MILES O'BRIEN: In Saudi Arabia, the government says steps are being taken to step up its own war on terror. The Saudis last week published a new list of 36 most wanted terrorists. Those names coming after the Saudis said they killed or captured 23 terrorists on their original list of 26. Sunday, the number one al Qaeda operative on the new list was killed by Saudi security forces in Riyadh.
Nail Al-Jubeir is Director of Information for the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington.
Mr. Al-Jubeir, good to have you with us.
NAIL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI EMBASSY SPOKESMAN: A pleasure.
MILES O'BRIEN: I'd like to talk to you about that list. But first, I did want to ask you, because we've been talking a lot this morning about those attempted kidnappings and shootings of diplomatic emissaries in Baghdad, when will the Saudis be sending a diplomat, an ambassador or some sort of consulate representative, to Baghdad?
AL-JUBEIR: Well, we are working on that. We have been talking with the Iraqis. There's a delegation from Iraq in Saudi Arabia currently checking out their Iraqi embassy there. We're possibly looking at sending an ambassador there.
But, you know, you have to remember, security is of biggest concern for us. As we have seen, the kidnapping of -- attempted kidnapping of the Bahrainian ambassador, the attempted kidnapping of the -- or, rather, the Bahrainian representative, as well as the Pakistani representative; the kidnapping of the Egyptian are something that we're concerned about.
MILES O'BRIEN: Well, Mr. Al-Jubeir, in many cases, they were just driving alone in vehicles. So maybe it's just a security situation.
Do you feel, symbolically, at least, it's important for the Saudis to have a mission there?
AL-JUBEIR: Well, we've always felt that we need to establish our relationship with our neighbors. The president of Iraq has been to Saudi Arabia, so have senior officials from Iraq to Saudi Arabia. We've been working closely with the Iraqis. At the end of the day, it's a matter of security.
Now, the United States has its presence there. It has 138,000 U.S. troops there. We can't send 180,000 troops to protect. It is a concern in terms of being able -- and you can't bunker yourself behind a wall and claim to be a representative if it's just raising the flag. And we want to be more than that. We want to be able to reach out to the Iraqi people, to help them out.
But barricading ourselves behind barriers and walls defeats the purpose.
MILES O'BRIEN: So you don't see this happening any time soon?
AL-JUBEIR: Well, we're working on it in terms of trying to be able to set a mission there. And there was talk about naming an ambassador soon.
Now, in view of what's happening now and in view of the terrorist action targeting Arab and Muslim representatives, it's something of a concern that we have had.
MILES O'BRIEN: All right, let's get to the other subject here, al- Hayari, a Moroccan, at the top of your list of 36 most wanted, captured. Interesting that it's a Moroccan. Tell me about him.
AL-JUBEIR: Well, he is Moroccan, traveling on a Bosnian passport. He came in Saudi Arabia in early 2001, part of the Hajj, and blended in and disappeared. He lived the luxury life. He wasn't on the radar screen. He moved into an upper middle class neighborhood, drove a late model Mercedes, spoke classical Arabic. So people didn't really think it was him.
But in reality this guy was, so to speak, the puppeteer. He was a strategist, not a field commander. But as the commanders were taken out one after another, he came out from the shadows. And that's when we realized what he -- who he was and went after him.
It was a shootout. He was basically the most important person in Saudi Arabia to be caught after Swift Sword. He had links to al Qaeda operatives outside Saudi Arabia. He had links to the spiritual mentor of Zarqawi, who was killed in Iraq. So he was the link to the outside world. It's a major, major accomplishment for our security operations. It shows that we are getting better in tracking these individuals.
But he was considered a master of disguise. You know, for about two years or so, no, almost four years, he was living in the country and for most, over two-and-a-half years, we had no idea that -- which he was.
MILES O'BRIEN: Now, Nail Al-Jubeir is director of information for the Saudi Arabian embassy.
One down, 35 to go, sir. Good luck to you.
AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.