2004 Transcript

Adel Al-Jubeir on NBC on U.S. hostage case

Crown Prince Abdullah's Foreign Policy Advisor Adel Al-Jubeir was interviewed on NBC’s ‘Today’ on June 21, concerning the investigation into the murder of U.S. hostage Paul Johnson.

MATT LAUER:  The group responsible for beheading American Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia on Friday claims it was aided by sympathizers in Saudi security forces. Adel Al-Jubeir is foreign policy adviser in Saudi Arabia.  Mr. Al-Jubeir, good morning to you.
MR. AL-JUBEIR:  Good morning, Matt.
MR. LAUER:  Before I get to that subject, let me ask you – any progress being made in the search for Paul Johnson's body?
MR. AL-JUBEIR:  No, we are still searching.  We hope that we will be able to recover the body soon and restore it to the family, who are currently going through a lot of grief.  And our thoughts and prayers are with them.
MR. LAUER:  After you learned that Paul Johnson had been executed, you immediately tracked down the people who had held him. You killed four of them, including the leader of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, and 12 others were taken into custody.  How did you find them so quickly?
MR. AL-JUBEIR:  We have been tracking al-Muqrin for over six months throughout the country.  Tens of thousands of security officials were looking for him.  With the abduction of Mr. Johnson, we intensified the search in the city of Riyadh and we were able to find them on Friday afternoon or Friday evening and kill them in ensuing gun battles.
MR. LAUER:  Let me just be blunt here.  There are a lot of people in this country who say this is all too convenient, that perhaps the Saudi government knew where these terrorists were all along, and it was only under severe pressure from the United States that they decided to finally confront them.  How do you respond to that?
MR. AL-JUBEIR:  I tell people that, (A), they should be fair.  (B), they shouldn't be ridiculous.  America is looking for Zarqawi in Iraq. You have 135,000 forces in Iraq.  It's been 13 months.  You still haven't found him. The world is looking for bin Laden.  There are millions of people looking for him.  It's been over two years.  We still haven't found him.  Whenever you catch the bad guys, you pocket it as a positive and you move on.  One never knows when we're going to apprehend bad, evil people.  When we do, let's pocket it and move forward.
MR. LAUER:  By killing these four members of al Qaeda, including the head of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, and capturing these 12 others, how much damage do you think has been done to al Qaeda in your country?
MR. AL-JUBEIR:  We believe that this was a major blow, because these individuals were responsible for the Al-Muhaya compound bombing in November in Riyadh, the Oasis compound attack in Khobar, the killings of three people, including the BBC journalist, and the abduction of Mr. Johnson. This is a major blow.  It was the head of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, his number two person, and two other close lieutenants.  We are under no illusion that the threat continues from al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia, and we will do whatever we can to root this evil out of our midst.
MR. LAUER:  We're learning more about the abduction of Paul Johnson.  Apparently he stopped at what turned out to be a fake security checkpoint.  As you know, the militants have released a statement saying that they obtained some help from inside Saudi security forces, inside the Saudi police, that sympathizers in those organizations helped them.  That would be extremely disturbing, if you think about the ramifications of that, Mr. Al-Jubeir.  What's the possibility that's true?
MR. AL-JUBEIR:  Very, very remote.  Of course, it would be disturbing, but we have seen no evidence to that effect.  The militants have been putting stuff out on the Internet in order to project an image of support either within the security forces or within the population that they really don't have.  And what I find surprising is that the media takes their statements, repeats it.  It's as if the information of Mr. Saddam Hussein, everything he said, people would take as fact.  That's not the case.
MR. LAUER:  You've got 35,000 Americans living in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. State Department has already warned those people it is not safe.  Clearly you don't want a mass exodus because that would show the terrorists that perhaps they've won.  But what advice would you give to Americans, and foreigners in general, who are now living scared in Saudi Arabia?
MR. AL-JUBEIR:  The advice we would give them is the same we give to our population.  You have to be careful.  These are difficult times.  You have to possibly adjust your lifestyles.  We are committed to providing for your security.  We are committed to going after the terrorists.  We are making progress in this area.  We're getting better at it with every passing week.  We're determined to go after them until we catch every last one of them.
MR. LAUER:  Adel Al-Jubeir.  Mr. Al-Jubeir, thanks for your time. I appreciate it.
MR. AL-JUBEIR:  You're welcome.