods. They camouflaged their vehicles as security cars, they had military uniforms on, they attacked the compound from two different locations and then they drove the explosives-filled truck into the compound.

And they have taken credit for it. They told the world us they were going to strike, and after the tragedy happened, they announced it to the world.

We have no doubt that the two cells are linked to al-Qaeda, it's the same, because that's the only terrorist network that we have in the kingdom and that we are unraveling. And every cell that we find, has the same type of people trying to do the same type of mischief.

Q (Inaudible) -- the last question. I just wanted to ask you -- there's a bit of confusion. Some Saudi officials have said privately that they believe that the Western compound -- excuse me, the compound that was attacked was attacked mistakenly, that the terrorists thought that it was a Western compound. What is it that you can tell us?

MR. AL-JUBEIR: That may very well be the case. The compound used to house employees from Boeing Corporation up until, I believe, five years ago. Most of these employees hailed from many different countries, including Europe and the United States and Arab countries. I don't know what the mindset of the terrorists was or if they made a mistake or not.

But what I do know is that when you set up bomb-making factories in Makkah, when you have booby-trapped Qur’ans in Makkah, you're not targeting Americans, you're targeting Saudis and Arabs and Muslims. When you blow up a compound like this and you kill mainly -- mostly Arabs and people from Muslim countries, it's pure evil. It's murder. And to say, "Oh, gee, we made a mistake, we were trying to go after Westerners," does not make it any better. The killing of any innocent is unacceptable. And for that, they must pay a price. And, God willing, they will.

I don't know if they made a mistake or not, but the act would have been just as evil regardless of who they killed. The rejection of this act by our public would have been just as strong regardless of who they hit, because life is precious, and our faith teaches us that the taking of an innocent soul is tantamount to the taking of the life of all of humanity. And that the saving of an innocent soul is as if one has saved the life of all of humanity. Life is precious; you don't take it.

On that note, I want to thank all of you for coming. And I thank the American people for their expressions of condolence and sympathy. And I assure you that we are determined and committed to confront this evil and to destroy it and to root it from our midst. And we will do everything that we can in order to come to bring about this outcome.

Thank you.

 

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