2003 Transcript

SAIO Director Nail Al-Jubeir on CNN's 'Insight' with Jonathan Mann

JONATHAN MANN, CNN HOST: Let's hear now from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia itself. Its spokesman at its Washington Embassy Nail Al-Jubeir joins us. Thanks so much for being with us. Our condolences, of course, to the Kingdom and to the people that you represent in talking to us on this day. King Fahd has promised that an iron fist will be used against those responsible. What does Saudi Arabia plan to do now? What is it going to do now it hasn't already done in the crackdown over the last few months?

NAIL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI EMBASSY SPOKESMAN: We are going after them, and I think this is an indication, the attack on Sunday, how desperate they are. They are no longer going against hard targets, they're going against soft targets, civilians. They're killing anyone they can get their hands on. So they are on the run, but we have to put more effort into this, to try to prevent them from doing further attacks.

MANN: Is it obvious what that means? I ask that question because, if my figures are right, 600 people have been arrested in the crackdown. An estimated 2,000 clerics, 2,000 imams, have already heard from the Saudi government that they want them to tone down the kinds of things that they're saying to their followers. What are the obvious steps that Saudi Arabia takes now?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, we have to see first of all who these extremists are, who are doing the bombing. We have to make sure that nothing enters our border. If the reports are accurate, and I'm not aware of any of those except what I've read in the paper, that a few thousand are trying to join the jihadists or extremists in Saudi Arabia, that's dangerous.

We've got problems with our border where people are smuggling guns and explosives - most of them are coming from Yemen. That needs to be halted. We have to find out who is supporting them, how are they getting their instructions. Are these instructions formulated from Afghanistan or are they formulated domestically? These are things that we're looking at and we are working closely with our friends and allies, both in the United States and Europe, trying to track some of these communications.

MANN: Has your government learned anything more about what happened in Riyadh or what happened in Makkah last week?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, this is part of a cell that we uncovered. Instead of surrendering, they decided to commit suicide, which if they want to do that and just kill themselves, by all means go ahead and do it. The problem we have is when they kill innocent civilians. I think this is an indication of how desperate they are.

Let's remember back in June of this year we uncovered a bomb factory in the holy city of Makkah, where booby-trapped Qur'ans were there as well. So who are they intended for? These Qur'ans were intended for Muslims. So their intent is just to kill as many people as they can.

MANN: You describe them as desperate. They seem to be operating with a certain level of sophistication. Certainly they have the manpower and in the Riyadh attack there are reports that one or perhaps two vehicles that were either disguised to appear like security vehicles of the Saudi government or were in fact security vehicles of the Saudi government. Can you tell us more about that? Were Saudi official vehicles stolen for those attacks?

AL-JUBEIR: We're still trying to ... [AUDIO GAP] ... investigation, yes. One of the cars that was used, I believe it was one vehicle, that came in, had insignias of the Saudi security apparatus when it approached, but that was the result of an earlier gunfight that happened between them and some people who were shooting at them. So it is organized, but it is not at the level that we have seen before. There were no longer the three-prong attacks that we had seen in Riyadh earlier. That was the result of some of the cells that we uncovered.

As Armitage said earlier, unfortunately we have to be right 100 percent. They only have to be right once. And the Riyadh bombing on Sunday, they were right. They managed, unfortunately, to bring death and destruction to the city.

MANN: Is the Kingdom offering its foreign workers, is it offering its native born citizens, any particular instructions right now? Obviously, foreigners and Saudi citizens should be extremely cautious, but beyond that are you advising any other change in their behavior?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, if we start changing our life, our behavior, the terrorists win. What we're telling them is to be vigilant, to watch out, to report something unusual, and this is what happened in Riyadh earlier last week, when neighbors noticed a home that was supposed to have been rented by a family, but there were no women coming and leaving the house.

They were suspicious. They called the police and they found out that was a possible terror cell that has moved into the neighborhood. This war on terrorism does not include the law enforcement, but includes every single citizen. Any time they see something suspicious, they report it, and that's what's happening right now.

MANN:  Nail Al-Jubeir, of the Embassy of the Saudi Kngdom in Washington, thank you so much for being with us.