CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Target: Terrorism - Tony Blair Addresses Parliament with U.S. Evidence on Attacks
Aired October 4, 2001 - 05:02 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to cover Prime Minister Tony Blair's speech. It just ended a few minutes ago, and we've got CNN's Sheila MacVicar in London covering that address.
Sheila, we heard ahead of the speech that Mr. Blair would lay out a case with new information. What did you hear?
SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, Tony Blair told an emergency session of Parliament called into session to discuss the attacks and the evidence that the United States government has presented to allies around the world. This is a dossier that President George Bush has shared so far with very few people -- Prime Minister Blair, the prime minister of Canada, the NATO ambassadors have seen this.
And so from Mr. Blair this morning, we heard more than we have to date about the evidence the U.S. government has amassed against Osama bin Laden, and Mr. Blair said there could be absolutely no doubt that the man responsible was Osama bin Laden and his network.
This is how he described it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: As our document shows, he has been responsible for a number of terrorist outrages over the past decade: The attack in 1993 on U.S. military personnel serving in Somalia, 18 of whom were killed; in 1998, the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, 224 people were killed and over four- and-a-half thousand injured; attempted bombings in Jordan and Los Angeles at the turn of the millennium, thankfully thwarted; the attack on the USS Cole nearly a year ago, which left 17 crew members killed and 40 injured; the attacks on the 11th of September, bear all the hallmarks of a bin Laden operation: meticulous long-term planning, a desire to inflict mass casualties, a total disregard for civilian lives, including Muslims, multiple simultaneous attacks, and the use of suicide attackers.
I can now confirm that of the 19 hijackers identified from the passenger lists of the four planes hijacked in America on the 11th of September, at least three of these hijackers have already been positively identified as known associates of bin Laden with a track record in his camps and organization. The others are being investigated still. Of the three, one has also been identified as playing key roles in both the East African embassy attacks and the USS Cole attack.
Since the attacks, we have obtained the following intelligence: Shortly before the 11th of September, bin Laden told associates that he had a major operation against America under preparation; a range of people were warned to return to Afghanistan because of action on our around the 11th of September; and most importantly, one of bin Laden's closest lieutenants has said clearly that he helped with the planning of the 11th of September attacks and has admitted the involvement of the al Qaeda organization.
There is other intelligence we cannot disclose of an even more direct nature.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACVICAR: Now, obviously Mr. Blair there saying that this represents only part of what the U.S. government and its allies know about who was responsible for carrying out the attacks. He said that much of the information or the remaining information will, for the moment at least, remain secret -- that it would compromise intelligence sources to reveal it. But that he and those people who have seen the document -- the full dossier, say there can be absolutely no doubt, Carol, that it was Osama bin Laden.
LIN: Sheila, the prime minister effectively tried to make the argument that the hijackers on September 11 were directly linked to Osama bin Laden, but he also made a case that Osama bin Laden is directly linked to the Taliban government.
What did he say there?
MACVICAR: What he did was lay out the interconnectiveness, if you will, between Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network and the Taliban government. He basically said that there are many things that Mr. bin Laden's organization does for the Taliban. It helps provide security for drug stockpiles, his soldiers fight alongside the Taliban. There are many other ways of sort interdependency, and the Taliban, in exchange for those things, gives him license to operate from Afghanistan.
What Mr. Blair clearly went on to say was that if the Taliban did not sever their links with Osama bin Laden, then there could come a time when the regime itself could be targeted because of those links.
LIN: That's right, Sheila. He used some interesting wording there. He said that they must -- the Taliban must bring about change in Afghanistan to ensure breaking links with terrorist organizations or else there would be consequences.
Was he effectively saying that any military strikes -- one of the goals of the military strikes specifically now would be to bring about change -- a governmental change within Afghanistan?
MACVICAR: I think what you're looking at is the last warning. There is a fair amount of diplomatic activity going on. There continue to be discussions with the Taliban through representatives in Pakistan and elsewhere. I think what you're looking at is the last warning. This is the final chance for the regime to give up bin Laden, to give up the network, to turn over all of the lieutenants, to renounce terrorism. Otherwise, they will themselves be targeted, and that seems to be very clear.
The British government has been saying over the course of the last few days that if they have to, they are prepared to go after and target the Taliban regime and bring about its end.
LIN: So what do you make of Mr. Blair's trip now? He is heading to Moscow. He is going to Pakistan, as well as another location. You may have better information on that. But what should be the goal of this trip then, do you think?
MACVICAR: Well, this is, I think, the last flurry of democracy -- of diplomacy rather. We have Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld touring the region. We had him in Saudi Arabia yesterday. He goes on to visit other potential allies in the region trying to gain support.
There is a tremendous amount of nervousness in the region about these planned attacks. The U.S. government, the British government, other allies want to be very clear that these are not seen as attacks against Muslims, but very clearly targeting a terrorist organization.
Now, in going to Moscow, we have seen Mr. Putin yesterday in Brussels talking with NATO. There is clearly a warming of the relationship there, and Russia could be extremely important. The backside of Afghanistan, the northern border of Afghanistan, is, of course, with formers -- with states, which were formerly part of the old Soviet Union, and where Mr. Putin still has tremendous influence.
And then he is going on to Pakistan to meet with General Musharraf. This is something that was not anticipated. It was announced just a little more than an hour ago here in London that the prime minister will be going on to Pakistan to talk to Mr. Musharraf, and from there he goes on to Oman, the Gulf state, where there is currently a British-Omani military exercise under way -- an exercise that just happens to be taking place now. It was, in fact, planned three years ago.
But again, this tour is part of bolstering support for the allies, ensuring people that they do have the evidence, that they do have the intelligence information, and also making sure that people in the region very clearly understand that this is not about targeting Muslims or Arabs.
LIN: All right. Thank you very much -- Sheila MacVicar reporting live to us from our London bureau.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, let's get more now on this late announcement of the trip to Pakistan by Prime Minister Blair. Our Tom Mintier, once again, is standing by in Islamabad, Pakistan. He's got a preview for us.
Tom, set the table for us on Mr. Blair's visit there.
TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, it was confirmed to us early this morning by the Pakistani side that Mr. Blair, indeed, would come here. They had thought yesterday that the arrival would be, indeed, in the morning hours; now, they're saying in the evening hours. We also saw that the meeting with President Putin was put on the schedule as well. So Mr. Blair will arrive in Islamabad late in the day -- a little over 24 hours from now.
And I think we heard the preview pretty well in the House of Commons, basically outlining -- and it's something the Pakistanis have been asking for -- outlining the evidence linking directly Osama bin Laden with the attacks on the United States on September 11. Mr. Blair going very public with the information that has been provided to him linking three of the 19 hijackers with direct links to Osama bin Laden's organization, and these are, I'm sure, the kind of things that are going to occur in the private meeting. Mr. Blair will meet with President Musharraf here.
And it's interesting to note: The local papers here are talking about a possible meeting with the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan. Now, if diplomacy is to have a chance, it's probably the last door or window open. The Taliban does have an ambassador here. They have kept the mission open. Pakistan has not severed ties the way Saudi Arabia and UAE did. So if there is, indeed, a meeting on the agenda, and no one is saying besides the local papers that there is a meeting, it would happen here in Pakistan when Mr. Blair arrives here.
So we'll have to wait and see if, indeed, anything moves forward as far as any meeting with the Taliban, any message that would be sent to Kandahar, to Mullah Omar, the political head of the Taliban. So much is unknown. What we do know is that he is going to spend about four hours here in Pakistan. Much of that time will be taken up with the meeting with the president -- Leon.
HARRIS: All right. Thank you very much -- Tom Mintier reporting live this morning from Islamabad, Pakistan. We'll talk with you again next hour.
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