2003 Transcript

Fox News Live, interview with SAIO Director Nail Al-Jubeir

JON SCOTT, C0-HOST:  Saudi Arabia has a new tactic to try to fight the war on terror using religious clerics to give sermons to jailed Al-Qaeda suspects.  The mission is to turn these terror suspects into informants, but will it really work?

Joining us now, the Director of Information for the Saudi Embassy, Nail Al-Jubeir.  Mr. Al-Jubeir, good morning.

Mr. NAIL AL-JUBEIR (Director of Information, Saudi Embassy):  Good morning.

MR. SCOTT:  Can you describe how this new program is supposed o work?

MR. AL-JUBEIR:  Well it's not a new program.  It's been going on also with common criminals, deviants, in which they will try to teach them, to appeal to them, to their religious duty.  In other words, it's like any other place they do that.  Whatever works to turn convicts into law abiding citizens, we'll use.

MR. SCOTT:  But I guess it depends on which cleric you select, because there are clerics over in that part of the world who have been saying, 'Hey.  It is your - you know - duty to Allah...'

MR. AL-JUBEIR:  Oh, of course not.  No.  No.  Of course not.  Those aren't really clerics.  The clerics are those who really know the religion and know the meaning of the - the term Jihad has been thrown around very loosely by some of these evildoers.  But no.  They sit down with them.  They preach to them.  They teach them.  The real definition of religion and of tolerance is what the real religion is and not the perverted version that has been used by extremists.

MR. SCOTT:  We're looking at some video of what was left of that housing compound in Riyadh after some car bombers launched an attack there.  According to some of the early reports, this technique of sending the clerics into the prison has helped you catch some of the guys responsible for those bombings.

MR. AL-JUBEIR:  Yes it did.  It did in this case and it also helped us catch some of the other suspects that are wanted around the world.  So it is effective, because you appeal to their humanity just like any other police officer, whether it's in Washington, New York.  You talk to them.  You try to convince them of what they're doing, to sort of show them the light, and what's right and what's wrong.  And most of these people -- the suspects -- are misguided.  Not the hard-core, because I don't really know if you can get some of the hard-core killers to turn sides.  But in most of these people, yes, it's been very effective.

MR. SCOTT:  Did those bombings in Riyadh in any way change your approach to fighting terrorism in Saudi Arabia?  Because there have been a great many accusations -- as you well know -- that the Saudis have not been fully on board in that war.

MR. AL-JUBEIR:  Well what it has done is, it has made us more outspoken about what we're doing.  In the past we used to keep quiet on what we do.  Now it's all public.  When arrests are made, it's announced.  When our police border guards are being killed by the terrorists, it's being made public.  When we seize weapons, it's made public.  So there's a more public face to it than in the past.  In the past, only information is shared with various law enforcement agencies or intelligence around the world, but hardly with the public.  But now we're making it public.

MR. SCOTT:  I received an e-mail from an American working in Saudi Arabia shortly after those bombings.  He said the ironic thing is, we're here to help teach the Saudis how to enhance security and they won't take our advice.  Your thoughts?

MR. AL-JUBEIR:  I -- I really don't know anything about that.  But yes.  We're taking advice from everybody else that's out there, and that's why they're there.  In terms of that particular case, I really can't comment on.

MR. SCOTT:  All right.  Well President Bush is over -- obviously-- in Sharm El Sheikh, as well as Crown Prince Abdullah and Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt.  You heard -- I'm sure -- their comments this morning.  Do you feel that there is the prospect for real Middle East peace coming out of this roadmap that the president and others are working on?

MR. AL-JUBEIR:  Yes.  We have to.  There's really not many alternatives that's out there, and I believe the president's statement was very forceful.  It's indicating to the world that as the president, he's putting the full faith and trust of his government to achieving a goal. And that's what we're hoping for.

MR. SCOTT:  He said that everybody is going to have to work together in good faith.  Is there more that our government could or should be doing?  Is there more that governments in your part of the world could or should be doing?

MR. AL-JUBEIR:  Well everybody can do more.  There's -- there's -- there's clear indication that we have to do more.  It's for the interest of the peace.  And if we want to achieve peace, everybody has to chip in and -- you know -- try to achieve it.  We can't sit on the sideline and start finger pointing and waiting till time -- you know -- immemorial.  We can -- have to go and sort of achieve a settlement for this conflict.

MR. SCOTT:  And -- and will there be more done on the part of Arab governments -- first of all -– to -- to help the Palestinians financially and to ensure that the Palestinian Authority is not in any way supporting terrorism?

MR. AL-JUBEIR:  Well we're caught in a sort of tough position here.  When we support the Palestinian Authority through international organizations, we are accused of supporting terrorism.  And then when we don't support it, we're accused of not supporting the Palestinians.  Our objective is to support the Palestinians in whatever decision they make.  You know, our objective is to finally reach a settlement where the violence, the cycle of hatred and the cycle of death ends.

MR. SCOTT:  All right.  Mr. Nail Al-Jubeir, thanks very much for being with us this morning.

MR. AL-JUBEIR:  Thank you.