2003 Transcript

SAIO Director Nail Al-Jubeir on CNN with Wolf Blitzer after Nov. 9 Riyadh bombing

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: So far there's been no al Qaeda claim of responsibility for the attack on Riyadh - at least not on al Qaeda's website; but those monitoring it say there have been clear messages from al Qaeda in recent weeks that attacks in Saudi Arabia were indeed likely. Joining us now to talk more about the attack in Riyadh the spokesman for the Saudi Embassy here in Washington, Nail Al-Jubeir. Thanks very much, Mr. Jubeir, for joining us. What are you hearing right now? How concerned are you about more al Qaeda attacks?

NAIL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI EMBASSY SPOKESMAN: We're concerned. Since the May 12 attack in Saudi Arabia we've been merciless in trying to track the al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia as well as the sympathizers. We've seen them running out of the country. We've seen them hiding. We've uncovered weapons and they're on the run and these are desperate acts for a desperate group.

BLITZER: Well, what else can you do that you're not doing?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, we're working with our allies, both in the U.S. and other countries, trying to find ways to stop them but it's difficult to stop a person who's committed to kill people and get killed himself in these actions. It is a struggle that is going to be a long term struggle but at the end we will succeed.

BLITZER: There's a sense, at least many members of Congress, suggesting that you have yourself - the Saudis have themselves to blame for this, for supporting various Islamic groups, charities as you call them, over the years and now this is coming back to hit you.

AL-JUBEIR: Well, I don't think this has anything to do with the charity groups that we have supported, the charity groups that we've dealt with. There's a joint U.S.-Saudi task force in Saudi Arabia to look at some of these but what we're looking at is a group of people that are committed to overthrow the Saudi state to create an Afghan-type Taliban rule in Saudi Arabia. We're not going to have them succeed.

BLITZER: Is there a determination now to go after these madrassas, these religious schools where so many of these al Qaeda operatives come from?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, there is an intent to go after anybody who promotes hatred. We have fired 2,000 imams in Saudi Arabia. We have dismissed about 500 back to school to learn what's going on. The idea is we are dealing with an enemy who is committed to commit crimes regardless of the target. Remember, the May 12th attack in Saudi Arabia was intended, their excuse, to get American troops out of Saudi Arabia. It happened weeks after Saudi Arabia and the United States agreed that the U.S. troops will leave Saudi Arabia. This attack happened after reforms happened in Saudi Arabia so they have no agenda. Their agenda is to kill people and, as we see yesterday, that's what they're after.

BLITZER: And a major difference between this bombing and the one in May is that the one in May targeted foreigners living in Saudi Arabia. This one targeted Arabs, whether from Lebanon, from Egypt, from other Arab countries living in Saudi Arabia. 

AL-JUBEIR: I don't think they differentiate. It's just a target of convenience for them. Back in June we uncovered bomb factories in the holy city of Makkah. We uncovered booby-trapped Qur'ans in the holy city of Makkah that these criminals had. Now who is going to read a holy book except the Muslims so their targets are humanity. It has nothing to do ...... it's just an excuse trying to gain sympathy.

BLITZER: How do you know for sure this is al Qaeda?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, we don't know for absolutely sure it is al Qaeda but all indications are it is. It's the operation. It's the targets. It's the methods. It's very, very similar to the Riyadh bombing. It's just a matter of days before we can be absolutely sure. Al Qaeda usually doesn't claim responsibilities until later and I think things will point towards al Qaeda in this case.

BLITZER: Nail al-Jubeir good luck to you.

AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.

BLITZER: And to all people in Saudi Arabia. Thanks very much.

AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.