2003 Transcript

Crown Prince Abdullah's Foreign Affairs Adviser Adel Al-Jubeir on CNN with Wolf Blitzer

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Now to the latest news in Saudi Arabia. Government spokesmen said today authorities are questioning a number of people who may be tied to the bombing of a Riyadh neighborhood. The Saudi interior minister now says there have been no arrests but the government is blaming al Qaeda for Saturday's attack which killed 17 people and wounded 122 others. And sources are telling CNN right now, one of the suspects has told investigators al Qaeda believed it was targeting a neighborhood housing Americans. Most of the victims were Arabs.

Let's get the view of an insider right now. Adel Al-Jubeir is the Foreign Policy Adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. He serves as a spokesman for the Saudi government. He spoke with me earlier via videophone from Riyadh.


BLITZER (voice-over): Adel Al-Jubeir, thanks very much for joining us. Our condolences to you, to all the Saudis and others who were killed in this latest terror attack but what can you tell us about information you have that another terror strike might be on the way?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER (via videophone): We can never discount the possibility. We know that there are a number of cells that still remain in Saudi Arabia. We intend to uncover them and destroy them. We have been on a heightened state of alert, especially since the May 12 bombings in Riyadh, and we have been on heightened state of alert since the beginning of Ramadan because we were picking up intelligence that attacks might be planned.

BLITZER: If you anticipated that this was in the works why couldn't you have prevented it?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, Wolf, we knew that we - our intelligence - indicated that there were attacks being planned. We knew that one - that it had gone from planning to operations. We did not know what the target was and when I say we I mean both we and the United States. We had broken up an al Qaeda cell in Makkah and we have also damaged or broken up an al Qaeda cell in Riyadh this week, this past Thursday, so we are looking for them and we're destroying them wherever we can find them.

BLITZER: Are you 100 percent certain this was the work of al Qaeda?

AL-JUBEIR: I personally am, yes. It has all the hallmarks of al Qaeda, being the methods that were used were the same. They're the only ones who have a motive and they're the only ones who have set up cells in Saudi Arabia to harm innocent people.

BLITZER: There is some suggestion that al Qaeda may have thought that the target they attacked included Americans as opposed to Arabs. Is that the information you're getting from the suspects you rounded up?

AL-JUBEIR: That may well be the case but al Qaeda is not targeting exclusively Americans. Al Qaeda is targeting everyone because it's a demonic oath that is pure evil. We know that Saudi Arabia and the United States are the two main targets of al Qaeda. We know that they had set up a weapons-making factory in Makkah. We know that they have booby-trapped Qur'ans. I doubt that they intended to give those Qur'ans to Americans so obviously they were targeting fellow Muslims as well as fellow Arabs and fellow Saudis.

BLITZER: As you know, Adel Al-Jubeir, there are many critics of Saudi Arabia who say you, your government, have only yourselves to blame for this, for coddling al Qaeda over these years. What do you say to those critics in the House, the Senate, and elsewhere here in the United States?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, first of all I'm disappointed that they would say this. I believe these are callous remarks that have no place in the difficult times that we all - the world is going through. I also believe that those remarks emanate from ignorance and lack of information. If people had known what Saudi Arabia has been doing over the past ten years in trying to go after bin Laden they would not be saying this. It is also unfortunate, Wolf, that the very people who express these views and who are most critical and hostile of Saudi Arabia are inadvertently doing bin Laden's bidding. His objective is to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and these critics are playing right into his hands.

BLITZER: Is Saudi Arabia cutting back dramatically on the funding of these so-called madrasas, these schools, where so many of these fundamentalists apparently have emerged?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, Wolf, the fact that you ask this question is also an indication of the perception versus the reality. The perception is that Saudi Arabia was funding these schools. The reality is we're not. Seventy percent of these schools which exist mainly in Pakistan are Sunni or Shiite. For us to be funding them would be like the Catholic Church funding Southern Baptist schools. It didn't happen. 

We have also cut off all funding from Saudi charities to anything outside of Saudi Arabia. We have worked closely with the Pakistani government to determine if there were any private Saudi monies that are going to those schools so we can shut it off.

So, in answer to your question absolutely we are doing everything we can to shut off the flow of funding to either terrorists or those that support them or those that condone their actions. We have no choice but to do so.

BLITZER: Adel Al-Jubeir, once again our deepest condolences to you. Thanks very much for joining us.

AL-JUBEIR: You are very welcome and thank you for your thoughtfulness, Wolf.