Crown Prince Abdullah's Foreign Policy Advisor Adel Al-Jubeir was interviewed on CNN’s ‘American Morning’ on June 21, concerning the investigation into the murder of U.S. hostage Paul Johnson.
BILL HEMMER: As we start again this half hour, returning now to the hunt in Saudi Arabia for Paul Johnson's remains. From Washington this morning, Saudi Arabia's foreign policy adviser, Adel Al-Jubeir, is our guest now. Sir, good morning. Welcome back here to ‘American Morning’.
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: Good morning, Bill.
HEMMER: Have they found the remains of Paul Johnson?
AL-JUBEIR: Unfortunately, not yet, but we're still looking, and we hope to be able to find the remains and restore them to his family.
HEMMER: Do you think this is adding some sort of new twist to this story? In the past it's been relatively easy to locate the remains. Why now so difficult?
AL-JUBEIR: It's never easy to locate any remains if you don't know where the location is and if you don't have people who can point out to you where it is. Remember, it took many weeks to find the snipers in Washington two years ago, and they were alive and they were leaving telltale signs.
HEMMER: The kidnappers of Mr. Johnson on their Web site say this in part: "A number of the cooperators who are sincere to their religion in the security apparatus donated those clothes and the police cars." It indicates an inside job. Was it?
AL-JUBEIR: We don't see any evidence to that effect. It's very easy to obtain military uniforms in Saudi Arabia, just like it is here. You can walk into any Army surplus store in Washington and pick up a military uniform. It's also easy to take cars and paint them to look like police cars. We want to be careful, Bill, here. People seem to be giving credence to what the terrorists are saying on web sites: that reminds me of Saddam Hussein's information minister. What if people had believed what he said when he was saying it, when it was total nonsense?
HEMMER: Let me be clear here. You are saying that there is no indication or no evidence that you have that they did use police cars and police uniforms to abduct Paul Johnson?
AL-JUBEIR: That is correct. We have no evidence, anything to point to any collaboration whatsoever between the security services and the terrorists. Remember, Bill, more than 50 of our security officers gave their lives and were murdered by this organization as they were trying to pursue terrorists over the past year.
HEMMER: The search took about six days to try and locate Paul Johnson's body when he was alive. We're told that at least 15,000 security forces were involved in that. Since then on Friday night, four al Qaeda leaders, including the top man in Saudi Arabia, are dead and 12 others are arrested. Some suggest the timing is suspicious. To them you say what?
AL-JUBEIR: I say to them, anytime you catch the bad guys you pocket it as an advantage and you move on. We had been looking for Mr. Al-Muqrin now for months. He has been on our most-wanted list. The search for him did not begin six days ago. It began more than six months ago. And whenever we catch someone, we capture them, we arrest them or we kill them. But it is a positive development. It is a big blow for Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, and we hope that this is a setback for them. And we're determined to continue the manhunt for the others on the most-wanted list until we capture every single one of them.
HEMMER: One of the things we learned out of Riyadh over the weekend, a Saudi security official said this in ‘The New York Times’: "This has really taken down the cell completely" - talking about Al-Qaeda. "This is the group that's been carrying out the bombings and other attacks since November." What is the state of Al-Qaeda now in Saudi Arabia?
AL-JUBEIR: We believe that this was a major blow to them. This is pretty much the leadership. This is one of the -- the one active cell that we are aware of. There may be other cells that we're not aware of. We believe this is a setback. We will continue to hunt them, and we will continue to bring them to justice.
HEMMER: Take that first statement, though, again, "This has really taken down the cell completely." Do you agree with that?
AL-JUBEIR: I don't know that I would have gone that far. I believe it's a major blow to Al-Qaeda. But there's a possibility that they may reconstitute, maybe in a weaker form. But our objective is to keep pursuing them, keep them on the run, prevent them from reconstituting and hopefully prevent them from doing harm to our citizens or our residents.
HEMMER: How would you address the issue of safety for Americans in your country? Are they safe there?
AL-JUBEIR: The same way we address it to Saudis in Saudi Arabia. We tell our people and our residents and our guests that these are difficult times, that they have to be careful, that they have to possibly change the patterns of their life. We are determined to provide for their security. We are determined to go after the terrorists. We believe the security situation is manageable, and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our citizens and our residents.
HEMMER: What would you like to say to Paul Johnson's family?
AL-JUBEIR: Our thoughts and our prayers are with you. Mr. Johnson was a friend of Saudi Arabia. We have a saying if you live with the people for 40 days you become one of them. He lived with us for 10 years. He was one of us. We think of him as, your loss is our loss. May God grant you patience and strength as you go through this difficult time. We vow that we will catch every single one who was responsible for his brutal murder, and we hope that we will be able to find his remains and restore them to you so he can have a proper burial.
HEMMER: Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabian foreign policy adviser in Washington, thanks for your time.
AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.