NATIONAL COMMISSION ON TERRORIST ATTACKS UPON THE UNITED STATES
Wednesday, July 9, 2003
253 Russell Senate Office Building
PANEL 1: TERRORISM, AL QAEDA, AND THE MUSLIM WORLD
WITNESSES: ROHAN GUNARATNA, INSTITUTE FOR DEFENCE AND STRATEGIC STUDIES, SINGAPORE; MAMOUN FANDY, SENIOR FELLOW, UNITED STATES INSTITUTE OF PEACE; MARC SAGEMAN, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
PANEL 2: STATES AND TERRORISM
WITNESSES: LAURIE MYLROIE, AUTHOR; JUDITH YAPHE, NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY; MURHAF JOUEJATI, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY; MARK GASIOROWSKI, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY
PANEL 3: THE CHALLENGE WITHIN THE MUSLIM WORLD
WITNESSES: RACHEL BRONSON, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS; GILLES KEPEL, INSTITUTE OF POLITICAL STUDIES, PARIS; STEVEN EMERSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE INVESTIGATIVE PROJECT; AND DENNIS ROSS, WASHINGTON NEAR EAST POLICY INSTITUTE
POST-HEARING MEDIA ADVISORY
MR. KEAN: Good Morning. As Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, I hereby call to order our third public hearing, on the topic of Terrorism, Al Qaeda, and the Muslim World.
Many have compared the attacks of September 11, 2001 to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, sixty years previous. There were, of course, important differences in what transpired on both days. More people died on September 11 than died during the Pearl Harbor attacks. And unlike the case of Pearl Harbor, almost all who died on September 11th were civilians. The planners of the 9-11 attacks targeted not military bases of operation, but the heart of America's financial center and the seat of its government.
There also are many similarities between what happened on both days. In each case, a surprise air attack left thousands of Americans dead. Immediately after both events, the President declared the US to be in a state of war. In each case, our attackers had decided that they were at war with us long before we realized we were at war with them. War for them began with preparations for attack and the assembly of forces to execute their attacks.
Now, as was the case 60 years ago, we confront a global war with all its inherent uncertainties of dimension, duration and loss of life. To defeat and destroy our enemy, we must understand more than the crimes that are already committed. We must understand what drives and motivates it; the source of its power; the resources at its command; its internal strengths and weaknesses; the identity, roles, motives of its allies, enablers and supporters; and its ability to adapt to changed circumstances, especially after we struck back.
In other words, we must know everything we can about al Qaeda if we are to crush it. To help us do precisely that, we have assembled a distinguished group of experts to guide us in our work. Our first panel brings together three distinguished experts to address the origins of al Qaeda, Dr. Rohan Gunaratna is the author of "Inside al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror." He currently is head of terrorism research and associate professor of Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies in Singapore. Our second speaker is Dr. Mamoun Fandy, currently a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace. Professor Fandy is an expert on Saudi Islamist movements, and the author of "Saudi Arabia and the Politics of Dissent." Marc Sageman, our third speaker, is a member of the American Psychological Association's Presidential Panel on Terrorism. Dr. Sageman is an expert on the psychological aspects of al Qaeda, recruitment and membership.
All prepared statements will be entered into the record in full, and we would ask each of our witnesses to summarize their statements before we turn to questions from the commissioners. Dr. Gunaratna.
MR. GUNARATNA: Thank you, Chairman Kean, ladies and gentlemen. I am going to begin my testimony by asking the question, Why did al Qaeda attack America's iconic targets on 9/11? I want to answer that question, because I believe that even to this very date many Americans, including policy- and decision-makers of the United States, do not understand why al Qaeda mounted those attacks on America's most outstanding landmarks.
You must turn and examine al Qaeda's founding charter, a charter that was written by Dr. Abdullah Azzam, the founder of al Qaeda, in March 1988, and published in "Al Jihad," the journal of the Arab mujaheddin, a publication that was printed in Peshawar, Pakistan, during that period. According to the charter of al Qaeda, al Qaeda is the vanguard, "the pioneering vanguard of the Islamic movements." That is, as the spearhead of Islam. According to al Qaeda, al Qaeda must mount attacks that will inspire and instigate the other Islamic movements, as well as the wider Muslim community that seeks to support, that al Qaeda wants to build support, in order to continue with their political agenda. If you look at the charter, the charter very clearly states that al Qaeda has a role as the pioneering vanguard. And it is because of that specific role that al Qaeda mounted attacks very selectively on your outstanding landmarks, on your iconic targets, because by charter al Qaeda has a responsibility to h how the way to these other movements, that the United States can always be attacked and destroyed the same way the Soviet Union was reduced from a superpower into Russia, the same way the largest land army in the world, the Soviet army, was defeated in Afghanistan. By the predecessor of al Qaeda, the Maktab al-Khid-mat, or the Afghan Service Bureau, an institution which even had 30 officers inside the United States during the Cold War, when Maktab al-Khidmat fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan. And al Qaeda wanted to show the way to many other Islamic movements, wanted to empower these movements. And that is why al Qaeda built with the assistance of Taliban state-of-the-art terrorist training and operational infrastructure in Afghanistan.
Throughout the 1990s, Afghanistan became a terrorist Disneyland, where more than 40 different terrorist organizations were training and using Afghanistan as an operational base at the time the United States, its allies and its friends intervened in Afghanistan in October of 2001. But for 10 years, the U.S. government, European governments, the international community tolerated Afghanistan from becoming the center of gravity of international training. The center where terrorist organizations planned, prepared and executed operations.
If you look at the previous attacks conducted by al Qaeda, all those attacks were mounted either by members who were trained in Afghanistan and using Afghanistan as a training base. The U.S. government and many other governments have seen 9/11 as an attack that is very different from all its previous attacks. But if you look at the trajectory of al Qaeda operations, there is an incremental escalation in al Qaeda attacks. Look at August 1998, the East Africa bombings. Al Qaeda mounted land suicide attacks against the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, coordinated simultaneous attacks. If you look at October 2000, al Qaeda mounted a maritime suicide attack. If you look at 9/11, al Qaeda mounted an airborne suicide attack. And look at the sophistication of the organization. When al Qaeda attacked those American targets, those land targets in East Africa, the Americans increased the perimeter security of their land targets. Then al Qaeda attacked a maritime target. Then the Americans increased the perimeter security of their land and their maritime targets. But then al Qaeda again deceived the United States and conducted an airborne suicide attack. Al Qaeda could have never mounted those attacks against those targets on 9/11 if it did not use airborne vehicles to attack those targets.
So, and also if you look at the targeting of al Qaeda, there was gradually a larger number of fatalities. There was an increase in sophistication of the organization. The U.S. security and intelligence community, the U.S. think tanks, the U.S. political leaders knew that al Qaeda will strike the United States. If you examine the reports of the Central Intelligence Agency, soon after the East Africa attacks, the U.S. agency warned that it is a question of time that al Qaeda will strike inside the United States.
But there was more than an intelligence failure. There was operational failure. There was a failure to act. You knew that your country will be attacked, but you did not do what was necessary to prevent your country being harmed and humiliated. You knew that the intention of al Qaeda was to kill American people wherever they could be found. But still you did not act, and therefore you paid a very heavy price for it.
In the future, if you want to prevent these attacks, you must continue the path you have adopted after 9/11 in terms of establishing closer security and intelligence cooperation, especially with the Asian and the Middle Eastern Muslim countries, because today the threat has moved beyond al Qaeda. Today we are confronting a large number of Islamist terrorist organizations.
Let us look at the two waves of attacks that we saw in October of last year and May this year. The attacks in May this year were staged on the 12th of May by al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. On the same day there were attacks in Chechnya. On the 14th of May also attacks in Chechnya by Al-Ansar Mujaheddin, a group that is very close to al Qaeda. For example, the head of the Al-Ansar Mujaheddin in Chechnya, his real name is Mohammed Al Ghamdi. He goes by the name of Abu Waleed. Mohammed Al Ghamdi is the cousin of two of the 9/11 hijackers, Ahmed Alghamdi and Hamza Al Ghamdi. So you can see the coordination of the attacks in that week of May between al Qaeda and the Chechen group.
And then again on the 16th of May in Casablanca, the Casablanca attack was not by al Qaeda but by an associate group of al Qaeda called Assiarat al Moustaqim. And then again the previous day, that is on the 15th of May, again an associate group of al Qaeda, Lashkar-I-Jhanqui, attacked 21 Shell and Caltex stations in Pakistan, coordinated simultaneous attacks within a half an hour -- 21 stations attacked.
So you can see within that week al Qaeda, Assirat al Moustaqim, Al-Ansar Mujaheddin and Lashkar-I-Jhanvui coordinating attacks. So what I would like to say is that the threat has certainly moved beyond al Qaeda.
The last point I want to make is let's look at the attacks in October of last year. The worst terrorist attack after 9/11 occurred in Bali on the 12th of October. That was not by al Qaeda, but an associate group of al Qaeda called Jemaah Islamiya. Another group al Qaeda had armed, trained and financed in Afghanistan during that 10-year period in Afghanistan. And in that same week in October, we saw attacks against the U.S., against the French oil supertanker Limburg off Yemen, and also killing of two U.S. personnel in Kuwait, which was by al Qaeda. So you can see that, in the future, because we have damaged al Qaeda's training infrastructure so significantly in Afghanistan, al Qaeda will increasingly rely on organizations and groups it had trained, armed and financed and ideologized; that is, given the ideological training of the need to wage a universal jihad, not a territorial jihad. And these groups will continue to fight. Al Qaeda will more or less remain in the background, will be more an ideological provider, because it lacks the operational capability, while these other groups will continue to fight with al Qaeda in the background.
So it is a long-term threat. And to fight this kind of threat you need a multi-pronged, multidimensional, multi-agency and a multinational response.
The United States, although it is the most preeminent political, military, economic and diplomatic superpower, you cannot defeat this kind of threat unless you continue to work with your allies and your friends, not only in the military field, but also in the political, ideological, diplomatic and economic fields. Thank you very much.
MR. KEAN: Thank you, sir. Dr. Fandy.
MR. FANDY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ladies and gentlemen, since my colleague talked about, a little more about al Qaeda, I will submit my full testimony to the record, and I am just basically going to fill in some added information on the testimony.
It is very important to first of all reverse the popular understanding about al Qaeda that bin Laden is the main figure in al Qaeda, and focusing on bin Laden puts our efforts in a different trajectory of pursuing al Qaeda. In fact, if Osama bin Laden is the chairman of al Qaeda, the real CEO of the al Qaeda organization is Ayman Zawahiri. And although my colleague just mentioned to you that an airborne attack was in its inception in Peshawar, in fact in 1981 as Ayman Zawahiri said he was contemplating the Sadat association he was discussing with his colleague Aboud Az Zumur to use an airplane and crash it in the stand of President Sadat. Thus using planes to target high-level targets was not conceived in Kandahar, but rather on the Nile shores in Cairo.
To understand Zawahiri is really key understanding of al Qaeda and how it operates. Zawahiri, a man born in Egypt, in the southern part of Cairo called Al Mahdi -- he was born in 1951. He graduated from medical school in 1974 in Cairo, and joined the jihad movement in 1968 after he graduated from high school to form Al Jihad movement. His jihad movement was inspired by the ideas of the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood, mainly the figure of Sayyed Qutb as well as Abu Al' Ala Maududi. Ayman Zawahiri was arrested and kept in prison for three years in Egypt, and left Egypt in 1985 for Saudi Arabia, and spent one year there working at Anifis (ph) clinic as a doctor. And from there he moved to Peshawar.
Some of us are mystified by the name "al Qaeda." The origin of the word "al Qaeda" was actually a guest house that was created by Ayman Zawahiri with Mr. Assam, the Palestinian leader of the jihad in Afghanistan. Ayman Zawahiri and his jihad movement coming from Egypt started an al Qaeda guest house. The other group, which also came from Egypt, the Islamic group, started another house called al Ansar, the supporters of al Qaeda. The main umbrella sponsors in that neighborhood in Peshawar and Pakistan and Afghanistan was represented by three figures, mainly Gul Buddin Hekmatyar who represents also the branch of the Muslim brotherhood, and that takes us back to the ideological trajectory of al Qaeda, as well as Abdel Rebrasu Sayyef, who was also protecting the Islamic group members who were coming again from Egypt via Jeddah, as well as the Taliban and Mullah Omar, who sponsored Bin Laden and the Zawahiri.
But to understand all of this, we cannot just focus on the technical aspect of al Qaeda. We have to look at al Qaeda in its broader context in the Muslim world. Al Qaeda hangs in a web of relations in the Muslim world. Unless it's understood, we miss the whole point of al Qaeda.
Just, not to waste your time, I'm going to draw broader implications and some policy recommendations. Since September 11th on balance I can say we have won the war against the formal structure of al Qaeda, its organization, its military capacity, and its financial networks. This progress has been helped greatly by recent attacks on Riyadh on May 12th. In fact, if al Qaeda shot itself in the foot on September 11th, it shot itself in the head on May 12th in Saudi Arabia, because practically it dried the whole financial support and allows the Saudi state to start an all-out war on these groups, because basically the threat is coming home. Although we seem to understand the formal structure of al Qaeda, we have yet to grasp the broader context and the forces that make such organizations appealing to many people in the Muslim world, from which al Qaeda and its affiliate organization draw their support and new recruits.
One central area that we need to examine, and it's very important, is the area of ideas and look at the media in the Arab and Muslim world. The culture of terrorism is not a sentiment; it's an industry. It is easy enough to identify individuals and governments who finance newspapers, TV stations that promote extremist ideas.
But the media developed even by many moderate leaders of state and media organizations in the Arab and Muslim world, even America's friends have failed to take a clear stand in terms of their relationship with al Qaeda. This is both in terms of how they present their ideas in the media and how they deal with those who disseminate an actively radical branch of Islam. The financial aspects of the media have to be reconsidered and studied more in depth.
In many Arab newspapers and TV programs bin Laden can appear as an hero, and even if al Qaeda is not named, its ideas and its mission is being supported. This speaks in Qatar's al Jazeera and the Lebanese channels and the Usubua in Cairo who recently called for praise, whoever puts the bullet in the heart of any American.
Currently many governments in the Arab and Muslin world are happy with the new division of labor, where the media is for bin Laden and his affiliate organizations, and state power is for the traditional elite. Thus, President Bush's question posed after September 11th, "Are you with us or against us?" has not been answered throughout the Muslim world. We need to have a balance sheet and wait for these answers from every government in the region.
Terrorism in the Muslim world can be drawn as a triangle between three points: states that harbor terrorists, terrorists themselves, and finally the Islamic movements that provide the pool of recruits and intellectual drive and justification for acts of terrorism. The current policy addresses two elements of this triangle: terrorist organizations like al Qaeda and states that harbor terrorists.
It has failed, however, to adequately understand the nature of the third component of the triangle of terror, and it's important. In fact, movements to be ahead of states in the Middle East -- at least the trend points to the primacy of these movements in the Arab world, and we see Hizbollah is much more important than the government of Hariri in Lebanon. We see Hamas is much more important than Arafat, and all of that.
The threat represented by these movements causes a loss of focus in the fight against terrorism for the U.S. and for governments in the Arab and Muslim world. It is clear that the U.S. and its allies are determined to attack terrorism from above by searching out planners and perpetrators of terrorist actions and drying up their financial resources.
But we have to keep in mind that these movements are part and parcel of broad social tendencies. They represent a major obstacle for any long-term strategy to simply attack terrorism from abroad. If the incubators of terrorist organizations are to be done away with, we have to allow and encourage alternative movements to take root. More civicly and democratically-minded ideas have to show that they can have a broader appeal. This requires the cooperation of Muslim and Arab governments, but also attention to broad spectrum of social issues.
Currently governments and societies in the Muslim world are under attack. Governments in particular are alarmed by the magnitude of this threat, but they are not always sure whether they compromise or confront these organizations.
Some governments recently came to understand the magnitude of the threat. In fact, Prince Nayef of Saudi Arabia finally admitted that the Muslim Brotherhood is the mother of all problems in the Arab world. And Saudi Arabia hosted the Muslim Brotherhood during the Arab Cold War that was between Nasser and King Faisal in the '70s. And, in fact, the Muslim Brotherhood, one can argue that they hijacked the total educational Saudi system and turned it around to produce what we know as al Qaeda. The Muslim Brotherhood was the first Islamic organization with global reach, in fact. With its headquarters now next to CENTCOM in Qatar, under Sheikh Qaradawi, practically the Muslim Brotherhood has global reach. It has offices in Germany. It has offices in Virginia next door. It has offices in Yemen and other places.
So unless we really consider the Muslim Brotherhood as part of that larger network, we fail to understand this whole organization. The Muslim Brotherhood is responsible for the civil war in Algeria, responsible for its civil war in Yemen, and responsible for the current situation that we see in Egypt and in Saudi Arabia.
Just practically, one has -- before we make any clear policy about terrorism, we have to understand that it is states that harbor terrorists. It is organizations that conduct these acts. It is movements that support and legitimate these acts and make them look good and look attractive in the eyes of other Muslims. And at the center of all of this is what we call moderate Islamic movements that, in fact, engaged since 1928, at the inception of the Muslim Brotherhood, in secret wars throughout the Arab world.
We have to understand also that the Arab and Muslim world are going through a civil war, and we have to decide what position should we take on this Islamic civil war. This civil war starts from the home, from two brothers and sisters fighting over the headdress and cover, and jihad through the whole society at large. It is very fundamental -- the fundamental issues in the core of the Muslim world. We have to have a clear position on where do we stand there.
Without addressing the third component of terror triangle, the war on terrorism will lose its momentum. The U.S. and the world cannot afford this. A constant stand on the Muslim Brotherhood and all movements that provide support for al Qaeda-like activities is key to developing an effective way of addressing the rise of terrorism in the Muslim world. It does not make sense to target the branch of the Muslim Brotherhood known as Hamas in the Palestinian territories and leave it in Cairo and in Yemen and other places. We have to have a consistent stand on these movements.
To stand as bystander also on the civil war in the Muslim world is to expect the next generation of al Qaeda with nuclear weapons and devastating consequences for the United States of America.
MR. KEAN: Thank you, sir. Dr. Sageman.
MR. SAGEMAN: Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the national commission, thank you for inviting me today to testify about al Qaeda. I'm not going to read my statement, because I agree with what has been said before, but there are some few differences that I want to highlight, and they have to do with the ideology, the members themselves, the al Qaeda members, and the growth of the organization. Unlike my colleague, I actually studied it from the bottom up instead of the top down. And various patterns actually emerge. But before we can actually understand the patterns, we have to understand why they are doing it, the ideology.
Al Qaeda is part of a global movement which I call the global Salafi jihad. The movement has its root in Egypt; I completely agree. It's a violent Muslim revivalist movement which seeks to return to pure and authentic Islam as practiced by the prophet and his companion. To them, Islam is the answer, and on the recreation of the practices of the devout ancestor, Salaf in Arabic, will bring glory and prominence back to Muslims.
Salafists advocate a strict interpretation of the Quran, and they view with skepticism any later innovation, for it might be a heretical corruption of the original message. And here there's been an evolution in the ideology. I don't really -- cannot go back 20 years and see the ideology the same as it was 20 years ago, but the evolution which came to its ultimate conclusion in 1998 was a process of evolution.
The first is the concept of jihad. And jihad is often a defensive strategy when the lands of Islam are invaded by infidels. And this was the strategy advocated by Abdul Azzam in Afghanistan.
The second strategy, one that's overlooked because we're all focusing on jihad and violent movement, is the peaceful strategy of dawa, the call to Islam. It consists of peacefully preaching the strict and literal imitation of the prophet and his companion as the model of Islamic society. This is a strategy of the Tablighi Jamaat, a born-again Islamist movement operating informally at the grassroots level. It's been very successful, but because it shies away from undue publicity and stays away from politics, it has attracted very little attention, a little bit like al Qaeda before they started bombing, but they're peaceful.
A third strategy is what I would call the Salafi jihad, and that was the one advocated by the Egyptian Salafists. They looked at their own society and they branded it jahiliyya, which is the barbaric state of ignorance that existed before the prophet's revelation, because the modern leaders of Muslim states refuse to impose the Sharia, the strict Quranic law, and the strict Islamic way of life. As such, they accuse their leaders of being apostate, deserving death, and indeed they killed Anwar Sadat. They advocate the violent overthrow of their regime. And the priority here is to actually overthrow your own regime. It's really to fight the near enemy, as they put it, as opposed to the far enemy.
And then, when they all congregated -- and Dr. Fandy is right; a lot of the Egyptians went to Afghanistan -- and when they met there, they really developed this global perspective, and that's the fourth strategy, the global Salafi jihad. It was really first proclaimed by Osama bin Laden in his 1996 fatwa, and it reverses the previous strategy.
Now the priority is the far enemy, i.e. the United States, as opposed to the near enemy. And the idea is that without the far enemy, the United States, supporting the local governments, their local governments would not be able to survive.
And their strategy is a need to inflict maximum casualties against the opponent, for this is the language understood by the West, and concentrate on the method of martyrdom operations as the most efficient in terms of damages and least costly to the jihad. Al Qaeda is only one of those groups.
I'm going to skip over the history, because I think that's been covered pretty well. And what I'd like to do now is to give you a composite of about 150 members of that jihad that I've collected and give you a picture of who those people are.
They're very heterogeneous. There's three large patterns that emerge. About 60 percent came from what I called core Arab countries, mostly Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Thirty percent came from Maghreb Arab countries, and they're fairly important, especially in Western Europe, or even here. Ahmed Ressam is part of that. And 10 percent came from Indonesia.
In terms of socioeconomic status, two-thirds came from solid upper middle-class backgrounds. Most of the rest came from what's called the excluded Maghreb immigrants, second generation in France, as well as western Christian converts. They all came from caring, in tact families. The Indonesians were uniformly religious as children. About 60 percent of the core Arab children were ,and almost none of the Maghreb Arab children were.
As a group, they were relatively well-educated, with over 60 percent attending colleges. Only the Indonesian group was exclusively educated in religious schools, and I'll talk about that a little bit later. Most of them had a good occupation, and only a quarter were considered unskilled, with few prospects before them. Three-quarters were married, and the majority had children.
I detected no mental illness in this group or any common psychological predisposition for terror. The average age for joining was about 26 years. The Indonesians joined at a later age; the core Arabs at a younger age. Three-fourths of the group decided to join when they were expatriates. That means they were living in a country where they did not grow up.
An additional 10 percent were second generation who felt a strong pull to the country of their parents. So, about 85 percent were literally cut off from the culture and social origins. And I'm going to develop that a little bit more. The majority of the rest were Saudis, on whom we know very little, so I can't really tell you much about that.
Compounding the isolations of a new country was the fact that they were underemployed. By the time they joined the jihad, there was a dramatic shift in devotion to their faith. So the only significant finding here is that the terrorists felt isolated, lonely, emotionally alienated. Otherwise they were a very diverse group.
How did they join the jihad? They did it through pre-existing social bonds, with people who were already terrorists or they decided all together to join the jihad as a group. Affiliation with the jihad was through friendship, kinship, discipleship and worship. Sixty-five percent of the cases had pre-existing friendship bonds with people that were already in the jihad.
The typical scenario was a homesick young man to drift toward familiar settings such as mosques to find companionship and to alleviate their loneliness. Their clusters of friends formed spontaneously, and they often moved in together in apartments.
Another 15 percent joined through relatives already in the jihad. The Indonesians were all disciples of the same teacher. They first studied in one of two religious boarding schools and joined the Jemaah Islamiayya, which had been founded by their teacher.
The last 10 percent gave religious beliefs as the only reason they joined the jihad. But whatever source of their social bonds, these groups underwent a period of intense social interaction in their apartments mostly and developed strong mutual intimacy which relieved their previous distress.
As they became closer, they progressively adopted the belief and faith of their friends, their most extreme friends. They knew Salafi faith distanced them further from their childhood friends and families, leading to increased isolation and loyalty to the group, which in turn intensified their faith. They were ready to join the jihad.
The critical factor -- and this is a key issue -- was the existence of a human link to the jihad who could actually arrange training in Afghanistan. This was usually a peripheral acquaintance and a chance encounter, and a formal invitation and acceptance to join the jihad was actually done in Afghanistan after senior members were able to evaluate them.
In terms of growth, the common element detected in all of them was, of course, their link to the jihad itself. So if we trace the links, we can actually see how they grow. Unlike the military organization, the global jihad was structured around popular human hubs surrounded by more isolated human nodes. From the historical data, it seems that the jihad grew haphazardly around these hubs.
Surprisingly, there is no evidence of a comprehensive top-down recruitment program in the global jihad. The pressure comes from the bottom up, prospective young men eager to join the movement. I have detected no dedicated recruiter in my search, and I've looked for it. Nor is there any evidence of any recruitment committee with a full staff and its own budget in al Qaeda headquarters, nor any evidence of aggressive publicity campaigns to increase membership.
This absence of privileges kept its profile low enough, despite its size, that it avoided detection by us in this country. On the other hand, because of its haphazard growth, it left it vulnerable to the preference of the people who volunteered for it, so that left huge gaps in it.
Specifically, it's without a pool of members able to operate clandestinely in the U.S. and thus limits its ability to wage war on U.S. soil. This is the number one priority for al Qaeda or any of those organizations in the jihad.
The growth of jihad depends on its ability to gain new members. Anger at U.S. policy will increase the pool of potential candidates, but they still need to establish the crucial link with the jihad to become part of it. The degree of tolerance of the jihad also affects its rate of growth.
In a tolerant country, like most western democratic countries, or Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Malaysia and Tunisia, and Salafi mosques prior to 9/11, potential members could listen to people who'd boast of their connection to the jihad. "I was in Afghanistan. I trained. I'm a hero." And so people approached them and said, "Gee, we'd like to do the same. Can you connect us?" After 9/11, this has changed dramatically. People who could have provided a potential link now become reluctant to reveal their affiliation. The result of this growth pattern is a network that's very robust, but it's also very vulnerable to targeted attacks, namely against those what I call social hubs. If the hubs are destroyed, the system breaks down into isolated nodes. The jihad will be incapable of mounting sophisticated large-scale operation like the 9/11 attacks and be reduced to small attacks by singleton. These hubs are vulnerable because most communication goes through them. By following communication back to them, good police work would be able to identify and arrest these human hubs. This strategy has already shown considerable success.
In terms of policy recommendations, there are several. The greatest priority right now is extensive penetration of these movements. The best bet for penetration lies in recruitment from the pool of those who went through the training but decided not to join the jihad. That pool right now is being prosecuted for providing material support and resources to the jihad.
Before prosecuting them, I would suggest that all efforts should be made to try to turn them around and have them go back and join the jihad to penetrate the jihad. However, at present it's unlikely because of the fact that they fear prosecution. Perhaps a program of immunity in exchange for a good-faith effort to help fight the jihad may convince them to actually --
MR. KEAN: If you can start to wind up.
MR. SAGEMAN: I'm sorry?
MR. KEAN: To wind up.
MR. SAGEMAN: Yes, I'm almost done.
MR. KEAN: Thank you.
MR. SAGEMAN: It also requires the active support of American Muslim community. And I'm concerned here about some accounts of strong-arm governmental tactics antagonizing Muslim community in this country and elsewhere. We really have to repair those bonds.
Also I think that we need to elicit the help of peaceful movements, revivalist movements, such as Tablighi Jamaat, who would like to get rid of all the people who have penetrated them and are violent, just like we allied ourselves with socialists in Western Europe to fight the communists. Here, I think, it's the same strategy.
And I think that, as Dr. Fandy mentioned, we really need to clamp down on the anti-western and anti-American hate speech. And here I would suggest the establishment of an international anti-defamation league to monitor such speech and work with the press, religious organizations, governments and respective justice systems to condemn and control it. And there is some indication that now the Saudis, after the May 12th bombings, are starting to do that. The last item is the war in Iraq. This is -- now that we're there, it's going to become a litmus test of our policy in all the Middle East. If we succeed, great. It's going to be a model for other people to emulate. If we fail, it's going to increase our problems, mainly the pool of people going to fight us.
So despite our major victories, we have not yet defeated this movement. If we relax our vigilance, its network will spontaneously reconstitute. If we continue our fight based on understanding of its network and dynamics and with good police work and intelligence work, combined with more global measures, and especially international assistance, we should be able to conclusively eliminate it.
MR. KEAN: Thank you very much. Questions from the panel? Senator Gorton.
MR. GORTON: Last week there was an election in Kuwait. The franchise was limited to maybe one-third of the male residents of the country. And, of course, women were not allowed to vote. And the radicals won overwhelmingly. Now, it would be difficult to name a nation anywhere in the world, especially a Muslim nation, in which the influence of the United States has been more benign than it has been in Kuwait. It owes its existence to the United States.
Does this not indicate -- I ask all of you this, but I'm going to quote particularly in two places that Dr. Gunaratna says that radical Muslims are only a minuscule percentage of all Muslims. Now, I think most of your written statement, Doctor, is contrary to that, that the support, at least passive support, is much broader. If we have not succeeded in Kuwait in creating a society which is reasonably liberal, how in the world do we, or does any western country that is not Muslim, tell Muslims what true Islam is?
I'd like any of you to comment on that.
MR. FANDY: Just let me -- just because I was recently in Kuwait and I followed the elections and all of that, probably I can say something about it. Sir, one of the main lessons from the Kuwaiti elections is that, one, the Muslim Brotherhood lost and gained only two seats. And some Salafi radicals, the S-1, the Jihadist groups, certainly won seats, especially Walid al-Tabatabai and others, who are very much anti-U.S.
But it is very important to understand in this context that Kuwait, compared to the neighborhood -- at least women in Kuwait, I saw them driving their cars and running around. Yes, they did not get the suffrage. The emir of Kuwait put out a request for the parliament last time, and again the Islamist radical forces clamped down on this and women could not get the vote. But it is very important throughout the Middle East -- not Kuwait alone. One thing we are not getting thus far, whether it is in Iraq or Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, is that we need to hear gratitude for what we do in that part of the world. In fact, governments are unable to come forth and say, "We are friends of the United States."
And I think our problems throughout the Middle East is really about an approach that has developed over the years that somehow we tolerate Arab leaders telling us something in private rooms, and letting them deal with their public the way they want to. It is very important for friends of the United States to stand by the United States and speak out, that indeed Kuwait was liberated by the United States. None of the Muslim or the Arab world, if it were left to the devices of the Muslim or the Arab world, Kuwait would have been occupied until this day. It is very important that the governments come out and be grateful, even in Iraq it is very important that the Iraqi people come out and be grateful.
The question for Kuwait -- I like the idea that Kuwait is experimenting with democracy, whether it includes radicals or non-radicals. It is very important to bring these people in in a dialogue. The one problem in Kuwait which remains is the international element of the Muslim Brotherhood represented by a group named al-Islah, that basically has tremendous finances and capable to recruit. But Kuwait was good enough to refuse the spokesperson of al Qaeda to be handed from Kuwait to Iran recently. So it is very important to really push the government of Kuwait into really being forthcoming on the question of Islamists, and the question also of finances. But we have to realize that also they are limited in their means. We have to technically assess these things in tracing the finances that go to al Qaeda and other organizations.
But I wouldn't be very worried when some members, even if they are extremist in their views, are part of the parliament. I would be terribly worried about --
MR. GORTON: Well, they are a substantial majority of the parliament now, are they not?
MR. FANDY: I don't think they will affect -- they are right now probably 10 members of parliament, including -- still the government has the majority thus far. It's very important that we tell the government of Kuwait very clearly that gratitude is the essence of friendship. And if you talk publicly and increase the talk publicly about we are friends of the United States, and people come out and speak about their gratitude, then the media can affect everybody. But the Islamists and the radicals are practically taking advantage of an atmosphere where everybody is quiet about the friendship of the United States. So everybody is on the run, because leaders are unable to come out and say, "We are friends of the United States, and here are the reasons why, and here are the reasons why these guys are wrong." Right now nobody is telling them that they are wrong, whether it is in Saudi Arabia or Egypt or everywhere else.
MR. GORTON: That -- okay, go ahead.
MR. GUNARATNA: Sir, I want to make two points. One is I would still say that in the Muslim world it is minuscule of the Muslims that actively support terrorism. There may be a larger percentage that supports the various coffers that have been spearheaded by these organizations, but in terms of active support, the people who give money, the people who carry the explosive device and place it, it is still minuscule. If you look at worldwide support for violent organizations, whether it is in Northern Ireland in terms of support for the IRA, we have seen a maximum of 15 percent of the public will support organizations that engage in terrorism -- maximum 15 percent -- with one exception; that is, the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. About 60 percent of the Palestinians support suicide terrorism. That is because there is a very high percentage of the Palestinians who have been politicized and radicalized and mobilized by groups like Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.
But other than that conflict, I would say that most other conflicts we will find less than 20 percent of any population in any Muslim country will actively support terrorism. This may change with time. This may change, especially after 9/11, especially after U.S. intervention in Iraq. But prior to that, we have not seen evidence of greater support -- not sympathy, but support for terrorist organizations.
MR. SAGEMAN: May I make a comment? Although I defer to my esteemed colleagues, I think that the fear is probably greater than the reality here in Kuwait. What needs to be done is discrediting those extreme movements that are about to capture a lot of countries in the Muslim world. At this point I don't think we have a stronger popular support in the Middle East than Iran. And why? I think because the mullahs have been discredited in Iran. Their policy -- see, it's a promise that everything will become a like a paradise that is really attractive to all the population. They are faced with a repressive regime, they are faced with corrupt governments, and so they try something new, a little bit like Algeria tried to do. And once those people will be in power, you will see that there is absolutely no substance behind their policies.
Now, the key here is not to allow them to gather like in Iran all the levels of power to prevent other people from running a fair election, even if they do like Iran that they have no power whatsoever. So this really the one position that we have to insist that, fine, let fundamentalists take over the government, and after five years you will see the whole population turn around.
MR. GORTON: But isn't the fundamental problem of antipathy, whether highly radicalized and involving terrorism or passive distaste of the West a result of the three- to five-hundred-year reversal of roles in the world? And is there any possibility that there can be a true prosperity in the Middle East or the Muslim world, as long as 50 percent of the population can't effectively participate, the whole female part of the population? And how does that change, given the fundamental basis of Islam itself?
MR. SAGEMAN: Well, again, if you look at Iran where the women vote, this has changed quite a bit. It seems that the support really comes from the base and not really from the top government. Actually, if you eliminate the top 2,000 in the government you will have a very pro-American country. Remember, this is a country that had spontaneous demonstration in support of the United States right after 9/11 in the whole Middle East.
What happened is that after a period of decolonization a lot of Middle Eastern countries chose the secular socialist route, and this is what has been discredited, and this really led to the popularity of fundamentalist movements. They have to kind of go through a process of learning; otherwise, still the promise will be there and unless you can give in and give them what they want for a while and realize there is nothing there, they are not going to stop being attracted to it.
MR. GORTON: Dr. Fandy?
MR. FANDY: I just wanted to -- I think it is very important what is said here. The issue of women is very central for any reform. However, I would like you to keep in mind that really what attracted an immigrant like myself to the United States of America is the slogan of freedom. And our message should not be jumbled up. As we talk to the Muslim world, we have to be very clear that we are about freedom and democracy, whether that democracy produces radical or non-radical. Even if they were against us, as we know that there are institutions and mechanisms that allow them in, as well as allow them out. We have to strengthen institutions inside the Muslim world that provide mechanisms for people to come into the public arena and debate on the basis of one-man/one-vote, and make sure also that these governments have the mechanisms to lift them out, as well when they are voted out. Thus far these institutions do not exist. You might have one-man, one-vote, one-time when the Islamists take over. If you have these safeguards that indeed there is no chance for one-man, one-vote, one-time in the case of maybe Iraq in the future or somewhere else, we need to strengthen the mechanisms to allow these people to leave.
Now, our message, I think would be absolutely dangerous for the United States of America to say that we are for selective democracy. We are a democracy for this and for somebody when we are against it. We are for democracy across the board. We are for participation across the board. Otherwise, I think what we are suffering from in the Muslim world, sir, right now is that our message is jumbled up. Nobody in the Muslim world knows what it is our message on Iraq, what is our message on Islam. Do we hate all Islam or half of it, or radical only? I mean, we have not put out a strategically positioned message to the Muslim world telling them who we are and what we are all about.
Now, we can differ on tactical issues, specifically case-by-case basis like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, other things. But the overarching message I think, with all due respect, ought to be uniform on the question of freedom and democracy. And that's what makes the United States of America attractive to the rest of the world. As we get jumbled up, we lose the thrust that made this country great.
MR. GORTON: Yes?
MR. GUNARATNA: Sir, I believe that the situation can be reversed, that is to identify what went wrong. America has been very generous to the countries in the Middle East and in Asian countries, especially the Muslim countries. But there is no gratitude. It is because American assistance and the relationship that America has had with Middle East and Asia has been largely government-to-government. It is very important to invest more resources in public diplomacy, to educate the public formally and informally in those countries. And I think that there must be a counter to al Jazeera. There must be more work done to empower the non-governmental organizations in those countries. And I think that dealing with government-to-government has not created this good will.
One example is the U.S. government has been telling the Indonesian government prior to the attack in Bali, October 2002, that there is a terrorist network in Indonesia, but the U.S. government did not tell the Indonesian people. So, when Bali happened, the first reaction of the Indonesian people, or at least a segment of the people, was "our military has done it." The people were not aware. So, I think it is very important to invest in shaping the public opinion of the people in those countries, in public diplomacy.
MR. KEAN: Ms. Gorelick.
MS. GORELICK: It's been very, very interesting. I'd like to switch gears a little bit. The purpose of this hearing is really two-fold. One is to understand the enemy so that we are assured that we're taking all possible steps to meet that enemy. But the other is to determine why we didn't see and appreciate the threat.
And so I would like to start with you, Dr. Gunaratna, and go back to 1988. You make a very powerful point in your writing, and you've alluded to it this morning, that al Qaeda was essentially borne out of an emboldened Islamic movement, emboldened by the fact that it help take down the Soviet Union by defeating it in Afghanistan, which, of course, we as a nation supported. We armed them. We supported them. We helped create this very potent force. And as you point out, in 1988, this movement was potent, with no enemy remaining.
What did we think at the time these people and this movement was going to do? And what were the flaws, if any, in our foreign policy and in our intelligence, that led this group to turn its sights on us and our allies with seeming impunity? And also, I'd like to hear from you, Professor Fandy, on that.
MR. GUNARATNA: Madam, the al Qaeda was created before the Soviet troops left Afghanistan. The Soviet troops left Afghanistan in February 1989. Al Qaeda was created in March 1988. But certainly, al Qaeda became a very powerful organization because al Qaeda used the infrastructure it had built during the -- at the height of the Cold War to fight the Soviet army. So, certainly al Qaeda made use of the resources that came to Pakistan and Afghanistan for that purpose. America did the right thing by supporting the Mujaheddin to fight the Soviet army, but, however, the failure of the international community, including the United States, was after the Soviets retreated, withdrew from Afghanistan. The West turned a blind eye to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan, a front-line state in the war against the Soviets, was abandoned. The U.S. government threatened Pakistan, neglected Pakistan, neglected Afghanistan. And there were some Americans who told me at that time, "Well, no, let them fight among each other. It really doesn't matter to us, you see."
MS. GORELICK: If I might interrupt, as a student of that history, you can perhaps shed some light on what it was that we in the United States thought they would be doing. That is, is it your view that our view was they would simply fight among themselves and be of no threat to anyone else?
MR. GUNARATNA: Madam, the U.S. intelligence community had a very poor understanding of those movements. Al Qaeda was created in March '88, but if you look at, examine the CIA reports, until August 1998, none of the CIA reports refers to Osama Bin Laden's organization as al Qaeda. It is referring to Osama Bin Laden's organization as what? As the Islamic army, or as the UBL network. So, that means for 10 years this organization existed. And I think you invest something like $30 billion on your intelligence for a year, right? But they did not know even the accurate name of Osama's organization that had declared war on you in 1996.
So, I think that you need to invest more in human source penetration. You need to divert some of your resources that you are investing in your technical collection into agent handling operations.
MS. GORELICK: Professor Fandy. Thank you.
MR. FANDY: I don't think we have to take all the blame on this. On al Qaeda, I think, is like any organization, is really part of these transnational movements. Throughout that part of the world we have a great deal of -- a number of failed states throughout. And we are also were suckered in the process by other states in the neighborhood that gave us their radicals and say "They will fight your jihad in Afghanistan." In fact, they were emptying out their societies of this threat, and we carried that baby throughout. And then we left them high and dry in Afghanistan. We had no plans for what to do in Afghanistan and how to deal with al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda, if you look at the makeup of al Qaeda, who are the foot soldiers of al Qaeda? These are people who came from the GIA in Algeria, came from the jihad in Egypt, came from supporters of Bin Laden in Saudi Arabia, in Yemen, in also Europe. I mean, we have failed also to map what we -- mapped the Muslim world in Europe, if you will, we have no understanding of how to map the Muslim world in Europe into the societies of Europe, and where do they fit, and all of that. It's a very complex problem that requires a lot resources. It requires cooperation from local governments. I think we could have done well had we subcontracted, if you will, how to fight al Qaeda to local regimes if they were willing, because they know more and they understand them more. But somehow we failed to do so. I think it's very important to realize that we allowed offices here that are extremely dangerous in the United States, like Maktab al Khidmat in New York, or the Office of Jihad in New York and in other places. So, the blowback effect was expected, given our understanding that after the defeat of the Soviet Union, we had no understanding of the mop up operation. I mean, we are always -- and I think our pattern is clear even in Iraq -- we win wars, but we don't know how to win peace. And I think that's really a broader issue. We have to understand how to win the peace. I think we did it in Europe, but we failed afterwards. I mean, after World War II, I think if it weren't for this whole plan of restructuring Europe, we created a Europe that's sustainable. But after that, I think we did not pay attention to this, and probably even the Iraq example can be very dangerous unless we come up with the strategy of winning the peace.
MS. GORELICK: Thank you.
MR. SAGEMAN: May I address this issue. I turns out that of all three of us, I was the one who was over there at the time. I was the liaison officer with the Mujaheddin until I left Islamabad. And my view of the history of al Qaeda is actually quite different since I was there.
I must say that it didn't even come across our screen. They were an insignificant part of our fight against the Soviets. They were really a hindrance, as a matter of fact. Whenever I ever heard about the Arab Afghans, it was really in very derogatory terms by the Afghans themselves. They really were not part of that war. Now, they hijacked the notion that they were the ones who actually kicked the Soviets out of Afghanistan and, you know, they had good PR in that sense. But I don't really see that.
Now, if you can't have a linear view of history, as Dr. Gunaratna has, then you really discount the notion that the Gulf I happened. And I think al Qaeda is really more a result of Gulf I and having our troops in Saudi Arabia and a progressive -- progression in ideology as I try to really kind of outline in my statement -- the designation of the United States as the priority really did not come until the mid- 1990s. I mean, you cannot find that in 1988. I would completely disagree with that.
MS. GORELICK: That's a very interesting perspective, and I apologize for forgetting that part of your very interesting non-linear career. There really are not too many liaisons to the Mujaheddin who are also practicing psychiatrists -- (laughter) -- and we are very happy to have that peculiar combination before us today.
So, let me actually follow-up, if I might, because this is quite interesting. What you are saying is that while the infrastructure was in place so that at the time of, let's say a provocation arising out of our very strong presence in the Gulf after the Gulf War and particularly in Saudi Arabia, there really wasn't a decided threat to us between the fall of the Soviet Union and the victory, if you will, of the Mujaheddin and others in Afghanistan and the period in the mid-1990s.
But let me ask you then to put your liaison hat back on. Did we have the resources in place to identify the fact that in the 1990s, the mid-1990s, that threat had turned on us?
MR. SAGEMAN: I can only talk until I left the government in 1991, and at that point, we did not. As I said, those Afghan Arabs did not come on our screen. And having been involved, I kind of followed that situation until I left in '91. We did not know then. We had no penetration of them, to my knowledge. They just were not relevant at that time. They became afterwards, during the exile into Sudan, when we realized that there was a group there, and I think probably was the first time that they came on our screen. But this is speculation. I was already out of the government. I was out of the loop.
MS. GORELICK: Well thank you very much. I have a couple of other questions, if I might.
I'd like to return, Dr. Fandy, to the point -- Professor Fandy -- to the point that you made about whether we are really enforcing, if you will, the president's view that we need to know who is with us and who is against us. You make the point that the financial aspects of the media in the Middle East really ought to be studied by us and -- or by someone -- to determine what the support is for this massive propaganda machine focused on us. And this may not be a fair question to you, but here it is: Who do you say in the Middle East is with us, and who is against us?
MR. FANDY: I think to be absolutely honest, everybody in the Middle East is ambivalent about us and about themselves, that there is -- there is political risks that's calculated locally throughout the neighborhood that if they come out full swinging with the United States that probably they might lose their power. I mean, which is really sometimes not true. These are -- everybody talks about the Middle East as the unstable area in the world. I can tell you, this is the most stable area in the world if people can rule for 18 and 20 and 30 years, that's very stable. We haven't seen overthrowing of governments throughout. This is a very stable region and people can afford to be with us. I think many countries are with us, but also secretly with us. I think Egypt helped us a great deal on intelligence after September 11th, but also Egypt failed to come full force and be straightforward about their total support for us.
MS. GORELICK: So, on the -- if you were making a list that included public support and support in winning and helping to win the minds and hearts of the people, or at least presenting a fair presentation of the facts, you would find no one fully with us. Is that correct?
MR. FANDY: Well, I think no one is fully with us. Not only that, but there's something extra that needs to be carefully studied. I think there's something that can be called sort of "Saddam settlements in the Arab media" that need to be dismantled, and also Muslim brotherhood settlements within the Arab media that need to be dismantled. It is -- it is disheartening, if you study media organizations, that you find people who fought in Afghanistan now wearing three-piece suits and doing a talk show. This is -- this is preposterous. And I think we have -- we have the knowledge and we know who is who amongst this group. We know who is supporting what newspaper, who is financing it.
The problem is that sometimes we think that Arab media is very much like Western media. These are legitimate organizations somehow for freedom of expression. If you study certain newspapers that were created -- the number of newspapers created by Saddam Hussein throughout the Arab world and by the Iraqi intelligence services, from London, to Cairo, to Paris, to other places, these are front organizations. We shouldn't have any misgivings to make clear that al Qaeda, like any other organization, has a media wing to it. It has public affairs officers. And these officers exist and are implanted in all Arab media, in the same way that they had officers within Arab armies and governments and that sort that supported them.
MS. GORELICK: So, if I might summarize, your advice to us is not to superimpose our western notions of what the press is and what its ethics and values are on what we see in the Middle East and look at the funding and the actual activities of these organizations.
MR. FANDY: Who is who, and who is doing what? I mean, this is very important.
MS. GORELICK: I appreciate that. I have one final question. It was interesting to me that Dr. Gunaratna, in response to Senator Gorton's question, made a point of saying that the percentage of truly hostile individuals in the Muslim world is minuscule, even if support for their larger goals might be broader than that minuscule group.
So I'd like to address this question to Dr. Sageman, because I don't have a lot of experience in foreign terrorism, but I have a lot of experience in domestic terrorism. And the analogy is far from perfect, but before the Oklahoma City bombing, there was a growing domestic terrorist threat in the United States. It was a proliferation of people who were overtly hostile and who were militant and who said that they wanted to do violence within this country.
And what the government did in response was two-fold. One was to raise the level of opprobrium in society for that sort of activity. We and the culture made it clear that violence was just not an appropriate tactic. And, two, we infiltrated everybody we could possibly infiltrate. And the two tactics together, particularly after Oklahoma City, were, I think, quite successful.
My question to you is two-fold. One, should we just be worried about the minuscule group of actively hostile potential martyrs? Or do we need to be as worried about the societal support that I think Slade Gorton was getting at? And two, from your interviews and your sort of -- the texture you've drawn from the interviews you've done, what are the two or three best tactics we can use to diminish the potency of the violent groups?
MR. SAGEMAN: Well, if I knew that, the government would probably hire me. (Laughter).
MS. GORELICK: Well, we're considering that.
MR. SAGEMAN: Thank you. It's a very difficult two-pronged question. The first one is, when you have terrorism on your own soil, it hurts more. So the Saudis really were not concerned about 9/11. As a matter of fact, they dismissed it. "It's not us." But when Riyadh happened, it became real to them. So I'm not really sure that the domestic analogy can really be transplanted to the foreign one.
The second, we have to penetrate them, absolutely, just like we did here. But the key is really to prevent, even though the number of people are minuscule -- there's 1.3 billion Muslims; there may be at most 2,000 people who are willing to commit violence, which is an infinitesimal part of it -- there is still a fairly large pool of people who want to graduate to that level. And what's missing is that human link.
And what we're doing now is really the appropriate way of doing it, which is we don't really allow them to advertise freely in either Salafi mosques or in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else that "Gee, I'm part of the jihad; if you guys want to sign up, just come and see me afterwards and I'll make the arrangements." So by eliminating that link, we just keep a potential pool a potential pool and not the reality of terrorism.
MS. GORELICK: Thank you.
MR. GUNARATNA: Madam, could I?
MS. GORELICK: Certainly.
MR. GUNARATNA: No terrorist group can continue, can sustain, without flow of support. These organizations are continuing to grow like companies. They're growing because there is support. And that is why I said, during my presentation, that public diplomacy is very important. You have to invest in the public to create a societal norm and ethic against terrorism and to say that these organizations are not Koranic organizations, that they're heretical organizations, that they are misinterpreting and misrepresenting Islam, that they're presenting a corrupt version of Islam.
It is important to invest resources in that direction, because if you disrupt public support for these movements, these movements will die. They will perish. They will be very small in number and they will not be able to conduct this type of high-impact operations. I also want to go to the point that you raised with Professor Fandy about are they with the United States. If you look at since 9/11, there have been arrests of 3,100 al Qaeda members and al Qaeda supporters, key supporters, in 102 countries of the world.
These Muslim regimes in the Middle East and in Asia are perceiving the same threat that you are perceiving from these organizations, because if you examine their trajectory, initially they want to topple those states and create Islamic states.
Osama bin Laden said that it was too costly for them to conduct terrorist operations in the Middle East against those corrupt Muslim rulers and those false Muslim rulers and those corrupt Muslim governments and said that they must change their strategy.
Their changing their strategy was they said they must attack the head of the poisonous snake, the United States, that was protecting, shielding those false Muslim rulers and those corrupt Muslim governments. That is why they decided to strike the head of the poisonous snake, the United States.
You see, so in terms of the changing al Qaeda strategy of near targeting to distant targets and now returning back to the near targets, you see, it has generated equal amount of fear in those countries that they are being threatened by these groups.
So I think the United States have received measure of cooperation. Today the most important al Qaeda members, they are not detaining in Guantanamo Bay. They've been detained in secret U.S. facilities in those Middle Eastern and Asian countries, Muslim countries.
MS. GORELICK: Well, if I can just summarize so that I can pass the baton to my colleague here, your views, while not wholly consistent, are one that we are getting good cooperation, if quiet cooperation, from many countries because it is in their own self- interest to do so, particularly since the attacks in Riyadh.
But, number two, we are failing to get that support in the whole area of public diplomacy, represented by the media and otherwise, which is permitting, A, the flow of funds, and B, a degree of public acceptance of the kind of violence that has to be brought to an end. And I think that those are very strong take-aways for us today, and I thank you for your very helpful answers to my questions.
MR. KEAN: Thank you. Congressman Roemer.
MR. ROEMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I'd just like to, for 15 seconds, indulge our committee for just a comment to you and our distinguished vice chairman. Yesterday, as a chair and vice chair, as a Republican and as a Democrat, you went forward in a public press conference, and in your usual artful and diplomatic way, you both went forward with velvet gloves on and insisted that this commission get more cooperation from some of the agencies that have been dealing with us over the last several months and respond more forcefully to our aggressive search for facts and for substance and for information.
I strongly applaud that bipartisan effort. It shows the consistency and the force of, I think, our commission on this point. I might have used some boxing gloves rather than the velvet gloves that you used. But with particular reference to the Department of Defense and to the CIA and FBI and main Justice, unless we start getting more of not just the document flow but important, substantive documents, it's going to be very difficult for us to forcefully move forward, and not just have important academics appear before us, but have people like Dr. Berger, who might have been in a position to know why we might have been slow in the 1990s to identify al Qaeda; Dr. Rice, currently in the Bush administration, to answer some of these questions about how the Bush administration responded. That's very important for this commission, and I hope we can get the White House's cooperation to forcefully move these facts forward.
Dr. Gunaratna, you studied in my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, at the University of Notre Dame. You know how direct we can be in the Midwest. Let me start with a question with you, and then I want to get to one question for all three panelists.
Mohammad Jamal Khalifa is an individual who is thought by some analysts and intelligence experts to have a direct link to al Qaeda. He's a Saudi. He is someone who was mentioned in a January 21st, 2003 Christian Science Monitor article.
In that article, you're quoted -- let me read your quote. Quote: "Had the U.S. followed the Khalifa case in the Philippines, I believe September 11th could have been averted," unquote. Extremely powerful words saying this one case was so important with an individual connected to all this that if the U.S. had done their job, things might have turned out differently.
First of all, do you stick by that statement, that quote? Secondly, if you do, factually, in detail and with substance, why is that true?
MR. GUNARATNA: Sir, Mohammad Jamal Khalifa is the brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden. He arrived in the Philippines in 1988 and he became the first director, the founding director, of the International Islamic Relief Organization of Saudi Arabia. He used the IIRO to funnel al Qaeda funds to the Abu Sayyaf group and the Moral Islamic Liberation Front. He also hosted Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the brother- in-law of Ramzi Mohammad Yousef, the first World Trade Center bomber.
And what we have seen is that the old Plan Bojinka, the plan that al Qaeda had in 1994 to destroy 12 U.S. airliners over the Pacific simultaneously, that operation was the genesis of 9/11 operation. If you read the interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, who is now in U.S. custody, he has very clearly stated how 9/11 was planned, that it originated from old Plan Bojinka, that plan.
MR. ROEMER: Have you had access to those interviews and that information on Khalid Shaikh Mohammad?
MR. GUNARATNA: Yes, sir. In fact, in that debriefing, he says very clearly that he put a bolt, a metal bolt, in his shoe and he mounted -- to test the security of the airports in the Far East. He traveled through to those airports -- Seoul, Hong Kong, various other airports. So you can see that in the planning of 9/11, the original seeds was out of Philippines. And, in fact, they did the first dry run for old Plan Bojinka, where Ramzi Mohammad Yousef, in fact, flew from Manila to Sibu on a Philippine airline plane and he placed a nitroglycerine device under his seat. He got off the plane in Sibu and there was an explosion when the plane was coming close to Japan, and it killed one Japanese, injured seven or eight others, made a hole in the fuselage. The plane was going to Narita Airport in Tokyo, but the skilled pilot landed in the Naha Airport in Okinawa.
And you can see that they were very serious. And the Americans were quite happy with the outcome of old Plan Bojinka because they arrested Ramzi Hamad (ph) Yousef in Pakistan. They arrested Walid Amin Khan Shah (ph) in Malaysia. They arrested Abdul Hakim Murad, the first al Qaeda pilot, in the Philippines. But they failed to arrest Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the mastermind of that operation.
MR. ROEMER: But specifically, Dr. Gunaratna, if the U.S. understands the Bojinka plot, that planes could be used as weapons, how then, in not only understanding that plot, not only going back and knowing that a group had attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, how do you then avert 9/11 by following this one particular individual?
MR. GUNARATNA: Sir, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa was in the Philippines and he was in touch with this group. But Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the more important man.
MR. ROEMER: So you say you get -- eventually you get Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and that prevents 9/11 from occurring?
MR. GUNARATNA: Absolutely, because Khalid Sheik Mohammed was the mastermind of 9/11. He organized that whole operation. The first planning meeting of 9/11 was held from the 5th to the 8th of January in Kuala Lumpur. Who chaired that meeting? Khalid Shaikh Mohammed chaired that meeting. The first two hijackers to enter the United States they were present at that meeting. So the 9/11 operation is an extension of old Plan Bojinka. So the players of old plan Bojinka, they were not all arrested.
MR. ROEMER: Let me pursue that line of questioning in a minute. Let me go to Dr. Fandy for a question as well. Dr. Fandy, a former CIA agent by the name of Robert Baer, writes in the May Atlantic Monthly issue that particularly he is concerned about Saudi Arabia's support for fundamentalism and for terrorism abroad. He states in this article many things. But one of them, he claims that the Saudis have transferred 500 million to al Qaeda over the past decade. Now, do you think there is any kind of credibility to a figure like that? How would you be able to track that? And how would you measure the Saudi support with the United States for fighting terrorism prior to 9/11?
MR. FANDY: To just be absolutely honest, I just don't know this figure. I did not come across this figure. And also the idea of wire transfer or transfer funds, I can probably say throughout the Arab world people use cash and not banking systems, so it's very difficult to actually trace it, unless the origin of the money came from a Muslim country. Unless there is something that is really -- it -- the idea that it -- I haven't seen from my study of Saudi Arabia that people use checks, or even when they use bank deposits, this is not a really large group of the society. Most people get their salaries in cash. So the idea of wire transfers -- that amount of money has to originate somewhere else. It could have connection to Saudi Arabia --
MR. ROEMER: I think he insinuates, as Dr. Gunaratna did with respect to Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, that some of the money was funneled through charities and other --
MR. FANDY: That's right. I think that's the very central question for really looking at Saudi Arabia, is to look at these charities. And I talked to Saudis about this in interviews in terms of what do they think of that. And I think sometimes they come off as these are the unintended consequences of bad politics, that somehow they decided to upgrade Saudi Arabia's image in the Muslim world; therefore they tried to help the poor with schools, with other places, not knowing that the ideology as well as the manning of these organizations was hijacked by al Qaeda members. So there is -- I have no way of assessing whether this is an honest claim or a dishonest claim, but I would say that probably given what I know about Saudi Arabia that this is probably the unintended consequences of bad policy and lack of foresight and long-term planning. You see mosques and other things being supported by Saudi Arabia, even in the United States, but Saudi students use them for four years when they are here and then they are taken over by other people. So there is no follow- up for these organizations.
Well, money from Saudi Arabia goes -- went to various groups of the mujaheddin -- there was certain cultural support that this is a good thing to fight the Soviet Union; also money went to organizations that were fighting in Europe, in Bosnia to support their Muslim brothers and their co-religionists, if you will, who were embattled in Europe. Yes, a lot of money went into that. But how it is being used and who used it it's very difficult to actually say certain money was authorized by let's say officials or something of that sort. But certainly there was a sentiment in Saudi Arabia that at the time was encouraging people to support these charities.
Now, I think this is a very important issue to think about as we think about probably phase two in the war on terrorism, really sort of drying up these resources or drying up the swamps, if you will. We are looking at really educational institutions and charities. We are looking at really the software of the Muslim world, if you would. I mean, the hardware and the money and everything else can be looked at very carefully, but the software, the educations, what is in the Muslim world's head, how people are being raised and educated and other things -- this is our task. And that requires investigating very carefully educational institutions, investing very carefully charities, investigating very carefully textbooks and whatever goes into that bad software. We have to rewrite that software, if you will. And if we don't rewrite it, nobody else will rewrite it.
MR. ROEMER: So in response to Commissioner Gorelick's question about emphasizing public diplomacy, emphasizing non-government-to- government aid, emphasizing more help for the types of schools that can educate young poor children -- not in madrassas but in other ways -- that is extremely important to U.S. efforts in the future. On the same hand, some of the charitable work that supports those efforts can be diverted for terrorism, and that money can be raised in places like Saudi Arabia or, as Dr. Gunaratna talked about, in the Philippines, and diverted Abu Sayyaf.
MR. FANDY: Or United Arab Emirates and other places. The main issue for public diplomacy is that we have done a lot for the world. I think our problem is that you find schools that were built in Egypt or in Indonesia or in other places -- the people took credit for these schools, if you read the names of these schools, what they were called, these were not called American schools or came to you through the assistance of the United States. It is called Sheik So-And-So School, or this Muslim radical leader. So we are paying the money, but the branding of these schools is going to somebody else. And we are very much like the Ottoman Empire in many ways. We do not follow (what the path is ?) that we are supporting throughout the whole world what they are doing. We visit them once a year, and that's it. We don't do a follow-up. And empires, sir, should have always to have Philby and Shakespeare and Lawrence of Arabia and people who know the realm of the empire. We don't know the realm that we are claiming to have control over. We don't have the expertise, languages and other things. And all of this really has to be put in place. We have to follow up. We have to follow our money. Even our money can go to al Qaeda, believe it or not. So it is very important to just do these -- create institutions and systems of follow-ups to know where our charities are -- our own charities -- are going. Our aid sometimes goes to corrupt systems that find their way to also illegitimate use of our own money.
So in many ways unless we have -- we have to understand this big picture. There is a phase two of war on terrorism that is drying the swamps, and here are the mechanisms that are in place. I think most of us get worried about tactical small anecdotal evidence and try to draw the big picture from that. That's not a good approach to it. The whole plumbing system in the Muslim world is broken, and the Muslim world was, if you pardon the expression, was flushing in its own neighborhood for years, and we tolerated it. And now September 11th they flushed and it came to New York. Unless we fix that sink and that system and that plumbing system, it is our duty. Nobody else will fix it. People will enjoy drinking their bad water, because they have been drinking it for years.
MR. ROEMER: I appreciate your testimonies and your direct proposals to try to fix the plumbing systems with other governments, with our bilateral programs, with other governments, with our relationships with other governments, and all those governments in the Middle East should be on the table. I think the U.S., looking medium and long term should look at ways to give incentives and carrots and sticks to Egypt and Saudi Arabia to try and fix some of those problems.
Dr. Sageman, let me end with you. I know my colleagues are anxious to ask you questions. You have intimately looked at the structure of al Qaeda, and what's interesting about your testimony is you look at these pretty sophisticated individuals, fairly well educated, coming from middle class backgrounds without a lot of family, historical problems, that are themselves in Europe, in Hamburg. And they eventually come up with this plot, combined with muscle, so-called muscle on the airplanes coming over from Saudi Arabia, about 15 of the hijackers come in. They mix together in the United States, and pull off one of the most devastating attacks in our nations history, and kill over 3,000 people. It's a group of very sophisticated people coming with some other people from other backgrounds. Is al Qaeda capable of this kind of plot, pulling this kind of plot off successfully here and now today? MR. SAGEMAN: I don't think so at this point. But if we relax in the future --
MR. ROEMER: Why?
MR. SAGEMAN: Well, because are far more vigilant right now, and perhaps we might have swung the other way, where anybody who looks a little bit strange is now a guest of the FBI. But this will fade with time. People really get tired of being so vigilant. So I am not saying that in a few years from now they won't be able to do it. Right now today, no.
MR. ROEMER: In the United States?
MR. SAGEMAN: In the United States.
MR. ROEMER: But somewhere else they could. Dr. Gunaratna, do you agree with that?
MR. GUNARATNA: Sir, there are three reasons why al Qaeda has failed to mount large-scale terrorist operations in the United States since 9/11. One is heightened public vigilance. As long as the public are alert, terrorist groups cannot plan, prepare and organize a big terrorist attack. Second is that there is unprecedented security, intelligence and law enforcement cooperation in the United States and by the U.S. agencies with agencies outside the United States, including in the Asian and the Middle Eastern countries. And the third reason is that today al Qaeda has been aggressively hunted. When you hunt the terrorist organization relentlessly, that group does not have the time, space or the resources to plan, prepare and execute big operations like 9/11. So if you can maintain these three elements you will not suffer another attack of that scale.
MR. ROEMER: And that's not to preclude the smaller, less expensive types of attacks that we see on soft targets around the world?
MR. GUNARATNA: Certainly sir you will continue to witness attacks of the scale of Bali, of Mombassa, of Casablanca, of Riyadh in the next few years, because al Qaeda and its associate groups are still able to plan, prepare and execute those operations, especially in the poorer countries of the world -- of Asia, of Africa, of the Middle East, of the Caucasus.
MR. ROEMER: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. KEAN: Senator Cleland.
MR. CLELAND: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you and the staff for assembling the most profound group of witnesses I've ever seen to talk about the enemy that attacked us and the rationale for that and the understanding that we need to deal with this in the future. I would say that if the government doesn't hire all of you by sunset today -- (laughter) -- they're making a big mistake.
Just a couple of one-liners here. Dr. Sageman, as liaison out of Pakistan to the mujaheddin in Pakistan and as a psychiatrist, I just want to know how long have you been feeling this way? (Laughter.) I'm just kidding.
MR. SAGEMAN: You should ask my wife. (Laughter.)
MR. CLELAND: Professor Fandy, I was fascinated with one little tidbit that you threw out, and that is -- and I just want to verify it -- that the Muslim Brotherhood has an office in Qatar, where our CENTCOM headquarters is, and in other foreign countries like Indonesia and Virginia. (Laughter.)
MR. FANDY: Virginia is not a foreign country.
MR. CLELAND: I know. Is that really true?
MR. FANDY: Well, I think -- I mean, the Muslim Brotherhood is the mother of all these movements in the final analysis. If you go and trace all the ideas and the ideology that drove these 15 hijackers to drive these planes into the World Trade Center, it is the ideas of Sayed Kutub bin Abu Ali (ph) Meldoodi (ph) and all of that that came from the Muslim Brotherhood. Yes, one of the major figures of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders is Sheikh al Qaradawi, who lives in Qatar, who is the man actually who selected who is who among the Muslim Brotherhood members who became the staff of al Jazeera station. He's a very influential figure in Qatar -- very central recruiter. He chairs also the Muslim fatwa in Sweden, believe it or not, with the Muslim Brotherhood in Sweden, creating these offices. So when there was the change of the guard last year who heads the Muslim Brotherhood after the death of their grand murshid, these men were consulted, from Lebanon to France to Sweden, to Qatar to other places. There is a Muslim Brotherhood International, if you will, that is an assembly of the men who were driven out of Egypt during Nasser and stayed -- from Saudi Arabia and other places in the world.
I stand by that statement, sir. I mean, mostly al Qaeda and all these Islamic groups, when you see their relationship with America, they are not standing next to us as number three. They are right there on our shoulders. There was a Muslim Brotherhood organization that I came across in 1992 that was in Virginia and Maryland as well. So there is an extensive network of Islamic movements across the United States that is not being studied, and it's not been studied very carefully.
One thing that I would like to emphasize here as we think of Muslims in America, some of us started to really look at Islam in the same way as Christianity is, so we look at a mosque in the same way we look at a church. That's not true. There are Muslims who go only once a week to the mosque. The mosque is not a social organization. The mosque is a place where you receive your religious guidance, but not necessarily -- the mosque is not the parallel of the church, but somehow the Islamic organizations made it clear to us that there is this sanctity of front-door mosques if you will and things of that sort. These are open for investigation, and one should look into how mosques are being built -- and where the money came from.
MR. CLELAND: Well, thank you. I want to give some thoughts about Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. In listening to your conversation, I have been thinking about the quote, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave," particularly in this murky world of covert or special operations and dealing with guerrillas, suicide bombers and the like. As a Vietnam veteran, I am painfully aware that during World War II the OSS actually dropped supplies to Ho Chi Minh and his Viet men, because they were fighting our enemy at the time, Japan, and the Japanese were in formerly French Indochina. And in effect Ho Chi Minh was our guy, because he was fighting our enemy. And, matter of fact, it was Ho Chi Minh who was a big fan of Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence and could quote it extensively. As a matter of fact, about the point, about getting our word out and our message out about freedom and democracy, I was talking to one of the staffers yesterday who is an expert on the Middle East, he said, One of the best things we could do is just circulate the Declaration of Independence throughout the Middle East to the population there. And, by the way, I was thinking about Slade Gorton's question about only men could vote in Kuwait, and only a third could vote, and women couldn't vote, elected some clerics and so forth. I thought about the history of our own country -- that was 1776 and the terrorists were Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington.
But the point being though that at one time Ho Chi Minh was our guy. After the Second World War, Roosevelt did not want to go back in and support France and French Indochina. He did not believe in the colonization of that area -- Churchill did. Ultimately we wound up supporting the French as they went back in. Ho Chi Minh and the Viet men fought the French. We ultimately supported them through about 80 percent of that war, and they lost it. We got in there, and I was pat of the 10-year American war in formerly French Indochina, and in effect fought Ho Chi Minh's North Vietnamese and VC. Now, interestingly enough, the Russians supported the Ho Chi Minh. Well, you go now to Afghanistan. There what a tangled web we weave. We are supporting the mujaheddin, because they are fighting the Russians, who are our enemy, and Afghanistan becomes their Vietnam, and we are supporting the guys that now we call the terrorists, who then we abandon as the mujaheddin, and now they turned into the people that we are now fighting -- we are calling them terrorists.
Interestingly enough, too, now in the Iraq-Iranian war, silently and tacitly we supported Saddam Hussein because of the extremists that took over Iran and captured American prisoners and so forth and so forth, and now then Saddam Hussein became the bad guy and we took him out.
Now, here's the question: In this massive world of 1.3 billion Muslims, with obviously an avant garde Osama bin Laden and his terrorist organizations and other terrorist organizations springing up -- and, Dr. Sageman, did you say in many ways Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda kind of got a jump start after the desert war in 1991?
I'd like to read to you a question -- an actual statement of Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, who is on the Foreign Relations Committee, and my fellow Vietnam veteran, a statement that he made before the National Press Club June 19, 2003, because what I am trying to get at here, is you all described a milieu in which the United States functions either well or ill, particularly in this troubled part of the world, the Middle East, Senator Hagel says, "The June 2003 survey of the Pew" -- P-E-W -- "Global Attitudes Project should be an arousing alarm clock, not merely a wake-up call to all Americans regarding the perception of America in the world today."
You're talking about America not getting credit, no gratitude and so forth. The Pew project relied on public opinion surveys from 44 nations in the summer and fall of last year and further data from 21 countries in April and May of this year for a total survey sample of 54,000 people.
The survey finds a disconcerting message regarding American leadership and credibility. From the Pew poll Senator Hagel quotes, the Iraq war has widened the rift between Americans and Western Europeans, further inflamed the Muslim world, softened support for the war on terrorism, and significantly weakened global support for the pillars of the post-World War II era, the U.N. and the North Atlantic Alliance.
Isn't that the kind of news that Osama bin Laden and the radical Islamic extremists would welcome? And isn't that actually creating more problems for us, more terrorism, more potential for attacks against the West? And isn't this bad news? And is the Iraq war making it more difficult to get after the terrorists, or is it making it easier, especially since we're there with a quarter of a million troops in Kuwait and Iraq, with no end in sight and no exit strategy? Dr. Gunaratna?
MR. GUNARATNA: Sir, terrorists themselves cannot master large- scale support. They do not have the organization to do that. It is often the whole reaction of states, of state actors, that lead to the generation of large-scale support. That is why, when we fight terrorist organizations, we must ensure that there is no overreaction or there is no under-reaction, because if we do not react properly to a terrorist group, the terrorists will think we are weak and they will attack us.
That is why, after U.S.S. Cole, no effort -- at least when East Africa was attacked, you fired 70 cruise missiles. It did not have a positive impact. But after U.S.S. Cole, you did not do anything. So it is important for there to be some action. But there must not be underreaction or overreaction.
The overreaction to 9/11 was U.S. intervention in Iraq. Iraq never posed a direct and immediate threat to the United States. It was al Qaeda and the associate groups of al Qaeda that posed a direct and immediate threat to the United States. So U.S. intervention in Iraq, to get rid of one man, you invaded his country. It was, again, the failure of the intelligence community to get rid of that one man.
You do not have to risk all those troops by going into a country to get rid of one man. You said that we took him out. You're referring to Saddam Hussein. You said, "We took him out." No, sir, you have not taken him out. He is still there. He's still challenging you. As long as the core and the penultimate leadership of any government or any organization, whether in exile or not, is active, that organization will pose a threat to you.
So what we are looking at is U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was fully justified. People fully supported you. But your intervention in Iraq, you have not received that scale of support. In fact, that intervention has not earned good will toward America. It has earned some criticism and some displeasure. And the terrorist organizations will harness that displeasure and that resentment and that anger in the Muslim world, and they will grow in strength and size and they will become a greater threat to you with time.
By going into Iraq, you have not reduced the threat of terrorism to the United States in any way.
MR. CLELAND: And, in your opinion, maybe increased it?
MR. GUNARATNA: Certainly. Saddam Hussein, with finance and perhaps with access to certain special weapons, may be a greater threat today than he was in power in that country. We could have had a different attitude, a different response to him at that time, than in a day like today.
MR. CLELAND: And we have 240,000 soldiers at risk in Kuwait and Iraq now.
MR. GUNARATNA: So also we must look at the picture, the overall picture in the Middle East. Overnight, the United States has become the immediate neighbor of Iran and of Syria, and we must never forget that in 1983 Iranian-sponsored Lebanese Hizbollah attacked; conducted a coordinated, simultaneous suicide attack against the French and the American bases. You lost 241 American troops, which was the single biggest loss you suffered in such an attack prior to 9/11.
MR. CLELAND: That was Lebanon, right?
MR. GUNARATNA: Yes, Lebanon. MR. CLELAND: The Khobar Towers.
MR. GUNARATNA: No, no, sir. I am referring to the attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut.
MR. CLELAND: Yes.
MR. GUNARATNA: Hizbollah conducted a suicide attack. The point that I want to make here is that the disposition of Iran and toward Syria has not dramatically changed toward the United States. Today the United States is the immediate neighbor of Iran and Syria. You are in an area where you do not have very good friends.
MR. KEAN: We've got --
MR. CLELAND: Dr. Sageman?
MR. SAGEMAN: Very short. Basically, Senator, you've increased the pool of potential terrorists, but you still --
MR. CLELAND: Increased the pool of potential terrorists?
MR. SAGEMAN: But you still need to make the linkage for Osama bin Laden to be able to tap into it. He still needs that link. There is no direct translation from anger against the United States to being a terrorist. You still need the training. You still need the resources. And unless you have that link, you're not going to increase terrorists.
MR. CLELAND: Thank you. Professor Fandy.
MR. FANDY: I think I have the opposite view on this one. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and Ayman Zawahiri are born in the Arab and Muslim context. And after people in Iraq saw the mass graves that Saddam Hussein left, actually there is a change of opinion. What we need is the support of states to actually come out and condemn Saddam Hussein for what he did to the Iraqi people.
I think the American presence in the region is reassuring for its stability. There is no single state on its own. And we've seen in 1990, we waited for the Arab solution for the reversal of the invasion of Iraq to Kuwait; it never materialized. I think it is the responsibility of the superpower to ensure the stability of that part of the world.
I think taking out Saddam Hussein and his regime will encourage Arab states to become part of a regional arrangement for peace solutions that regulates relationship amongst all the Middle Eastern states. And also as we push within the new agenda of reform, we can regulate the relationship between governments and their own people. And with a package like this, probably we can -- (inaudible) -- if you will, for the issue of terrorism. I'm not sure that that will increase the risks. I think the biggest story during the Iraq war is that there was no -- throughout, there was an Arab country, a major country, being attacked; its leadership has been changed. I have yet to hear of one attack on a single soft target for America during that war. That was the biggest story. There was tacit support for that war in the people -- on the part of the people who were concerned.
Syria draws a lesson from this war. Iran is drawing lessons from this war. All the neighborhood are drawing lessons from this war. People know now that America is a Middle Eastern country, if you will. It has borders with Syria and whatever it is, and it can attend even Arab League meetings. So it is -- now the Middle East is our responsibility. We have to fix it. We cannot worry about -- we cannot leave -- we cannot afford to fail in the Iraq.
MR. CLELAND: Young Americans are being killed every day. And it seems like in a few weeks more Americans will have been killed after the president, in effect, declared victory than during the actual combat. And this seems to be unending. That seems to me to look more like Vietnam and Somalia than Desert I. And I just wonder if you feel -- how long is this going to go on? How many Americans are we going to lose before this thing gets cleared up?
MR. FANDY: I think there is a threshold in terms of what kind of numbers can we afford. But it is very important to get Middle Eastern states themselves to stand by us shoulder to shoulder, that indeed they support this operation. Thus far we do not have the open support, and we need to get that.
Secondly, I think we are ambiguous about Iraq like we are ambiguous about everything else. Iraqis and Middle Easterners want to hear probably from America that we own Iraq for the next three years and come back to us after three years and we'll give it to you. But right now nobody knows when will America leave this force of occupation.
So that whole ambiguous atmosphere, that's not clear; it's creating in the minds of many Iraqis that this might go for a long, long time. We need to give these people a timetable as to when we're going to put together an Iraqi government and when we are leaving.
MR. CLELAND: Well, right now the Third Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia owns part of Iraq, and some of those are getting killed every day. It's one of my concerns.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. KEAN: Thank you very much, Senator. We're running out of time, so I'll ask the commissioners to ask a quick question, and if you could confine your answers as concisely as possible. Senator Gorton.
MR. GORTON: One specific question. One or more of you used the phrase "failed states" in connection with at least part of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. And I suppose if there were a gold medal for failed states, it would be Somalia. And several of you have mentioned that Somalia, of course, now is a source or a base for terrorism.
What would your advice be to the United States with respect to its views toward Somalia? Should we be attempting anything there to bring democracy, justice, a reduction of a terrorist base in that most failed of all states?
MR. GUNARATNA: Sir, the United States must work with the other states in the Horn of Africa trying to bring stability in Somalia. Already al Qaeda maintains a presence in Somalia. A few months ago the CIA took a very important al Qaeda man out of Somalia. Of course, that operation was successful because the CIA was able to work with a certain faction in Somalia that cooperated with the U.S. government.
I believe that the other governments in the Horn of Africa will assist and work together with the United States to ensure that stability is restored in Somalia. It is very important to do what it takes to prevent countries from failing, because it is in such countries that terrorist organizations will base themselves. Terrorists are like sharks. They repeatedly move in search of such opportunities where there is a lack of law and order and where they can recruit, establish training camps, and continue to fight.
MR. GORTON: Any other comments? MR. FANDY: I think Somalia is paramount for the United States; from the history of the Cold War until today, strategically important. During the Cold War it was strategically important. Somalia -- (inaudible) -- and all that trade in the Red Sea. It's very important for us strategically, but also it's very important to show that indeed America cares. And we do care.
I think we cared about the Muslim world in Europe, and we have not made the case for that. It is very important to make the case that also we care in putting together another Muslim country and make it work. Otherwise I would agree with my colleague that it will be safe haven for all these terrorist organizations.
MR. SAGEMAN: Well, let me put a little spoke in those wheels. Despite being a failed state, Somalia still cooperated with the CIA in arresting that al Qaeda officer. It's not so much the failed state, because there are a lot of failed states in Africa, and they don't really seem to be all that promoting terrorism. They have their own problems; Congo, for instance, being one, or even Nigeria, but Nigeria is not a failed state.
The point is that even in failed states you can work with various factions. It's not the failed state itself. It's really the failed state that allows training bases to be there for skills and resources to develop, to develop large terrorist operation. You can very well work with the various factions in failed states to prevent that from happening. So, it's not so much a failed state itself, it's the opportunity that they allow in terms of developing those bases.
MR. GORTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. KEAN: Thank you, sir. Commissioner Ben-Veniste.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I would like to commend the staff for assembling a series of panel, this panel in particular, for providing us with a very stimulating discussion this morning.
I would like to like to pick up on the subject of the future of terrorism and -- which is, of course, a central issue to our mandate as a commission -- and address my question to Professor Fandy, who talked earlier about the importance of winning the peace in Iraq. And I would like you to comment on Dr. Sageman's statement that it was the U.S. force deployment in Saudi Arabia following Gulf War I that substantially stimulated the growth of al Qaeda. On the one hand, we have this set in motion by reason of the invasion of Iraq a full menu of disparate forces within that country seeking hegemony or at least a substantial say in the future of Iraq. We have the Kurds in the north, the interests of the Turks, the Shi'as in the south, the influence of Iran to be dealt with, the clerical movement that is strong and afoot, the disenfranchised and unemployed Sunnis who were formerly in power and that now don't have a paycheck, many of them from the army. All of this militates for our need to stay the course and sort all of this out.
Yet, at the same time, our mere presence in Iraq in these very substantial numbers stimulates the recruitment of jihadists, if not to al Qaeda but to other groups which may not yet be on our collective screens as we go forward.
How do we deal with this dichotomy of it being both a benefit to have removed this tyrant and yet at the same time unleashing forces in that part of the world which will, perhaps, as we have heard today, greatly stimulate the recruitment and growth of other jihadist movements?
MR. FANDY: Well, sir, the question is if we zero in on Iraq and look at the very specific data about Iraq, we know that really in Iraq we do not have a problem that's a, in Kurdistan. America does not have a problem in Kurdistan. In fact, you know, the Kurds were celebrating the U.S. independence day, and like -- I mean, there was a huge celebration --
MR. BEN-VENISTE: The Turks were not celebrating --
MR. FANDY: The Turks were not celebrating next door.
There's also a general stereotype that the Shi'a of the South are very much influenced by Iran and very much can turn the whole thing sour. In fact, the level of terrorism in the southern part of Iraq is very limited. The leader of the Shi'a, Sheikh al-Hakim, Bakqr al-Hakim, and others put out at least moderate statements about their view of the change of forces in Iraq.
The problem of Iraq is really about the Sunni center that lost its control of power over the 30 years of Saddam's rule and before. These are the people who are kicking and screaming for that change of power distribution inside Iraq. So, to really exaggerate that question and make it -- this is the question of the whole Iraq, there are a variety of attitudes in Iraq about the U.S. I would say the most recent polls that I read, it was only 20 percent were not grateful. The rest of the Iraqis saw the United States as a liberating force --
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Well, without delving too deeply because we don't have the time, would it be fair to say that without the United States military presence, we would be in the situation, or Iraq would be in a situation where it would be very likely that all of these elements would soon be at each other throats? My question goes to Dr. Sageman's observation, and perhaps Dr. Gunaratna shares this in view of his earlier comments, that this has provided a very substantial recruiting poster, if you will, given the history of recruitment post the deployment of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia following the Gulf War for future jihadist and militant and vicious attacks on our own populations? MR. FANDY: The different -- the different poster -- the poster that people read also in the region, that the United States is here and here to change bad regimes that committed huge crimes against their own peoples. And there are also a lot of recruitment for that that's going on.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: So, there may be a win-win situation for the jihadists and the pro-American sentiments, such as -- (inaudible) --
MR. FANDY: I think the jihadists are the losers in the Iraq thing. I think it shows that the United States is capable and willing to commit its force to actually -- after September 11th, the whole strategic environment changed, that we are forceful about the deployment of our force -- we're no longer reluctant. And that is a very strong message.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Could we have a brief comment from each of the other two?
MR. GUNARATNA: Sir, I disagree. I believe that Iraq has the potential to become the new theater for jihadists, to psychologically and physically for them to train and to conduct operations against the United States, its allies and its friends. And I believe that the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq -- Syrian and Iran has not done much, and I believe that these fighters are now coming mostly from North Africa, from the Middle East, and with time there will be people who will come from Asia, from Europe, the cradle and the convert Muslims from the Caucuses. And unless the United States takes decisive to stem, to control the flow of these foreign fighters and also to stabilize the situation in Iraq, Iraq will become a very important, a very significant theater for these jihadists.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Do you prescribe more force?
MR. GUNARATNA: More force, and also more opportunity.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Smarter force?
MR. GUNARATNA: And also more diplomacy. More diplomacy. You have to target and destroy Saddam Hussein and his key people who are inside that country. You have to deal with Iran and Syrian in such a way, where the flow of these foreign fighters will be blocked. If you do not do that, you will continue to have more U.S. troops dying in Iraq every day, and the number will increase.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Dr. Sageman, do you agree?
MR. SAGEMAN: No. Actually, I sit on the fence. Before you can have almost offered me a job here; now you can offer me Paul Bremer's job. Thank you. I think the two scenarios are plausible. And Iraq is both a threat and a promise. And that really very much depends on what Paul Bremer is going to do. They're very likely, both of them. And at this point it's two early to tell which one will unfold. MR. BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.
MR. KEAN: I know there are four other commissioners who have questions, but we're 25 minutes over the panel, so we've got to say at this point, I apologize to the commissioners, their questions, and say thank you all very, very much, and we appreciate very much your appearance.
MR. KEAN: Okay, if we could call the hearing back to order. Yeah, I've got a gavel. I'll use the gavel. (Gavels.)
As we all know, the United States has designated a number of states, including Iraq, Iran and Syria, as state sponsors of terrorism. The difficulties in assessing the attitudes and policies of these states toward al Qaeda are the tasks of our next panel. Addressing these very complex subjects will be two noted experts on Saddam Hussein's Iraq: Dr. Laurie Mylroie, author of "Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America," and Dr. Judith Yaphe, Middle East Project Director at the Institution for National Strategic Studies of the National Defense University. Dr. Murhaf Jouejati, scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute, will consider Syria. Mark -- make sure I get this right -- Gasiorowski --
MR. GASIOROWSKI: Yes.
MR. KEAN: -- professor of political science at Louisiana State University will tackle the equally complex job of assessing Iranian attitudes toward al Qaeda. Ms. Mylroie.
MS. MYLROIE: Thank you very much for the invitation to address you this morning.
A major policy and intelligence failure occurred in the 1990s, namely the emergence of a serious misunderstanding about the nature of major terrorist attacks on the United States. Prior to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, it was assumed that all major attacks against the United States were state-sponsored. The Trade Center bombing is said to mark the start of a new kind of terrorism that does not involve states, and that is simply not true.
And what I'm going to say to you is going to be different than you heard earlier this morning, and that's because the information on which I am basing these evaluations is the evidence from the trials rather than the intelligence. And because terrorism throughout the '90s was treated as a law enforcement issue, that evidence, I would suggest, is more important, more relevant, and more reliable in understanding the terrorist threat.
I'll speak briefly about three plots: the '93 Trade Center bombing, the '95 plot to bomb a dozen U.S. airplanes in the Philippines, and 9/11. My focus will be on the masterminds -- individuals like Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. My point will be: we do not know who these people are. Their identities are all based on documents in Kuwait that pre-date its liberation in 1991, and those documents are not reliable because Iraqi intelligence was there for seven months. Indeed, there is substantial reason to believe that these masterminds are Iraqi intelligence agents.
Now, the '93 bombing of the Trade Center is supposed to be the start of a new, stateless terrorism. But New York FBI, the lead investigative agency, its director, Jim Fox, believed that Iraq was behind the bomb. Why? It was huge. It was meant to topple one tower on to the other, and it left a crater six stories deep in the basement floors. Fox's background was counter-intelligence, and he believed that the individuals he was arresting immediately after the bombing, like the 26-year-old Palestinian Mohammad Salama, who was detained as he returned to the Ryder rental agency for his deposit on the van that carried the bomb. These individuals alone could not have carried out such an attack. There were also Iraqis all around the fringe of the plot. One of them, Abdul Rahman Yasin, came from Baghdad before the bombing, returned afterwards. He's still an indicted fugitive. Also, see Salama's many phone calls to Iraq at a crucial early stage of the plot, which are part of my testimony. That's government exhibit 824, a page from Salama's phone bill, evidence from his trial.
But the key point is the identity of the mastermind, Ramzi Yousef, without whom that bomb could not have been built. He entered the United States on an Iraqi passport in the name of Ramzi Yousef, and fled the night of the Trade Center bombing on a Pakistani passport in the name of Abdel Basit Karim. There really was an individual Abdel Basit Karim, born and raised in Kuwait. He graduated high school, then went to study in Britain, got his degree in June of '89, and returned to Kuwait. And apparently he was still there a year later when Iraq invaded. Yousef obtained the passport on which he fled New York by going to the Pakistani consulate with Xerox copies of the 1984 and 1988 passports of Abdel Basit Karim saying he was Karim, he had lost his passport, and he needed a new one to get home. The consulate didn't like the documentation, but nonetheless gave him a temporary passport, and that's the passport on which Yousef fled. The copies of Karim's passport that Yousef presented to the consulate were also evidence in the trial. If you look at government exhibits 739 C and B, you'll see the first two pages of those passports. You can look at the signatures, and you'll see that they're radically different.
Also, a Pakistani address has spaces for a permanent address in Pakistan and a present address in Pakistan. The present address in those passports is blank because the family lived in Kuwait. But the permanent address has changed. The permanent address is, in a Pakistani passport, the family's place of origin. By definition, it doesn't change. But in the 1984 passport, it says Karachi; the '88 passport, Baluchistan. The signature is different. The permanent addresses are different. Those documents went through a scanner.
And similar problem exists with Karim's file in Kuwait. As a routine matter, Kuwait's interior ministry maintained a resident alien file on Karim. Information was taken out. There should have been front -- Xerox copies of the front pages of passports with the signature, the picture, et cetera. The Kuwaitis recognized that that was missing because of Iraq's occupation. What they didn't realize was that the whole file was corrupted. Information was added. There was a notation that Abdul Basit Karim and his family left Kuwait on August 26th, 1990, traveling from Kuwait to Iraq, crossing to Iran at Salancha on the way to Pakistani Baluchistan where they live now. But no one gives his whole itinerary when he crosses a border. That information doesn't belong in the file. Moreover, on that day, there was an Iraqi army of occupation -- no Kuwaiti government. The Iraqis put that information into Abdul Basit Karim's file.
Finally, Yousef's fingerprints are in that file. But everyone's fingerprints are unique, so that can mean only one of two things: Yousef's real identity is Abdul Basit Karim, or someone switched the fingerprint cards.
I met with Karim's teachers in Britain for a whole variety of reasons, including that Yousef is tall and Abdul Basit Karim was medium to short -- two different heights. Karim's teachers believe, as do I, that their student is not the bomber, that the student died in Kuwait, and that Ramzi Yousef assumed his identity.
And if Yousef is not Karim, that means a file in Kuwait was tampered with, including switching the fingerprint cards for the evident purpose of creating a false identity for a terrorist.
You're all aware of the practices of Soviet-style intelligence agencies. Agents not attached to an embassy are called illegals, and it's standard practice to develop false identities or legends for illegals. Reasonably, only Iraq could have tampered with Karim's file in Kuwait, including switching the fingerprint cards, while it occupied Kuwait. Iraqi intelligence created a legend for an illegal, and that's the significance of Karim's file.
Now, in '95, Yousef was involved in a plot to bomb a dozen U.S. airplanes in the Philippines. Arrested with him was an individual known as Abdul Hakim Murad. Murad is supposed to be Yousef's childhood friend from Kuwait. And, like Yousef, Murad is also Baluch. Khalid Sheik Mohammed was indicted for that plot, too. Mohammed escaped and went on to head al Qaeda's military committee after al Qaeda moved to Afghanistan, and he masterminded the 9/11 attacks. Mohammed is supposed to be Yousef's maternal uncle, but his identity like that of Yousef and Murad is based on what he himself has told other people, and documents in Kuwait that predate Kuwait's liberation from Iraq. Neither are reliable. We don't necessarily know who Mohammad is.
Now, U.S. authorities understand the three other, quote, "relatives" of Yousef -- two older brothers and a younger cousin -- there is a chart on the back of my written statement -- they are also key al Qaeda figures. The brothers, and perhaps the cousin, were also born and raised in Kuwait and their identities, too, rest on Kuwaiti documents. Notably, these people are all Baluch, Sunni Muslim people living in eastern Iran and western Pakistan. Iraqi intelligence has long-standing ties with the Baluch. It used them against Iran.
Prior to the Trade Center bombing, no Baluch was involved in terrorism against the United States. Yes, there's nothing to do with them. And no Baluch organization is on the State Department's terrorism list. Why should Baluch attach the United States, except for the link to Iraqi intelligence?
It's essentially the claim now of U.S. authorities that the core of the murderous terrorist attacks from the Trade Center bombing to 9/11, at that core is a particularly talented and murderous Baluch family. Yousef, his friends, his uncle, two brothers, and a cousin. Yet there is another explanation. This is not a family. Rather they are Baluch illegals given legends by Iraqi intelligence on the basis of documents in Kuwait.
Recently I asked an Israeli retired from the number two position in military intelligence which made more sense: "Is this a murderous family or illegals with legends?" He replied: "It's obvious. It's obvious that these are illegals with legends."
There's a major lapse in the investigation to take these identities at face value. That question must be pursued, and there are suggestions about doing that in my written statement. The odds are high that these people are not whom they claim to be, and demonstrating that would constitute a clear link between Iraq and the 9/11 attack, as reasonably only Iraq could have created these legends while it occupied Kuwait. That would also demonstrate that there is no new kind of terrorism that does not involve states. This terrorism was part of a war that did not end with the 1991 cease-fire, but continues to this day. Thank you.
MR. KEAN: Dr. Yaphe.
MS. YAPHE: Thank you very much inviting me. I want to thank the committee very much for inviting me to testify. And for purposes of full disclosure -- you may know this already, but let me state it for the record -- I worked for more than 20 years for the Central Intelligence Agency as a senior analyst on Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf. I continue to follow this in my career now, where I am at National Defense University. The comments and analysis that I am offering are my own. They don't represent the Agency, they don't represent the Department of Defense, or the University. And I say that for pretty obvious reasons.
My testimony focuses on the role and actions of Iraq as a state sponsor of terrorism under the control of Saddam Hussein. Iraq under Saddam was a major state sponsor of international terrorism. They almost wrote the book, and I've read the books that have been written. Iraq under Saddam was an active sponsor of terrorist groups, providing safe haven, training, arms, logistical support -- requiring in exchange that the groups carry out operations ordered by Baghdad for Saddam's objectives. Terrorist groups were not permitted to have offices, recruitment, or training facilities, or freely use Iraqi territory under the regime's control without explicit permission from Saddam. To mix a metaphor, if you took Iraq's shilling, you did Iraq's bidding -- or Saddam's bidding, more directly.
Saddam used foreign terrorist groups and terrorism as instruments of foreign policy. Groups hosted by Saddam were denied protection. If he wanted to improve relations with a neighboring country and encourage to attack the same countries when Saddam wanted to pressure them. If they refused Saddam's requests, they were exiled. Now, conventional wisdom casts Saddam as a terrorist, a primary consumer of the terrorist tactics and methods, and an enemy of the United States. And that is all true. Conventional wisdom describes Iraq under Saddam as a primary state sponsor of international terrorism, and that is all true. If the mathematics is correct, then the conventional conclusion must be that Saddam and Iraq are responsible for acts of terrorism against the United States, going back to the 1993 Trade Towers attack to perhaps 9/11.
Furthermore, this argument would say Saddam and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden cooperated in planning and conducting operations on U.S. targets. These assessments are incorrect in my personal view and in my professional judgment as a scholar and intelligence officer on Iraq.
Simply put, Saddam Hussein supported extremist groups that would respond to his orders and work against his enemy. This unfortunately does not make him the primary suspect or the eminence gris for al Qaeda's attacks on the United States.
Now, there are a couple of truths to keep in mind. He used terrorism to intimidate Iraqis at home and abroad, and he did that, as we all know, very well. We know by the way we have an unsolved murder in McLean of an Iraqi businessman. That was almost certainly an act of an Iraqi intelligence officer, and a very good one. Now, could there have been an al Qaeda connection? Oh, let me before I do that let me -- some other truths. The reasons to do that, to support Iraq's revolutionary credentials and ensure his own role as a great Arab leader, intimidate rival leaders and governments, he gave safe haven and training to a wide range of groups, the Abu Nidal group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Hawari group. He created the Arab Liberation Front as a personal surrogate in the war, which he used recently to pledge $25,000 to every martyr in the intifada against Israel.
Abu Nidal is one of the primary evidences. He urged Abu Nidal to attack Hafez al Assad, his primary rival for Arab leadership and Ba'athist leadership. He also encouraged attacks -- we've heard a lot about the Muslim Brotherhood this morning -- they were also a group he liked. He used the Syrian faction, but only against Syria. Other than that, Saddam was not interested in religious-based Islamic extremists, because he knew he was their next target after they finished their primary target. And I would argue that spreads itself to al Qaeda, which Saddam certainly was aware had him on their list after he got the Americans out of Saudi Arabia, after the ruling families in the Gulf were liberated, Saddam would have been next on his list of undesirables to be replaced.
And you know what's interesting, because we have seen Sabri al Banna, Abu Nidal, in and out of Iraq for several years. When he refused to cooperate with Baghdad on attacks against Syria, he was told to leave. He came back again later when he was found to be useful. He died last summer, almost a year ago, of four gunshot wounds to the head. The Iraqis describe this as suicide. I don't think so. I would imagine that Saddam decided to remove the evidence of his links to one of the most notorious of international terrorists at a time when the United States was increasing pressure on him to reveal weapons of mass destruction and accusing him of sponsoring al Qaeda. What could be more convenient?
Abu Abbas. Remember Abu Abbas, the Achille Lauro? He also lived for many years, and still did up until the war, in Iraq, and threatened targets during the intifada, just a year ago, from Iraq. Saddam again helped many others. But to show how this was a policy, beside the Palestinians, they are targeting the Israeli Jewish, Western and moderate Arab targets. In the 1980s, he sheltered the anti-Turkish PKK, the Kurdish Workers Party.
When he wanted to pressure Turkey he let them go loose against the Turks. When he wanted to be nice to Turkey, he let them cross the border in hot pursuit to eliminate the PKK. He sheltered the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, the Iranian anti-regime group which helped him in his fight against us. He supported their attacks against Iran when it was to his benefit, and on occasion, he would threaten to close them down when he wanted to get closer to Tehran for whatever reasons.
Now, Saddam's security services and surrogates were successful in certain areas, especially internal, especially defectors, especially businessmen abroad who were kind of sloppy. But the security services showed little success in planning or ordering operations against foreign targets. Palestinian dependents refused to launch operations against us in the prelude up to the Gulf War in late 1990, early '91. They failed to get their own agents abroad to conduct attacks on the eve of that war. They were all arrested as they got off the plane. Very sloppy tradecraft. And their attempt to assassinate President George Herbert Walker Bush I think was another example of incompetence on their part.
Now, the al Qaeda connection, to move swiftly along: Did Iraq need al Qaeda? Probably Saddam might have liked a group like that, but I don't think he would have needed them. I've said given the reasons why I thought -- and it is in my testimony -- I think he saw him as a threat, Osama as a threat, rather than as a potential partner. Do Osama and al Qaeda need Iraq? I would disagree with my colleague. I don't think they did. I think the groups were and remain global in scope, compartmented in design and membership, in organizational infrastructure and operational planning. Many of the leaders are well educated -- you had that all this morning in earlier testimony. They operate on a need-to-know principle. It's not one just restricted to the intelligence community, the Soviets. The Muslim Brotherhood used it. The Muslim Brotherhood was effective. You've heard a lot about them. I would simply point out that they never needed state support -- state sponsorship -- to conduct their activities.
So we have questionable assumptions. I find troubling the use of circumstantial evidence and a corresponding lack of credible evidence. To jump to conclusions on Iraqi support for al Qaeda, I will look for credible, reliable records, open sources from the community, or clandestine. Now, I worked on terrorism, in the Counterterrorism Center for three years. I know the kind of information you get. Nice people, heroes of their country, do not give you information. They are not patriots, they are not untarnished sources. They are people who do this stuff, people who do terrorism that you have to deal with. And you have to use your skills -- especially hard to sort out truth from fiction, who has a grudge, who is trying to convince you of something for their purposes. I don't think that guilt by circumstance should trouble anyone. I think it should trouble us. I think the chain of evidence is not good. And I would also say that because a person or an agency or a government does not agree with one's assumptions, it does not mean they are mistaken, stupid, or deliberately obstructive. It means we have a trouble in gathering intelligence, in gathering proper evidence, and we need to be careful.
Let me go quickly to just a few other points that I wanted to make in my few minutes remaining. The unwillingness of Saddam and Osama to consider cooperation is not because they had different sects -- one's Sunni, one's Shi'a -- or different ideologies. Saddam was no ideologue. I think the point again was I think it was more of a danger to Saddam. It was a risk he didn't need to take. And I don't think that the evidence -- now, I do want to point just briefly, because we have had a very interesting turn of events just this morning announced, and that was the arrest of one of the al Qaeda -- excuse me, the Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague who was supposed to have met with Mohammad Atta. Now, evidence about those meetings I think we have an excellent opportunity to find out if they took place. We also have in our control the Iraqi intelligence officer, the senior operative who was also an ambassador in Turkey, Tunisia, and Jordan, who allegedly went to Kabul and met with Osama both then and in Sudan in 1994, and that's Farouk Hijazi. And I don't see we've seen any evidence of his interrogation either, but we have them in custody.
My point would be simply this -- and maybe it's not so simple -- that I would expect an intelligence agent to have contact with any organization -- I don't care if it would be al Qaeda, the Soviets, or any one who was willing to operate against the United States. I'd be disappointed. They wouldn't be doing their jobs. His purpose would have been to assess intent, operational capability, and recruitment potential. It would not have been sufficient for both to just simply hate the United States. Saddam always demanded total loyalty from and control over any group he supported. And I don't think al Qaeda would have agreed to any of that kind of subordination or control. So I think that complicity -- we need to talk.
Now, this will bring me to my conclusion. I know my time is up. I have three simple recommendations. First, I think you have to all recognize the limits as well as the strengths of intelligence. It's not a science. I think it's an art. I especially think when you deal on Iraq and when you deal on these issues of terrorist infrastructures, networks, and support, you have to do a lot of homework, you have to read a lot, and you have to I think -- it's not all going to be a smoking gun and looking for clear evidence. That's the science -- it would be nice if it were that science. So I would say that, again, recognize the limits what can and cannot be given you. And also I think one has to read carefully. Always check reliability statements and do not just accept what is not vetted or because someone says it's true, it must be true, it sounds like it's true. Again, I think we all have to remember that the sources on any of this are not the best you'd like.
My final plea would simply be intelligence does not make policy. Policy should not shape intelligence. I think one has to look very carefully. If anything, the metaphor of the onion and the Middle East is true: the more layers you peel away, the more complicated the story gets. Thank you very much.
MR. KEAN: Thank you very much. Dr. Jouejati.
MR. JOUEJATI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am truly very honored to be here today. I have but a few remarks, and I will approach Syria and terrorism not from the micro level, but rather from a macro level.
President Bush, we know, stated that you are with us or you are with the terrorists. Ms. Condoleezza Rice stated there are no good terrorists and bad terrorists: terrorists are terrorists. I think the realities in the Middle East are bit more complex than this.
According to the State Department definition of terrorism, terrorism means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents usually intended to influence an audience. If that definition is correct, then groups such as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the PFLPGC, Hamas, and the PIJ are all terrorist organizations. And it so happens that Syria has hosted these terrorist organizations, and therefore, Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism.
Syria has supported these groups in order to advance its objectives, its realpolitik objectives. It has also supported these groups for the furtherance of the larger Arab objectives, which is the liberation of territories occupied by Israel. And it has used at least some of these groups in order to cut down -- this is at least in the recent past -- Yasser Arafat to size in order to deny him the autonomy of movement that he has always sought.
Syria of course doesn't see things this way. Syria sees these groups as national resistance freedom fighters; that their struggle is a legitimate one, which is to liberate their occupied territories. Moreover, Syria denies supporting these groups but claims that it hosts them by way of them having press offices in Syria. And, at any rate, these organizations are the representatives of the some 500,000 Palestinian refugees that are in Syria. But in reality, what is the nature of the assistance of Syria to these groups? I have never in my young career, my 20 years of research on Syria, have never found any evidence that Syria finances them, as Israelis would argue. Nor have I seen any evidence that would buttress the Syrian argument. In fact, I think Syria allows these groups, specifically the PFLPGC, to operate businesses inside Syria, the profits of which return back to the PFLPGC, in order to sustain its cause and its operations.
There are no training camps, to my knowledge, of Hizbollah in Syria. There are no military bases of Hizbollah. There are no offices of Hizbollah in Syria. And Syria claims that it provides Hizbollah only with moral, political support.
That is difficult to believe, especially that it is a known fact that arms that leave Iran to Hizbollah transit through Syrian territory. And so Syria, in this particular instance, has at least some influence with Hizbollah by closing the routes at will.
Having said that, Syria does not report any political group, any terrorist group, outside the Middle East. Syria is solely concerned and its foreign policy is centered on the Arab-Israeli conflict. But given that support, given that logistical support that Syria provides these organizations, some in the administration have voiced their concern about Syria and even have talked of punishing Syria for that support.
Where there's difficulty, however, is that simultaneously Syria has been perhaps one of the closest partners of the United States in the war against al Qaeda. Syria saved Canadian and American lives. Syrian security services apparently have tipped off the Canadian and American authorities of an impending attack against Canadian and American government institutions.
Syria again saved American lives in that it tipped off the CIA of an impending operation against the administrative unit of the 5th Fleet in the Bahrain. This information is in the public record. Syria, by providing information on Mohammed el Atta, on Marwan al-Shehhi, on Derkanzali, the financial conduit to al Qaeda, by providing this information to the CIA, has enabled the CIA to break-up cells in Europe.
Syria cooperates with the CIA on al Qaeda because it has itself been a target; in fact, the first target of Islamic militant fundamentalism. Syria was nearly at a civil war at the end of the '70s and the early '80s when the Muslim Brotherhood wanted to unseat the Hafez al-Assad regime and to destabilize Syria. And so Syria has been a target and does not want this brand of radical Islamic fundamentalism to gain any foothold in the Middle East, and especially not in Syria.
But, of course, the cooperation that Syria has provided the CIA is also self-centered. Syria wants to improve relations with the United States. And Syria wants to improve relations with the U.S. not only to improve relations with the U.S., but also to be able to have the U.S. perhaps not on its side but as an impartial mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
But Syria has done a lot against al Qaeda with the United States, in cooperation with the United States, and clearly Syria should be rewarded for fighting terrorism. The problem is, if we go back to what President Bush and Mrs. Condoleezza Rice says, the problem is, how do we punish Syria for harboring terrorism and reward Syria at the same time for fighting terrorism?
Obviously, the two are mutually exclusive. And this should tell us something that might be wrong with our own definition. Terrorism in the Middle East did not emerge in a vacuum. Terrorism is a product of military occupation, specifically Israel's occupation of Arab territories.
How do we change Syria's behavior? Well, we can threaten Syria with political and economic sanctions. Historically that pressure has made Syria go in the other direction. When the U.S. and Israel struck a strategic alliance in the 1980s, Syria embraced the Soviet Union, or rather vice-versa. When there was the Turkish-Israeli alliance in the mid-1990s, Syria, who had been the foremost enemy of Iraq, opened up to Iraq. Pressure now, I fear, would throw Syria further into Iran's arms.
We can threaten Syria militarily. We might get Damascus' attention that way. And we did. And as a result, Syria did apparently, allegedly, reportedly close the offices of the PFLPGC and of Hamas and the PIJ. My question is, how long will this be before their leaders return to Syria and open offices elsewhere?
Rather -- and I have here only one suggestion, if I may, with humility -- rather than simply punishing Syria or simply rewarding Syria, I think the U.S. should show both sticks and carrots; sticks by maintaining the U.S. assertive tone vis-a-vis Damascus, and carrots by showing U.S. resolve in ending the Arab-Israeli conflict peacefully and in accordance with U.N. land-for-peace resolutions.
This the U.S. can do by, one, including Syria and Lebanon in the road map, and this immediately, and two, by leaning on both sides to the conflict -- and this includes Israel -- to abide by the U.N. land-for-peace resolutions. Once there is peace, Syria is on record as wanting to normalize diplomatic and other relations with Israel, and also disbanding any anti-Israel groups.
MR. KEAN: Dr. Gasiorowski.
MR. GASIOROWSKI: I'd like to thank the committee for inviting me to testify here. I was asked to talk about Iran's motives in supporting terrorism, and so I will begin with a brief overview of what Iran does along these lines these days and then talk about what Iran's motives are and what the decision-making process is that leads Iran to support terrorism or not in given cases. And then finally I'll conclude by saying a few things about the prospects for change in Iran's behavior along these lines.
So, first of all, Iranian support for terrorism. Of course, thinking back to the 1980s, especially the early 1980s, Iran was doing a great deal in the way of supporting terrorism, most importantly, supporting Hizbollah against the United States acting against its neighbors in the Persian Gulf, the Saudis and others; and in the late '80s and early '90s, assassinating Iranian exiles in Europe. And Iran deservedly has a very bad name for these activities.
Iran has changed a certain amount in the past 10 years in this regard. Most importantly, they are no longer assassinating Iranian exiles in Europe. This ended in around 1996. And also they have stopped the behavior that they were pursuing in the '80s and the early '90s supporting subversive groups in the Persian Gulf, in Saudi Arabia, in Bahrain and Kuwait. So there have been important changes in recent years in Iran's behavior.
That being said, Iran clearly does still support important terrorist groups today. We can distinguish three categories, and there's possibly a fourth that Iran may be involved in.
First of all, the groups that Iran is most closely connected with and most strongly supports are groups in the region that share their Shiite revolutionary ideology or that share ethnic connections with Iran. Of these, of course, the most important is Hizbollah in Lebanon, which has been closely connected with Iran since its founding in the early 1980s, and it is just simply blood brothers of the Iranian revolutionaries.
Also, a very similar type of group in Iraq, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iran, SCIRI, also was founded very much with Iranian help in the early 1980s.
The third group that Iran has very close long-standing ties with is the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, most of whose members are ethnically Persian or at least related or are Shiites. They are now our friends in Afghanistan and we helped them or they helped us overthrow the Taliban.
So these are the main groups that Iran is involved with; I mean to say the groups that Iran is most closely involved with. Each of these has changed quite substantially in recent years. SCIRI in Iraq is now behaving itself pretty well, at least by comparison with Sunni groups in Iraq. The Northern Alliance, as I said, has been working with us; worked with us against the Taliban and is now, most of its members, at least, cooperating with the government of Afghanistan; indeed, populating the government of Afghanistan. Even Hizbollah in Lebanon, which has a great deal of blood, including American blood, on its hands, has changed quite a bit in recent years. Especially since the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, it has engaged in little or no activities that could be called terrorism, though certainly it remains a substantial threat along those lines. So those are the groups that Iran is most strongly connected with.
Secondly, the Palestinian Islamist groups -- here we're talking about Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- these are Sunni groups.
These are groups that are rather far from areas of immediate concern for Iran. Nonetheless, Iran clearly supports these groups, perhaps less closely than the first category that I mentioned, but there's no question that Iran is involved with these groups as well. And they are, of course, today very actively involved in targeting Israel interests in the region.
Thirdly, Iran has been evidently involved with Palestinian secular non-Islamist groups. The main evidence for this, as we all know, is the Karine A, which was a ship that about a year and a half ago that was intercepted by Israelis delivering weapons from Iran to the Palestinians. Certainly Iran is less close to these secularist groups, but there's no question that it has had this involvement.
Finally, there's the question of Iran's connections with al Qaeda. The United States government has repeatedly charged in the last couple of years that al Qaeda members are taking refuge in Iran, and indeed the Iranian government has acknowledged this.
However, there's never been any clear, definitive evidence that the Iranian government is supporting them. It might be rogue elements of the Iranian security forces or it may simply be that these groups are there without any connection with the Iranian government. This is just simply not clear.
Secondly, Iran's motives in supporting terrorism. There are basically three. Historically, most important has been Iran's Shiite revolutionary ideology. Throughout the '80s and early '90s, when Iran was very deeply involved in this sort of activity, it was largely for the purposes of spreading its revolution.
However, during the course of the 1990s, the revolutionary fervor dissipated quite substantially in Iran. Today, there's only a relatively small group of hardliners, mostly located in the Revolutionary Guards, who still care about exporting the revolution. And so this is now not really a major issue anymore other than the fact that the Iranian government has to sometimes respond to the interests of these hardliners.
And in any case, the ideological motive in Iranian foreign policy really only applies to the first of the groups that I've talked about who share Iran's Shiite revolutionary ideology, not really to the others. And specifically, al Qaeda does not at all share Iran's revolutionary ideology. And this is really the main reason that people are skeptical of connections between the Iranian government and al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Afghanistan and Pakistan are strongly anti-Shiites. They are Sunni wahhabis. Wahhabis are very, very anti-Shi'a for various reasons. Al Qaeda and its affiliates have been involved in a lot of anti-Shiite attacks in the region. Probably something like 100 or so Shiites have been killed in Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan in the last five or 10 years.
And indeed, Iran, partly for that reason, has supported anti-Taliban forces. Iran was by far the main supporter of the Northern Alliance before U.S. forces came along in late 2001 and began to work with them. Indeed, Iran almost went to war with the Taliban; massed 270,000 troops on Afghanistan's border in 1998. So Iran and Qaeda and its affiliates have a long history of very bad relations.
For this reason, it's pretty doubtful that the Iranian government has been involved with al Qaeda, though, of course, anything is possible in the Middle East, and I certainly wouldn't bet my retirement money that there is no connection there.
There's a third possibility. It may be rogue elements of the Iranian security forces that have been involved with al Qaeda. I don't really know, and I don't even think that anybody in the U.S. intelligence community really knows.
The second reason Iran supports terrorism, and I think more important these days than the first, than the ideological reason, is the tactical uses that terrorism provides for Iran. Terrorism can be a useful weapon for Iran. I'll just give two very prominent examples.
First of all, Hizbollah. Although Hizbollah has largely or entirely stopped its terrorist activities in recent years, it remains a very potent threat, very well-armed, very well-equipped, very capable of doing all kinds of bad things. And Iran is largely responsible for giving it these capabilities over the years. And clearly there's a very close working relationship.
Many people believe Iran has nurtured this continuing capability for terrorism on the part of Hizbollah to serve as a form of deterrence against the Israelis, and perhaps to some extent against the United States. In other words, if Israel directly attacks Iran, Iran might turn Hizbollah loose on Israel. So that's a good example of how terrorism can be tactically useful for Iran.
Much the same in a rather different way is true of Iran's continuing relations with groups in Afghanistan and with certain groups among Shiites in Iraq. Clearly these groups give Iran a fair amount of influence in those respective countries and enable Iran to do various things. So the second motive for supporting terrorism, then, is that it can be tactically useful. To a country that is not militarily very powerful, can't really stand up to countries like the United States and Israel, terrorism gives it a way of doing so.
The third influence on Iran's support for terrorism are foreign policy constraints. And this is a negative influence. Increasingly in the last 10 years, Iran has wanted better relations with the West for economic and diplomatic reasons, and Iran has long realized that its support for terrorism is a major obstacle to that.
And it's indeed for this reason that Iran gave up some of the more drastic things that it was doing in the early 1990s -- the assassinations in Europe, subversive activities in the Persian Gulf Arab countries. It gave up these things, it seems clear, largely because it wanted better relations with the EU countries and with the GCC countries.
Similarly, in the last year or so, Iran has extradited an unknown number of al Qaeda members, also evidently for diplomatic reasons, to defuse criticism from the United States.
Very quickly, what is Iran's decision-making on these matters? It seems that decisions on whether or not to support terrorism are largely made at the very top levels. Of course, this excludes this question of al Qaeda, which may be supported by rogue elements of the security forces. But generally speaking, I think the very top leaders in Iran are responsible for these decisions, and specifically supreme leader Khamenei.
That being said, I think that these decisions are the result of a pragmatic weighing of the pros and cons of engaging in any given terrorist activity for Iran. And again, I would cite as evidence Iran's decision to give up the assassinations in Europe, to give up subversion in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. Clearly this was a weighing by Iran of the pros and cons, and Iran decided to stop doing it. This suggests Iran is relatively pragmatic in its support for terrorism.
So, then, finally, what are the prospects for change? I think there are two main things that we can look to that might lead Iran to further reduce its involvement in terrorism; first of all, a positive outcome in the domestic power struggle that has been raging for a long time in Iran. I think if the reformist faction led by President Khatami were to come to power, which doesn't seem very likely these days, we would see a substantial change and Iran would really move toward fully normalizing its relations with the U.S. and with the West.
Secondly, I think the other major prospect for change is that I think there is a fair amount that the United States could do to offer Iran both positive and negative incentives to stop its further support for terrorism. I'll leave it to the State Department to decide what to do along those lines, but I would say certainly both carrots and sticks would be appropriate here.
Thank you very much.
MR. KEAN: Thank you, sir. Commissioner Lehman.
MR. LEHMAN: Yes. First I would like to join my colleague and friend, Tim Roemer, in commending the chairman and vice chairman for what's been achieved.
While it's good that some of our commissioners continue to look at the empty part of the glass on what's been achieved, I think the updates from our task forces yesterday leave no doubt that our chairman and vice chairman have succeeded in getting access to more sensitive information, important information, and information essential for us to do our job than any commission in history.
We have the broadest mandate in history, and I think we have obtained access greater than any commission in history. There's still more to be done, but there's certainly no doubt in my mind that not only are we succeeding in doing the job that Congress gave us, but that we will succeed very effectively in producing what the country expects of us. So, thank you.
I would like to also commend the previous panel in setting, I think, the right insight for the way we look at this issue, particularly the subject of your panel, that what we face here is not a clash of civilizations, but, in fact, an Islamic civil war and one in which we must take sides and we must force our friends also to take sides. Tthat the phenomenon is one of jihadism. It has many manifestations, the most well-organized and recently effective of which was al Qaeda, but that is not the only one. And if we succeed in continuing to dismantle and destroy it, that is not going to solve our problem.
So as we look at state sponsorship of terrorism, I think we ought to question -- and I'd like to get the views of each of the panelists on what has come to be the rubric, really, set by the State Department's annual report on terrorism, as much too narrowly defined.
We note, for instance, that in each of your testimony that each of the state sponsors of terrorism that you have addressed have their own particular interest in why they are doing it. And some support some groups; others support other groups. And then, of course, there is one of the biggest issues in its absence from the list is the Saudi role in this Islamic civil war.
There seems to be little doubt that much of the funding for many of these terrorist groups, whether you say it's entirely unintentional or some intention, has flowed from Saudi sources. The 300-some schools and mosques supported by the Saudis around the world preach a kind of wahhabi fanaticism that is certainly fertile ground for recruiting of terrorists. Yet this doesn't fit into our rubric of what state sponsorship is.
And when I hear people describe how benign the Syrians currently are and the Iranians currently are, and I think back to how effectively both of their governments cooperated in putting together that attack on our Marines in Beirut and the fact that most of the principals who carried out that attack, an attack for which we never retaliated and, as far as I know, have no plans to retaliate against, are still operating, still training in Balbek, and still training new generations of jihadists.
And so it seems to me our definitions need refining. I mean, many would point out that the European community allows Hizbollah and Hamas openly to raise money legally throughout Europe. Is this -- should this fit into the rubric of state sponsorship of terrorism?
So I would like each of you to address how we should change the way the U.S. government looks at state sponsorship, because it creates, each with their delicatessen of special interests, an environment throughout the Muslim world in which terrorist groups can flourish, can train; some do well here, some do well there. But it is a swamp that clearly we are not addressing effectively in the rubric that we now apply in our government policies.
Ms. Mylroie, would you --
MS. MYLROIE: Yeah, I appreciate your comments. I appreciate your point, say, about wahhabi money and how negative -- the negative impact on the region in promoting anti-Americanism. And there was a recent story in the New York Times how Indonesia, which is this kind of mild kind of Islam and elements are getting Saudi money as well. It's a very negative impact.
But, with all due respect, I think that that is one issue; it's an important issue. And there is another issue. What was the structure of authority, organization, which allowed 19 people on September 11th to kill 3,000 Americans in less than two hours? And they're not the same question, because it really can be shown, if the commission would pursue this line of inquiry even a little bit, that these people lack the capabilities to do that on their own.
Al Qaeda was a front for Iraqi intelligence in much the same way that Hizbollah is a front for the Iranians and the Syrians. And the administration repeatedly speaks, senior administration officials, about the nexus between terrorist states and terrorist groups; talks about terrorism using weapons of mass destruction, including biological weapons. They describe that as the greatest threat to the United States. And that threat can become more evident if we do not properly, carefully organize and recognize these structures of authority, because a terrorist group allows a terrorist state, say, to inflict mass casualties on this country with an anthrax attack or a botulinum attack. So, I think, two different issues.
MR. LEHMAN: Ms. Yaphe?
MS. YAPHE: Well, Dr. Mylroie's answer leaves me kind of breathless because I think she's doing exactly what troubles me the most about leaping to great conclusions, that Iraq -- that al Qaeda was a front for Iraqi intelligence. I'm sorry, I need evidence. If I'm -- if there is evidence, if we can get some material that says this, fine, but I don't see it now.
The question ,among many of the questions, why would Saddam Hussein have given to a group like al Qaeda that he couldn't control, that that did pose a threat, an existential threat to him, why would he give them those weapons of mass destruction -- botulinum, chemicals, radioactive whatevers -- when he didn't want to admit he had them himself? Now, to give them to a group that fingerprints would have been easy to trace back, I would think. I don't see why he would do it. I don't think he sent them to Syria. I think he learned a great lesson in 1990 when he sent his aircraft off to Iran, never to be seen again. These are not things you share or give away, especially if you can't get them back, you can't control, and they won't do you greater danger.
I do think, though, looking ahead, as part of your question -- which is, I think, a good one -- is that is there are future threat here? Because it's one thing to say about the past, Saddam could or couldn't, did or didn't, but the question becomes what use will terrorists be able to make of the new Iraq, especially an Iraq that in which law and order is not clearly or fully established and may not be for quite a while, in which you have elements running around, whether they are Ba'athist loyalists or disgruntled army officers who are no longer employed. Whatever the reason, Iraq is going to be a dangerous country -- dangerous for us and for a lot of others.
And leaving those elements aside and getting back to your question, even under Saddam there was indications of outside support going to help internally based Iraqi Islamists -- whether they were Sunni or Shi'a. I think Saddam certainly believed that the Saudis were helping to spread wahhabism, especially among the Sunni Arab center. Iran has been involved in sheltering Iraqi Shi'a dissidents, refugees, and those groups of with which it has a clear contact. But more than that -- I'm not so worried about what Iran might do or might think they could do -- I think we vastly overestimate and I think the Iranians do too, the influence they will have on the new Iraq -- but the point is that Iraq had within its own structures the Shi'a community. And the Shi'a community is a very complicated thing, but I'm thinking now of the mosques and the religious community where there were, in effect, shadow governments, networks that we saw as soon the regime, the old regime was gone, could come out and could do things from getting the streets cleaned, imposing local law and order, setting up local authorities, getting the schools opened, the hospitals, taking over city hall.
Now, what could that mean for the future? They have a capability to attract and to influence believers in Iraq and how they go could be very important. If they will say "do not interfere with, we do not support acts of terrorism or opposition," or if they say "we will sanction opposition," if they sanction opposition to the occupying force, which is what they see us as and what we are, then we will see a growth of operations, be they military based, terrorists, whatever, there will be an increase.
But much of that can be resolved and will be inside Iraq. I don't see, you know, a foreign hand in that, per se.
The one remaining question will be the allegation that Saddam supported and allowed al Qaeda camps in northern Iraq, which was in Kurdish territory that was outside of Saddam's control. I have more of that in my testimony, but I think my point is that looking ahead, yes, there will be Islamist extremists in Iraq -- maybe encouraged by the outside, but probably with a lot of their own support, energy and money to come from inside, and what we need to do is to think of a way to disarm this as a weapon and find a way to bring this, absorb this into a system in which Iraqi Shi'as, be they of an extremist mind or a moderate mind, whether they're secular or religious, see more to gain by having a stake in society than by trying to just, you know, blow us up and get us out of there.
MR. LEHMAN: Before we go to Mr. Jouejati, I'd like to just ask a short follow-up. There have been many press reports of the recovery of materials in Afghanistan and in Baghdad that indicate that al Qaeda received technical training in weapons of mass destruction, and received not only training but some ability to manufacture some of them. Have you seen such evidence that the Iraqis are involved in this? And if not Iraqi intelligence, who?
MS. YAPHE: No, I've seen the press reports just as you have. And frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if the Iraqis did provide some kind of training. That would be a perfectly normal thing -- train them, see if you can suborn them, see if you can take them over -- but that wouldn't mean that they trusted them or that they did operational planning. I think you have to be careful to sort out what you try to do to wins hearts and minds of these groups to work for you and your objectives and where you draw the line. But again, I, as I say, that's almost what you expect to be part of the trade craft and the mission of the intelligence of these groups, and being in contact with or trying to win over and find out a lot about to penetrate these organizations. And we know that the Iraqis were highly successful in penetrating organizations that were opposed to them, the dissidents abroad, other terrorist groups -- why wouldn't they have tried that with al Qaeda? I mean, what did they have to lose?
MR. LEHMAN: Mr. Jouejati? MR. JOUEJATI: Thank you very much. I always envy Dr. Yaphe for being so articulate, and it always happens that I am right after you to speak. (Laughter.)
Again, I will, if I may use generalities and the macro approach, there are two components that are interlinked. The Middle East needs peace, and the Middle East needs democracy. Hizbollah would not exist had it not been for Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Hamas would not see the light of day, nor would it have states sponsoring it if there was no Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. There will always be the crazies out there who want to destroy Israel, but they will be marginalized if there is peace in the Middle East. And we know the contours of the political solution to the crisis in the Middle East.
The Middle East needs democracy. In the 1960s, both the 1950s and the 1960s, and even in the 1970s, the states that are secular are viewed by the people as having failed. And you would talk to many people on the streets -- whether in Syria or in Jordan or in Egypt -- and they will tell you: "Well, we have tried socialism and it has failed and failed miserably. We've tried capitalism and that too has failed. What we need to try now is something, an ideology that is rooted in our territory, and that is Islam." And this Islam becomes even more radical in the absence of democracy because people are not empowered. And so they give up -- they give themselves up to the divine. The divine is going to save them.
Militantism, radicalism in Islam increases when it is combined with the socioeconomic factor. In Syria specifically, if there was the rise of the Muslim brotherhood, it is because of the socioeconomic conditions. And it is because -- and I have done my research -- the 50 top leaders of the Muslim brotherhood in Syria are the grandchildren of the 50 largest landholders of Syria in the 1950s. And these properties were nationalized by the socialist government of the Ba'ath and the grandchildren -- again the socioeconomic factor is very important in this -- took up arms against a regime that they cannot change through the vote.
And so again, if we only address one of the two components, we're not going to get anywhere. We need to have peace in the Middle East, and we need to have democracy in the Middle East.
When the United States appears to be the ally and supporter of undemocratic regimes in the Middle East, this sends the wrong signal to the people, and therefore part of the enmity and the resentment against the United States.
MR. LEHMAN: Mr. Gasiorowski.
MR. GASIOROWSKI: I agree with the thrust of your question, that state sponsorship is a very problematic concept, and indeed the whole, you know, meaning of the word "terrorism" -- exactly who is a terrorist, what are terrorist acts? I wouldn't throw them out altogether, but certainly they're problematic. The Middle East is an area that is, you know, composed of infinite shades of gray -- no black and no white, really. And so more than anything else what's needed is subtlety in looking at the region and working with the region, and using these terms. And I don't say that, you know, with a lot of criticism. I think that most of the people certainly that I have interacted with in the State Department and elsewhere in the U.S. government have that kind of subtlety. I wouldn't quite say that for the people at the very top, but that's another matter.
With respect to state sponsorship, I think, you know, we certainly do need to go after state sponsorship. These countries that are being discussed in this panel have done a lot of very bad things, certainly all three of them, especially Iran, no question about it. And so we certainly need to use sticks -- military force, covert means, are an essential part of solving this problem in the region.
However, we also need to address the underlying causes. I mean, it's no surprise that it's the United States that is being attacked, not Ireland, or the Dutch, you know, or the Italians. It's us who is being attacked because we are the ones with the big footprint in the region. We are the ones very close to Israel, which has caused so much misery for Palestinians. We are the ones now occupying Iraq. We are the ones closely supporting governments in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia that are very unpopular.
So, in addition to using sticks, and in addition to going after states, there are other things as well that we need to do, and we have been doing to some extent, but I think probably not with enough emphasis. Certainly diplomacy, you know, the presentations by myself and Murhaf, I think, have indicated that there's quite a bit of room for maneuver, at least with Iran and with Syria, to get them to reduce their activities of this support.
But, I think ultimately, most importantly, we need to change the overall U.S. posture in the region, push for a more even-handed approach by the United States, certainly push for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, you know, an equitable solution to that problem, and a gradual reduction of the U.S. posture in the region, which is simply, you know, causing problems, and simply aggravating people in the region.
MR. LEHMAN: Thank you. One last question to both Ms. Mylroie and Dr. Yaphe. What about Salman Pak? It's been so much in the news. Was this a training facility for hijackers?
MS. MYLROIE: Well, that is what two Iraqi defectors said soon after 9/11. One of them even drew a picture of the area and said, "here's an airplane parked right here, which was -- which Iraqi intelligence used to train non-Iraqi Arab militants to take over airplanes." Satellite photos corroborated that fellow's account. When the marines overran Salman Pak they captured non-Iraqi Arab militants. They interrogated them. They said: "These people told us, you know, it looks like they're being trained for, what they told us indicates they're being trained in terrorism." So, yes, Salman Pak was, was a terrorist training camp.
I'd like to add one more point, though.
What you're seeing here in this exchange, which is somewhat unfortunate, between me and my colleague, is I think kind of the microcosm of what happened as the United States went to war. We went to war because senior administration officials believe Iraq was involved in 9/11. But as we did that and they tried to articulate it, they heard, and it would come out in the form of disgruntled individuals within the bureaucracies, including the CIA, leaking to the press "there is no evidence." This cry always, what the Wall Street Journal called an echo chamber, "there is no evidence."
I did, in 10 minutes -- I thought it was kind of nifty to do it in 10 minutes -- talk about three major terrorist attacks against the United States, and gave -- highlighted some very specific evidence, mainly, you know, the question of who are these people. So again, what you're seeing here is the bigger fight that has gone on, you know, in the national media.
MS. YAPHE: Well, I'll take exception to that. I don't think that that's necessarily the case. It is true, we do see things differently, and that's -- that happens among people to tend to look at things from a different perspective.
But let me go back, first, Laurie is absolutely right about Salman Pak. That's been known as a terrorist training camp for many years. Palestinian extremists, terrorists of many kinds that the Iraqis supported went through their training courses there. I think the question is the sightings by one or two -- there were two defectors who claimed that extremists were -- Islamists were being trained there, and I think they made the conclusion they had to be al Qaeda -- or somebody, I don't remember who did -- but they based that on the fact that they prayed a lot and wore beards. Again, maybe they were Islamists, maybe not. To answer your question, yes, that has been a long-known training center, having to do with probably all kinds of terrorist acts, including, yes there was an aircraft there. I think initially some people identified that as a Boeing aircraft. It's not. To the best of my knowledge, that's a Soviet -- and old Soviet Antonov that's been there for many, many years. So, were they training to take over an American aircraft? They probably were just training on techniques to do whatever terrorists train to do, but yes, that has been known.
I'll let it go at that.
MR. LEHMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
MR. KEAN: Mr. Ben-Veniste, and then Commissioner Thompson.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to echo the comments of my fellow commissioners and friends, Tim Roemer and John Lehman, in commending our chair and vice chair for their delivery yesterday of our first interim report on the issue of compliance with our document and other requests made to the executive branch. I don't know that I would use the pugilistic analogy of Tim Roemer -- that's not my way, as many of you would know -- (laughter) -- I prefer John Lehman's analogy to the glass being half full. And I can assure those who are watching our activities that our staff has pretty much gulped down that glass and is thirsty for more.
You all should also know that the interim report was the product of a unanimous, bipartisan, and very collegial effort on the part of all members of this commission, analyzing what we have requested to date and what we have received. And I must say I am gratified in reading what the spokespersons from the executive have said as reported in the newspapers today, with respect to a pledge of cooperation. Particularly, I would hope that the procedures which the White House has put in place for our review of certain of the materials with which we have disagreed and which we view as necessarily impeding our ability to utilizing the information will be rethought and that we will have a constructive resolution of that issue.
The information that we are receiving and expect to receive in the very, very near future will allow us to be more informed than we may be at the present moment with respect to what our intelligence services have discovered with respect to matters which have been discussed here today during this panel. And so I'm hopeful that the words that the White House spokespeople have provided to the media will be matched by deeds, and that we will move quickly to assimilate that information.
Let me direct my questioning to Dr. Mylroie. You start your prepared remarks with the observation that the reasons that we went to war in Iraq were not as well understood as they might be. And I think many observers would agree with that statement. You go on, however, to suggest that a justification for our invasion of Iraq was the role of Iraqi intelligence operatives in actions directed against United States civilians.
Is it fair to say that your provocative theory that Iraqi intelligence, directed by Saddam Hussein presumably, had a hand in both the 1993 and September 11, 2001 attacks against the World Trade Center and our Pentagon is something which you have promoted over a period of time in your written work and in other appearances?
MS. MYLROIE: Yes, I -- MR. BEN-VENISTE: Is it also fair to say that the principle reason underpinning your conclusion that the Iraqis were behind these two terrorist attacks is that Ramzi Yousef was an intelligence agent of the Iraqi intelligence service?
MS. MYLROIE: That is among the reasons, yes.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: And you have also suggested that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was also an Iraqi operative, is that correct?
MS. MYLROIE: I believe he is, yes.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Now, clearly, in the various organs for publicizing this theory on television and in books and articles, you have made your theory known to officials of the U.S. government at various levels, is that correct?
MS. MYLROIE: Yes.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: And, of course, in the very short time which is allotted here today, and on the basis only of what's in the public record and what we've been able to read and look at on the basis of your published statements and your presentation in written and oral form today, it would be impossible to go through these details and form a penetrating examination of your hypothesis. But I want to make a couple of observations. It's fair to say at the least that your theory has not been accepted by other scholars in your field, such as Dr. Yaphe, is that correct?
MS. YAPHE: I'd say that.
MS. MYLROIE: I think, and I have a book forthcoming on this dealing with the scholars in my field that even if one looked only at the question of Iraq's weapons as it became known after Hussein Kemal defected, and particularly the biological weapons, that 95 percent of the scholars in my field behaved in a way that one cannot support. And I pushed one of them very hard -- it was November '98.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: So your answer is that it is correct that scholars, at least 95 percent of them, have not supported your hypothesis?
MS. MYLROIE: In my forthcoming book, "Bush Versus the Beltway," I deal with the scholars. I don't think their opinions --
MR. BEN-VENISTE: You don't have that copy to hold up right now?
MS. MYLROIE: No, it will be out the end of the month. I don't think that constitutes any significant criticism whatsoever, given how they dealt with this.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: And you attribute a CIA motive by the intelligence community for rejecting your theories of Iraqi sponsorship for these two horrific attacks on the United States and its civilian population to the CIA and other intelligence agencies, justifying their prior mistakes. Is that fair to say?
MS. MYLROIE: Say when they concluded that there was no state sponsorship, they did not have the evidence from the FBI investigation, because of grand jury secrecy laws prevailing then. And they had no basis for making that claim.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Now, is it fair to suggest that the current administration would not be reluctant to embrace your theory as a further justification for the invasion of Iraq, if evidence obtained since 9/11 -- debriefings of captured al Qaeda members, et cetera, which we will have access to, and have already begun receiving access to -- supported the notion of Iraqi sponsorship for either attack --
MS. MYLROIE: Senior --
MR. BEN-VENISTE: -- '93 or 2001?
MS. MYLROIE: A senior administration official told me in specific that the question of the identities of the terrorist masterminds could not be pursued because of bureaucratic obstructionism.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: And who was that?
MS. MYLROIE: I wouldn't want to mention the person's name publicly, but a senior and well-informed person. I have been working with him on the question of Khalid Sheik Mohammed. He said, "We're sorry, we just can't do it because of the bureaucratic obstructionism regarding the question of Ramzi Yousef's identity." So I went ahead and put it in the public record.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Now, the public record -- and I'll make reference to a June 22nd, 2003, newspaper article published by the Washington Post under the byline of Walter Pincus, who is one of the most respected journalists analyzing the intelligence community in our country, reported that there was significant doubt cast on this very al Qaeda-Iraqi connection. It references a National Intelligence Estimate from the fall of 2002 -- still classified, but this is a report which now is in the press. And of course the National Intelligence Estimate reflects the combined consensus of the U.S. intelligence community. And that report suggested that the National Intelligence Estimate concluded that while there had been some contact in the early '90s -- I think something which Dr. Yaphe has also concluded -- while Osama bin Laden was living in Sudan, those early contacts had not led to any known continuing high-level relationship between Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda. And, as I say, we are in the process of obtaining information from debriefings and other sources which could conceivably throw more light on it. But your reluctance to mention even the name of someone who we could ask about this doesn't help us terribly much.
MS. MYLROIE: I can ask that person if he will give me permission to do so.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Okay, well we would appreciate it.
Now, your suggestion that Khalid Sheik Mohammed was an Iraqi intelligence operative would seem to be something which we would be in a position -- we as a government -- would be in a position to investigate very carefully, since he is no longer in circulation, and reports are that he has been interrogated and is providing information. So are you aware of any information based on the interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed to suggest that he has acknowledged some Iraqi hand in his terrorist activities?
MS. MYLROIE: I can only cite to you what the friend, retired from Israeli intelligence, number two position, a lot of experience, said, "It's obviously that these are legends."
MS. YAPHE: That is not evidence.
MS. MYLROIE: Evidence is something that --
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Let's not -- I think you've answered my question that in fact to your knowledge -- I am not suggesting it doesn't exist somewhere, or might not somehow develop. But to this point with respect to the significant information that has been provided already by Sheik Mohammed, there is no corroboration for your theory. And presumably that would be something that would be of interest for the administration to put forward, given the other events that occupy the front page of the newspaper on a daily basis. In fact, today's Washington Post, as Dr. Yaphe has pointed out, suggests that we are able to investigate still another of the early allegations relating to Iraqi intelligence and a potential al Qaeda connection, and that is the arrest in Iraq of a high-level Iraqi intelligence operative named Ahmed Khalid Ibraham Samir al-Ani -- is that correct, Dr. Yaphe?
MS. YAPHE: Yes.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: This is a man who supposedly met with 9/11 terrorist and murderer Mohammad Atta, supposedly in Prague, in the spring of 1991.
MS. MYLROIE: 2001.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: 2001, I'm sorry, 2001, just months before the 9/11 disaster. This is a report that was first sponsored by Czech officials, and subsequently they have pulled back substantially from their original suggestion that this Iraqi intelligence operative met with an individual who they identified initially as Mohammad Atta. Again, do you subscribe to the notion that in fact Mohammad Atta met with Mr. al-Ani in Prague in the spring of 2001?
MS. MYLROIE: I think it's an open question. I don't have the information that allows me to make a clear judgment one way or another.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: So presumably on an ongoing basis, with our interactive relationship now with the FBI and the intelligence community, we will be able certainly by the time we are able to give our report, throw significant light on that issue, if it hasn't already been made public before.
There are a number of questions I would ask with respect to the hypothesis that you have put forward which basically it seems to me relies on the notion that the passports utilized by Yousef, principally his passport, was somehow doctored up during the period of time that Kuwait was occupied or controlled by Iraqi intelligence operatives. But let me ask you whether you have any evidence or even a suggestion that there are other examples of the use of Iraqi documents for use in terrorism that originated from this brief period of time that Iraqi intelligence controlled certain aspects of the Kuwaiti infrastructure.
MS. MYLROIE: There was a document found in Iraq recently in which the palace, Saddam Hussein's office, sends out a memo to all the Iraqi intelligence offices -- this is April 2002 -- saying that they are to prepare the documents that they have that were taken from Kuwait's archives, they are to remove any notes that they have made in the margin, but prepared these documents because Iraq will return them in October -- except those documents that were used for intelligence purposes. So that does establish that Iraq went carefully through the Kuwaiti archives, and there were at least some documents that were used for intelligence purposes.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: But is there any suggestion, Dr. Mylroie, that aside from the one example you have focused on, any other documents from that period of time carried by, utilized by, or any way used by terrorists which we have come into contact with and have been able to interrogate?
MS. MYLROIE: Well, Ramzi Yousef came into the United States on an Iraqi passport which to all appearances his travels begin in Baghdad.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: But that's the same example that you've used before, and my question --
MS. MYLROIE: No, I referred to the Pakistani passport on which he fled. This is a different passport. You can talk about Abdul Rahman Yasin, who came from Baghdad before the Trade Center bombing, returned to Baghdad afterwards, stopping in Amman at the Iraqi Embassy there before going on to Baghdad, where he was for a decade. Lesley Stahl interviewed him last year there.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: These are the same individuals that you suggest are in the same operation, correct?
MS. MYLROIE: Yeah.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Okay. So my question goes to put that aside is there any other evidence of use of those documents during that period of time in which Iraqi intelligence controlled Kuwait to suggest that this was a pervasive use or misuse of those documents?
MS. MYLROIE: Only the people that I name in that chart, Ramzi Yousef, Abdul Hakim Murad, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Abdul Moneim -- supposed to be --
MR. BEN-VENISTE: The same individuals that we're talking about --
MS. MYLROIE: And Ali, Abdel Aziz Ali. Yes, they are legends created by Iraqi intelligence while it occupied Kuwait.
MR. BEN-VENISTE: Mr. Chairman, I simply don't want to monopolize all the time in running this to the ground, but you can understand we don't have the freedom to spend a lot of time in exploring in detail these allegations, but we will certainly look for any indication that would support the suggestion of an Iraqi sponsorship for either of the World Trade Center disasters as we go forward with our work. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. KEAN: Commissioner Thompson.
MR. THOMPSON: I'd like to ask the panel to assess the same question: Do you think that America's military, diplomatic, and intelligence bureaucracy is as capable today dealing with both cultural enemies -- that is to say non-state sponsored, non-state terrorists -- as well as Islamic states whom we've never confronted before in our history to any great extent, in the same way that we've dealt with other countries in earlier and what seemed to be simpler times, like our engagement with the Soviet Union during the Cold War or engagement with China, both of which engagements has led in a change of relationships where we now look at both of those countries as either friendly or neutral, as the case may be? Do our institutions today have the capacity to deal with all of these Middle Eastern states, all of these Islamic groups? And, if they don't, what do we do about that? Because one of our mandates is to advise the American people on how we can protect ourselves in the future. And it troubles me that this is a different kind of enemy or a different kind of confrontation than the American public and maybe even the American government is used to. Dr. Mylroie?
MS. MYLROIE: No, I agree with you, I don't think we have the capabilities. I think part of the problem has to do with building up regional expertise, and that was never really a high priority regarding the Middle East, as it was compared to the Soviet Union and China. One of the things I think that's flawed about my field of study is you can't become secretary of State based on being a Middle East expert, or National Security Council advisor, but you could be a China or Russia expert. So the best and the brightest don't go into the field, and I very much include myself. If I had higher ambitions for myself, I would not have chosen to be a Middle East expert.
And the thing is regarding the Middle East for the most part it's not important to the United States except the Arab-Israeli issue, except that every 10 years there is a war there. So every 10 years you have got a lot of resources poured into the study of the region, but people forget about it, and you know you end up with a -- not enough people who really know what they are talking about to deal with the issue. So on a general level I think there needs to be much more resources put into the training of individuals to handle Middle East issues, language training, and that has to be a sustained effort, and independent of Arab-Israeli issues which really take most of the attention most of the time.
MS. YAPHE: Yes, I would agree with what Laurie says. I think she's absolutely right. Which means -- this is the way I got my education, which was by federal government money, national defense, foreign language and the education act which paid me to get a Ph.D. looking at, what, at exotic cultures, studying exotic languages, the Middle East, for which I have I think paid back in a sense all my work has been government work. But you know I thank the federal government and those grants for enabling me to -- well, I won't say become a smart person, but to gather my skills on what I think is the most fascinating area. When I started doing Iraq, nobody looked at it. There were only two or three people -- who cared? -- the 1970s, anyway. Who would have thought this would have become such a growth industry to guarantee full employment through retirement? And I think -- and we need to do a lot more of that.
I want to answer your question by saying something which I found deeply disturbing, and it goes back to my experience. I don't want to be seen as an apologist for the agency, or for our efforts on counterterrorism or anything else. I often get in trouble. I don't share the administration's views, but again I think that's -- the issue here is -- again, what I found so deeply disturbing, the lack of cooperation. When I started doing counterterrorism in the mid-1980s, Bill Casey had just set up the Counterterrorism Center to be a proactive, and I couldn't believe the fights. But it was understandable -- turf fights. This is my asset, this is my territory, this is my issue, not yours. And I thought -- not just within the CIA, but within the community at large -- and I had hoped after several years that we had gotten past that. And I was so disturbed with the information coming out from your committee and the work it's doing, and the investigations into what did we know and what didn't we tell anybody -- you know, across town -- is appalling. And I would hope that if nothing else, this has come at a very, very high cost -- we should have learned the lesson. I hope you get access to the full range of publications, especially on this issue of Iraq and terrorism, because I think it will show you how difficult it is to analyze all of the full range of information and come to different conclusions. Estimates are very valuable, if they are allowed to express at the same time not just consensus but what could be wrong with this document. You know, what could go wrong, where could we be wrong, or what could happen to change our judgments. Estimates don't always do that. It is the voice of the community. The more consensus you want the less you are going to get of the real feel for the certainties and questions over the issues, and that's what you need to know.
I would just simply point out one more thing. Working on the Middle East, but working especially on Iraq, and I think it's true of several of the other countries, but I think Iraq especially, it's been a denied area. We have had diplomatic representation for very few of the past 30 years. It's a society where everybody watched everybody else and reported. You had spies in the neighborhood, spies in your club, spies next-door, maybe in the apartment, who would tell on who you saw, who you talked to, what you did. It was not at culture that encouraged contact. Certainly diplomats could use the normal cocktail party route to gather information that was so easy and so conventionally used. Iraq was not German after World War II. It was not Italy after World War II. It was not Moscow. You know, I wouldn't say the problems were less. They were serious. They were frightening. I read John LeCarre all the time. It's my bible. It's a cultural thing one acquires, I guess.
But my point is, these were groups. And I think you heard that this morning from the first panel. Recruitment was done by who you knew. They don't have recruitment agents that go out like the CIA does, "Come and work here; here's our posters, you know, and here are the benefits you'll get." Recruitment is who you know. It's done initially through mosques, and everyone knows everyone else. You're fully vetted. It's a compartment. You don't know who's in the other cell.
How do you break into that? And I will say this. I don't think it's talking out of school, but I think this issue was looked at for a long time, going back to when I was in counterterrorism. How do we go about penetrating these organizations? And how do you go about seeding people; you know, the language of the legend and the mole and all this other -- you know, these technical terms, if you will.
The point is, to do that in a society where everything is known, everything is closely held, and everyone knows everyone, is virtually impossible to do with the same kind of brilliant success we clearly had in Europe after World War II.
MR. THOMPSON: Let me interrupt you just there, because my second question was going to be -- and I'll just pop it on you now -- Dr. Sageman said on the first panel this morning that what we have to do is take this pool of people who might have gone in for training with the jihad but didn't join the jihad for some reason but now we're maybe unfairly prosecuting them because they've provided assistance to those who did engage in terrorism, and we should solicit them, train them and double them back into the cells of the terrorists. How realistic is that?
MS. YAPHE: It's like a movie, I think. I don't think it's that easily done. I had trouble with a bunch of things I heard earlier this morning, and I think that's one of the things that I find very troubling. That is not an easy thing to do. Doubling -- you know, again -- tradecraft that worked in Europe. And I don't want to talk out of school. I'm not a professional in all of this. But different methods, different times, different problems, different strategies are needed.
There's a lot of talk today also about root causes. You won't solve the problem. You won't stop recruitments. You won't end the attractiveness of Islamic extremism by giving everybody a job, solving everyone's economic woes. You're still going to have this problem persisting.
Our getting out of Saudi Arabia -- we're simply moving someplace else in the neighborhood, but that's not going to solve our problems as being a target of these extremists, nor will it solve the Al Saud's problem of still being a target. It simply moves things around. But the primary -- you see, the problem will still remain because it has so much to do with a basic and fundamental view of society, of yourself, your esteem, and what will it take to restore us to greatness.
MR. THOMPSON: Dr. Jouejati?
MR. JOUEJATI: Thank you. It's not only about understanding these organizations or penetrating them better and so on. It's not only our knowledge about the Arab-Israeli issue or lack of knowledge about the Arab-Israeli issue. It's the whole political culture that is very complex. And I think there needs to be a greater harmony, a more harmonious relationship between academia and the bureaucratic capability that you talk about.
In academia, for example -- and here, if I may refer to Syria -- in academia, they will tell you that Syria is embedded both in the institution of sovereignty -- it's a state -- and it's embedded in the institution of Arab nationalism. And by virtue of the history and Syria's involvement in the Arab national movement, more legitimacy comes to it from what it does in the Arab arena than how a state would otherwise behave.
And so that would -- from an academic level -- that would explain a lot about, say, Syria's ties to Hizbollah and why it's not as simple as telling Damascus: "Stop your ties with Hizbollah." It would be political suicide in Damascus, and Mr. Bashar Assad is not about to commit political suicide.
So what bureaucrats say, usually, is confined to their perceptions of reality. And these perceptions do not always conform to the reality. And so there should be, I think, a greater marriage between academia and between the bureaucratic capabilities.
Dr. Michael Barnett of the University of Wisconsin has made absolutely wonderful studies. I don't know how many people in the State Department read them or try to read them or try to understand Syria or Egypt through them.
MR. THOMPSON: Mr. Gasiorowski.
MR. GASIOROWSKI: I've interacted a fair amount with U.S. government experts on Iran in recent years, and my general impression is that they have a pretty good understanding of Iran, even though they can't go there, haven't been able to go there since 1980. So I don't think that the fundamental problem lies in the capability of the experts in the U.S. government to understand at least Iran. I can't speak for how this applies to other countries. And indeed, I certainly don't think that academics have any better idea. And having spent an awful lot of time in Iran in the last 10 years, I don't think that people in Iran have a better idea of what's going on in that country than people do in the State Department and other agencies of the U.S. government, quite frankly.
I don't think the problem really lies in the capabilities of, you know, the State Department and the intelligence agencies in the U.S. government. I think they're pretty good. Of course, there's always room for improvement. Hiring more people from the region, you know, first-generation Iranians or Syrians or Iraqis, can always help, no doubt.
I think really the problem is at higher levels in general. It's how top U.S. policymakers have used the information they get from the experts or fail to use the information they get from the experts. That's where I would focus most of the blame.
MR. THOMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. KEAN: Any further questions? If not, I'd like to thank you all very, very much. We appreciate your work. We're going to reconvene at five minutes past 2:00, we will reconvene for our third panel.
MR. KEAN: Our third panel will turn from specifics of particular groups and nations to the broader questions of the links between religion and culture, politics and violence that produce al Qaeda and similar groups.
With us are Mrs. Rachel Bronson, senior fellow and director of Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Professor Gilles Kepel, of the Institute of Political Studies in Paris and author of "Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam." In addition, we will hear from Steven Emerson, executive director of The Investigative Project and author of "American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us." And Mr. Dennis Ross is on the way, the Ziegler (sp) distinguished fellow at the Washington Near East Policy -- so I think he'll be here shortly, and Ms. Bronson, if you could begin.
MS. RACHEL BRONSON: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice Chairman, Board of Commissioners, thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. It's a particular honor to testify before the chairman. I'm a born and bred Jersey girl, and my formative years were spent hearing that "New Jersey and I were perfect together." (Laughter.) So, it's quite a pleasure to be here.
MR. KEAN: I'm sure you were. (Laughter.)
MS. BRONSON: I was asked today to talk about the notion of whether we are facing a clash of civilizations or a clash within civilizations, and I'd like to present to the commission a slightly different lens to view it through. I think we're involved in a political and economic struggle rather than a struggle of civilizations, and that if we allow ourselves to define this as a clash of civilizations, we will -- we will not have policy options to respond, that we will alienate and abandon those in the region who really do struggle for our success and our dwindling supporters out there will have fewer and fewer issues and ideas to rally against.
But, saying that this is -- it's about politics and policies doesn't offer easy answers. Many of our policies are put in place for very good reasons and have been carefully thought through. And so it's not a palliative to argue that this is about policy and economics, but rather I think gives us some way to think about what we're facing and to define the tools to respond to.
The problem we face today, I think, is trying to dry up these swamps of al Qaeda and terrorism, but that also means changing the climate in the Arab and Muslim world. So, to illustrate what the climate out there is that we face, I think any of you or us who go out to the region know that things are pretty terrible for Americans out there right now. But some numbers, I think, might also be helpful. And if you haven't seen it, there's a terrific study by Pew that I commend to everybody, but there's some startling figures that are worth pulling out.
In Indonesia, those viewing the U.S. favorably fell from 61 percent to 15 percent in the last year. In Turkey, 71 percent of the population expects an attack against their country, a NATO ally, in the near future. Seventy-one percent of Palestinians think Osama Bin Laden can be trusted to do the right thing in foreign policy. And anti-Americanism has become the flavor of the month, not only in the Muslim world but among our traditional allies. Look at the response we've had in South Korea, in Germany, in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Five of seven NATO countries support a more independent relationship from the United States. But very striking, according to this poll, the bottom has fallen out of support for American in most of the Muslim world. It is the main conclusion from the report. And far away from the day in 1962, when Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia, who became the king, told President Kennedy that "after God, we trust in the United States."
Now, I believe in the situation we're facing are a result of decisions we have made since the Cold War and decisions that our partners, friends, have made in the Middle East, and it flows directly from the Cold War. I view September 11th as part of the Cold War, even though the Cold War had ended a decade before. The choices we made in Afghanistan directly led to September 11th, and the choices we made in the '90s to abandon certain countries for geopolitical reasons led directly to September 11th. And I think a quote from Brzezinski really sort of captures about how to think about this as part of the Cold War struggle. Brzezinski had said "What was more important in the world view of history, the Taliban or the fall of the Soviet empire? A few stirred up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?" And I do believe that if our policymakers were told in the '80s that some of the decisions that they were making would result in the deaths on September 11th, the bombing of the Cole, the African embassies, and all of that was to bring down the Soviet Union, I think they very well may have said it would have been worth it. They wouldn't have said it in those words, but I think in the calculation, that is something at the time they would have lived with.
During the Cold War, obviously the United States chose a strategy of working on states for geopolitical reasons rather that ideological compatibility. They were determined not to recreate the experience of the British and get too involved in the domestic and foreign policies of their partners and allies. It was a conscious decision. And what has been fascinating to me is to look back at documents in the 1950s where the Saudis were actually funding Hashemite groups who were also, bizarrely, pro-communist -- this is at a time when they were our partner in fighting the communists.
The British were desperately worried about this and beseeched the United States to get involved and to try to use their influence to affect the foreign policy of their partners. The United States steadfastly refused because, again for very good reasons, we would refuse to recreate the British Empire. But the result of not getting involved in the domestic politics of our partners has had costs and ramifications that we are grappling with today. And as the committee thinks about offering recommendations, I think this is a very tough issue and a tough nut for you to crack.
The United States does not want to be an imperial power, and yet some of the price, which is al Qaeda, comes out of a result from not being too involved in the domestic politics of our partners. And so arguing for a change in policies has vast ramifications for U.S. foreign policy, and will have its own set of costs, but it very well may be the path that we choose to move forward with. Listen to the words of Egypt's Imam Zawahiri, who argued that "the U.S. claims to stand for human rights and democracy but forces corrupt regimes on the Muslim world." It is very surprising that elements of al Qaeda would argue that we weren't involved enough in the foreign policy of states, but this is what brings recruits to al Qaeda.
Again, a number of our policies have had challenges. I think our policy in the '90s, and more recently in how we chose to fight Saddam Hussein, was an absolute disaster for our relations with the Muslim world. In the early to mid-'90s, we had the Arab world calling for a more active policy against against Iraq. But instead we were very comfortable with a strategy of dual containment, about keeping Saddam in his box. That led, during the '90s, to increasing anti-Americanism. I was doing research on this in the '90s, I can tell you from first-hand, it was something that al Qaeda was using to recruit. It was this festering anti-Americanism that did not begin on September 11th -- September 11th hastened it but it was growing throughout the '90s. And statements by our policymakers that the strategy of containment was worth the lives of half-a-million Iraqi children ricocheted through the Arab world and had significant affects that drew people against us.
Now, all the hatred and anger is surely not a result only of our policies, and I would be vastly irresponsible if I left you with that notion. But I do want to convey that our policies do have something to do with what we're seeing today. But consider also the choices that our partners have made. During the 1970s and '80s, leaders across the Arab world supported and funded Islamic radical groups. They did so at the time because their real enemy isn't domestic politics or the secular nationalists. Israel funded Islamic groups, Egypt funded Islamic groups, Tunisia funded Islamic groups. They sent money in this because they were fighting domestic opponents. Israel, the case that many of us know best, was putting money into groups that would eventually become Islamic Jihad and Hamas. But as they were putting money into these, and then in the '70s and the '80s we had the boom in oil prices, where the Gulf states began funding mosques and schools across the world, the Saudis sent significant funds to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Africa, and beyond. In Afghanistan, as I mentioned, in the 1980s, we had a pact with the Saudis that we would -- we would fund dollar-for-dollar covert operations in Afghanistan.
Many Middle East states then used this growing Islamic opposition which they had fostered as an excuse for enacting emergency decrees and erasing civil liberties. This oppressive, increasing totalitarian state -- these totalitarian states across the region have stamped out any sort of domestic response and criticism. And the only outlet for people now is this venal Islamic opposition. They're the only ones that are able to survive.
So, what can we do about this situation? The United States does have tools in our kit box, and we have to be thinking about preventive measures that we can take. In my written testimony, I suggest four, and I'll quickly go through them.
One is the administration's engagement in Arab-Israeli issues is very productive. Arab-Israeli problems are not the cause of this. When things were going well in the peace process, you still had al Qaeda organizing and motivating. What you hear from moderates across the region relentlessly that active American involvement helps their cause, and absence of American involvement directly hurts the friends that we have out there, and so our current involvement is very positive.
The second thing we can do is commit to nation-building. we have undertaken massive projects in Afghanistan and in Iraq. After Afghanistan, the Arab world was looking at -- here is a Muslim country that we were committed to improving and changing, and they were watching us. Our lack of clear effort to try to fix the problem led to a lot of resistance to support the United States. It empowered our enemies that the U.S. cares very little about what goes on in the region.
We have to think about ways to help our friends, not our enemies. We have to look at the social and economic challenges that the region is facing and try to think creatively of how we can help the number of unemployed young people in the region. We need to focus on education and going one on one with the kind of nasty funding that's going on throughout the world and show that the United States can offer an alternative. We are a country of competition, and surely we can compete on this.
And lastly, we have to improve the communication channels between Washington and the world, not only in explaining our policies but hearing the concerns of those in the region. From an independent investigation I was doing during the recent fight in Iraq, there was a noted lack of hearing what the local concerns were, and many of them were quite valid.
In the future, I think our real challenge is not turning this into a clash of civilizations. Look at all the hot spots we are likely to face -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya. You can look at Nigeria, Sudan. We will be operating against organized Islamic opponents. Unless we have a positive alternative, the rest of the world will define us as a clash of civilizations, and we will be the greatest loser of all.
Thank you. MR. KEAN: Thank you very much. Mr. Emerson.
MR. EMERSON: Chairman Kean, Vice President Hamilton, distinguished members of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the U.S., thank you for inviting me and having this hearing. I'm going to summarize and just isolate several comments in my testimony. Obviously the rest is available for scrutiny and for questions.
I think it is very important, at the outset of this hearing, to never lose sight of the fact that the killers behind the murder of 3,000 Americans on September 11th were not generic terrorists without clear political and religious motives. The terrorists were not simply a band of fanatics who, as so many officials and pundits have repeatedly stated, had simply hijacked a religion.
Because of a fear of engendering charges of racism by Muslim leaders, a charge that is routinely applied to anything critical of militant Islam, there has been an assiduous effort to avoid labeling the terrorists of 9/11 by some commentators for what they really were -- militant Islamic terrorists.
Their behavior was informed and guided by their misguided interpretation of Islam. Unfortunately, efforts to sanitize the discussion of Islamic terrorism have led to explanations that exonerate the masterminds and perpetrators of any responsibility for their actions. In fact, the special Hollywood broadcast after 9/11 noted that the attack of 9/11 was simply, quote, "pure evil and had nothing to do with religion."
In fact, the 9/11 attack had everything to do with religion. It had to do with the doctrinal interpretation of Islam by militants. At the outset, it is critical to point out that militant Islam does not equal Islam. Islam as a religion, like Christianity and Judaism, does not endorse violence. Islam is a vibrant religion that gives spiritual comfort and meaning to its vast number of practitioners. And there are precious few, as they exist, Islamic writers, intellectuals and clerics who openly and unambiguously repudiate violent Islamic ideology.
But for the peaceful majority of Muslims around the world, it is not the West that is avoiding these distinctions. It is the militants who are trying to raise these distinctions by claiming there is no such thing as, quote, "Islamic extremism." They have tried to hide under the protection of the mainstream majority.
Anti-American radicalism was pervasive in the Muslim world long before the events of September 11th and not limited to bin Laden and al Qaeda. One only need read the translations of the Muslim media in many parts of the world, including the West, to see the resentment, hatred and anger even in countries that are our strategic allies, in particular Saudi Arabia. Persistent denial that radical Muslims are responsible for the September 11 attacks, with the belief that either Israel or the U.S. had secretly launched the attacks, is further evidence of this rampant radicalism. The extent of radicalism in the Muslim world has gone largely unrecognized, particularly before 9/11, because of premeditated deception, a cloak of religiosity, intimidation, the power of Saudi Arabia and other oil producers, and a tendency by many in the West to dismiss radical statements as nothing more than rhetorical posturing.
In the last two years, it has been the genuine although belated recognition that the problem and threat posed by al Qaeda is not limited to card-carrying members of this terrorist group. But although al Qaeda carried out the horrific attack of 9/11, the larger problem the U.S. faces is the militant Islamic culture and mindset that gave birth to al Qaeda.
In this regard, al Qaeda is actually shorthand for a much larger religious phenomenon -- militant Islamic fundamentalism that has spawned violence and terrorism against the U.S., the West, Islamic moderates or other perceived enemies of Islam. Within the framework of militant Islamic fundamentalism, a culture of violent jihad has become a common denominator sanctioning violence, terrorism against moderate and secular Muslims, Americans, westerners, Christians, Jews, and other infidels.
To be sure, the Muslim world is not the only religious umbrella under which religious-sanctioned terrorism has taken place. There have been Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, and other terrorists, for example. But today, no other religious-inspired violence matches the scope and transnational breadth of militant Islamic fundamentalism.
According to research we have conducted, Islamic terrorist attacks have now occurred and been planned and supported in more than 100 countries around the globe in the past 10 years. One of the basic problems when confronting radicalism in the Muslim world is the unwillingness by some western academicians, editorialists, and leaders to recognize the pervasive institutionalized support and dissemination of jihadist ideology.
The undeniable fact is that Islamic militants dominate or exercise disproportionate influence over the religious, academic, and media institutions in the Muslim world, with the notable exception of several countries such as Turkey and Indonesia. Within the Muslim world, the religious hierarchy has been traditionally controlled by Islamic fundamentalists.
The question that we now face and which will be of the discussion today is what should the response be, what caused this radicalism, and how should we behave in the future? Let me just state this: I do not believe that the enmity, anger, and hatred developed among Islamic fundamentalists in the Islamic world is a result of U.S. policies. I believe it is the result of the U.S. existence. It is a rejection of American pluralism, American secularism. Let me read to you a quote by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a militant Islamic leader that some journalists have defined and described as a, quote, "moderate," including a recent story in the Washington Post. Mr. Qardawi is a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, living in Qatar. Let me read to you a quote.
"Secularism may be accepted in the Christian society, but it can never enjoy general acceptance in an Islamic society. Islam is a comprehensive system of worship and legislation. The acceptance of secularism means the abandonment of the Sharia, a denial of the divine guidance and the rejection of Allah's injunctions. For this reason, the call for secularism on Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam."
This is the underlying guide and motif that has led to the development of Islamic militancy. If Israel were to disappear tomorrow, disappear, and an Islamic state were to replace Israel from the river to the sea, the mantra of Hamas, there would still be the same amount if not greater degree of Islamic fundamentalism.
The problem lies in a vast, pervasive system of Islamic radicalism, largely perpetrated and sponsored by the Saudi Arabian government. And I don't think it's a coincidence that we see the rise of fundamentalism around the world coinciding with the oil revolution in 1973-74. Petro-dollars began to fuel this.
In the last 25 years, major radical Islamic institutions -- I describe some of them in my testimony; the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, the Muslim World League, International Islamic Relief Organization -- some of which are tied to 9/11 forensically and clinically, these groups have been responsible for fueling Islamic militancy around the world.
It is the Al Jazeera and other media stations that have largely inflamed Arab views and Islamic views about the United States. I do not believe the United States is culpable or responsible for the rise of extremism. If we look at extremist movements, generally speaking, we in the West like to associate extremist movements with being only part of a minor view. We like to believe that they can be isolated.
What we have in the Islamic world is a much more pervasive system of beliefs, unfortunately dictated and manipulated by a disproportionately radical control over the institutions of the media and of Islamic religious institutions.
I do not agree with my colleague, Ms. Bronson here, that, for example, Israel was putting money into the groups that would eventually become Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israel, for example, in the 1980s was allowing Islamic institutions to develop in Gaza and the West Bank because that's what it tried to do in terms of allowing more freedom to local populations.
Unfortunately, it was occurring at the same time the entire Islamic world was being radicalized, in part by jihad in Afghanistan, as a result of which, when Hamas was created and Islamic Jihad was created, we also saw the creation of more than a dozen other radical Islamic groups in Algeria, Tunisia, and elsewhere.
This whole rise of Islamic fundamentalist ideology is coterminous with a vicious type of belief system that views the West, the United States and the enemies of Islam to be defeated, subjugated or repressed. In the Islamic militant mindset, the world is divided between Dar al Harb and Dawa Islam.
Dar al Harb is the house of war, where it's permissible to wage war against those institutions or countries that do not subscribe to the Sharia or are not under Islamic sovereignty. Dawa Islam is the house or the abode of peace. That's where Islamic sovereignty reigns, such as in Iran, as it used to in Afghanistan, as well as now in the Sudan.
I do not believe we have silver bullets here. There are no silver bullets when it comes to stopping terrorism. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that law enforcement needs effective tools, as they have been given under the Patriot Act, to fight terrorist groups, seize their assets, as they have done.
The problem is militant Islamic clergy, not just in Saudi Arabia or Qatar or elsewhere, but also in the United States, have portrayed every single attack on terrorist groups, including the freezing of assets and the arrests of actual terrorists, as somehow an attack on Islam. It is these, quote, "moderate" Islamic clerics -- and I say so-called because they pretend to be Islamic moderates to the West, but in fact they are not.
I'll give you one very good example -- the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. It's a Saudi-run foundation with offices in dozens of countries. It has openly supported Islamic terrorism. There are ties between WAMY and 9/11 hijackers. It is a group that has openly endorsed the notion that Jews must be killed.
WAMY, in 1995, after the Oklahoma City bombing, issued a statement and provided money to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, together with other Islamic groups, in an effort to portray itself as being very sympathetic to American problems and trying to show that it was anti-terrorism. It is this very group that has consistently portrayed the United States, Jews, Christians, and other infidels as enemies who have to be defeated or killed. And there is no doubt, according to U.S. intelligence, that WAMY has been tied directly to terrorist attacks.
The problem is, WAMY and its external group of publications tries to issue statements protecting its identity as a moderate group when, in fact, it is anything but.
In the end, I believe we are left with one very resolute thing: We have to stay the course. We have to stand up for the American principles of pluralism, the notion of the right to disagreement, the notion of the United States as a menace to the Islamic militants, not because of U.S. policies, but because of the very principles underlying our creation.
MR. KEAN: Thank you. Mr. Kepel.
MR. KEPEL: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you very much for inviting me and for inviting a Frenchman under the circumstances. (Laughter.) I'll try to be as focused as possible, and I'll try not to be normative. That is to say, I'm not going to make policy recommendations.
I would like to try to address one issue which I think is also an issue with which this commission is concerned, i.e., how did we get there? How did we get from those radical Islamic militants who fought jihad against the Red Army against Afghanistan in the '80s and who were, at the time, backed both by the USA and by petro-monarchies, if you wish, to 9/11?
And I think we can try to understand how the phenomenon progressed from one to the other and how -- and pardon my French, if I may say so -- but how, in a way, jihadi chicken came home to roost.
As you know, when the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan in late December 1979, this had been a terrible year for American interests in the area. Ayatollah Khomeini had seized power in Iran as of February 1st. In early fall, the grand mosque in Mecca, then still under the control of a traditional friend of the United States, the Saudi dynasty, had been besieged and freed only after a heavy battle, and also American hostages had been taken in your embassy in Tehran.
So, on the one hand, you had a revolutionary understanding of Islam, the Iranian one, which was claiming to use the origin of Islam as a means to fight against the West, and on the other hand, you had the Soviet army, which had gone down towards the hot seas or the warm seas following Lord Garrison's great game scheme. So for some reasons, then, this challenge to the United States was not fought via the force of arms. Seventy-nine, as you know, was five years or four years after the end of the Vietnam War, and the war against the Soviet Union was waged by proxy, was waged vicariously, thanks to those militants, those Islamist radical militants, who suddenly became freedom fighters.
I mean, they were called to jihad; that is to say, to fight against the infidels that had encroached on the land of Islam by those very same clerics that my colleague, Steve Emerson, mentioned earlier on, Sheikh Qardawi and a few others who, at the time, saw that their interests and the interests of the United States coincided.
And so, not only from inside of Afghanistan, but also from Algeria, Egypt, the Philippines, even the inner cities of the suburbs of some European countries with Muslim immigrant populations. Then you had a sort of international brigade, international Islamist brigade, that went to Afghanistan.
Then the issue was to kill two birds with one stone; on the one hand, to inflict a Vietnam, if I may say so, on the Soviet army, on the Red Army, and on the other hand, to light a sort of counter-fire against the Iranian revolution, and to press the sort of claim about political Islam in a way which would not be anti-American but rather anti-communist, anti-atheist, if you wish. By 1989, both of those objectives were, to a large extent, met. On the 15th of February, 1989, the Red Army pulled out of Afghanistan, admitting its defeat. Though, the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan would only crumble three years later. And in the same year, 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini died after he had signed a truce with Saddam Hussein, who at the time was the darling of the West, of the U.S., of France of course, and of the petro-monarchies, because he had resisted the expansion of Iran to the west, thanks to the war, the sort of attrition war, war of the trenches, that took eight years between Iran and Iraq.
So, then in 1989, to a large extent when we think of that war, this is a war that had almost no cost, because from conservative estimates, and it is difficult to know, but I am sure that in your capacity as a commission you will have those figures and you will make them public. Generally speaking academics like myself would have no access to real information -- consider that the cost of jihad in Afghanistan was approximately $1.2 billion per year, half of it was being paid by the oil countries, those $600 million for the American taxpayer, if I may use an American colloquial expression, it's peanuts for getting rid of the Soviet Union. And so plus the fact that no Americans were killed there. I mean, the ones who fought against the U.S.S.R. were those bearded guys who at the time were called "freedom fighters." They had no mothers, or their mothers wouldn't demonstrate or picket down there on the Mall, and they would have no visas, anyway. And so this was perceived as an operation which almost cost nothing.
Well, then there was a problem, because as of 1989, most people believed that there was no hurry or no reason to give any retribution to those troops, that if one stopped paying the jihadists who had been there for eight years and five years at times in the caves in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, they would evaporate, they would disappear. They would go back to their countries of origin and disappear. And, conversely, many people thought that there was no need to compensate the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein for the human price it had paid for the West to a large extent in the war, and for the oil monarchies in the war it led against Khomeini's Iran between 1980 and 1988.
So that led to tremendous misunderstanding, to use a euphemism, between the former allies; i.e., the U.S. forces and the U.S. administration and those freedom fighters a.k.a. jihadists. And in spite of evaporating, those people who knew nothing else but waging war began to turn against the ones who had fed them and to bite the hands that had given them food and shelter. That took place particularly after the crucial turning point that was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, when as the Saudi regime called the U.S. to the rescue on the 7th of August. Then Saudi Arabia, in the eyes of those militants got the same status as Afghanistan, if you wish. It was there again part of the land of Islam that was invaded by infidel armies. Hence, jihad against America became legitimate. Not all of the religious establishment that had backed the jihad against Soviet-occupied Afghanistan backed the jihad against American, quote-unquote "occupied" Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, some did. And that led to a rift within the Islamist movements between the radicals who then would engage against Saudi Arabia, against America, and the so-called moderates who would be taken into politics of cooptation by the regimes, like the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, and so on and so forth.
So, anyway, that led to a situation where sort of the most radical, the most violent elements in the movement suddenly became apolitical. I mean, they would believe that violence in itself was not only a means but an aim. And in doing so they sought to have a remake which would ape what had been jihad in Afghanistan that was successful, because it ousted the Soviets. That developed into two different moments along the 1990s. From 1992 to 1996 approximately they tried to develop guerrilla movements, mimicking the Afghan one -- in Algeria, in Bosnia, in Egypt, later in Kashmir, in Chechnya. And to a large extent those movements failed. They did not manage to seize power, because ultimately they were unable to draw a large constituency to back them.
And then, in the second half of the 1990s, then those groups who were closely knit and who traced back to the Afghanistan period -- the training camps and the network which was created there. As you know the term "al Qaeda" in Arabic means base -- it means database -- al Qaeda -- (speaks Arabic). That's because bin Laden and his likes had put all jihadists on the database, on a computer database so that they could know where they were after they left the camps, right? And so they turned to another tactic, which was terrorism, and by terrorism as opposed to guerrilla, I mean action which did not need the backing of the masses, but action which would be done in closed groups -- very spectacular, with the media as sort of a loud speaker. And that was intended to change the mentality of those masses and to mobilize them, to show that the enemy was weak and that through violence they could achieve their aims.
Now, to conclude, at first action was directed essentially against Saudi-American relations. Most of the bombings took place in relation to that, the 1996 bombings against American servicemen in Dharhan in June or July 1996, in Eastern Saudi Arabia; then the bombing of the two embassies on the 7th of August 1996. And the 7th of August is the anniversary of the call by the Saudis to the American troops on the 7th of August 1990, which is the main symbolic date for them. Then the U.S.S. Cole in October 2000. And all that did not lead to any change in the U.S.-Saudi relationship and the U.S-ruling-family-in-Saudi Arabia relationship.
And then in my view this is how we got to sort of the further step, an escalation in this logic of terrorism, which led to 9/11. Nine-eleven also has to be put into context, because in my view it is something that uses a language which is already if you wish in use at the time. Nine-eleven comes approximately a year after the beginning of the second intifada. During the second intifada who have those kids who have become "heroes and marchers," quote/unquote, in some part of the youth in the Muslim world who blow themselves up in these areas in Tel Aviv and what have you. There again the retaliation of the Israeli army is such that whatever those terrorists do against the Israelis nevertheless, militarily the Israelis keep the upper hand. And the 9/11 bombing to some extent is a means, is a continuation of both the previous bombings of the bin Laden group around Saudi Arabia and so on and so forth, and it blends that with, if you wish, the gesture of the terrorism activities in Palestine and Israel against the Israelis, to show that they are able to overcome their military weakness that they can fight a superpower. And in doing so, they had hoped to mobilize the masses throughout the Muslim world in order to show that they could topple America.
This, I think, was a failure, and as far as we can judge as of now they have not been able to do so. And what that led to was the toppling of the only significantly pro-terrorist regime in the Muslim world; that is to say Afghanistan. The Taliban regime was down. Then the Saddam Hussein regime disappeared. And in my view -- and I was asked to read the final part of my written piece in my statement, so I will abide to that -- so the political cost of such campaigns of suicide bombings and terrorism seems in my view to be considerable and its gains questionable. There is only the exultation of a small minority who have locked themselves into a mentality where terrorism becomes an end in itself. Thank you for your patience.
MR. KEAN: Thank you. Mr. Ross.
MR. ROSS: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the commission. Along with you, I have just heard a number of interesting perspectives, and I think what I am going to offer is something that complements what you've heard. It doesn't necessarily agree with everything, but I think it is designed to create even more of a context, at least as it relates to the Middle East. I am going to encapsulate what I wrote in my statement by talking about what I consider certain basic realities.
One reality is the reality that confronted me on 9/11: I had all the questions I think that many of you are now exploring, among which, How is it possible that we could have been so catastrophically surprised? What fundamental assumptions were we making that were not the right assumptions? And how do we correct that? -- among other things. But I didn't have any question about where this had come from. I had no doubt that this had a Middle Eastern connection. I understood very clearly that the kind of brand of radical Islam that tends to glorify martyrdom on the one hand and makes us the embodiment of evil, the source of contamination of the faith, responsible for corruption their culture, in effect being responsible for supporting the intruder in their midst. All these things combine to ensure that the kind of attacks that we saw came from those who embrace this kind of radical Islam, and they are primarily in the Middle East. So I had no doubt this is where the source of the terror came from.
I also reacted at the time to some who have said that, Well, if we just had peace between Arabs and Israelis, and especially between Israelis and Palestinians, which is the core of this conflict, that basically we wouldn't have had this attack. Now, believe me on this one: no one has committed more of his time to trying to resolve this conflict than I have, and I remain as committed as ever. But you have to go back to where we were in the year 2000 to realize that in the midst of the planning for 9/11, we were at a point when most in the Arab world actually thought we were going to resolve this conflict. In fact, had we the way most of them thought at that time, we still would have had 9/11, because in a sense 9/11 wasn't about the Israeli- Palestinian issue. To be sure, the Israeli-Palestinian issue sours the climate. To be sure, especially with the advent of the intifada, it did create more of a sense that somehow something had to be done. And the images of the intifada that were being broadcast on Arab satellite TV, which was in effect re-Arabizing the Palestinian conflict, were the kind of images that were bound to add to the sense of anger and resentment. And anger and resentment is the essence of what people like Osama bin Laden and their organizations depend upon. They have to have anger and resentment, they have to have frustration, they have to have no hope to be able to build a body of recruits.
And, unfortunately, when it comes to the Middle East, they have very fertile ground, even if you didn't have the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We are talking about a landscape, at least psychically, that is characterized by a sense of humiliation. It is characterized by a sense of indignity. It is characterized by a sense of betrayal. And it goes back at least 80 years -- actually longer. Part of it is the sense that what was once a glorious history is gone. Part of it is a sense of betrayal of promises that were made at World War I. It is interesting that in the very first videotape that Osama bin Laden released, after 9/11, he referred to 80 years of humiliation, and he was, in effect at least implicitly, talking about the promises that had been betrayed after World War I when there was supposed to be independence for the Arabs. Well, not only did they not get the independence, but their image of having one Arab state, which was going to be the key to reestablishing their glory, was also frustrated. They were denied this. Again, they were betrayed.
So the sense of betrayal has deep-seated roots in this part of the world. And the feeling that somehow there is an ongoing humiliation where the outside world has imposed on people in the Middle East, that adds to that sense of indignity, is also very much a part of that landscape.
Now, the imposition is not only what is done from the outside. It's also what is done from the inside. Today in the Arab world the feeling is that most are imposed on by their own regimes. And that, too, adds to their sense of anger and frustration. Now, the fact is this creates a context. It also creates a context where, in the current setting, most regimes don't address the anger and frustration -- they try to deflect it. They want to make somebody else responsible for these ills. And, indeed, when you have a history where you can refer to betrayals, it's always easy to do so. And, unfortunately, some of our friends are in the lead, at least in terms of what they allow to be said within their societies as a way of deflecting anger away from them and on towards us.
Now, 9/11 in some respects did create a watershed in the region, at least in terms of some of the liberal voices. They became stronger after 9/11 in terms of calling for a kind of introspection, in terms of saying that, you know, it's not necessarily the Americans who are to blame. Some of these observers, some of these Arab liberals, some of these Arab reformers began to say, we need our religious authorities to come to grips with modernization and with modernity. We need our political leaders to come to grips with the fact that they lack legitimacy. We need our intellectuals to give up what is the kind of comfortable conformity that described most of the intellectual discourse and realize that in fact they have to embrace change and not simply resist it.
And you might ask why am I going through all this with this commission? Well, I think the answer is if we want to understand the roots of 9/11, and if we want to understand why terror may continue, we have to understand in fact what produces the kind of hostility, the anger, the sentiments that we see. We have to understand that some of this is obviously directed against the local regimes and some of it is directed against us. Now, we are frequently accused -- and this produces a lot of resentment -- of having a double-standard. To be sure, when that charge is made, when it is commonplace almost everyplace in the region, the focus is principally on Israel. But if you think that that's the sole basis of their view of a double-standard on our part, then you wouldn't really capture the understanding of what really goes on in the area.
We are resented in no small part because we are seen as using democracy as a tool or as a weapon. We are seen as using democracy as a tool or as a weapon against those that we don't like, but never against those that we do like. We are seen in a sense as mouthing the words of democracy but then supporting regimes that are seen as being repressive in regional terms. Now, in identifying this analytically -- I am not sitting here and suggesting that somehow we should withdraw our support for countries like Saudi Arabia or Egypt or others. I am saying, however, that if we are going to deal with the issue of resentment, if we are going to deal with the issue of double-standards, one of the things that we are going to have to do is be more consistent in terms of what we stand for. We don't have to push any of our friends over the cliff, but we do have to be very clear about who we are, what we stand for, what is important for us.
There are in fact, as I said, Arab liberals who are saying today that what is required in their part of the world is the rule of law. What is required for them is an independent judiciary. What is required for them is a vigorous anti-corruption campaign or set of campaigns. What is required for them is tolerance, the minority rights. What is required for them is transparency and accountability. What is required for them are women's rights.
Now, these happen to embrace what we believe in. And one of the things that is going to be very important for us is for us to adopt a position in which it's clear we stand with those who represent those kinds of values. Our friends in the region should know from us that we will be very clear not only in private but in public about supporting those groups, those reformers, who are committed to these kinds of values. They should understand very well, and those in the region should understand very well, that when those groups get suppressed we will not be silenced in response to the suppression of those groups.
If 9/11 demonstrated anything for us, it demonstrated one unmistakable lesson: We can no longer be indifferent to what goes on within the societies within the region. For a long time, we cut our own deals with some of our friends. As long as they supported us in the region or outside the region, we basically turned a blind eye to what went on in their homes. Now, at one level it made perfect sense. But 9/11 demonstrated that there was a consequence for us. There was an affect on our security. Being indifferent to what was happening in their societies was actually a prescription for us not actually paying attention to what was required for our security.
We can no longer be in a position where some of our friends, to deflect anger from themselves deflect it onto us, because the consequences of socializing that kind of anger, that kind of hostility, ends up being manifested in what we saw on 9/11.
Now, here again don't mistake what I am saying to somehow think that I don't think that hard power and only soft power is the answer to terrorism. I don't believe that. I believe that the use of hard power is essential. I believe that in terms of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups we have to respond to them using military force. We have to demonstrate something very profound: We have to demonstrate their way doesn't work. They prey on the imagery of humiliation, and they have the answer to humiliation. But we also have to demonstrate that the only they that they will produce is more victimhood -- not success, more victims from their standpoint. They have to be seen as the embodiment of failure. There's a long history in the Middle East of trying to defy the powerful on behalf of the powerless. Osama bin Laden is the latest in a long line. Saddam tried to do that, you go back to Nasser. All tried to somehow embrace and represent the powerless by defying the powerful. Well, this becomes an argument in and of itself for us to be I think successful in terms of proving they cannot succeed.
Let me just sum up since I see the red light is on, and I always respect the red light. Let me just sum up by saying the following: It is very important for us to use hard power where appropriate and necessary. But we also have to be realistic. The military cannot provide us the only answer that we need any more than improving law enforcement, which is essential, any more than improving intelligence, which is essential, any more in cutting off financial flows to terrorist groups, which is essential, any more than ensuring that there aren't safe havens. All that is important. But we will have to use all the instruments at our disposal, and we will have to press very hard to make it clear that any use of terror discredits any cause that employs it. As long as resistance is seen as being the equivalent of a normal way to deal with your cause, then we are going to find that suicide bombs are somehow seen as being legitimate. If they are legitimate in the Middle East, they are going to be legitimate anywhere else. We have to focus very heavily on how we discredit that. In the end, we also have to create models of success -- for example, in Iraq. And the last line of what I wrote was: We have to focus on how we make the power of our example as important as our military power. When we do that, we will succeed in this war. Thank you.
MR. KEAN: Thank you, Mr. Ross. Commissioner Fielding.
MR. FIELDING: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. At the risk of making it sound like we are all in a frenzy of self-congratulations and adoration, I would like to thank the staff for putting together such terrific panels as we have had today, and certainly helping our learning curve. And I would also echo the comments made earlier by my fellow commissioners and friends in support and thanks to the chair and vice chair for their leadership. Though, Tim, I am in the half-full club of that group. (Laughter.)
Seriously, the requests that we have made and the staff has made are for the most sensitive documents and information the executive branch has. They are of unprecedented scope. And thus far the response is to come up with an unprecedented scope of material, which I trust will continue, and we will, I trust, also get all the information that we need to complete our work.
I would also like to thank this panel -- very, very enlightened and enlightening report. Obviously there are some differences, and we are going to have to parse through them. I am not sure we are capable of it, but we'll sure try.
You know, the chairman made a very interesting observation this morning when he opened it and he said al Qaeda was at war with us before we realized we were at war. And I think that's very telling, because it really gets down to the essence of what we are trying to discern here, and that's why did we not grasp, what didn't we grasp, what didn't we understand, and what can we learn so that we can impose a little discipline upon ourselves and try to prevent that from happening again? And I assure you that this panel has helped us, and will in our deliberations be a great help to us, and we are very appreciative.
I find it interesting, not being a student of this at all, there seemed to be two features that marked the September 11th attacks; that was the willingness of the perpetrators to commit suicide and the ruthlessness of the people who sent them to commit that suicide, and then to justify it, attempt to justify it, in terms of Islam. I don't see how that reconciles itself with Islamic doctrine or law, on the one hand. And to say that it was in the name of Allah or whomever is actually blasphemy in and of itself.
And yet I was reading the other day a review of a book called "Through Our Enemy's Eyes," and the author, who is apparently anonymous at this point, says, among other things, that Osama bin Laden is more than a terrorist and hence more dangerous than generally thought. He is revered in the Islamic world much as Thomas Jefferson or Theodore Roosevelt would be in the United States.
And I find that that is fascinating, and I would welcome the comments of the panelists, quite frankly, because what we're trying to do here at this panel is to look for the factors in the Muslim world that are exploited at this point by terrorist organizations to justify their cause, to justify their actions, and why this exploitation exists and how it could be thwarted and how we should organize ourselves to at least try that goal.
So I would appreciate, to the best you can, describing to us what you believe, each of you, is the current public attitude in the Arab world generally, and more generally in the Muslim world, towards bin Laden, and if there's a trend, if there's growing support or not growing support.
Ms. Bronson, could I ask you first?
MS. BRONSON: Sure. It's obviously a big question, and there's a lot that contributes to what we see. Part is the kind of education throughout the world that students are receiving. In sort of anecdotal evidence, somebody I was speaking to from eastern Saudi Arabia said when he was growing up -- he's about in his 50s, 60s -- he received about an hour and a half of religious education a week in school. His children are receiving three to four hours a day.
Take that and think about the kind of funding that's going into mosques and schools across the region, the kind of things that we're hearing about that are being taught. We have a real problem. It's generations coming up who've been schooled on nothing but a very awful strand of what the religion means. Add that to the fact that the Middle East -- the Arab Development Report was referenced -- is the furthest behind in political freedoms and liberty. Economically it's stagnant. Populations are bulging. Most of the population in the region is below 50 percent. Most of the population is below the age of 15. And they're not receiving the kinds of skills that will get them jobs, so they're unemployed and they're hanging around, and there's nothing to do. And smart kids who come back from American universities come back and can't do anything with what they've learned. It's a stagnant political culture.
But why I sort of focus on the sort of education part of it is my frustration that we are not offering alternatives to what is going on in the region. In the late 1990s in the Gulf, we had a very heavy military presence compared to historically where we've been. We offered very little social and economic policies to bolster or support our military presence. We cut back on all the kinds of programs that we used to have to woo Europeans to the United States.
If you think of it now, it's somewhat crazy that we felt we had to woo Europeans. But surely if we felt we had to have good exchange programs with the Europeans, triple that for what is required for the rest of the world, where the cultures are so different.
When I was doing my research, looking at the social and economic lack of policy, I had people asking me, "Where's U.S. policy taking us?" And in some ways that can be a very frustrating question, because the first response is, "Take yourself somewhere. Don't wait for the U.S. to do it. Do it yourself."
But we are very involved militarily abroad. We are notably uninvolved in other ways. And I think as the commission thinks about where we go, it is so striking to me that the obvious lesson of September 11th isn't to get heavily involved in supporting secular education in Pakistan. That seems like a somewhat obvious one, given what we know. And yet that doesn't seem to be a fundamental focus.
So I think we do have to come down strong on policies emanating from the region that we don't agree with. I think that's half the battle. I think the other half is to be creative about how to have programs and ideas out there that allow our potential supporters to support us. Right now I believe we're offering precious little in the area of the world that we have defined as a significant problem for the United States.
MR. FIELDING: Thank you. Mr. Emerson.
MR. EMERSON: I think your question is right to the point. And I'm not so sure we're ever going to come up with the right answers. Let me just offer a couple of thoughts. One, Islam, unlike Christianity and Judaism, has yet to undergo a genuine religious reformation. Now, there are reformists in Islam and there are those that unambiguously condemn terrorist groups. But by and large, the institutionalized control of the Islamic militant hierarchy is pervasive.
And absent that reformation, there is an absence of a secularist class or of a reformist class. And consistent with that is the fact that, absent that reformation, that means that bin Laden is not just a, quote, "terrorist leader." He's a religious leader and a political leader, and there gives infusion to the credibility of a message.
You know, in part of my testimony, as part of a larger investigation that my organization is carrying out, we're looking at the exact textbooks that are being disseminated, in this case by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in the United States. And this was done by the embassy here in Washington. And I'm just going to give you a couple of examples.
One is a textbook for eighth grade talking about triumphing over the unjust enemies and recalling Islamic history, when Islam was on top of the world and basically saying the mujaheddin were on top of the world, or holy warriors, and now were not.
And the second example is an 11th grade textbook talking about that the believer must show the infidels rudeness and violence in the ways of jihad and the way of Allah. Now, this doesn't reflect Islam intrinsically. It reflects the interpretation of Islam by the militants, who unfortunately have disproportionate control.
The question is, what will dislodge them? What will discredit them? What will embolden the true reformists? One thing I can tell you is the more the U.S. -- the U.S. is struck by an incredible amount of contradictions. In Egypt we have pumped in a lot of money, increasing amounts of money, close to $2.5 billion a year. The USAID program is very elaborate in Egypt. And yet the amount of anti- American radicalism, let alone anti-Semitism, has increased.
And if you look at Saudi Arabia, you find tremendous support by middle- and upper-class youth, who are not impoverished, are not missing jobs, are not missing income, but subscribe to the same radicalism that the suicide bombers subscribe to in the West Bank and Gaza. So it's a trans-class, trans-economic phenomenon.
I believe ultimately we need to encourage, through either overt but as well as covert programs, the whole reformation of Islam, the true emboldenment and power of genuine Islamic moderates, not the false moderates who say they condemn terrorism, but then when they're asked about bin Laden they say, "Well, he's not a terrorist" -- the genuine ones.
The fact is we are beset by the contradictions. If we get more involved in the Islamic world, the more it's perceived as the crusaders coming back. The sense of injustice and double standards that Ambassador Ross talked about has been endemic since the Islamic world began being part of the losing end against the West in the late 1700s. And everything has been portrayed since then as a problem of the crusaders.
So you have a mentality that views everything, going back not just 80 years but 200 years, as an attack on Islam. Nothing we do, whether it's Radio Sawa or another type of -- which I think is a good thing, but not sufficient at all -- is going to counter the effective control on the media, Islamic institutions, educational institutions, that Rachel just talked about, that are deeply embedded within the societies in that area.
Now, we can ask for secularized curricula, but the bottom line is they're not going to accept it, because to accept secularism, as Qardawi said, is to accept the defeat of Islam. So the question is, how do we discredit the militants? How do we embolden the moderates? How do we foster a genuine reformation in Islam?
And one of the things that I suggest -- and it's only one thing, and it may not work out -- is that the U.S. government begin to create academic chairs around the world and centers, either through U.S. money or through institutes, quasi-official institutes like we have the U.S. Institute for Peace or the other democratic institutes, that will create genuine centers of learning and empowerment for reformists in Islam.
MR. KEPEL: Thank you. Well, I will make no attempt at reconciling the views of Ms. Bronson and Mr. Emerson, but just to focus on the three questions that I think you asked. The first one was how come al Qaeda was at war with us -- and I include even our part of the world in this task -- before we knew.
Two, how come this suicide thing became so prominent? Is this something Islamic or not? And three, about the popularity of Osama bin Laden. And I think we can get rather precise here.
How come al Qaeda was at war with us before we knew? I'm sure that on this matter, the work of your commission can shed a lot of light. In my view, something took place which we do not know, really, and those who talk don't know and those who know don't talk, for the time being, until we read you what you're going to do, of course.
Between, say, 1989 and 1991-1992, most of those jihadists were people who had access to this country. They came here. They were treated well. They lectured. There were a number of centers gathering funds for jihad in Afghanistan. A number of students from the Muslim world on American campuses were recruited to go to jihad, and so on and so forth.
And for some reason, it was believed or it must have been believed that those people would, say, create no danger, and even maybe that it would be useful to keep some sort of access to them in the event that some sort of revolution like the Iranian revolution would take place in the future.
If you remember, no one in the U.S. actually knew anything about the people who seized power in 1979, among other reasons, because the shah of Iran had poured so much money over DC, over the beltway, at the time that no one knew anything about the Iranian opposition.
So, in order not to make the same mistake, a number of those people were (treated?) here -- were visible. And for the French, this is something very clear, because much of the Islamist position in Algeria was received here because many people thought in the early '90s that Algeria would become an Islamist state. And their representatives were here. They were seen by members of the administration, and so on and so forth.
So I guess that probably there was some sort of misassessment or misunderstanding of those groups and the belief that they could be under control, and that when you stopped paying them, they would disappear, which is not at all what happened.
And I guess there was a whole -- it's not only an issue, I would say, of this or that agency that was incompetent. It was more a general policy orientation, and the fact that it was believed that they could be used, that they would not turn against the ones who had been by their side. But for that, I guess we have to have access to a number of classified documents, and we academics can only use ifs and subjunctives. That's why I'm eager to read what you're going to write.
This issue of suicides -- truly in the Sunni Muslim world, which is 85 percent of the Muslim world, suicide is not at all valued. On the contrary, when suicide is perceived as such, it is something which is seen as taking back what God had given and it is a sin which leads those who commit it to the fires of hell; hence the qualification of the 11th of September, for instance.
There was a semantic battle between a number of doctors of the law as to whether or not 9/11 was suicide or whether it was martyrdom. And maybe this is one of the reasons why some people deem Sheikh Qaradawi, who is the darling of Steven Emerson here, a moderate, because Sheikh Kardawi (ph), who's -- he's the sort of -- how do you say -- the televangelist, if I may say so, in Al Jazeera; he has his program every Sunday morning. Well, he had, because now he's having some difficulties with the Qatari state. And Al Jazeera is something between 45 million to 60 million viewers, so it's not nothing.
And he would claim that 9/11 was a suicide operation because there was no legitimate jihad against the U.S. and that those people who did it, provided they were Muslims and not agents of Mossad, like rumors spread in the Muslim world, they were burning in the fire of hell. Nevertheless, he would contend, those who planted bombs or who blow themselves up in pizzerias or wherever in Israel, those were not suicides. They were martyrs, because they fought in the name of God to reclaim the land of Islam that had been stolen by the infidels. So it's an issue. I mean, it's not only scholarly issue. It's very sensitive political issue.
Actually, I believe this issue of suicides in modern Islamic societies came to the forefront with the Iranian revolution and with the fact that in Shi'a Islam, the sacrifice of the self is much more valued than it is in Sunni Islam. Shi'ite militants and volunteers would go and blow themselves up on Iraqi mine fields during the Iraq- Iran war in the 1980s, and that allowed the Iranian regular forces to proceed.
Now, this contaminated those other Shi'as who are Arabs, i.e. in southern Lebanon. And then the Hizbollah tradition developed on this suicide bombing thing. They were Shi'as, just like the Iranians, but they were not Iranians. They belonged to the Arab world, if you wish.
And that, in a sense, became a model because, particularly after Ehud Barak decided to pull out Israeli troops from Lebanon, southern Lebanon, in May of 2000, then this was perceived by the rank-and-file people in the Arab world as the only military victory, the only Arab military victory of date. And so hence this issue of suicide gained some sort of ground and credibility as a means to achieve aims that would otherwise be unreachable.
But then it sort of -- it became loose. It stopped being under control because there was endless overbidding in this issue of suicide in Palestine and Israel particularly. But eventually this issue of suicide, you know, cannot be understood if you don't put it in context with the media, and particularly with the satellite television thing.
I mean, suicide allows you to -- a suicide attack, a suicide bombing -- to be in the news, to be in the front page. And this is catching attention. And stop broadcasting suicide bombings and you'll see that suicide bombings, if not disappear, I mean, at least lose a lot of their political interest.
So how come young people with education, and even at times with western education, get into those suicide operations? One issue, of course, is, as Dennis Ross mentioned, because there's such an amount of despair, that people think they have no other way. I mean, this is the only thing they can do. There is no solution, and so on and so forth. So this is the sociological dimension which can be discussed.
One other thing is that nowadays -- and this is going back to something Mr. Emerson said earlier -- that we now have a different type of Islamic learning which has gained prominence, particularly during the Afghan years, the Afghan jihad years, where obscure interpreters of the book have now become extremely active, people who do not speak everyday language but who would look out for the sort of most difficult verses or sayings of the prophets and who would claim that they have authority in order to fight the Jews, fight the Christians, and so on and so forth.
And there again, then you have the possibility to them, I mean, to have control over minds which are not well-grounded in sort of religious learning. Here clearly there is a big problem in terms of what is Islamic learning in the Muslim world today and who has been able to capture this issue.
Third, and very briefly, about the popularity of Osama bin Laden, I mean, definitely he was quite popular after 9/11 amongst the youth. And let me tell you an anecdote which I heard in an Egyptian (dialect?), in Egypt and in other places. It's the story of a woman in a restaurant who wants to go to the toilet, and she goes directly to the men's room. So the waiters tell her, "No, no, no, lady, this is for men. You go to the other restroom for the ladies." And she asks, "Why? Is Osama bin Laden inside the men's room?" And they say, "No, of course he is not." Then she said, "So I can go, because he is the only male left in the Arab and Muslim world."
And this is something which is -- she did not fear anything; all the others were, you know, castrated. And this is something which is kind of telling; i.e., that he was seen, if I may say so, again, in Saudi Arabia, in a country where there are a lot of zeros in checks, I mean, as the only hero. And then I guess that this doesn't have to -- shouldn't be underestimated.
Nevertheless, his problem is that he cannot deliver, and he's just like an Andy Warhol -- Andy Warhol said that everybody would be famous for 15 minutes. Well, he's been famous for a little more, but he has disappeared. I don't know whether he's dead or not. Maybe you'll discover that also; I mean, we hope. But bin Laden, in a way, you have the activist bin Laden; I mean, the man who was part of this al Qaeda network.
And al Qaeda -- it's a strange story, because they never called themselves al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was a nickname, and it was something -- I mean, this was not a fabrication by the press in this country or by intelligence agencies, but rather a way to focus on something. You know, it was a nebulous thing. They would call themselves the vanguard of Islam. But al Qaeda -- no Islamist movement in my knowledge -- and I have been studying them for 25 years -- has ever called himself such a thing, right? So calling them a base was a means to focus on them.
So, bin Laden, who is the activist on the one hand and you also have bin Laden who is sort of the media icon, and if not this great scholar of Islam at least this great scholar of media, Orson Wells, once said the worst -- I mean, the best guy is the more money you make at the box office. And clearly bin Laden was seen as such a fabrication. I mean, bin Laden without TV coverage is just like a fish outside the aquarium, and he doesn't deliver. He doesn't deliver anything significantly. He doesn't allow people to make more money, to survive, to lead better lives. And nowadays his name is less and less mentioned.
So I think today reference to bin Laden, he will be another of those failed Arab heroes -- you know, those heroes who said that they would bring something that ultimately they brought nothing but havoc.
MR. FIELDING: Thank you. Ambassador Ross, I hate to ask a fourth person to respond to the same questions, but I'd appreciate your thoughts.
MR. ROSS: I'm happy to. Look, let me start where Gilles ended. I go back to something I was saying earlier. There is the appeal of the defier. There is a desire to stand up to those who humiliate you. There is the impulse to have somebody who will represent the powerless against the powerful. He embodied that, because as I said before he's not the first to try to do that. The problem with defiers is ultimately if you are going to succeed you have to produce and not just defy. And every single one of the defiers so far has ultimately failed, because they have not produced.
But they are still able to tap that sense of resentment, that sense of anger, and the appeal of martyrdom. I mean, it's another expression of this. I mean, here's someone who is prepared to inflict pain on those who inflict pain on us. Until there is more of an effort in the region, by religious leaders as well as political leaders, to discredit this, you are not going to see anything change. And you can't have one kind of terror that's okay and another kind that isn't. When you go in and you -- you know, you blow up a night club in Tel Aviv, that's terror -- it's not resistance. When you blow up a pizza parlor, that's terror -- it's not resistance. But when every Palestinian school at that time would actually put up banners to proclaim the glory of the suicide bomber who did that, when the Arab media generally would do that -- well, you know, that's hardly going to be something that becomes illegitimate.
Now, since 9/11 we have seen some change in that. And since the Saudi 9/11 we have seen some more change in terms of that, because when local leaders begin to see that they are not deflecting the threat away from themselves, but it is something that will be visited upon them, they begin to take a somewhat different view. It's a kind of reformation in Islam. The problem is it has to come from within. It cannot come from without.
Now, there is the potential for more change coming from within -- not just among the religious, but more generally speaking. And we have to look at what the fall of Baghdad has meant psychologically throughout the Arab world. Nobody expected that it was going to be Stalingrad, but they did expect that there would be resistance. And when it collapsed very quickly without resistance -- and this is a capital with a glorious history -- then it reminded everybody in the region that there was something really rotten with Saddam Hussein's regime, but it also reminded them that this was a regime that was more extreme than theirs but not in many was dissimilar from theirs. Now, what that does when it creates the sense that there's rot, it tends to strengthen two very different approaches. One is the fundamentalist approach, because after all they have a very simple explanation for what's wrong and how to get well. But it also has emboldened the reformers, who also have their own explanation for what's wrong and how to get well, which is one of the reasons that I say I'm very strongly in favor of us doing more with reformers. It's not the whole story. I think what Rachel said about education should be an important part of what we do. I think we have to recognize something critical to this whole enterprise. What the defiers need is a complete sense of hopelessness. It's what makes -- it isn't just what creates the anger and frustration, but it creates a sense, well, you have nothing to lose. We have friends in the area who for their own reasons are going to have to begin to figure out how they deal with very young populations that are increasingly alienated who feel there is no prospect, no possibility, no hope of inclusion. Unless you begin to see the possibilities created -- you don't have to have a revolution, you don't have to transform the reality overnight, but you have to begin to create a sense that something can change. In Saudi Arabia right now the crown prince has embraced a call for reform from Saudi liberals, and he's facing in fact real resistance from other members of the royal family. One of the things I suggested in my statement is this is not a struggle that we should be indifferent to or neutral about.
MR. FIELDING: Thank you all for very fine answers. Mr. Chairman, I don't want to monopolize all of the questioning of this panel.
MR. KEAN: We'll turn it over then to Senator Cleland.
MR. CLELAND: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Ross, we give you tremendous kudos for taking shuttle diplomacy to a high level, unheard of in modern times. So thank you very much for all that time on aircrafts trying to work on the problems of the Middle East.
May I just say that, Ms. Bronson, I fully agree that this Samuel Huntington thesis of a clash of civilizations is exactly what we don't want to have. But I am afraid that in terms of what are the results of our policy that it may begin to have that effect and create more defiers or create more alienation, Mr. Ross. I'd like to just read to you an excerpt from a speech by Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, to the National Press Club luncheon June 19th, 2003, regards the Pew, P-E-W Global attitudes project, in terms of a survey how they see in effect America. Senator Hagel says the June 2003 survey of the Pew Global Attitudes Project should be a rousing alarm clock, not merely a wake-up call to all Americans, regarding the perception of America in the world today. The Pew project relied on public opinion surveys from 44 nations in the summer and fall of last year, and further data from 21 countries in April and May of this year, for a total survey sample of 54,000 people. The survey's finding, according to Senator Hagel, carries a disconcerting message regarding American leadership and credibility. And from the poll he quotes, "The Iraq War has widened the rift between Americans and Western Europeans, further inflamed the Muslim world, softened support for the war on terrorism, and significantly weakened global support for the pillars of the post-World War II era, the U.N. and the North Atlantic Alliance." Mr. Ross, are we creating more defiers? Are we creating more hopelessness, more alienation, by the Iraq war and the massive presence that we have there? It looks like an open-ended ground war with us losing more and more people every day.
MR. ROSS: Well, I think obviously we have to have what I would call a balanced approach. I do think the military dimension of it, as I said, is indispensable. And for many who said before the war that we would see an incredible uproar and a collapse throughout the Middle East if we went to war, we haven't seen what many suggested that we would. That said, we have to succeed in Iraq. I mean, it's one thing to demonstrate that the Saddam Husseins and the Osama bin Ladens fail, and their way will always fail and only produce continued humiliation. Sure there will be some who react to what we did as this is one more humiliation inflicted from the outside. But I think the majority also recognizes one of the things I said. There is something really rotten there, and they have to fix it. Now, we need to think about, A, how we can help them; B, where we invest heavily we also have to show that our way can work.
There isn't an American blueprint that can be imposed on the Middle East -- not a chance. You can't impose democracy, you can't impose peace. But you can support those who share those values. And what we do in Iraq has got to in fact demonstrate that what we said we were going to do is in fact what we have done. We cannot be seen as occupiers. We have to be seen as liberators. We have to show that the Iraqis are the ones who in the end will determine their destiny, not us. We will have to find a way to put an Iraqi face on what is going on the sooner the better. We will have to do this in a way that obviously in the end shows that our words reflected who we are. So I don't believe that what we have done in Iraq necessarily creates a bigger problem for us. But if we were to come back a year from now and find that the situation looks the way it does today, then I would be much more concerned.
If a year from now Iraq looked like it's on the right track, then I will tell you I think that will help us in the war on terror in terms of emboldening those who believe there has to be a different way, and the Middle East has to look different.
MR. CLELAND: Mr. Kepel, I am a Vietnam veteran and followed the French in Indochina. The Americans have followed the Turks and the British in Iraq. You want to respond to whether or not this survey of global attitudes about involvement in Iraq lessens our chances of doing better on the war on terrorism? Does it create more Osama bin Ladens as Mubarak once said?
MR. KEPEL: Well, thank you. Do you want me to answer in my capacity as a Frenchman or as a scholar? (Laughter.)
MR. CLELAND: Whichever you are most comfortable with.
MR. KEPEL: Well, coming from being -- seeing myself as a stinky- cheese-eating weasel -- (laughter) -- and that may explain why the image of the present American administration and my country, to use an euphemism, extremely positive. And I once even thought that people should shoot some of the American media people for portraying French people with the weasel heads and -- I don't mean some other groups, discrimination -- I don't know, that's another story.
So I would say that the view of U.S. policy outside the U.S. nowadays, and I can to some extent speak for Europe, for this is where I live, and half the Muslim world, because this is what I study -- is that the U.S. is mainly interested in its vested interests more than it is interested in the common good. And this may be right or wrong. I mean, you are free to approve or disapprove of it, but I think that this is a very deeply rooted feeling worldwide. And that means what? That means that groups of people, in the middle class mostly, who would otherwise be willing to follow the U.S. lead, or who would largely, as in the case of Western Europe, share a fair amount of values that we have in common, now feel that the U.S. leadership is not really trustworthy, because it leads to U.S. interests more than it leads to a shared sort of global leadership, if you wish. And if such beliefs are held in a number of European countries where we share the same culture, we share a number of things, to a large extent, then definitely this is felt much more in the rest of the world. So I would say that there's a lot to be done probably in patching up those differences in terms of not only the declaration, but also action. That for instance clearly when we talk about Iraq, Iraq was a military victory, an American military victory. Though some, and some very well placed people in the administration, which I saw today, told me it was not a victory. The war was not really over, and that, you know, many Iraqis still believe that the war is not over, which is a mistake militarily speaking.
But nevertheless, if we assume that this is a victory militarily, because the Saddam Hussein army is done and so on and so forth, how come it did not translate into a political success? How come the Iraqi middle classes have not emerged just like, say, the Polish middle classes, or the Russian, or the Czech middle classes after the lid of the Soviet system had been taken away? Now, the lid -- the lead lid, if I may say so, of the Saddam Hussein fascist, communist, or what have you -- Ba'athist regime has been taken away. But nevertheless, you don't find an organized civil society in the Iraqi cauldron underneath.
I wonder to what extent the U.S. is perceived in the region for that purpose as the honest broker -- I mean, as the honest midwife which will give birth to Iraqi -- the democratic Iraq, which will, in its turn, lead the way, and if most people in the region do not say that the reason why the armed operation was called was called Operation Iraqi Freedom and not Operation Iraqi Liberty was that the acronym for Operation Iraqi Liberty would have been O-I-L -- (laughter) -- and that O-I-F was more misleading. So, you know, definitely there is -- there is a problem, I would say, of communication.
There is also a problem of -- it's definitely the U.S. and the British were the ones who were instrumental in bringing Saddam down. But I do not think, I do not think that they can be the only ones to bring the Iraqi -- Iraqi society back on its feet. And without the participation of the international community, there will always be some feeling of suspicion which will hamper the very efforts that the U.S. are doing in Iraq. And I think this is -- you know, some people say that nowadays the Europeans who are not pro-war rejoice. We don't. I think that a disaster in Iraq is a disaster for all of us and for the whole world.
So I would rather say that we have to join forces, and we weasels are ready to forgive you for all those insults. (Laughter.)
MR. CLELAND: Thank you, Mr. Kepel.
Speaking of O-I-L, there is a book out by two French journalists who for three years looked at the American experience, particularly in Afghanistan and the Middle East, called "Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for Bin Laden," Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie.
MR. KEPEL: Dasquie.
MR. CLELAND: Do you happen to know the gentlemen? Do you put any faith in --
MR. KEPEL: Yeah, I know those gentlemen. Brisard is the one who is the counsel for the victims of the 9/11 blast, I think. And Dasquie is a journalist specializing in intelligence.
MR. CLELAND: Worth reading, from your point of view?
MR. KEPEL: This is on the record, right? (Laughter.)
MR. CLELAND: Thank you very much.
Steven Emerson, please, sir? Your comments about America's role in the world and whether or not this global attitudes project, saying that the war in Iraq has reduced, in effect, American -- well, has widened the rift between Americans and Western Europeans, further inflamed the Muslim world, softened support for the war on terrorism, and significantly weakened global support for the pillars of the post- World War II era, the U.N. and the North Atlantic alliance. Again, are we creating more Islamic radical terrorists by this effort?
MR. EMERSON: I think that if one looks at surveys prior to the Pew Charitable Trust Survey, looking at surveys. for example, right after 9/11, one sees an incredible degree of radicalism that existed prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. For example, BBC reported in November 2001 that, based on a telephone survey of 500 British Muslims, it was reported that 67 percent believe that the U.S. was unjustified in blaming bin Laden for the attacks on September 11th. In 2002 Gallup poll, published in USA Today, admittedly not as scientific as other polls, but interviewed 10,000 people in nine mostly Muslim countries; 61 percent said the Arabs did not carry out the September 11th attacks.
I'm going to relate to you just a personal experience that occurred within the last year, when I gave a speech in Ohio at the University of Toledo Law School. And I could see there was a lot of hostility in the room. There were about a thousand people, and I'd say several hundred were Muslim students or Muslim representatives. And at one point, a young woman wearing hijab got up and started heckling me.
And I engaged her, and she said to me, "We know the Israelis were behind 9/11." And I said, "How do you know?"
Then she says, "Because we see it on Al Jazeera." So I said, "And that's the limitation?" She says, "Well" -- she challenged me, she says, "Well, how do you know that bin Laden?"
Now, there was no way I could get beyond and behind her reality; that's a fact. What it demonstrated to me, that there is this extremist view that, unfortunately, exists out in other parts of the world, not limited to the Muslim world, but certainly in large parts of the Muslim world there's a dominate view the U.S. is evil, is engaged in an anti-Muslim conspiracy, and that's why bin Laden, you know, labeled his fatwas a declaration against the crusaders, invoking the crusades.
And I think this type of extremism has existed, which reflects sort of a variant of what Huntington said -- not a clash of Islam and the West, it's a clash between militant Islam and the West, or a clash between militant Islam and Islam.
And I'll be frank with you that I don't have the answers in terms of trying to unravel this type of extremist views. I do know that the propagation within public institutions -- of schools, popular media -- constantly reinforces the notion of the extremist views of the U.S. as an evil country, and unless and until that type of culture is changed -- and some of it can be changed with just a simple ruling by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia -- until -- and in fact, Pakistan, to its credit, has shut down more than 10,000 madrassas that were teaching jihad in the last two years. There can be efforts, and it may not pay off for another 10 years, that would reduce the allure of the jihadist culture.
MR. CLELAND: Thank you.
Ms. Bronson, you have the last word.
MS. BRONSON: Sure. Thank you. In my submitted testimony, I refer to an article by Peter Rodman, who is now deputy assistant secretary of defense for International Security Affairs. He had a very prescient article, written in 2000, about growing anti- Americanism. And he said this is a structural problem; we are the sole remaining superpower. We are considered the hyperpower and something to organize around.
And so part of this challenge that we have is structural, and our policies can temper that. But we do have a challenge that we didn't during the Cold War, where we could play off an opponent. So I think it's important to remember that this was out there, and I think much of it was growing throughout the 1990s, and we probably didn't pay enough attention to it.
In terms of Iraq, I think Iraq exacerbated it by the way we went to war. We had to go to war in Iraq, as far as I'm concerned, because it was a rallying point for radical groups, because they were pointing to the ugly effects of sanctions, and allowing Saddam to march around his box and destroy this important civilization within Iraq, within the Arab world. But the radicalism wasn't, in my view, some of these ties -- the argument wasn't these ties to al Qaeda, it was the radicalization of the entire region, because we seemed so complacent in allowing Saddam Hussein to continue to rule.
I think it was a very important -- it was the way by which we went to war I think that is causing us some challenges.
I think this very much was a war that was sanctioned by international law and U.N. resolutions, and it was unfortunate that we had the doctrine of preemption right before it. It warped the debate about what this was actually about. But I would say that exacerbated it, although it was necessary, and I wish we could have found a different way to go, and I think it was possible to find a different way.
But where we are today, we must get Iraq right. I have had calls from Oman, people saying, "Get this right," because they need positive examples, as referred to, I think, by Dennis Ross. We need to have successes. We need a success in Afghanistan or a success in Iraq. We have engaged in a massive project.
Consider what we poured into Germany alone between 1948 and 1950. We poured in $8 billion. We have now said that all we are going to pour into reconstruction of Iraq is $1.7 billion -- the $8 billion in current dollars -- $1.7 billion in all of Iraq. We took 30,000 troops and made them police officers and constabulary forces. We armed them with horses and police riot gear. We're reluctant to do that in Iraq.
We really are nation-builders. It's an uncomfortable role, but we have taken on that challenge. And unless we work extremely hard and put serious resources behind our involvement, losing Iraq will prevent the middle class from coming out; it will be this lead lid. The Iraqis don't know that the Soviets are gone like the Poles knew that the Soviets were gone -- they don't know that Saddam is gone. We have to make absolutely clear this war very much is still going on. Whether you agree or disagree with how we went to war, whether the war -- this is very important to this part of the world that we absolutely get it right, because our friends need a victory. They need us to have a victory. And right now, they see precious little reason to rally around the United States.
MR. CLELAND: And one of our panelists today, the gentleman who wrote the book "Inside Al Qaeda" -- I forget his name -- from Singapore, mentioned that Iraq could become the new Afghanistan; not the rising middle class taking over and putting together a civilized society, but really, an attraction for people who rallied around the Mujahideen in Afghanistan now rallying around American forces in Iraq, and that that could become, in effect, a breeding ground for the terrorism.
Fascinating panel. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. KEAN: Thank you very much, Senator. I want to thank this panel, particularly. You were a wonderful way to finish our day, each of you more articulate than one before. Thank you very much; you've helped us a great deal. I appreciate your coming. That will end the hearing for the day.
MR. KEAN: This, as you all know, was our third hearing. And the purpose of the hearing was to help us understand the enemy we face and the war that we're now waging. We're obviously not ready to give you any conclusions yet at this point, but we can note, perhaps, some observations that we heard from the 11 witnesses who testified today.
What the witnesses described was not really a clash of civilizations, pitting Islam against the West. It was a political and economic struggle, as I heard it, within Islam, within a civilization, what one witness called "the 40-year civil war" in the Muslim world.
One study we heard about today estimated that 80 to 90 percent of the al Qaeda terrorists are either expatriates or the children of immigrants. In other words, these are people who were separated from their culture and social origins. And when you're separated like that, you find identity in something else, and they find their -- found their identity in a cause. And that cause turned them into terrorists. But the cause must be linked to an organization to do that, and for many that organization, of course, turned out to be al Qaeda.
Secondly, we heard that al Qaeda is not a terrorist superpower. Witnesses stated it can't mount another 9/11, even as still it carries out attacks against what they called "soft targets" overseas.
Al Qaeda is just one combatant, then, in this wider war. It's one organization, with global aspirations. But other witnesses called attention to the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt as a global network for the ideology of terrorism. And, with al Qaeda now weakened, it has to lean more on the actions of associated groups who are fellow combatants, as the effort to change the Muslim world.
MR. HAMILTON: Chairman Kean and I have been comparing notes through the morning and afternoon, and the observations he just made I certainly concur with. In addition, I think I have some others that I will make, and I think he concurs with them as well.
First, we heard a number of positive opportunities in this war. Let me mention several of them to you. One is, we heard that extremists offer their version of Islam as an alternative to failed secular dictatorships, but once the extremists come into power, as in countries like Sudan and Iran, they reveal their promise to be an illusion. You remember the statement that Professor Kepel had at the end of his remarks, and I quote it: "The political cost of the campaign of the suicide bombers seems to be considerable and its gains questionable. There is only the exaltation of a small minority who have locked themselves into a mentality where terrorism becomes an end itself," end of quote. This is an end that may not command broad appeal. That's a positive note, I think, that was struck on more than one occasion in the afternoon and morning sessions.
Secondly, we heard about some of the peaceful strains of Muslim fundamentalism, strains of opinion that would really be partners with us in the war on terror, and certainly rebutting the image that equates all devout Muslims as terrorists.
Third, we heard suggestions that our policy should focus on the media environment, where newspapers are fronts for the terrorists and where the, quote, "the culture of terrorism is an industry," end of quote, where leaders are afraid to speak the truth to their citizens and tell them bluntly that terrorism is wrong and evil.
And next we heard witnesses say that the terrorists are drawn from clusters of individuals organizing around haphazard networks of relatives or friends. Patterns such as that, I think, offer opportunities for us to deal more effectively with the threat of terrorism through intelligence and law enforcement and other means.
And finally, let me just observe that we heard about a number of key challenges, of course, to American foreign policy. Several of them stood out. You'll remember one of the witnesses talked about the Middle East now is the responsibility of the United States. And others urged that the terrorists must be hunted down relentlessly, but they cautioned that we should allow a country -- we should not allow a country like Afghanistan to turn into what one witness called "a terrorist Disneyland." The witnesses helped us to understand that this hunt requires unprecedented international cooperation in a variety of areas: diplomacy, law enforcement, intelligence, as well as, of course, military. And the word "multi-faceted" kept popping up quite frequently in the testimony of several of the witnesses to describe the kind of effort that will be necessary in the war on terrorism.
Witnesses stressed the importance of a clear American message to Muslims in the Arab world and to emphasize American values -- freedom and democracy, representative government -- on a consistent basis. That was a theme struck by several witnesses during the day.
Finally, witnesses stressed the importance of using not just the stick, but carrots as well, and indicated that dealing with terrorism is much more complicated than just use of military force, although that is often important. But diplomacy and economic policy, public diplomacy and other aspects of American foreign policy can play a very important role in our addressing terrorism in the world.
All in all, I thought it was an afternoon and morning of -- very rich with ideas and opinions and suggestions and policy proposals for the commission, and, I think, an exceedingly productive afternoon for us.
STAFF: Kindly state your name and your affiliation.
Q Dan Friedman of Hearst Newspapers. Some of the panelists in the morning panel seemed to suggest under questioning that they didn't think that al Qaeda could launch another 9/11 attack on the scale that they did launch. Do you agree with that assessment?
MR. KEAN: I don't think -- personally, I don't think I have enough information yet to agree or disagree with that particular assessment. They -- that seems to have been the pattern up to this point. They also warned us, though, that if they were able to find another base, another place to mount operations from, that they could again launch some very serious and massive attacks. And so it obviously should be a point of American policy not to allow another country to exist that allows them to have that base.
MR. HAMILTON: I heard that sentence, too, and I reacted very positively to it. (Laughs.) And I'm sure most Americans would.
But I think it's important for us to emphasize that we're not trying this afternoon to draw conclusions from all of this. We, like perhaps you, are hearing much of this for the first time, so our assessment will be made later. But that judgment came from more than one, and it came from two or three very qualified people. Their opinions deserve our respect, and it's a bright light for us, a matter of real hope.
Q (Off mike) -- I'm with CBS News. Could you talk about what kind of cooperation you're getting from the various executive branch agencies in terms of the report; getting the access to the witnesses you want and getting the documents you've requested in a timely manner?
MR. KEAN: Yeah, we've -- if you look at the report that we issued yesterday, we go down agency by agency by agency, all through the administration. And in some of those agencies, the cooperation is quite good, and we got a number of things that we needed. In other agencies, where in some cases we've made massive requests, we've haven't gotten the materials we needed, and we certainly haven't gotten them in a timely fashion. The deadlines we've set have passed. We've got our own deadline; by statue, we've got to report by next May. So we can't brook that kind of thing. We've got to get the information we need to do our work.
So while I think the White House is cooperating, I think they're trying to do their best to help us in a number of ways, some agencies, led at the moment by the Department of Defense, is not cooperating to the extent we need that cooperation. Now, it's better than it was, and it's moving in the right direction. But the next two or three weeks are going to be vital. Talk to me in another two or three weeks.
MR. HAMILTON: Let me just observe that we are, number one, asking for an enormous amount of material. We measure material not by pages, but by boxes. And we are getting and asking for not a few pages, but hundreds of thousands of pages. So the request to the executive branch departments and agencies is very, very large. It is understandable to me that they can't handle it quickly or overnight. I'm not apologizing for them, I'm just saying that we're making a very large request.
Now, secondly, the requests that we are making are, in some cases, not in all, relate to very sensitive material. And it is understandable by both the chairman and myself that it takes a little while for those kinds of requests to work their way through the bureaucracy.
This is a difficult task for us, and as the chairman has said, we must have that information. We must have it if we're going to do our job. We're going to get it. We're impatient. We think a lot of it has been slow in coming, but we understand the reasons. There is a bureaucratic inertia. These people have things other to do than to answer our requests. There are national security concerns. There are conditions that attach to our requests that we have to work out -- that are complicated to work it out -- so that it's mutually agreed upon, under what kind of circumstances can we see the material, particularly when it's the most sensitive material that the government possesses.
I think we're making good progress. We've got a long way to go. We certainly need the very strong support from the White House to help us, and I was most pleased with the statement I read in the paper this morning from the White House that the president remains very committed to cooperating with the commission and helping us get the material we need.
Q (Name inaudible) -- CNN. Senator Schumer is calling for the inspectors general of both the Justice Department and DOD to investigate whether or not there has been stonewalling by those agencies, and he cited the administration's initial reluctance to form the commission that you're now heading. And he seems to be suspicious that they're stonewalling for a reason. Is he going too far?
MR. HAMILTON: We do not have the impression that we're being stonewalled. We -- that's not to say we're entirely satisfied with the rate at which the materials are coming in. But I think the word "stonewalling" is not an accurate reflection of the circumstances we are now in.
We were critical, as the Senator's new release mentioned, I think, of two agencies particularly, the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense. We think we're quite justified in the criticisms that we made of those two departments. And we have some reason to think that our first report is going to be productive in getting the material we need.
So I think that's the status of it now, and we will wait for the next few weeks, which we think are very crucial in terms of whether or not we can successfully do our work.
MR. KEAN: We've got to remember that in doing our work we are launching what we believe is the largest investigation of the United States government in this country's history. Now, I don't think the departments were ready for that. (Laughs.) I don't think the administration was ready for that. They have promised cooperation. They have promised increased cooperation. They have put more people on task helping us directly -- in fact, they've put now four people full-time directly from -- in the Justice Department at the request of the White House to help us secure the materials we need in a timely fashion. I think that's going to work. I'm an optimist. I believe it's going to work, and I believe we will start getting these materials. But it is -- you know, as I say, the next three weeks to a month are going to tell the story.
Q Governor, Bob Braun from the Star-Ledger. Professor Kepel mentioned that as an academic he doesn't have any access to real information, and he also said he spoke with if's and subjunctives. I'm wondering why, while the panel were all very fascinating and interesting, why the people who actually made the decisions weren't here as opposed to those who have opinions about those who made the decisions.
MR. KEAN: Well, we're doing this in a number -- this was a hearing, because part of our mandate from the United States Congress is to study al Qaeda, to know the history of the enemy. That's part of the -- that's part of our mandate. Some of the people who we will be calling in the future from the various agencies, the departments who had direct responsibility on 9/11, we want a little more information before we talk to them. Some of the materials that we've requested we need in order to conduct those interviews. So we thought it would be more productive to have them a little later on. But they will -- they will be here.
MR. HAMILTON: We've got to be brought up to date ourselves. We're stepping into a moving stream here. A lot of work has been done. I don't consider myself any kind of an expert on al Qaeda. For example, I need to know an awful lot about it. And I began that learning process as I looked over the materials for today's hearing and continued it during the day. The second comment is that I think the academics of the world greatly exaggerate the handicap they face -- (laughs) -- by not having access to information. I've been on both sides of that. I fully understand, I believe, that the amount of secret information that you get that is not available to the public is very, very small, and almost never -- I can hardly think of an instance when it would alter your judgment.
MR. KEAN: It is very interesting --
MR. HAMILTON: Almost all necessary facts are and should be in the public domain.
MR. KEAN: It's -- just to echo what Chairman -- what Vice Chairman Hamilton said, it's -- what's fascinating to me, as a non-Washingtonian who has not, up to this point, been involved in any of these agencies or any of the intelligence business, to read highly classified materials and have to read them under certain conditions, because they were highly classified, and to have read all the material before in the newspaper. (Laughter.) That was a new experience for me. But it's happened more than once and, I suspect, will happen again.
Q Margie Burns, American Reporter. I have question regarding the DOD, which you mentioned a couple of times. All my uncles were in the military, and you know, that tends to leave a great big paper trail. We read in the early days after September 11th that several of the skyjackers had received their flight training on military installations here. Wouldn't that be -- is the DOD holding up what might permit you to identify these particular attackers -- you know, height, weight, blood type, that kind of thing?
And might that be -- my follow-up question would be, might that be just a few pages, rather than hundreds of thousands?
MR. KEAN: We have asked -- we've made a massive request of DOD. And what we are -- and they have not denied us anything. They haven't said, "You're not going to get anything." What they've done is just not given it to us yet. So to say it's coming -- but deadlines pass one week after another, and it doesn't come.
We, for instance, need -- and Forrest, you mentioned the airlines -- we need all the information from NORAD very, very badly. That's DOD information. We haven't gotten it yet. So that's the kind of thing we're talking about.
Q I'm John Judge with 9/11 CitizensWatch. That's a community oversight group, citizen oversight group, and we work with some of the families. And the panel today didn't address some of the questions that the families have raised. For instance, the state sponsorship panel did not include any information about Saudi Arabia as a potential sponsor. I know some of the families are bringing a suit in that regard.
There have also been questions raised by a number of the researchers about the identities of the people on the plane, whether that's finally resolved, that these 19 people that were formally named in the press are in fact the people that were on the planes and were they on the planes.
Some of that rests with airline lists of passengers that don't mention any of the names and things that haven't been resolved. And I'm wondering if the commission has sort of gone from the official statement to looking into al Qaeda as the suspect, or whether you plan to do additional work on what really happened that day, who did it and who those people were?
MR. KEAN: That's what the final report will be all about, really. It will be the history of that particular day, the history of what happened. What we talked about today was one of the reasons in the why it happened, some of the hatred that exists out there in the world. And most importantly, there's going to be some recommendations so that no families have to go through this again, to try and make the country safer. That, I know, is most important to the family groups that I've talked to. Those are the three areas. We will be talking about Saudi Arabia, there's no question about it. Saudi Arabia's at the heart of a lot of this, and we'll be having meetings on Saudi Arabia.
MR. HAMILTON: I agree with your comment about Saudi Arabia. Several of us talked about that during the lunch break. We had an expert here on Iran, we had an expert on Syria, for example. We did not have a person who we questioned, at least, with regard to Saudi Arabia, although I think Rachel has just completed a book on Saudi Arabia.
MR. KEAN: Rachel is just about to come out with a book on it, yeah.
MR. HAMILTON: That was a gap in the hearing this afternoon. We'll cover that gap in due time. And with regard to the identity of the people, those are questions -- I don't think this panel would have that information. We'll do our best to get the answers to the questions the families have raised. They've been very good, incidentally, about supplying those questions to us. We've had a number of meetings with them. We'll continue to do that, and we will try to answer as many of the questions they've raised as we possibly can. Some of them, I must say to you, are going to be extremely difficult to answer.
Q A brief follow-up on another concern the families have had, and some of the researchers, is that none of the testimony to date has been taken under oath. And I'm wondering if you're planning to take testimony under oath in the future, or whether you see that as a necessity for what you're doing?
MR. KEAN: It probably depends on what the circumstances are and who the witnesses are, and we'll make that decision, probably, as we go along. It may be necessary at some point, or better at some points. At other points, you don't really want to -- once you're under oath and a lawyer and all of that, it changes the nature of what you're hearing. And so, we've got to make the determination as we go along as to whether we do that, and when we do that and with what witness we do that.
MR. HAMILTON: My own experience on that is you've got to be careful with that. Everybody not involved in hearings I think tends to think, "Oh, let's put these folks under, oath and that will guarantee that they tell the truth." There's some element of that that is valid.
On the other hand, I think one result of putting people under oath is they become much, much more cautious; they're very careful with their language, and you don't learn as much because they are thinking all of the time, "I'm subject to perjury charges." And so it is not automatic that you get better information, more complete information, by putting people under oath.
Q Sean Waterman from United Press International. We heard some testimony and some questions today about the U.S. military action in Iraq. Are you -- is there any -- I mean, will you be addressing that in your report, possible blow-back, whether it has lessened or increased the terrorist threat to the United States?
MR. KEAN: It certainly, in my mind, is not central to the mandate that Congress has given us. I think we've got to be very, very careful when we go outside our mandate, because our mandate by itself is enormously wide and enormously deep. On the other hand, when you're talking about the Middle East and things coming out of the Middle East, obviously Iraq comes up, and so it will be at least peripheral to our work and be there as we move along.
But I think we've got to be very, very careful about not expanding the mandate to the point where we don't do what Congress has required because we've expanded it beyond that.
I don't know if you feel the same way.
MR. HAMILTON: Well, it's -- I think it's a judgment the commission has to make in the future as to what kind of policy issues we get into and which ones we don't get into. I don't think it's our task to review American foreign policy writ large, and I think we'd go down a lot of false trails if we tried to do that.
I was kind of fascinated this morning or this afternoon -- this afternoon, I guess, when you had very direct contradiction between two people, one of them saying American foreign policy has consequences, and the other saying American foreign policy does not have consequences, but American values -- freedom, for example -- has very large consequences. So you get some fascinating differences of opinion. I think it's possible that both things are true, from my point of view. They're not mutually exclusive. But they are fascinating questions. I don't know that, as the chairman has said, they're directly relevant to our task.
We have a fairly narrow task. We're to make judgments about how to make this country safer. That's the most important thing we're working on, how to make it safer. And that means basically we look forward much more than we look back. We do look back in order to try to understand -- in order better to look forward, but I'm quite sure our report is going to focus on the future.
Q (Shaun Waterman) In the past, commission members have told me that questions -- the kinds of questions that are going to come up have been discussed prior to these public hearings, and indeed individual members have, as it were, been given a mandate or subject area that, for whatever reason, they want to. So just to press you a little bit on this question, I mean, did you as a commission discuss the possibility of asking these questions, or were they raised because of individual members', you know, curiosity or --
MR. KEAN: Well, the way we've been -- well, both, really. The way we've been conducting these hearings is, to make sure that all commissioners have a chance to question, and question in areas that interest them, we generally assign lead questioners for every panel. So every member of the commission gets a chance to be a lead a questioner for some panel.
Now, when those lead questioners are finished -- and the staff will help them to prepare, as far as research and as far as suggested questions and so on -- once those questioners are through, then, as you saw today, a number of commissioners have other questions that have been raised by the testimony beyond what the initial questions have answered, and they will ask questions based on their understandings and what they want to learn.
So that's generally the way we've been proceeding. And sometimes -- the only problem we have is sometimes, as happened in the morning panel -- I had four commissioners burning to ask questions, and we just ran out of time. That's the only problem we have.
MR. HAMILTON: I don't think the chairman and I asked a question today.
MR. KEAN: Yeah. We were --
MR. HAMILTON: I couldn't get it in. (Laughs.)
MR. KEAN: (Laughs.) I had a couple, but I just figured, well, might as well let the other commissioners handle it.
MR. HAMILTON: Okay. Thank you.
Q Laura Rozen. I'm a freelancer. Let me just ask one last question. What is your work plan for the future? What kind of hearings can we expect in the next days?
MR. KEAN: Our general -- (inaudible) -- schedule, really, is -- and this is approximate -- we meet every other week, generally for about two days, with dinner the night before and then a meeting or what have you during the day.
We're trying to hold public hearings approximately once a month, although that -- public hearings, as you can imagine, take a tremendous amount of staff time. And we're continually watching to make sure that we're not -- that staff is able to concentrate on their main job, which is, you know -- (laughs) -- putting together the information to write the report, and we don't get too distracted. But we understand the public hearings are a very important part of the process, and we want to continue them. But that's our general -- that's our general schedule, subject, of course, to change at the will of the commission.