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America's New War: Fighting Terrorism Around the Globe

Aired September 24, 2001 - 05:24   ET



COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The message that the president gave them the other evening is if you continue to do that, in light of what happened on the 11th of September, in light of the fact that the whole world is coming together now, you have to be prepared to suffer some consequences. It could be economic consequences. They could be other kind of consequences.

But it's time to stand up and be counted. If you want to be part of a civilized world that is moving forward, these are not the sort of activities you should be participating in, supporting, or the kinds of organizations you should be providing a haven to.


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. says it will attack global terrorism on a number of fronts, including diplomatic, military and financial. But the president is not revealing any details about his specific plans.

For some inside into the options available, we're going to be joined right now from London by James Rubin. He was an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration.

And we thank you once again for taking time to talk with us -- good to see you again, Jamie -- glad to have you with us today.

Let me begin first of all by the talk that we heard over the weekend. We have heard so much talk about the idea of building a coalition -- an international coalition. I'd like your thoughts this morning about the idea of building an internal coalition inside of Afghanistan, because of all of the different factions that are there.

Is that possible, and is that going to be an option that will be pursued by the administration?

JAMES RUBIN, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it will be a difficult exercise to bring together the disparate groups that have opposed the Taliban, but I think it's an extremely important option to consider.

The president correctly stated that if it weren't for the Taliban's providing safe harbor and aiding and abetting of the Osama bin Laden organization, it would have been more difficult for them to plan this terrorist attack. So I think overthrowing the Taliban, destroying the Taliban's ability to do this again by allowing terrorist organizations to continue to operate is a realistic option.

But it will be difficult. There have been many countries who have tried to intervene in Afghanistan and control the situation there. Hopefully, we will learn the lessons of the Soviet Union and some of the other countries who have participated there. But it is very important that we try to gather a coalition inside Afghanistan to make clear that this is not going to be a war against the Afghani people, but against the regime that has been oppressing the Afghani people.

HARRIS: You talk about lessons. What about lessons, not just from Russia, but lessons from Yugoslavia? If the Taliban were to be weakened, are you not concerned at all that because of the different factions that are there, that there could be one faction for instance who will be sitting on the sidelines waiting for that moment to happen, and then it would actually step in and maybe cause even more destabilization, as we saw with Slobodan Milosevic?

RUBIN: Well, there is always risk of destabilization when you're involved in a campaign like this against the Taliban leadership. On the other hand, what the campaign we're involved in relates to is the willingness of the Taliban to permit and allow and support a terrorist organization on its soil, an outside organization from other countries to attack the United States. And I cannot believe that if we help the various factions in Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban that they will not have learned the lesson that it doesn't pay and will cause your destruction if you allow terrorist organizations to operate from your soil, and that's what this is about.

HARRIS: Yes, we're still waiting, as is most of the world, for the proof -- the production of proof. We've getting word from Washington now that we should expect to see some sort of presentation soon.

Your thoughts this morning -- because you have been through this whole process before, as I did say, back with Yugoslavia. How much proof do you expect to see the administration provide? Where will they provide it? Will it be private, will it be public, or what?

RUBIN: Well, that's a very good question. I would expect that what they will do is put together a variety of presentations that include video presentations, pictures and an actual document. And that those presentations are revealed both publicly and privately, perhaps through the United Nations, through a press conference, so that the whole world can see the evidence trail that we think leads to Osama bin Laden.

But then in its presentation to governments, you would expect there to be far greater detail, including intelligence information that cannot be presented publicly.

But presenting evidence is an important prerequisite for keeping the coalition together. All of the key countries have made clear they would like to see that evidence. I think we will have that evidence. It won't be a case of beyond a shadow of a doubt, but it will be compelling evidence.

HARRIS: I am sure you have heard the reports over the last 24 hours or so with the Taliban saying that they don't know where Osama bin Laden is right now. Do you believe those reports? We know the Bush administration is finding that very, very hard to believe.

RUBIN: Well, I'm not exactly sure what they know and what they don't know. But I feel strongly that if the Taliban leadership made a decision to find Osama bin Laden and hand him over, they could do so. They have chosen to allow this person to stay in their country. They have given him comfort and aid and support. They have allowed him to travel back and forth to Pakistan and other places. If it was their intention to find him, capture him and hand him over to the world, I believe they could do so.

HARRIS: One more question for you, Jamie. Over the weekend, I also heard lots of questions on the Sunday talk shows from people who were questioning just how deep and how solid the support from Saudi Arabia would be, because of the different things that are in the balance for them. For instance, there's even word of Osama bin Laden having wagered a threat against that country as well.

Does that concern you at all, when you consider what Mr. Bush is trying to accomplish in building this coalition?

RUBIN: Well, the Saudi issue is a crucial issue. Not only is Osama bin Laden and many of his followers from Saudi Arabia, but there is clear indications that from time to time, Saudi individuals have contributed money knowingly or unknowingly to the Osama bin Laden organization.

The Saudi regime is a regime that is concerned about Muslim fundamentalism, and there have been times when they have sought to buy off these fundamentalist groups through financing and other steps. But I believe the Saudi government now understands that there is no way they are going to be able to get away with half measures.

This attack on the United States dwarfs anything that terrorism has ever done before. Mass murder live on television means that countries like Saudi Arabia that have occasionally been on the fence can no longer do that. They have to choose sides, and I am confident they will choose our side.

HARRIS: One final question, I have to sneak one more final question. This is the final, final question.

Do you really think it's possible to dry up all of the money sources involved here, not just for Osama bin Laden, but with all the world's terrorism, which is now many people are saying is perhaps the No. 1 tactic to pursue?

RUBIN: I doubt we will be able to dry up all of the sources of funds. Cash and other means will be used that it will be very hard to track. But I think the best analogy is the mafia in the United States. Initially, it seemed like we would never be able to get a handle on that organization. And over time, through law enforcement work, determination, we were able to gradually and slowly reduce them down to the bare minimum, as they are now in the United States.

And the world now has to treat international terrorism the way the FBI treated the mafia in the United States. And eventually we'll get to a point where they become pathetic characters rather than characters that have a global reach.

HARRIS: Former assistant secretary of state, James Rubin in London -- always a pleasure. Thanks for coming in.

RUBIN: Thank you.



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